Music Style

As a former music pastor at two churches, I've done a lot of thinking about music style. I'm not sure I know anything about it, but I have sure done a lot of thinking!

No doubt you've heard or been involved in some of the controversy regarding music choice and music style. I know I have... I was born and bred for that conversation.

I grew up in a traditional Southern Baptist church complete with hymnals, choir robes, piano and organ. In college, I became the worship leader of a church that straddled the fence between traditional and contemporary music. I led music from a keyboard, and occasionally a guitar. We had a choir, but they only sang on "special occasions" (translation: the Sundays we knew nobody would be at church). They weren't bad or anything - they just didn't fit the style of the church. But they were faithful people who loved what they did, and showed up regularly to practice. So we encouraged them as best we could.

Following college, I moved to a church who wanted help moving from very traditional to semi-contemporary. They had virtually zero young people, and gambled by hiring a young kid to transition the music ministry, hoping it would attract more young people.

It didn't. And I'm convinced that that kind of strategy doesn't work. (Of course, I didn't tell them that... I needed the paycheck).

The only people who you will "attract" to your church simply by changing the music are the people who are already churched and disgruntled with their own church for their particular music style. You'll get consumers who show up to church to be served - to have it their way. And as soon as it isn't their way anymore, they'll move along to the church down the street. Those aren't the people you want to be a part of your church.

We change our music style around as an evangelism tool. We reason that if we sound more like the music a fallen world culture is listening to, they'll want to come join us and we can introduce them to Jesus. But that logic is flawed. If they've already got their style of music in secular society, why would they want to come to your church for it?

People are not attracted to your church because of the music. People are attracted to your church because of the people in your church who know them and invite them. If your church members are serious about building relationships with the lost, and live contagious Christian lives, people will want to meet their Savior not hear their music.

People will flock to your church because they see something they need in the lives of believers. And when they get there, they won't care whether you have two guitars and drums or a piano and an organ... as long as you can point them to Jesus.

Today, Kari and I worship at Fellowship Bible Church North. Our music could best be described as "Contemporary meets Gospel meets Funk meets Jazz meets Soul meets Rock meets Hip-Hop." And people are pouring out of the woodwork. Seventy-five percent or more of the people who join our church for the first time are either previously unchurched or just coming back to church after decades away. But it isn't because of the music... it's because the people in the church are devoted to evangelism and outreach in their community. People are attracted to the Savior, not the drums.