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Music That Moves

 

All Christ followers begin the faith journey with at least two goals. We want to please and honor Jesus and faithfully demonstrate God's love to others. Unfortunately we all come short of these goals. Church history and personal experiences illustrate the universal tendency of Christians to cycle downward into styles of living and a types of churches that might be called "self-serving."  

 

Any understanding of service and witness as a department of the church or the special task of zealots is not biblical. This is a "Jesus-and-me" distortion of Christ's call to serve as well as worship.

  

Dallas Willard illustrates this point in describing "vampire Christians" as those who speak to Jesus as if to say, "I'd like a little of your blood, please. But I don't care to be your student or have your character. In fact, won't you just excuse me while I get on with my life, and I'll see you in heaven."

 

 

 

Diet and Doctrine

This deterioration of vital Christianity might be related to the types of messages that fill the minds of many believers. A great percentage of what we hear about following Jesus has to do with our "personal" lives - my forgiveness, my home in heaven, my family, my peace, etc. Although these are wonderful aspects of the Christian life, a diet (what we read and hear) only including these types of blessings inadvertently encourages our selfish tendencies.

 

We need a balanced diet of teaching and encouragement that connects our  personal relationship with Jesus and our participation in His ministry in the world. This balanced approach to life and ministry might be called cruciform. The vertical line in the Cross reminds us of the necessary interaction between holy and loving God and His children. God reaches down in grace, and we respond in faith, confession, praise and allegiance. The horizontal line in the Cross reminds us that joining God in mission to lost and hurting people is vitally connected to authentic faith in God through Jesus Christ. Without the horizontal line, the form is only a big "I."

 

The doctrine and teaching of Scripture come to us in two primary ways: proclamation (oral or written) and music. Even if sermons, books and teachings match the cruciform description, there is still the issue of music.

 

 

 

Vertical and Horizontal Worship

I love music, and it is becoming more and more important to my journey. Over the centuries music has been a central aspect of the worship of God. Worshippers address God with acts of praise, thanksgiving, confession and supplication. In Scripture we find worship music using words like -

Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever (Ps. 111:1-3).

 

But we also find many worship songs like this -

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us - so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you

(Ps. 67:1-3).

 

A review of worship and music in the Bible reveals that worship actually has two directions. There are many texts that help us worship vertically, focusing the nature and gifts of God and our need for Him. See Psalm 111. There are also many passages that have more of a horizontal dimension. As worshippers adore God and bring him glory, we remember and connect with the global purpose of God. See Psalm 67. King David (1000 BC), Charles Wesley (1707-1788), Keith Green (1953-1982), Darlene Zschech (1965- ) and countless other musicians and worship leaders over the centuries have realized the close connection between the worship of God and the mission of God.

 

God's ongoing global purpose is to be worshipped by all nations and peoples, and God's plan is to involve his people in achieving his purposes. As we come before the awesome presence of God with songs of praise, our devotion to God leads us to desire all peoples to bring him glory.

 

 

 

FollowOne and the Music Industry

Over the past decade FollowOne has developed tools to help mobilize the Church for effective and strategic outreach. One of the most important resources  may be the least known.

 

In 2008 James developed a rating system to categorize music as to its focus. Cruciform music addresses the vertical as well as horizontal aspects of the faith - praise and service, thanksgiving and witness. This music correlates with the two directions of the Cross. Relatively few songs used in contemporary worship fit this description. Worship leaders may be more open to using this music since it can continue the flow of worship as it connects the vertical and horizontal aspects of our response to God. Samples include: Missions Flame (Matt Redman), You Said (Hillsong), Give Me Your Eyes (Brandon Heath), Follow You (Leeland), Until the Whole World Hears (Casting Crowns), and Fix My Eyes (for King & Country). 

 

To see the rating system, view a list of cruciform songs and suggest new songs, please visit followone.org. You may have also noticed  a cruciform song at the bottom of the devotional we email the first week of each month.

 

FollowOne is happy to announce a new partnership with Visible Music College in Memphis, TN. We are sponsoring the Cruciform Music Contest. Students write and submit a song in the cruciform style with the chance of winning a $1,500 scholarship. Songs will be judged according to the cruciform distinctives, musical creativity and perceived usefulness in worship settings ("singability"). The purpose of the contest is to provide songwriting, worship and theological education, and add to the corpus of cruciform worship music available to worship planners globally.

 

 

 

  Thank you again for the many ways you have supported the growing ministry of FollowOne. The seeds you have planted are producing a harvest that is bringing glory to God.

 

 

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