Singing, COVID-19, and Church…

So, some stream of consciousness thoughts that have been percolating for some time now.

hedley lamarr

 

As the great theologian Hedley Lamarr once said:

“My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening thru a cosmic vapor of invention.”

 

I’ve been thinking, almost constantly now for several weeks, about the implications of COVID on our church and the church as a whole’s re-assembling…and about the numerous reports and stories regarding how singing can, did, does, and could be a significant factor in transmission of airborne germs that could carry the virus.

I don’t want to think about an assembly WITHOUT SINGING. The thought of that even being an option on the table saddens me deeply. If we can’t sing together, then it’s hard to think that it’s right to come back together quite yet.
[You can read an earlier post I shared last week about the wisdom in choosing not to assemble together quite yet from a perspective of preventing risk as opposed to creating risk…]

Yes, there are ways we can sing with masks on, tools, technology, things we can use to help us still worship in song even if we can’t sing full-heartedly and spirit-filled without masks.

As I was sharing with my bro Nathan Tillotson a little while ago, one of the take aways I hope to see as a result of this quarantine is that the church more fully embraces the communal and spiritually formative nature of congregational singing.

Each week, what I miss the most in our season of live streamed worship, is singing with my church family. For some time now, the church has seen in its present pendulum swing with regard to worship music, a leaning toward a return to more congregation-friendly, participation-initiating, more hymnic style songs (i.e., Getty/Townend – Sovereign Grace – Bob Kauflin – Indellible Grace – Kevin Twit – Audrey Asaad and others writing them and helping to lead the church in such a direction!).

But as the church processes just how much it has missed being together, I hope and pray that it will recapture and appreciate the incredible power and witness of congregational song again…it’s long overdue.

 

Lots of Facebooking, Streaming, Hymnstagramming, and YouTubing

Hi Friends & Readers.

Your not-so-faithful hymnist, D.J. Bulls here.
Well, with COVID-19 and quarantining, we’ve been doing a lot of digital work lately.

I’ve been streaming a BUNCH on my Facebook page as well as our Church Facebook page (facebook.com/gilmercofctx).

I’ve also updated my YouTube Channel.

You can also jump over to INSTAGRAM and follow a fun account: @hymnstagramm

Technology, Millennials, and Church…

From time to time, I hear conversations that go like this:

“Ya know, people just don’t go to church like they used to…I remember when I was a kid, we were there every time the doors were open…”

Eventually, those conversations get to topics like social media, the internet, iPhones, technology…you know how it goes. At that moment, I will sometimes offer a question of my own, something to the effect of:

“Do you have a phone or computer and if so, how often do you check in with your friends, kids, grandkids, neighbors, etc. through that technology?” And often, the response is one like “I don’t do that stuff,” or “why would I do that” or “why do I need that…”

I know that technology, the internet, social media, smartphones and the like all have their perils and pitfalls. The least of which is how they have impaired human communication in a significant way. Just watch this video if you don’t believe me.

But I hear a recurring refrain about this generational gap that exists between millennials and boomers…I hear lots of boomers and others older than that say they wonder why they’re disconnected with younger generations and they don’t understand why they don’t go to church or participate in worship like “they did…”

And it makes me wonder…how can we help those folks, often so resistant to new things, change, and especially technology and social media, bridge that gap with the good side of all that this technological age has provided for us…I think the more we close that gap using some of the wonderful resources out there (that aren’t as hard as the media wants us to think they are), the more we’ll see relationships (which are STILL the most important thing) blossom and bloom where once they might have been prohibited by technology (on both sides of the gap, mind you).

Just fodder for thought. Not a full-blown rant, but something I think about almost daily.

Fracture, Unity, and “Tradition”

While it’s absolutely true that we in America have NO real concept of what it means to be persecuted as Christians, or as churches, what it means to experience religious persecution, I think it’s startling at just how often we hurt each other and ourselves and our brothers and sisters within the church. We allow Satan to have a field day attacking us, taking us “off message” by getting all worked up over things that just don’t’ matter in the grand scheme of things…

Just in the last few days, I’ve heard of fractures and divisions that have led to members of the body of Christ wishing failure and hurt on another congregation just because they “didn’t get their way.”

And we wonder why people are tired of “the church” or why people consider Christians to be hypocritical.

I have my share of failures, sin, and lots of baggage. But that’s NO excuse for any of us to EVER attack the Church…Christ’s bride…Christ’s body, Christ’s witness on earth to the world…a part of Christ’s incarnation to help make life on earth more like it is in heaven.

It would also do us well to do a better job defining what’s sacred, what’s a sacred cow, what’s biblical, what’s tradition, and what’s traditionalism. As Jaroslav Pellikan once said, “Tradition is the living faith of the dead. Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.” Those are Two VERY different things.

Maybe a little “Fiddler” would help us remember the difference?

 

Shaped Notes and Widescreens

college-photo_8440Last Thursday, I was blessed to be invited to present a lecture presentation sponsored by Abilene Christian University’s Charis Foundation (www.char.is). This lecture focuses on just a smidge, an introduction, a snippet of my research into the hymnody, worship, and congregational song of Churches of Christ and in the Restoration Movement.

This presentation begins to pick up the timeline of our hymnological history over the last 30-50 years. It was impossible to say as much as I’d wanted to during this presentation…I was cutting things right and left, before and during the presentation because of my inability to keep good time (ironic, given that I’m a conductor… 🙂 ). So, I hope to follow this up with some blog posts and maybe some other exciting things I’ll share with you in the coming days that may be an extension of this blog. We’ll see…

I make reference also to some very preliminary survey numbers in this presentation 3ea7bf8where I’ve been able to survey almost 3,800 congregations of all flavors, shapes, and sizes. I hope to talk more about this and expand this in coming months as well. If for some reason, you or your church wasn’t a part of those but you’d like to be, please let me know!

Anyway, I’d love to dialogue with you about this presentation. Please leave a comment…email me using the link above on the menu. This is living, breathing, ongoing and expanding research. You can be a part of that.

Here’s that video for your enjoyment…or for your assistance in sleeping.

D.J. Bulls from AdamsCenter 4 Teaching&Learning on Vimeo.