My first book, Let It Grow! dealt with music. I used to do seminars on this topic. I would speak for three hours on the idea that in order to reach young people we need to use the music of young people.
It is just a missionary principle to me. It is missions 101. I grew up as a missionary’s kid in the Philippines. The popular instrument among some people in the Philippines is known as a kulingtang. It is a bell of sorts that sits in a ladder-like structure and is played with a mallet.
Question: imagine you were to go to the kulingtang-loving people as a missionary. Suppose you were to win some of them to Christ and wanted to start a church that would reach other kulingtang-loving people. What instrument would you choose to reach the kulingtang-loving people?
Now imagine your goal is to reach young people. Imagine you are a youth minister. What kind of music do you use to reach the youth?
Now imagine you want to reach baby boomers and millennials. I think you see where I’m heading with this.
I have conducted seminars where I went on and on about this for three hours. Invariably, people would come up to me afterwards and say, “I think you’re wrong, Josh. I just don’t think music makes that much difference.”
Over time I developed this response. “Let’s suppose you’re right. Now, mind you, I think music does make a big difference, but let’s suppose it doesn’t. If it doesn’t make that much difference here is what I suggest. There is a verse somewhere that speaks of deferring to the weaker brother. (Romans 14) It suggests that we bend to the weaker and less mature. So, since you say music doesn’t make that much difference anyway, here is what I suggest. Get rid of your choir. Get rid of the organ. Get rid of the piano. Replace them with drums and guitars. Turn the music up really loud. And don’t do any songs written before 10 years ago.”
“Oh no, we could never do that.”
“Why not? You told me music doesn’t matter.”
“Our people would hate it. I would lose my job.”
“Music matters to your people that much? I get that. That’s my point. It matters to young people too. Music matters to everyone.”