Friday, February 12, 2010

Change Pt.2, The Organ

So thinking about my post yesterday and the organ all week (really), I've decided to blend the two to help explain both (sorry if this goes a little long).

A little history with the organ. It was not put into churches hundreds of years ago because it is holy. There are two reasons I can see why the organ entered church. It was loud and it was popular.

The popular music at the time is what we would now call classical. Tons of instruments to play for this type of music. The only problem is volume. You needed something that was loud for hundreds if not thousands of people to hear. A single violin is not that loud, but a symphony is. But there was one instrument that was really loud by itself. The organ. And you can control it's volume by controlling air-flow. That's why a lot of composers used it to accompany vocalists, like Handel and Vivaldi.

Enter the church. We need a loud instrument that can accompany vocalists and be turned down if need be. The organ. It's loud and it's popular. Now realize too, the church was not the only place that jumped on the organ bandwagon. Sporting events, they loved the organ (da da da daaaa da daaaa = "charge!"), Chicago still has an organ where the Blackhawks play (it's electric now). Even with tent revivals for the church 150 years ago, pump organs were loud and somewhat portable, so they were used.

What happened is we made the organ holy. It was a part of services and times of worship where people met with God so thy started to make the organ holy by association. Nowhere did Jesus say the organ is a holy instrument. It's not in the Bible. We decided it was holy because we associated it with holy times.

Fast forward to today. My biggest concern with the church is telling others about Jesus and helping people have a relationship with God, making disciples. Part of that is through worship. Now, Group magazine just did a study and found the number one reason people return to a church after a visit is because they were comfortable. Is the organ comfortable to people who don't have the holy history people that have been in the pews for 40 years do? Not likely, it's uncomfortable probably. Why do I say that?

Look at the reasons the organ entered the church. It's loud. Well, now we have electricity. Sound Systems. We can make anything loud. So let's look at the other criteria. Is it popular? Is it used in popular music and thereby makes people comfortable? I haven't heard the organ played in Starbucks or while shopping in a while, other places that use music to make people comfortable.

So should we get rid of the organ. Possibly. That depends on who is worshipping. If it is meeting the need of leading in worship and helping new people be comfortable, sure. For me, organ music doesn't do it for me. I grew up with Bon Jovi and U2 (which a lot of modern worship music sounds like, connection? Comfortable? People can sing along with worship because they've sang along to Livin' On A Prayer?) All I know is I search for God and bringing Him to people, and sometimes that means doing something different than what worked for me. But I also know my guitar is not holy, it was merely there when something holy happened in my life. Playing it will not recreate that holy moment, but it may be used to lead others into their own holy moments.

No answers, just something to think about. Too often I'm learning people have no idea why they do what they do or even why they believe what they believe. And that scares me...


1 comment:

Jordan said...

I agree with this completely!

It is 2010 and times have changed. It is not possible to bring many people to Christ with the organ. In fact, I think it helps drive lots of younger people away. I'm 25 and don't know anyone my age or younger who likes or listens to organ music.

Fire up the guitar and we are there!