Episode #5 – Original music & worship: Are we just a cover band each Sunday?

SHOW NOTES PDF

INTRO:

Welcome to Worshipmythbusters.com. I am Rich Kirkpatrick, your host. Worship Mythbusters is about debunking damaging thinking that gets in the way of our worship. Employing the Socratic method, this podcast explores popular notions that may be more myth than truth.

Episode 5: Worship Myth: “Original music and worship: Are we just a cover band each Sunday?”

SPECIAL GUEST:

Chris Vacher, of ChrisFromCanada.com (Twitter @chrisfromcanada) is the founder of Worship Rises, a worship songwriting movement in Canada. WMB interviews Chris about this grass-roots surge of new music. (www.worshiprises.ca)

ROUND TABLE GUESTS:

  • David Moore – Executive Worship Pastor at Southwest Community Church in Indian Wells, CA (Twitter @dmooreintersect)
  • Mark Shmelinski – Lead Worshiper of youth, worship musician, Harvest City Church, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.(Twitter @markdaniel84)
  • Justin Reves – Lead worshiper of young adults and main worship service, Harvest City Church, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. (Twitter @justinreves)

ESSAY:

WORSHIP MYTH: “Original music & worship: Are we just a cover band each Sunday?”

Do we create something new and indigenous from our community or mimic what is going on somewhere else? Is the choice to be a voice or an echo?

There are some very respectable, and enterprising people in the Christian music publishing business who have helped us find some amazing songs. Some of these have been well written, excellent, transferrable to various size churches, and effective in capturing the voice of our congregations. However, do these songs in and of themselves provide enough content? How about the unique stories from our very own local churches? These mass-produced songs do not provide this for our local churches. Right?

I will just go out on a limb and say this: most church leaders and decision makers are looking for a formula to accomplish some goal—some of which are the highest goals. Some conferences provide the best practice of a mega-church, which are at the best an inspiration for us, but become potential distractions for some. We see high profile ministries and copy them: The kids’ ministry rooms have to look like a Disney scene; the preaching is copied word-for-word, including adding a table and café chair. The music is snappy with fashionable and beautiful people leading the worship sessions. We dream to achieve such a vision. We want to be on top, so we work to decode a formula that will get us there.

The problem is this: what got some of these amazing ministries there is not a formula, but the convergence of God’s Providence and the gifts of some incredible leaders. Yes, we can grow in our leadership potential. But, is it sane to squeeze juice from a ministry model or might we be reasoned in creating something new out of the convergence of God’s working in our own city or own church?

So, in talking about our worship music we like the idea of a cover band. Developing people to create takes a huge investment and perhaps we see that as inefficient. I sure wish we could value developing the artists in our church, and any other gifting in our church.

Here is a dichotomy: Indigenous worship music verses worship music as a Commodity.

The rub for me is that our modern, Evangelical church is stuck in a system that desires ubiquity instead of originality. We have lost creativity in favor of pragmatism. We use music and art as propaganda, not as a human expression of the powerful story of redemption in each of us. Our, desire to reproduce an experience means we lack the faith in the testimony of our own people. Is not God at work in us? Does not our church have incredible stories to tell? Or, is it better to mimic Christian radio and follow the popular worship movements with songs written by people we might never meet?

Granted, I see a “both and” in all of this. But, it truly is one sided. And, is there anything we should or can do about it?

Do we create something new and indigenous from our community or mimic what is going on somewhere else? Is the choice to be a voice or an echo?

LINKS:

Links mentioned on podcast:

Churches Represented this week:

Song: “Oh Canada” by Five Iron Frenzy

24 thoughts on “Episode #5 – Original music & worship: Are we just a cover band each Sunday?”

      1. Thanks for your encouragement Isai!

        I grew up in East San Jose where Spanish was as present as English. It is amazing to see how in my adult lifetime how now you can go to Maine and have Hispanic people congregating and a ministry such as yours!

        I will take your questions and give that some thought. One thing very important to me is “indigenous” worship–birthed from the culture of people being led. I am sure you have more to say on it than me, actually, given your experience. Let’s connect about this.

        RK

        1. I have heard that California is almost like being in Central America. When we got to Portland, Maine about 13 years ago, the Hispanic presence in Maine was extinct :-). It definitely has changed a lot, and God has opened doors for us to be able to help the Hispanic community hear, in a spiritual way and earthly sense as well.

          I do appreciate you responding and at least contemplation my questions. Believe me I have spent numerous days and nights thinking them over, and praying with God about direction as to what I should be doing to make sure everyone is able to participate in worship.

