My contention is that the evangelical emphasis on music did not play a major role in the disciple-making process as Jesus intentionally practiced it.
So my basic approach is that we not give music a major responsibility in the discipleship process. But as a “supporting” or “secondary” process that is extremely useful in our human experience and culture, we should think through how we can use it.
Not let’s but the whole business of music on the table and use the C.I.A. toolkit.
I. Connection: How can music be connected to Jesus?
a. It can be about Jesus, and give an accurate, Biblical expression of who he is.
b. It can repeat the teachings of Jesus.
c. It can retell the Gospel story of Jesus.
d. It can emotionally engage us with Jesus. (In praise, prayer or lament.)
e. It can allow us a corporate expression of faith in and confidence in Jesus.
f. It can express the larger Biblical theology in which Jesus comes to us as savior and Lord.
II. Imitation: In what way is possible to imitate Jesus (taking account of all the variables)?
a. We use the Psalms/new testament hymnody and poetry as a guide for artistic, poetic, prayerful and liturgical expression.
b. We imitate the simplicity of worship that Jesus taught in his overall emphasis on spirituality.
c. We obey Jesus’ admonitions about public, “showy” piety, and we repent/aboid the seductions of entertainment culture. We constantly work to be sure we are teaching/leading worship rather than participating in entertainment.
d. We value music in its place, but we do not give it a place that would imbalanced in the evaluation of Jesus. (It is important to know that I haven’t dealt with discipleship processes that Jesus did use and invest in. When these become part of our discussion, the actual place of music will be clearer.)
e. Our use of music can encourage imitation of the faith and love of Jesus for God and others, but it must be careful to not make the act of singing the meaning of discipleship. (As one girl said to me, “I’m a Christian. I know all the songs.”)
III. Application: How can this be applied in a Jesus connected, Jesus imitating way in the present?
a. It is the job of every Christian and leaders of Christian communities to go to the step of application, especially in working with worship leaders, so that connection and imitation honor the central message of Jesus, the Kingdom and the Gospel.
b. That application will differ in different cultures, settings, circumstances and in relation to the artistic and musical resources at hand.
c. One of the best suggestions I could give is to have worship leaders work out the C.I.A. process in detail and then discuss that process with other leaders and the whole community.
d. Be sure that application is a moving toward Jesus, and a turning from pragmatism and the corruptions of culture.
e. Set boundaries where music will not go. For example, music should never be used to manipulate the emotions for “decisions.”
My prayer is that these posts have begun moving your mind toward what it means to have a Jesus shaped spirituality in as many areas as possible.