If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:
The only proof he needed For the existence of God Was music
Kurt Vonnegut wrote this in “Blues for America,” an article published in February 2006, 14 months before he died. It is a poignant quote from one of the 20th century’s greatest writers and one that resonates with me.
I love music. I love listening to it and playing it. I love singing along at concerts and in worship. I love listening to my 2 year old sing when he wakes up and serenades Alexis and me through the monitor. I have hundreds of gigabytes of music on hard drives and ipods and more than 1000 CD’s in storage. I love music.
And its not just one or two styles of music. I love rock and roll and old country and jazz and soul and reggae and classical and hymns and pretty much everything else. As long as it’s done well and I think the person making the music means what they’re saying, I like it. It makes it impossible for me to answer questions about what kind of music I play with any sort of detail because I really do play everything.
I can’t even guess at how many times I’ve gotten the question “what kind of music are you going to have at The Bridge?” It is an area of great importance for many people and I absolutely understand why. Music at its best can connect us with the divine in a way that words alone just can’t do. Music at its worst is distracting and awkward, sometimes even painful.
It is my hope that worship at The Bridge will consistently provide moments for people to connect with God. Many of the most powerful divine encounters I’ve experienced have come through music and my goal in planning music will be to help others have those same experiences in worship at The Bridge.
Now how’s that for a theological sidestep? What I wrote in that last paragraph is absolutely true and it is absolutely what I’ll be shooting for in music selection. But I understand that when folks are asking me these questions about music, they aren’t asking about the theological significance of the songs we’ll be singing; they’re asking about the style of the songs we’ll be singing. A lot of worship planners would probably take this chance to say that style shouldn’t matter so much – and I agree that we should be able to worship regardless of style preference – but the truth is, style does matter. It doesn’t matter as much as substance, but it matters.
It’s a tough question for me to field at this point in the church’s development. We don’t know who will be in the band, we don’t know what instruments they’ll play, we don’t know who will be in worship or how many people will be there. But just the same, I’m going to do my best over the next few blog posts to give you some kind of idea about the kind of stuff that engages me and the kind of things I’ll be shooting for in song selection and arrangement.
I’ll leave you with this for now. My goal is to create music that is accessible, applicable and authentic to our community at The Bridge. I’ll go into a little detail about each of these points in subsequent posts and I’ll give you some concrete examples of songs and styles that I like (sacred and secular), but what I mean by this is that the music is going to reflect who we are as a church. Certainly that will include a big chunk of who I am as a musician and as a Christian, but its about much more than just what I like.
Accessible, Applicable and Authentic — if our music at The Bridge can pass these three tests, I believe we’ll create worship experiences that are powerful for folks with all kinds of different preferences.