          In our Hispanic culture, it is a normal thing for us to shout when we are happy; you know the arrrrrrrriba, etc. Is this what you mean by “indigenous” worship? I have noticed that worship does change when you are around different groups of people. For instance, I have been too many American services where the only Amen you will hear will be after a prayer, but just because they do not vocalize there joy this does not mean they are not worshipping. African American churches, where real worship is called “getting your praise on”. Hispanic churches where we can sing what we call “coritos” (something like, There is wonder-working power in the blood of the lamb) for 45 minutes and still want to sing more. Is this kind of what you are referring to?

          I would love to keep talking about this with you. I read your post about heading to Africa, and that is awesome. I hope to be able to send an offering for that. I will be praying for you, and this trip. Hope to hear from you soon.

          Your brother in Christ,
          Isai Galvez
          isaigalvez@yahoo.com

          Ecclesiastes 4
          The Value of a Friend:
          9. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.
          10. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.
          11. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone?
          12. Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

  1. Great article. I speak on copyright issues at a lot of worship conferences and it is interesting to see a growing dependence on using the works of others, be they songs, videos or images. Hopefully, as churches become more aware of the costs and restrictions associated with using the works of others, we can see more of that amazing creative talent directed towards the creation of original works. Copyright can be an expensive hassle, but it does put some brakes on the impulse to just use someone else’s creations.

  2. Great article. I speak on copyright issues at a lot of worship conferences and it is interesting to see a growing dependence on using the works of others, be they songs, videos or images. Hopefully, as churches become more aware of the costs and restrictions associated with using the works of others, we can see more of that amazing creative talent directed towards the creation of original works. Copyright can be an expensive hassle, but it does put some brakes on the impulse to just use someone else’s creations.

    1. I have heard that California is almost like being in Central America. When we got to Portland, Maine about 13 years ago, the Hispanic presence in Maine was extinct :-). It definitely has changed a lot, and God has opened doors for us to be able to help the Hispanic community hear, in a spiritual way and earthly sense as well.

      I do appreciate you responding and at least contemplation my questions. Believe me I have spent numerous days and nights thinking them over, and praying with God about direction as to what I should be doing to make sure everyone is able to participate in worship.

      In our Hispanic culture, it is a normal thing for us to shout when we are happy; you know the arrrrrrrriba, etc. Is this what you mean by “indigenous” worship? I have noticed that worship does change when you are around different groups of people. For instance, I have been too many American services where the only Amen you will hear will be after a prayer, but just because they do not vocalize there joy this does not mean they are not worshipping. African American churches, where real worship is called “getting your praise on”. Hispanic churches where we can sing what we call “coritos” (something like, There is wonder-working power in the blood of the lamb) for 45 minutes and still want to sing more. Is this kind of what you are referring to?

      I would love to keep talking about this with you. I read your post about heading to Africa, and that is awesome. I hope to be able to send an offering for that. I will be praying for you, and this trip. Hope to hear from you soon.

      Your brother in Christ,
      Isai Galvez
      isaigalvez@yahoo.com

      Ecclesiastes 4
      The Value of a Friend:
      9. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.
      10. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.
      11. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone?
      12. Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

  3. A-freakin-MEN, brother! I wanted to stand in a pew and SHOUT while reading that. Needless to say, I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with you! I’ve had a prolific year so far, so my struggle has been figuring out when and how often to use original music (some of them have become accepted as “staples” pretty quickly, so those aren’t the issue) as opposed to the familiar radio-friendly stuff that local CCM stations play every 2nd hour. I’m about to the point of doing around 3 originals a month, usually test running a couple, then bringing back the whole that gets the best response. What’s strange, however – and in some ways points out the necessary diversity in congregations – is how a song that bombs in one congregation/ministry/setting, will FLY in another. Anyway, thanks for sharing this, bro…

  4. A-freakin-MEN, brother! I wanted to stand in a pew and SHOUT while reading that. Needless to say, I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with you! I’ve had a prolific year so far, so my struggle has been figuring out when and how often to use original music (some of them have become accepted as “staples” pretty quickly, so those aren’t the issue) as opposed to the familiar radio-friendly stuff that local CCM stations play every 2nd hour. I’m about to the point of doing around 3 originals a month, usually test running a couple, then bringing back the whole that gets the best response. What’s strange, however – and in some ways points out the necessary diversity in congregations – is how a song that bombs in one congregation/ministry/setting, will FLY in another. Anyway, thanks for sharing this, bro…

