One of my favorite scenes from “Back to the Future” is right at the beginning of the movie when Marty is auditioning with his band for the school talent show. After playing a rendition of Huey Lewis & the News’ “The Power of Love” (or was it “Back in Time”?) the camera pans to the judges’ table, then to one of the judges (played by none other than Huey Lewis) looks at Marty and says:
“Sorry, kid… it’s just to damn loud.”
If you are in music – especially church music – especially church music at a church that is doing “contemporary” music – it is likely you’ve been told something like that (or maybe exactly that).
This Sunday was a loud one at our church. Too loud, in fact. Some of that was due the nature of the music we were doing (very celebratory/up/contemporary). Some of it was due to the fact that we had a lot of energy on stage because of the personnel who were there. Some of it was due to the nature of the morning: we were celebrating our church’s 20th birthday.
But most of it was due to the fact that the sound guys had it turned up a little too hot.
You know what? That’s gonna happen. There’s going to be loud mornings… and too warm or cold mornings… and bad sermon mornings. We’re never going to bat 1000.
The problem I have is when people equate “soft music” with “more spiritual.” Or a particular style of music or kind of song with being more spiritual than another kind of music or song.
We are unashamedly a “contemporary church” and we do “contemporary music.” That means we play what is contemporary now… not 20 years ago. “Contemporary” will always be a moving target. And it will always frustrate people.
There’s no such thing as a happy medium. That’s just a concept to make the person who suggests we look for a happy medium feel better. No matter what you do, you will always frustrate someone. Doing it one way means you’re not doing it another way. The people who liek the other way will be frustrated that you are not doing it their way. And when you change, it will tick off the first group. And the middle will just bug them both.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 20+ years of music ministry, it’s that music is a very personal and emotional thing. People hold tightly to that which they love. I do the same thing! One of the challenges I have is to stay contemporary and not fall into the rut of what I like.
I hope that I have the opportunity to live into my 80’s and attend a contemporary church so that I can have a meeting with the worship leader and remind him to keep reaching the younger generations with “their” music. We had our day… now it’s their turn (I actually had an 80 year old man tell me that once… it was cool). I’ll also tell them that if any of the older crowd gives them a hard time to let me know so I can set them straight.
Say it with me, class: “Less Volume is not More Spiritual.”