A Cohesive Vision

"How do you deal with pastors who desire to use CCM music instead of praise and worship all the time?" he asked.

Whether this is your question, or yours is more of what key to do a song in, what version, or how many new songs, or...any other repertoire related question, the foundational question to ask is:

What is your church's vision?

My worship leader friend that asked the question at the top is identifying a difference of vision in his pastor. How do you decide if we should use inspirational music we hear on Christian radio or if we should stick to music written and recorded by churches? (I know it's not quite that black and white, but humor me)

The answer comes back to what your vision as a church is for the time of singing during a worship service.

One model of church may use the first song to get those who are skeptically present with arms crossed to simply lower their guard and uncross their arms. Their vision says that we want to make any person (and especially those who don't yet follow Christ) to feel glad they showed up. This church may even play music that was created outside of the Church. Their vision dictates their musical choices.

Another model uses the first song to gather the saints, reminding them of the greatness of God. They wouldn't use a song that Christians might have heard from their (ahem) coworker's radios, and their top 40 stations. Not at all. A Mighty Fortress is Our God comes to mind as a more appropriate choice here.

Another model might use that first song as a call to worship, a clarion announcement that the moment we've stepped into is markedly holy. As a prayer, an invocation, an activation they might sing Open Up the Heavens, Unstoppable God, The Lion and the Lamb, etc.

I don't think this is right and wrong, just different.

So, the way I'd answer the question "How do you deal with pastors who desire to use CCM music instead of praise and worship all the time?" is with...another question(s):

"What is our vision for the worship gathering? Who is it for? What should it accomplish? Why do we get together?"

Once we have clarity and unity on the vision, THEN we can talk about what kinds of songs best fit the purpose.


ps. If you’re wondering what "CCM" is, that’s Contemporary Christian Music. It’s the genre that WJTL (our local Christian station) played before there was any Worship genre. So CCM artists would be Steven Curtis Chapman, Newsboys, Family Force Five, Needtobreath (I went there). "Praise and worship" (though I don't really like that term) is stuff that was written by worship leaders for congregational worship. Think of it as the FUBU for worship. The differences include:

  1. Singability: difficulty of the melody or of the accompaniment
  2. Purpose of the author: sometimes singing TO God versus ABOUT God (though that's not cut and dry), worship/expression versus entertainment/inspiration, etc.
  3. DNA: birthed out of congregational worship versus birthed out of a songwriting session to fill an album - and I realize this is not always true of either genre, but typically a CCM artist is making a living by the songs they write and perform, versus a worship leader - who might also be making a living - finding/writing songs that their church can use in worship. There can often be an anointing that is on a song that was birthed from a church that’s different from one birthed from a solo artist. To me this brings up an important difference about where we are and where we came from...but that’s for another Fertilizer, and this "ps" is already waaaay too long!

pps. Last week there were seven references to Steven Curtis Chapman, aka SCC