Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What About Music?

This weekend, I taught a class on finding God in pop music. That got me thinking; what can a small group do with music?

Plenty!

Whether we’re talking about pop, contemporary Christian, or classical—the reality is music connects with us on a deep level. It causes us to think. It stirs emotion. It can even bring back memories. So why wouldn’t we use music in our small group time?

I recently shared a key piece of my faith journey with other members of the staff at my church. I told the bulk of my story verbally and then played a song that had ministered deeply to me during a significant season of my life. The song, I Am by Ginny Owens, communicated my thoughts and emotions more effectively than another word or two of mine could. The song did more than tell my story, it connected deeply with my friends! They identified with the words of the song. The lyrics linked with a few of their own stories. Through music, we connected more deeply than we would have without it.

In Group Publishing’s helpful booklet, R.E.A.L: Surprisingly Simple Ways To Engage Adults, author Carl Simmons says, “Because music can evoke deep emotion, it can be a catalyst to a great discussion.”

We often see popular movies used as illustrations in sermons, yet we often overlook the art form that provides the soundtrack to our lives—music.

Here are three suggestions for using music effectively in your small group:

1. Your Story
Use a piece of music that has ministered to you during an important (or difficult) time in your life. This will take some vulnerability on your part, but it can help your group members see a different part of your life.

2. Supplemental Illustration
Music tells a message. The question is; what message is it communicating? As you prepare to lead your group through a Bible study or a book study, seek to find music that can support the message of the text. If your study is focusing on the sovereignty of God, find some music that communicates God’s power and might. Then listen to it together and discuss.

3. Finding God in our culture
Biblical themes like redemption, forgiveness, love, mercy, and hope are present in many different styles of music. Encourage your group members to listen for these biblical themes presented through the music they listen to during the week. Then discuss them at your next group meeting.

Music can be a powerful tool. Let’s use it for God’s glory!

2 comments:

BCawley said...

Thanks Rob! I second your recommendation that music can really supplement your study and discussion. For example, while doing a study on the Prodigal Son, we spent an entire study on music that was inspired by that parable. We also looked at paintings and other art. It really added depth to our discussion. Thanks for your thoughts and passion for community!

Gary said...

So thankful that God actually went to the trouble of "wiring us for sound"! The intricacies of music are so complex that it's another example of how careful and intentional our Creator was with us. Music can make us laugh, cry, dance, march,...how powerful! How AMAZING!