Fire The Songleader
By John Bisaono
That’s right! Fire him. Get him fired up and charged up or he will kill you. Long-haired music, funeral dirge anthems, and stiff-collared song leaders will kill the church faster than anything in the world. Let’s set the record straight for a minute. There are no great, vibrant, soul-winning churches reaching great numbers of people, baptizing hundreds of converts, reaching the masses that have stiff music, seven-fold amen’s, and a steady diet of classical anthems. None. That’s not a few. That’s none, none, none.
Let’s get the record straight on something else. We talk about a worship service on Sunday morning when what we mean is a funeral service. Worship is not necessarily synonymous with excitement and emotionalism. I am not saying that it is certainly not synonymous with quietness either, and most of us think it is. The word “worship” is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “worth – ship,” meaning the way we express our worth or place value on some-thing. If I express my worth of a football team, an event, or situation, I get excited about it. It is the way I express my value. David got so happy with his feeling of God’s worth he danced before the Lord. His enthusiasm was boundless. It could not be contained. He literally jumped with joy. You say you have a worship service on Sunday Church morning simply because you are quiet? They are quiet at the funeral parlor too! But, it is not because they worship, it is because they are dead! Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, warmth, life, enthusiasm, and joy. The song leader had better put some enthusiasm and life into the singing and present spiritual music that people can understand and that is as concerned with the message as with the notes. I could sight uncounted examples across the Southern Baptist Convention of what I am saying. The music should be done well. The minister of music should strive for perfection, but it is not music for music’s sake which we seek. Rather, it is music for Jesus’ sake, music for power’s sake, and music for heart’s sake.
Gerald Ray at First Baptist Church, Houston, Leroy Till at First Baptist Church, Dallas, Tommy Lane, Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Bill Pearson at Travis Avenue Baptist Church, Fort Worth, and Jo Ann Shelton, a director of music for the world famous “Baptist Hour” are all perfect examples. Music with a message and music that speaks to the heart can be high quality music which can be professionally done. The gospel message need not be sacrificed for quality. There is no finer minister of music to be found on the face of the earth than our own Gerald Ray at First Baptist, Houston. He can hold his own in any group. He can conduct the Messiah, “Amazing Grace,” or a contemporary composition, “Higher Ground,” with equal finesse. But, he majors on quality music with a gospel message, well done for the Kingdom and the crowds love it and the people stand in line to hear it. I say to every music student and every dean of music that much of your music is running us into the grave. You are killing us with music to the head that ignores the heart.
Warm up, fire your hearts, fire the musicians that come through your classes. We need your help. Music is half the battle any day. Meaningless music is as out of place in a soul-winning church as a piano is at a Church of Christ convention. The world is on fire and the time is short. The minister of music can make an irreplaceable contribution to the Kingdom’s work. Do not pull against us. Get with us! Help us. Face reality. High-sounding music will not win the day. To tickle the ear and ignore the heart is to ignore musical facts of the Christian life.
First Baptist Church, Houston, is a church of high-class folks. Most are college graduates and 95 percent are white-collar workers. They are educated, highly skilled, informed young adults, and nearly fifty more of them are joining every Sunday. The reason? The life style of the church, the singing, the preaching, the atmosphere, are all down-to-earth and warm. Everything about it honors Jesus and talks about him. They are not a bunch of ignoramuses that do not know good music from bad. They do. But, these young intellectuals are responding in uncounted droves to the music of the cross, the kind that speaks to the heart and needs of man.
Fire the song leader, fire the music, and you will fire the service and fire the people.
This article “Fire The Songleader” is excerpted How To Build An Evangelistic Church written by John Bisaono.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones