Reaching Europeans Through Music
Music inspires emotion and provokes thought. Whether it’s religious hymns, classical movements, or contemporary hits, melodies and lyricism reach down into a person’s soul, uncovering joys and sorrows. Believers well know the role music plays in worship and intimacy with God, but music can also be an effective way to draw in the lost.
“A healthy worship life of the church will fuel the other aspects of the total church ministry,” says Richard Mauney, a Greater Europe Mission worker in Romania. “Discipleship, spiritual growth of members, evangelism…Attention given to congregational worship can both reflect as well as produce a proper balance in the overall ministry of the church.”
Although music is certainly an expression of worship, it’s not the only form of worship. As Paul remarks in Romans 12, our entire lives should be an act of worship: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship,” (Romans 12:1-2). As believers explore other forms of worship, is it possible music can serve different purposes, as well?
Creating Gospel Curiosity
GEM worker Zachary McKay is passionate about music and has served in music ministry in church for 15 years. Yet more recently, and unexpectedly, he experienced the fruit of playing music in his home in Germany.
“Music…creates interest that creates curiosity. [This] leads to people asking questions to learn more about it––not just to enjoy the art, but to get to the heart of it.”Zachary McKay
“On three separate occasions, my neighbours told me that my singing was really good––I suppose [my apartment] walls were either thinner than I figured,” Zachary jokes. After explaining to them that he plays music at his church, his neighbours expressed that they’d never heard church music that sounded like that.
“I think singing more contemporary worship music or a different style than people are used to creates interest that creates curiosity and then ultimately leads to people asking questions to learn more about it. [It’s] not just to enjoy the art, but to get to the heart of it,” Zachary explains.
Aside from these meaningful encounters with his neighbours, Zachary also makes a point to meet regularly with other musicians for a time of encouragement and training.
“We’re creating a space for developing relationships because of the natural camaraderie in the arts and in music,” Zachary says. Between coaching those who come wanting to improve their skills, or those who just need a safe place to do what they love, these jam sessions become a great opportunity to reach others.
Music as Mission
“There isn’t necessarily that understanding of being in a holy space,” Zachary says about these jam sessions, “or the song may not be recognizably about Jesus. That, to me, is a fun space to enter, because although nonbelievers may not recognize the subject matter of the music at first, they recognize the emotion behind it.”
Richard Mauney’s suggestion that all aspects of ministry are impacted by healthy worship within the church is evident in the unique ways people choose to serve missionally.
“Evangelism or discipleship doesn’t conform to a strict kind of model,” Zachary explains. “Music can be a form of discipleship and evangelism…I can name four people who came to faith explicitly because of exposure to Christian music. Three of them are now pastors. So, in regard to music and art as mission, if the Holy Spirit is in it, then lives are going to be transformed.”
To those who want to explore this type of ministry, Zachary suggests diving right in.
“Just immerse yourself in it and trust that God is there and in it with you. If it’s something you really want to do, your actions [should] reflect that, but it’s really about surrounding yourself with people in an environment that will nurture that desire.”
Adapted from an article originally published at GEM Canada and revised by Michelle Johnson.
Photos courtesy of Zachary McKay.