This article has been updated as of 2021. Creator magazine, referenced below, has ceased print publication, but survives as a legacy website here.
It happened again last Tuesday, when I presented a webinar on how to integrate traditional and contemporary music in worship. An eager group of people gathered (in digital space, to be sure, but they gathered). The attendance at my webinar was about the size of the weekly attendance at what today is called a small church. I was able to share information about something with which I have experience. The questions, in response, were thoughtful, and showed a great hunger to learn. The people who attended were a part of the Creator Leadership Network.
If you are reading this, you may be part of the Creator Leadership Network.
We're In This Together
The Creator Leadership Network is a community. It is also a tribe. In case you immediately thought of a movie western, or a National Geographic special, it is important to know that anthropologists use the term "tribe" to refer to groups organized largely on the basis of kinship. A tribe is like an extended family. Tribe is also a social media term that has been thrown around a lot on the internet, mostly due to the work and writings of Seth Godin. In the case of the CLN family, our "kinship" centers around the core values of music, ministry, worship, and leadership.
So I want to tell you why it is important that we consider ourselves to be a tribe. If you have served in "traditional" church music ministry for any length of time, you are aware that many of your colleagues have been under attack. Perhaps you yourself have found it necessary to "justify your existence" as the worship (style) wars have played out in churches across North America over the past 20+ years or so. At times I myself have felt like there was an organized attempt to push church music ministry farther and farther away from "worship," as the voices of the churchofwhatshappeningnow (dot com) became louder, and often, more strident.
As someone who was closely identified with "traditional" church music ministry, I found myself, like many others, reacting defensively, particularly during the early stages of this process. The collective response got to be, in many instances, just as strident from the "contemporary" side. The result was that very little dialogue ensued, which was not healthy, and certainly not productive.
The shouting has died down, for the most part, in the past few years, which is a good thing. But the worship/music landscape has changed in the church. We're not in Kansas anymore, and you can't just click your heels and go home again. Let me put it another way. If you are still serving at the same place you were 15 years ago, and still doing the same kind of worship and music ministry, you are either in a "legacy" situation, your battle is coming, or you are extremely lucky.
If you are reading this, you are either a survivor, you are feeling under attack, or you are trying to prepare yourself for going forward in the brave new world of church music and worship ministry. Welcome to the Creator Leadership Network family.
And That's The Way It Is
The good news is that our tribe has survived, and, I believe, we are stronger for it. We have lost many members of the tribe -- good ones -- who have left the worship wars feeling rejected, or worse. Yet we who remain are still standing, and we find that the "church" has been, as it has been many times before, reformed, rather than destroyed. We still serve. And we're glad you think Creator still serves you.
Since our first magazine was published in 1978, Creator's goal has been to serve as a source of practical information that enables the values and processes of excellence, community, and continuing education to leaders in music and worship ministries from all perspectives, with an emphasis upon leadership development. That hasn't changed, and, at least under my watch, it won't change. But who we have served, and who we serve now has changed considerably, and so I thought it would be a good idea to let you know that you are not alone. You are part of the Creator Leadership Network. You are part of our extended family -- our tribe. And the work you are doing is valuable. It touches lives. Thank you for doing what you do.
As a tribe, we are made stronger by the sharing of knowledge. Too often over the past decade the narrative has been bad news. But that's not the whole story. I regularly asked my daughter what she had learned that day as she grew up. Early on, her response was that she hadn't learned anything because one thing or another had made that a bad day. But slowly but surely she understood that you can learn something from even a bad experience -- even if what you learn is what not to do.
There have been bad things happening out there in church music and worship ministry. But more importantly, there are good things happening out there in church music and worship ministry. Maybe they are happening to you, or because of you. Your colleagues can learn from that. I encourage you to share your story. We all need to hear what works. We need to know what you've learned. We all benefit from knowing what you know. I can't wait to learn from you.
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