Common Ground

One of the questions I get asked a lot, not necessarily from regular joes, but primarily from other church leaders is: “What’s the deal with your music?” And even though most of them don’t come right out and say it, I know EXACTLY what they mean…

They want to know why every time they see a youtube video from our church, or see footage from one of our student ministry services, they see us unapologetically doing what they would call “secular” music. (Here lately, we’ve been opening almost every service with it.)  With all the AMAZING (hear the sarcasm?) “Christian” music available today, why do you do so many songs that aren’t “Christian?” 
So I’d like to take a moment and address their line of questioning…
First things first, you have to understand why we do what we do on Sunday mornings. Top to bottom, in every environment, our NUMBER ONE goal is to see EVERYONE experience LIFE-CHANGE through Jesus. But to get skeptics and saints alike to BOTH dial in, and focus on what that life-change looks like, we are required to find some common ground for everyone right out of the gate. That common ground CAN’T be theology, belief systems, or facts. It has to be something that taps into everyone’s human emotion.  Why?  Because not everyone has a theological perspective…but EVERYONE has emotion.  Happiness, awe, excitement, etc…
Now don’t get me wrong, I want people to understand theology, build a faith on truth, and develop a sound belief system. But if their not tuned in, paying attention and focused on how to have those things, we might as well be talking to a wall. So we try in almost every service (usually right up front) to do a song, play a game, play a video…whatever, that has NO OTHER PURPOSE but to make people happy that they came. We literally do things that serve one single purpose: making people have fun. Why? BECAUSE EVERYBODY ENJOYS HAVING FUN, churched or unchurched! It’s common ground for everybody in the room. As humans, we are always DRAWN to people and environments that make us feel good, and we always RESIST people and environments that make us feel uncomfortable. That’s why we do what we do.
Jesus did the same thing. In Luke 15, we find Jesus teaching to a very mixed crowd, tax collectors, sinners, Pharisees, and religious leaders. How could you possibly relevantly teach to such a diverse group. Rather than diving right in to the teaching, Jesus starts by finding common ground. He starts out by talking about how it feels when someone loses a sheep. A sheep! Not about the Heavenly Kingdom, or about faith, or about the Father’s will…but SHEEP! (What a secular topic!) He knew that everyone in His audience could relate to what it would feel like to lose a sheep. Then, he moved on to another topic…not God, or His purpose for the world, but a lost coin.  A LOST COIN!  Again, another secular topic…but people could relate, whether you were religious or not.  Finally, he moves on to a third topic.  SIN? SALVATION? ATONEMENT?  Negative ghostrider…he talked about a lost son.  WHY???  Why would the son of God with limited time on this earth spend time talking about such trivial things?  Because Jesus knew and understood the importance of getting everyone’s attention and making sure everybody had something they could track with. Then, once he had their attention, He went on to teach them about the love of His Father in Heaven. But first, he found common ground, and had them dial in through human emotion.
When we do “secular” songs at our church. It’s not just to be cool. It’s so that we can get people from a broad spectrum of backgrounds on common ground, dialed in, and connected with what is happening on the stage.  I mean, everybody loves a good Beatles tune, or the latest from Coldplay, right?  When we do secular music, we are using it to find common ground with people who don’t yet know God or are a part of His church.  And we will continue do whatever it takes to ENGAGE the people God has sent our direction, so that we can successfully CHALLENGE them with the truth of God’s word. Besides, why wouldn’t you wanna check out a church where a Foo Fighters tune is in the lineup?

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