Here are just a few thoughts/observations from a recent conversation I had with Dr Tim Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York (sorry to name drop). After nervously leading the music at a service he was preaching at recently we had lunch together with a number of others and in my 10 minutes with him we managed to get around to the subject of music in conservative evangelical churches in the UK. His main observation/question was…why is music so poor in conservative evangelical churches in the UK?
Having been at the London Men’s Convention and many churches over a number years Dr Keller’s observations were not really that astute, because I think we all know the truth though it is rarely articulated.
The following observations are a summary of a conversation and are not direct quotes of Tim Keller, in fact some portions of the following are my thoughts in response to our conversation.
1. The charismatic evangelical churches seem to have far more quality musicians to play contemporary church music.
2. The conservative evangelicals seem to be 20 years behind (and some even further!) in the quality and production of music (i.e. no CD’s of conservative evangelicals musicians).
3. Conservative evangelicals seem to value music far less in the worship service, perhaps not doctrinally, but how that is worked out shows; in the number of songs sung, the value attributed to the ministry in the employment of staff and the quality of the music played.
4. The charismatic and conservative evangelical churches are far more divided in the UK than in the USA, as a result have the conservatives chosen to be ‘distinct’ by not engaging and investing in music ministry?
5. Given the ‘Double conservativeness’ (doctrinally and culturally) of UK conservative evangelicals – are they missing out on appropriate emotional expressions of their love for the Lord Jesus in song – or was Jonathan Edwards wrong in Religious Affections?
I think I’ll leave these observations to stew and make some further comments on these topics over the next few weeks, along with some reflections on my recent attendance of New Word Alive, the flagship conservative evangelical conference over Easter 09.
Would love to hear some of your comments?