  5. Dios te bendiga (God Bless you) Rich,

    Your website is amazing. I came across it looking for ideas for a worship service for Easter. By Gods grace and mercy, I am the worship Leader at El Sinai Church in Portland, Maine. We are very close to our Canadian brothers on one of your podcast’s.
    Our church is a relatively small congregation, we have about 100 members and on a Sunday can get up to 130 visitors (I would love to say worshipers instead of visitors, but as you well know, not all come for that purpose).
    Ours is an interesting situation that you have not yet touched on one of your podcast’s, we are in many ways bi-lingual. The population in Maine is over 80% Caucasian, if I’m not mistaken, making the Hispanic community very small. Even though there is a small number of Hispanics here, we manage to have a strong-Hispanic community here and our church has strong ties to that community.
    Our services are predominately done in Spanish. We usually have four or five only English-speaking visitors so we have translators translate, such as myself or others from the church. The music is also the same. We usually sing about 2 to 3 up-beat songs and two worship songs. Out of those five, I will usually put one or two that can be sung in English and in Spanish. What are your thoughts on this? Should I do more? Should I sing the song just in English or go back and forth between both? I would love your insight in a podcast! I can see it now, “Bi-lingual Services! Do they work or not?” and you can even invite your Canadian brothers again.
    I love what you said on one podcast, where we as worship leaders sometimes need to hear advice from others who go through the same situations. I hope you take this into consideration and thank you so much for your work! Keep it up, the Lord is using you greatly and it is a huge blessing to my life and to others as well.

    Your brother in Christ,
    Isai Galvez
    isaigalvez@yahoo.com

  6. Dios te bendiga (God Bless you) Rich,

    Your website is amazing. I came across it looking for ideas for a worship service for Easter. By Gods grace and mercy, I am the worship Leader at El Sinai Church in Portland, Maine. We are very close to our Canadian brothers on one of your podcast’s.
    Our church is a relatively small congregation, we have about 100 members and on a Sunday can get up to 130 visitors (I would love to say worshipers instead of visitors, but as you well know, not all come for that purpose).
    Ours is an interesting situation that you have not yet touched on one of your podcast’s, we are in many ways bi-lingual. The population in Maine is over 80% Caucasian, if I’m not mistaken, making the Hispanic community very small. Even though there is a small number of Hispanics here, we manage to have a strong-Hispanic community here and our church has strong ties to that community.
    Our services are predominately done in Spanish. We usually have four or five only English-speaking visitors so we have translators translate, such as myself or others from the church. The music is also the same. We usually sing about 2 to 3 up-beat songs and two worship songs. Out of those five, I will usually put one or two that can be sung in English and in Spanish. What are your thoughts on this? Should I do more? Should I sing the song just in English or go back and forth between both? I would love your insight in a podcast! I can see it now, “Bi-lingual Services! Do they work or not?” and you can even invite your Canadian brothers again.
    I love what you said on one podcast, where we as worship leaders sometimes need to hear advice from others who go through the same situations. I hope you take this into consideration and thank you so much for your work! Keep it up, the Lord is using you greatly and it is a huge blessing to my life and to others as well.

    Your brother in Christ,
    Isai Galvez
    isaigalvez@yahoo.com

    1. Thanks for your encouragement Isai!

      I grew up in East San Jose where Spanish was as present as English. It is amazing to see how in my adult lifetime how now you can go to Maine and have Hispanic people congregating and a ministry such as yours!

      I will take your questions and give that some thought. One thing very important to me is “indigenous” worship–birthed from the culture of people being led. I am sure you have more to say on it than me, actually, given your experience. Let’s connect about this.

      RK

      1. I have heard that California is almost like being in Central America. When we got to Portland, Maine about 13 years ago, the Hispanic presence in Maine was extinct :-). It definitely has changed a lot, and God has opened doors for us to be able to help the Hispanic community hear, in a spiritual way and earthly sense as well.

        I do appreciate you responding and at least contemplation my questions. Believe me I have spent numerous days and nights thinking them over, and praying with God about direction as to what I should be doing to make sure everyone is able to participate in worship.

        In our Hispanic culture, it is a normal thing for us to shout when we are happy; you know the arrrrrrrriba, etc. Is this what you mean by “indigenous” worship? I have noticed that worship does change when you are around different groups of people. For instance, I have been too many American services where the only Amen you will hear will be after a prayer, but just because they do not vocalize there joy this does not mean they are not worshipping. African American churches, where real worship is called “getting your praise on”. Hispanic churches where we can sing what we call “coritos” (something like, There is wonder-working power in the blood of the lamb) for 45 minutes and still want to sing more. Is this kind of what you are referring to?

        I would love to keep talking about this with you. I read your post about heading to Africa, and that is awesome. I hope to be able to send an offering for that. I will be praying for you, and this trip. Hope to hear from you soon.

        Your brother in Christ,
        Isai Galvez
        isaigalvez@yahoo.com

        Ecclesiastes 4
        The Value of a Friend:
        9. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.
        10. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.
        11. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone?
        12. Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

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