What is God calling you to do?
Cain was a farmer. Nothing wrong with that. Abel was a shepherd. Nothing wrong with that.
Cain probably loved farming. If he spent his life at it, he probably took satisfaction in it. He was probably good at it. He probably knew all about fertilizer, when to plant, when to water and the exact right time to harvest. He went to bed with a sore back from pulling weeds, and proudly served his family the stuff he grew. God made him with a mind and temperament for growing things.
Cain probably watched his brother, who was good with growing animals, and saw a reflection of his own satisfaction in a job well done. Abel grew animals, Cain grew plants.
And then God comes along and asks for a sacrifice. An offering. And he wants a sheep. Cain doesn’t have a sheep, so he brings the things he’s proud of–a sample of his crops. This is him. Surely God will be okay with this! This is his best.
And God turns it down, saying he wants a sheep. Cain is hurt. Cain feels rejected and, well–insulted. Doesn’t God love him? Doesn’t God care that Cain loves growing things? Doesn’t God want Cain’s best? God made Cain this way, and now he doesn’t like what he has to offer?
The only answer is: God wants a sheep.
God wants a sheep, but Cain has made the mistake of thinking this whole thing is about him, Cain. It isn’t about him–it’s about God. And God gets to say what it’s about. Why did He want a sheep, instead of vegetables? He had his reasons, but they don’t matter. What matters is what God’s asking for.
What kind of music should you play at your church? The answer is: whatever needs playing.
Later on you get to ask, “What do I want to play?” and “What sounds like fun?” But not yet. You have to earn it.
I know this flies directly in the face of current social thinking. We’re all supposed to be seeking self-actualization, right?
C.S. Lewis said this:
‘The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first—wanting to be the centre—wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake. … What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come … the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”
Is God asking for a sheep, and you’re bringing vegetables?
Self-actualization is a poor platform from which to launch a ministry. Searching deep within your soul to find out what makes YOU happy, and then using that as your guide, is only going to set you up for disappointment after disappointment. Of course God made you with certain talents, but those aren’t strictly for your own satisfaction. Start down that road, and you will find yourself angry, time after time, at people who get in the way of ‘what God has called you to do’.
So let’s not ask bad questions about the music department, at least to start with:
What do we like?
What will get people in the door?
What will be fun for the band?
Asking ‘What do we like?’ means that whoever listens to your music is supposed to like it, just because you brought it.
Asking ‘What will be fun for the band?’ will produce disillusioned musicians with thin skins.
Asking “What will get people in the door?” assumes that the whole goal is ‘butts in seats’, like at the movies.
The starting place is “What is the sheep God wants you, and this congregation to bring?”
God has called your church to some sort of specific direction. What is it? Are you an old church in an old town, with decades of tradition? Are you a young church, full of children and young couples? Are you reaching out to the lost as a primary direction? Ministering to poor families in a rural area?
Figure out what music suits your church best, then figure out how best to bring it with the people you already have.