Music as Glorifier, Educator, Communicator, and Fellowship Builder

Vince Treadway, ACM Founder

With very few exceptions, if any, I believe that all church musicians would agree that the primary purpose of the music we make is to glorify God and to lead God’s people to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. The challenge to glorify God and lead God’s people in worship brings up all sorts of issues, such as what criteria should be used in selecting the music, who should participate in the music, and what kinds of instrumentation should be employed, as well as deciding about the many other “filters” that must be considered before the music is finally selected, rehearsed, and utilized in worship.

I believe that these challenges can be made simpler if we consider other purposes of music that are not alternatives to our primary goal in worship, but are adjunct goals. The music we select can serve to educate our congregations by providing them with a wide variety of great music from many different time periods, genres, cultures, and perspectives.

When trained properly, children will grow to know greatness simply by hearing it, because they have been trained to know the difference between beautiful, creative music and the “dumbed down” music that cultures present as “good.” I liken this to the contrast between the food prepared by a skilled chef and that sold from a hot dog stand; your mouth will tell you the difference! Our adults, as well, can learn that there is great music from around the world and from ages past, and thereby they can grow in their faith and historical perspective. If gently guided, congregations can increase their vocabulary and experience new and different styles of music with great texts.

Another goal of music is that of communication. We can communicate various world views by including music from around the world, particularly those styles of music represented by the cultures within our own congregations. We can also communicate our understanding of the universality of the church and help build fellowship with the saints of bygone years and our contemporary brothers and sisters around the world by singing the old songs and the new ones. If we use music that is loved by others but is different from our own preferences, we communicate our willingness to accept others. We show our desire to grow and mature in our knowledge of, and our experience with, music when we are willing to learn and understand new music.

Wherever we may serve, all of the above practices will have the overall result of creating greater fellowship within the body of Christ. Recognizing and accepting differences among our brothers and sisters and being willing to grow and learn together for the glory of God are ways to serve the church universal. What better means are there to do this than through the glorious gift of music!