Monday, October 15, 2007


Long before the Internet, people relied on links for resources and encouragement in church music. We called them networks. These have sustained and instructed me in so many ways that I can hardly sort out what and where they have built into my work in the church.

The list includes one-time conferences that signaled sea-changes for me, as well as ongoing relationships with friends and mentors. Here are just a few. Some have links, in the URL sense, on this blog.

  • Ransom Fellowship, Rochester, MN – “Education and the Gift of Music.” It msut have been in 1994? Here I met John Mason Hodges, who delivered a series of lectures on musical aesthetics. It set me on a 9-month reading course that changed me forever. The Fellowship’s newsletters are also a great read. (I should, but don’t, still subscribe.)
  • Leadership Network gathering of music pastors in Colorado Springs, at Glen Eyrie (Navigators) – I attended 2 or 3 of these, which drew together music leadership from similar-sized churches. I know I met Chip Stam at one, and I think Ron Man also (but I could be wrong about when I met Ron). The gathered set their own agenda and over the course of a couple of days we learned from each other, encouragingly. (It was also great to be able to hike alone in the CO mountains above Glen Eyrie!) Chip is the heart and email behind Worship Quote of the Week. Ron is the thoughtful author/compiler of Worship Resources.
  • Kenneth Myers, author and audio journalist. I was introduced to Ken’s work through Ransom Fellowship. He is said to have the “spiritual gift of bibliography.” Mars Hill Audio presents excellent “NPR quality” interviews and commentary on culture from a Christian world view. All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes is now a classic, approaching its 20th year in print and still worth re-reading. It is a small step to Myers from the massively influential Neil Postman Amusing Ourselves to Death. (1985)
  • Don’t even get me started on books. That will have to wait for its own posting (and probably many).
  • I would be an utter ingrate not to mention the good people and pastors at Berean Baptist Church, Burnsville, MN. They welcomed me as their first full time worship pastor, encouraged and sharpened me, let me grow, and by their acceptance of my role taught me what it means to be a pastoral musician. I had never been a full-time pastor, and they had never had a full-time musician – neither of us knew what to expect, so we were well suited!
  • John Wilson, former chief editor at Hope Publishing Company, became a friend at the Village Church of Western Springs. He kindly let this upstart co-teach adult Sunday School classes on the subject of worship, and (riskily) recommended me for the job at Berean. John introduced me to the 20th century English hymn writing explosion, and without making a big deal out of it took some of the rough edges off my musical and personal approaches. I always wanted to be an intern to John. Instead, God gave us friendship.
  • The World Church Music Symposium, London 1996. The course of reading launched by John Mason Hodges’ aesthetics lectures ultimately resulted in a paper written for and presented at the Symposium. There’s so much to say about that event. But let it suffice here to say that without this Symposium I would not be at College Church. The link? George Dupere. We had not met when we arrived for the Symposium. Before we left I knew I had a friend and “iron-sharpening” colleague. I am at College Church only because George is not. (Long story.)
  • Church Music at a Crossroads was a smaller, more collegial colloquy of church musicians. The first gathering was at Covenant College. Again, while I had a chance to read a paper here, its primary value was the opportunity to meet and connect with people dealing with a careful application of biblical theology to the practice of church music.

Over time the influences of these links, and many others I’m sure, will come through in Te decet hymnus. I hope I will remember sources and give credit. If I do not, be assured I am well aware that very little of what I think, believe, and practice is original. I owe much to many.

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