It’s a new day
Because of our modern means of travel and communication the world has grown smaller. The musical worship tradition with praise bands and worship “choruses” is now perhaps on of the most widespread forms in church history. Get into a Christian’s car in almost any international city, and he’s likely to pop in a recording by your favorite worship leader. Visit a few churches there and you’re likely to find synthesizers, electric guitars, bass guitars, drums and vocal groups, singing the same worship songs we sing in our churchs, along with new ones of their own. Frank Fortunato reported recently from Mongolia, “The Western pop sounds dominate the youth culture as well as the worship services in the young Mongolian church.” Mongolia ?! That’s the uttermost part of the earth!
Of course there are isolated pockets in the world that Western Civilization has not touched, or nations where despotic religions or tyrannical governments isolate their people. But in the former Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, Western Europe, Australia, Africa, the Americans, on islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific and in much of Asia, praise and worship music as we know it is nearly universal. You’ll hear different languages and refreshing local ethnic flavors, but the spirit is the same.
The Power of Music
Many of us are aware of the mood-influencing power of music. Grocery stores play background music that stimulates buying – doctors’ offices play calming music – youth fashion shops play loud rock that attracts the young and the cool – Mozart supposedly stimulates learning abilities. Music was known to be therapeutic even in Old Testament times. When King Saul was visited by “an evil spirit from the Lord” he would call for David, whose harp playing would drive the spirit out (1 Samuel 16:23). Elisha summoned a minstrel to aid in his prophesying (2 Kings 3:15). But few have really understood the incredible power of music to change the world.
- Plato understood the power of music when he wrote, “Give me the making of the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws; I will control its people.” Martin Luther understood it when he wrote, “Music is a fair and glorious gift of God. I am strongly persuaded that after theology, there is no art which can be placed on the level with music. The devil flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the word of God.”
How about the Beatles? “The Beatles?” you ask. Yes, because they prove my point about changing the world. They were together for only seven years, yet their music filled the last third of the 20th Century and their influence continues strong into the next. Their melodies have been recorded by symphony orchestras, baroque chamber groups, countless pop-rock bands and even on music boxes as lullabies for babies. Harmonically, they liberated many rockers form the tyranny of three-triad monotony. In the end, sad to say, the Beatles, having captivated the hearts of a generation with their delightful, relatively innocent mischief, embraced hallucinogens and gurus, leading many with them down a dark path. But along the way their changed the world. Literally.
Russian historian Arteme Troitsky said, “The Beatles have done more toward the fall of the Soviet Union than any other Western institution. They started a whole new movement in the Soviet Union, invovling millions of young people. Outwardly, the events played out on the international stage of politics and diplomacy, starring Ronald Reagan and Mikhael Gorbachov. In the heavelies, great angelic battles were fought and won through the intercessory prayers of the saints. But behind the scenes on earth, music played an astonishing role.
We now see that the movement the Beatles epitomized has changed the history, not just of western civilization, but of the world. Half a generation ago in much of the world, we would have heard music strange and foreign to our western ears. Each culture, in relative isolation for centuries, had developed its own system of music and cultural distinctives. But today in many cultures what you are bombarded with is the pop music of the western nations, although sometimes with a refreshing local flavor.
The Explosive Potential
Now, here’s the point of all this: If secular music can change the world, can you imagine the explosive potential of genuine Holy Spirit-anointed music to change the world for God? What does this mean for the Christian musician seeking his or her role in the fulfillment of the Great Commission in the 21st Century?
This is your call, you challenge! Do you see what is happening? The whole pop music phenomenon of the past forty years has been like a setup for you and me – a giant sting operation! The devil may have meant it for his purposes, but God in His higher purposes has allowed it to prepare a generation throughout the world for what is perhaps the final harvest. A. W. Tozer said, “God’s purpose in redemption is to make worshipers out of rebels.” And modern worship has become a powerful evangelistic tool. People being won to the Lord today through worship music start right out in their new lives as worshipers! So here we have a modern-day “missionary” phenomenon: In all of these different places, tied together by a common musical culture, the harvest field is ripe for sold-out musicians.
What an opportunity! What a responsibility! Let your music change minds and lives and cultures. Learn to write great stuff, full of imagery, hooks, emotion, energy…and God’s truth. Then, if you have a mandate from Him, go sing it on the street corners, in the parks, in the churches, the halls, the arenas. Don’t wait for some hot agent to get you big money for a “gig;” go where the needs are, whenever you get a chance. Throw yourself into the harvest field where your gift will count for eternity.
Because of our modern means of travel and communication the world has grown smaller. The musical worship...