Missional Music: Building Up The City, One Song At A Time
Our friend, Jonathan, shares with us how he and others were challenged to use the gifts God has given for His Kingdom purpose. He shares with us the inspiration behind the music and their hope for it to be used to build up the community around them.
We hear music everywhere we go. Whether we’re plugged into our phones and media players, listening to it while jogging or working, overhearing the beats of the car beside us, or letting it enhance our shopping or dining, music is the soundtrack of our daily experiences. Think about what a movie, a concert, and yes, even a church would be without it! As a creative expression or mere entertainment, there’s no denying the influence music has had on culture and in shaping the very world we live in; the very world that God has created and calls us out on His redemptive mission to serve and to build up.
How then can music play a part in that missional communal life? For sure, it has been instrumental, pun intended, in ushering us into the presence of the Holy Spirit through response in worship and reflection. It has been effective in reminding us of God’s promises and truths through a chorus or verse, perhaps through a catchy rhythm or melody. But what if it can do more? What if God intended music for His greater purposes?
Growing up, music was an amazing part of my life. From learning piano as child, to being a part of garage bands, orchestras, and worship teams, there are few things that has moved and consumed me as much as a tune and melody. Everywhere I went, I met people with the same passion and gifts, talented musicians who equally enjoyed crafting specimens of sound and stories together. In seminary, it was a privilege to get to make music and to be able to use those gifts to point to Christ.
Over the years, the group of us had a number of opportunities to produce and record music to express the workings and words that God was impressing on us during our times in school. As we neared the end of our years of studies, we decided to have one last go at it, not only to create the best sounding and produced album, but to see how we could even reach further and have a real and intentional missional attitude toward music itself.
1 Peter 4:10, a verse plastered on my church’s wall, has always reminded me that each of us should use whatever gifts we have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. This verse is a humbling encouragement that every gift God has given us, music included, is not solely meant for personal enjoyment, but should be a blessing in service to others and to reflect God’s grace in whatever way it is expressed. That the gift itself can be a manifestation of God’s greatest expression of grace, Christ’s saving and redemptive work, and can point to the hope we have in Him.
It was from this starting point that we began a project almost five years ago to make music that would come out of a sense of the community that we had as God’s family and since then, He has continued to redefine how we viewed music and His purposes for it. Each song was birthed from a single passage or situation in life, yet it matured in a communal sense as each artist and musician worked and contributed, not only to their own, but to each other’s songs, fashioning a synergetic tone and emerging with a truly communal musical voice. This project brought together artists from different walks and styles to record and make music with a unique and collaborative purpose.
With many of the songs having a theme of going through difficult times and situations and then turning to find hope and a new life in God, the album was entitled ‘Break Down, Build Up’. The music created came out of a sense of a community journeying together through the ebbs and flows of life, in hopes that it would encourage and bless the listeners and remind them that though we are pressed and troubled, we are not crushed or broken, but rather refined and redeemed, sharing in Christ’s victory.
But things didn’t end there. We felt God’s leading to strive for a deeper missional mentality for this project. As we looked around our city, neighbourhoods, and even to the global state, we saw families in need and communities that have been broken. Our convictions led us to seeking out how can we serve them and be stewards of God’s grace through this project.
In addition to having the title of the CD be reflective of the songs, we also wanted the name to represent our intentions of building up neighbourhoods and communities through supporting local and global missional organizations who work directly with families and youth. As a community of musicians and artists, we decided to follow this lead and that all the profits and proceeds from the digital online sales and limited CD run will be going directly to Youth Unlimited, Yonge Street Mission, Urban Promise, World Vision, and Operation Mercy/Freedom Village Ukraine.
It is our hope that we would be challenged each and everyday to use whatever God has given us for His Kingdom mission and purposes, to be intentionally and creatively part of His redemptive and restorative plan, and to build each other up in life and in faith, whether through word and deed, and of course, through song.
The album is currently available online on:
- iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/break-down-build-up/id890996814)
- Google Play (https://play.google.com/store/music/album?id=B53euevdi2cfd4efirhaywqzika&tid=song-Ten5xtpl634ofihjvqe3a2usq2q)
- Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LFNOE62/ref=dm_ws_sp_ps_dp)
- HMV Digital (https://www.hmvdigital.com/releases/3610716)
- CD Baby (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/breakdownbuildup)