Church music Vocab
In a search for my pastor and I to have a common set of terms and vocabulary to be able to communicate well with each other, our worship team and I (with lots of googling) came up with these monikers to help describe worship styles.
True worship is a valuing or a treasuring of God above all things. So the inner essence of worship is the response of the heart to the knowledge of the mind when the mind is rightly understanding God and the heart is rightly valuing God.
So in reality the style of music is subjective BUT has to serve and stir the heart of the culture that it supports. For ex: a white western church could sing a reggae style song together and it could work. But a Jamaican church couldn't because of its heavy context with drugs.
Some people worship by listening to music but not singing. Some worship by only being alone and singing. By definition, we want to adore God and we have a need to do it with other folks that believe like us. If the "bohemian rhapsody" was about Jesus and we all sang it together because we know it well, then technically it would be a song of corporate worship. I think my study though is to find songs that the majority of people are comfortable singing along with.
Often context of a song matches the mood of the music but not always. Sometimes there are songs that are purposefully in contrast. (think: Billy Joel - she's always a woman)
As a musician every one of these would be broken down into many subgenres. Ie: experiential/contemplative/rock ballad/heavily dynamic.
As a lyricist there are less subgenres but cross theological focuses ie: grace, hope, forgiveness, repentance, adoration, thankfulness, petition, assurance, etc.
This is the breakdown in the simplest form I believe that would be helpful for my team, myself and my pastor.
Come thou fount
Nothing but the blood
Oh love that will not let me go
90's and 2000's worship
shout to the lord
blessed be your name
it is well
spirit break out
god's not dead
Lord I come before you
clear the stage
mary don't you weep
My theory for leading a seeker sensitive church has been to have a cross eclectic style with a live band feel. I know we can't make everyone happy but I truly believe that if we are good enough musicians then we should be able to at least serve multiple people in multiple ways by having a widespread range of genres. Selfishly as a musician I like the challenge of new and different genres often.
The reason I have chosen a "live band" feel instead of a radio or stadium style band is because I believe that it serves a normal person looking for Christ (seeker) quite well. Everything else in the entire building and atmosphere would be quite a culture shock to them. My thought is that if the feel of the band is similar to what they are familiar with from an average Friday and Saturday night then they would be comfortable. The hope is that they would also be pleasantly surprised that the songs have the same quality and credibility but are meant and aimed toward following Jesus Christ….not things of the world.
Also I am seeing that we are in a unique era of worship music. The average Christian that listens to the Christian radio is hearing a popular worship song dozens and dozens of times before they step into church on a Sunday morning. That places the worship team in a interesting position. The not only need to be playing nearly the same professional level as the recorded work as well as the song needs to be at least 90% verbatim or it would feel uncomfortable and chaotic. (In the secular world you would call this a "cover band".) This makes sense and is part of our expectation mechanism. The same way that I would feel if someone jacked a eagles song and played it too fast and played the solo wrong. I would feel like my emotional equilibrium was "off".
So this makes me wonder if the Christian radio/media is helping the church or hurting the church? Up until the last 10 year or so we all got our "corporate worship music" from our time together at our place of worship. (YL, crusade, youth group, church, fca, etc.) We all learned it together and learned it from the leader up front in a certain style. They learned it either from hearing it at another church or from a worship cassette/cd that was made specifically for worship pastors.
I remember in college learning "lord I lift your name on high" (RIP) in 3 different ways because each ministry had their own spin of it. you could say that even a mile apart in a small town that there were different cultures of even that style of song. That being said…..this is all based on music and interpretation. Which is only a part of worship. Not all of it and dare I say not most of it. Part of it is where my heart is. If I am not grounded and daily working out my salvation then I am at odds with whom I am singing about. At this point I think it would be me singing at God and singing at people….not singing TO God and with people. (and yes we could say singing with God as well but for the purpose of not making this longer than need be I will stick with TO). As a worship leader I am supposed to be leading out of truth AND spirit. Not one or the other.
I love that most of the worship songs are very well grounded in scripture. More so in the past than in the present. If I were Methodist my theology was integrally meshed within my hymns. If I were southern Baptist then the same with that hymn. Things are much more universal and global now. Maybe that is a good thing? We are all learning about each other and with the age of the internet and communication that we are able to share ideas and understand commonalities in theology and argue healthily what we believe and change our minds.
The flip side of modern radio worship music is that it is meant to go to the masses. Now you can look at that as a way to spread the music or the other way would be because financially the more accessible you make it, the more income you can generate. There are both types out there. I love that God can use both.
ramble ramble, loosing focus, to be continued....