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Evangelism and Music – Part 1

The challenges of evangelism, in the urban and cosmopolitan settings of today, test conventional methods of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. In short, we have confused the incidences of baptisms with the idea of true success as described and demonstrated by Christ’s method of reaching people. A rethinking of what our statistics actually show and a clear distinction between church attendance and baptismal records sends us back to the drawing board. This is especially true when we consider the 10/40 window and our urban cities of Europe.

Have our past methods of evangelism solidified members into mundane church fellowship, or do they pursue mission lifestyles of our early advent believers, on fire for God and actively feeling a burden for the salvation of those outside our walls?

My role as a third generation Seventh day Adventist raised in the church has always been using the spiritual gift I was entrusted with as a church musician. I have been forced over the last two decades in particular not only to rethink my role and performance practice in a true worship church setting, but also to see how compartmentalized the different functions surrounding worship are carried out. Not only do players of different instruments speak a slightly different language it differs even more to that of singers and sound and audio engineers. The levels of understanding are also widely varying between those of the professional and academically informed and those who might be ear playing or learning from less systematic training programs. Factoring in the levels of talent and musical intuition and dedication to facilitating congregational worship versus personal artistic fulfillment we see a hotbed of divisive functioning.

I believe the teamwork that fosters a good music and worship atmosphere does not begin with the worship service, but rather with good Christian relationships and fellowship where we seek the good of each other. Sound and audio engineers coming out of their booths, musicians away from their instruments and singers away from their microphones must intentionally foster healthy relationships with each other. A nurtured atmosphere of trust and respect as the backdrop for the execution of music in the church often teaches some of the deepest lessons about appropriate music making. This attitude and atmosphere is even more crucial to integration in our congregations. Remember, the great commission was given in a cosmopolitan setting.

There is a tendency to replace healthy relationships between members of our teams with social media behind mobile and other interfaces. When Christ method is fully appreciated, however, and we see ministry rather than performance as the bigger agenda, we take time out to spend together and respect the value of being in connection for each other’s good. Our congregations become churches and fellowship does not stop at the closing prayer. Neither does such relationship building supplant dependency on Christ and a focus on mission.

Music for the ambitious and artistically driven can become overly complex. This complexity does not necessarily yield the best results and humility is essential to an appreciation of that. “God often uses the simplest means to accomplish the greatest results. It is His plan that every part of His work shall depend on every other part, as a wheel within a wheel, all acting in harmony. The humblest worker, moved by the Holy Spirit, will touch invisible chords, whose vibrations will ring to the ends of the earth, and make melody through eternal ages.” {DA 822.4}

And speaking of worth which is often confused with intelligence and musical genius, “Christian worth does not depend on brilliant talents, lofty birth, wonderful powers, but on a clean heart—a heart purified and refined, that does not exalt self, but, by beholding Christ, reflects the long lost image of divinity.”—Letter 16, 1902. {Ev 135.3} What a beautiful thing to aspire to! This does not negate the value of academia and informing our crafts, but speaks to an essential ingredient for this collaborative teamwork.

Additionally, our music teams must engage in methods of evangelism that reflect the one modeled by Jesus Christ. Failure to do so has served to propagate a comfortable, mundane and false Adventism. After all, Christ second coming is imminent and this fact is what this movement is about. Christ method is the only one that will yield true success.

This article first appeared in the Messenger. 24th March 2017 Volume 122.06. Journal of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

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