BACKSTAGE PASS: The How’s And Why’s Behind The Curtain, Part 2

Part 2 of 3

I am a “what happened behind the scenes?” kind of guy. I love it. I’d rather watch a movie commentary than a movie. I can listen to the crew of a film talk for three hours about a film that put me to sleep in three minutes. Just tell me how the screenwriter got the idea! Why were those actors chosen? Were there others who turned the roles down? Why? Did the studio step in and wreck the film by trying to mainstream it? How different is it from the book?

Just in case you like to know what goes on behind the scenes too, I’m pulling back the curtain (as if I have any curtains) on how we choose the songs we play on Sunday morning. We have a bit over 100 songs we rotate in and out of the set depending on what we believe God is telling us to emphasize and depending on the season we feel like our people are in. As we rotate them and add to them, we try to meet three basic desires:


2. The Desire To Make Sure We Don’t Drift Away From Jesus In Favor Of Cultural Trends

The closer we are to God, the more solid our foundation is. The more solid our foundation is, the more joy we have. The more joy we have, the more we tend to stop fearing life and relax. The more we tend to relax, the more we get comfortable. And history teaches us through the Bible and probably even our own families, the more we get comfortable, the more we drift away from the God who is our joy and foundation. 

The Old Testament is basically just the story of Israel drifting away from God about 57 times, and it’s heartbreaking to read. But on the upside, God gives ways to address that. When Joshua and Israel finished crossing the Jordan River on dry ground, this is the first thing God told them:

“When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.’” (Joshua 4:1-3)
“Joshua set up the twelve stones .... And they are there to this day.” (Joshua 4:9)

The Jordan River was so big it could destroy towns and yet the whole nation of Israel had just witnessed this: 

“Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam...” (Joshua 3:15-16)

They participated in this miracle first hand. It seems unlikely anyone could ever forget that, yet God immediately told them to set up a reminder:

“to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. ... These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:6-7)

We have a tendency to drift away from God. It appears to be part of the human condition. Sometimes we even drift for good reasons like when Israel added hundreds of rules to the Bible hoping it would keep them from sinning. The thing is, rules that don’t come from God tend to do more harm than good. In the end, the rules they added led many people to drift into legalism. 

The truth is we are like Israel and we need to set up our own “twelve stones” so we don’t drift away from Jesus. In much of my life, those 12 stones have been the richness in the words of the hymns. Would I rather rock out to big guitars and drums in a modern prog rock song? Yes. But at this point, I won’t leave those hymns behind due to their voracious attack on anything that that stands in the place of Jesus. They tell his story so thoroughly and so effectively that I am brought back to his feet time and time again as I sing them.

So we may rewrite the music and bring modern sensibilities to the sounds you’re hearing, but the lyrics and melodies in those hymns are likely to be around for a long time. 

Songs is this category: 

David Barton

David is the Worship Director at Maple Grove.