Is Church Music Dying?
October 18, 2011 29 Comments
This is a difficult post to write, as it hits very close to home, but it is something that needs to be said. I’m about to turn the oft debated topic of “Is SG dying?” into a larger argument. What is going on with church music programs as a whole? I’ve heard rumblings of problems with church music, especially choral music programs for a while, but it seems the problem is getting worse and at a more rapid pace. We’re currently knee-deep in Christmas cantata practice, yet we have 10-15 people at rehearsals. We have one tenor. Me. Five to seven years ago, we were putting over 40 people in the choir loft for cantatas. I have been averaging less than 10 kids in my Children’s choir rehearsals, and we’re well into our Christmas cantata practices as well.
We also in that same time period of 5-7 years have gone from a pretty full praise band (piano, keys, guitars, banjo, bass, drums, and even a mandolin) to now typically piano, keys, and guitar. If my dad is out of town, we typically have either piano and guitar, or most of the time just piano. We used to have a bunch of youth in our church choir that sang in their school choirs. Now we have one.
Music has an undeniably important part in the corporate worship ceremony. Not only does it involve active participation from the congregation, but it also is an outlet for those who have been gifted with musical talent to use those talents to glorify God. A well selected hymn or chorus can accentuate a sermon and serve as a conduit for the Spirit to move. For example, Sunday morning our pastor’s sermon dealt with the difference in simply calling yourself a Christian vs. living your life as a true disciple of Christ (see Colossians 3). I’d already picked out “Living For Jesus” as an invitation hymn earlier in the week. The song and sermon dovetailed wonderfully, and drew multiple people to the prayer rails. It never ceases to amaze me how God can work those types of things out, as it has happened on numerous occasions and always leads to a powerful service.
So why does the music program seem to suffer? Is this a problem in more areas of the country than just mine? Is it simply a lack of emphasis or a lack of importance placed on music, or is the music program suffering a symptom of a larger problem of people wanting to be passive instead of active participants in churches?