The book of love has music in it.
In fact, that's where music comes from.
Some of it is just transcendental;
Some of it is just really dumb.
But I love it when you sing to me,
And you can sing me anything.
--Stephin Merritt, The Book of Love
The vast majority of all music -- from that initial touch of a stretched animal hide that constituted the first drum to the perfection of Bach's Mass in B minor to the modern-day Tom Fettke choral classic "The Majesty and Glory of Your Name" -- is sacred in nature. Since we first crawled out of the water and stood up on two legs, we've been searching for a higher power and worshipping it, and doing so with song.
And as we have evolved, so has our sacred music. And holy crap, has it changed a lot lately.
As with all evolution, there is a telescoping nature to it. It took about 2 billion years for life to evolve. After about 100,000 years, mankind as we know it had come in to existence. Ten thousand more years brought us agriculture, then 400 years for the scientific revolution, about 150 years after that came the industrial revolution, and now, we're seeing real evidence of evolutionary changes in humanity happening in one generation.
The same pattern -- a sort of Fibonacci-in-reverse pattern -- exists in the history of our church music. For a millennium (almost), the music of the Christian Church consisted exclusively of men singing Latin in unison, and doing so unaccompanied. Then someone decided to add a second voice. Craziness. That lasted a couple of hundred years, and then somebody decided to add some instruments. Suddenly, we were having ourselves a Renaissance period, and there were choirs and recognizable versions of orchestras playing and singing praise to God.
And Then Came the Guitar
A generation ago, the pinnacle of church music looked something like this: a 100-voice choir wearing robes sings an inspiring piece of music accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra on the chancel, all inside a sanctuary that is as beautiful as it is massive. That's awe-inspiring. And it engenders worship.
Today, that's not what you normally find when you go to a church service on any given Sunday. You are more likely to find a darkened room, sometimes with folding chairs, and a rock band on the stage. They're still praising God, but it's really different from what that choir and orchestra were doing 30 years ago. Then again, that whole choir-and-orchestra shtick ruffled some feathers when it was new, too.
A fundamental shift in church music has occurred in the last half-century. It is for better or worse? Who knows? But it's changed and is changing. What you find is based on the kind of churches you stumble into.
Take Joseph Bias, for example. Bias has served as the minister of music at First United Methodist Church in Tulsa for 16 years. His is an older congregation (not a bunch of blue-hairs, but it's not a church of 20-somethings, either), so the music of his services isn't all electric guitars and fancy stage lights.
"We have three different types of services in the sanctuary, the early and the later services are more traditional," he said. "Solos, choirs, instrumental, the organ supports the congregational singing. We don't do much of the so-called worship choruses."
However, those services bookend a 9:30am service referred to as a contemporary service, though Bias is quick to get out in front of some of the terminology related to this discussion, a theme that ran through all the interviews for this piece.
"The word 'contemporary' doesn't really apply to this service, but that's because it's hard to say just exactly what 'contemporary' is. We have choruses and a band," he said. "Most churches are doing things like this, but we don't go quite as hard on the rock side. But most of the stuff is contemporary in nature. We do Chris Tomlin, Michael W. Smith, things like that."
Jeff Elkins, music minister at First Baptist Church in Tulsa, echoes Bias' unease with the labels, especially the C word.
"When you say something is contemporary, and you're talking about church music, I think it's part of the connotation of the past," Elkins said. "I was in Muskogee in the '90s. We were Baptist and kind of behind. And we started a 'contemporary' service. That was a division to a lot of people. People felt like we were taking something away, and they said, 'You're taking away what I like.'"
There seams to be -- surprise, surprise -- people who have certain ideas about how the music in their own worship experience should be.
"Maybe we should have used 'modern.' 'Contemporary' also seems like it's putting what you're doing in a box," Elkins said. "But whatever we do, we are supposed to be meeting God. 'Contemporary' puts a label on it. And so does any other label, I guess."
On the opposite end of town from Bias and Elkins is Chris Cleveland, a worship leader at Asbury United Methodist Church. He puts perhaps the best point on the terminology discussion.
"It's interesting. Over the years, you had 'traditional,' and that was like a choir and an organ and some hymns," Cleveland said. "And then the move was to 'contemporary,' back in, like, the '90s. There were some pretty simple praise choruses and some acoustic guitar and maybe some drums, but then people wanted to get more edgy. So now 'contemporary' is kind of the new 'traditional,' and now we're calling what we're doing these days 'modern.'"
And modern it is. Or at the very least, it ain't your father's church service. Cleveland leads worship at Asbury's Venue service, and in many respects, there's a definite rock concert vibe. There are loud guitars, rock music (sometimes you'll even hear a song you might have heard on The Edge on the way to church), colored lights, the works. The congregation stands throughout most of it, they sing along loudly, and lots of people seem like they're having a great time -- worship leaders and worshippers alike.
But like just about anything else, church music exists on a continuum. What someone like Cleveland might consider lightweight, or might call "Church Rock Lite" could be something other worshippers find very edgy. Because of this, because of varying tastes of congregations and of their music leaders, what you find throughout Tulsa (and throughout all church music, really) is a buffet table filled with options.
In addition to the straight up rock in Cleveland's Venue service, there's also a pretty frequent nod to the past.
"There's not a Sunday where we don't do a version of a hymn. I may not play it like I did 15 years ago, but I still like to keep it traditional in some ways," he said. "Every once in awhile, if I can get my brother or some really solid backup singers, I'll go Gaither on you for a bit. I always enjoy that."
Asbury also offers five other services each Sunday, one of which is the pinnacle of traditional worship. Its music ministry is helmed by Hart Morris, who will retire this month after a 20-year stint as the leader of an enormous music ministry that has grown in ways few could have imagined when he came on in 1992.
Elkins gave a nod to his own preferences, and expanded on what the FBC music ministry has to offer.
"I have my own personal likes, and of course that comes in to play," he said. "I mean, I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time programming stuff I just don't like."
That said, he either has widely varying tastes, or is good at compartmentalizing. Whereas someone like AUMC's Morris can focus on the traditional services and leave the rocking to the longhairs (okay, the longer-hairs), Elkins presides over all the music at his church.
"We have two services," he said. "One is more traditional, with an organ, a choir, and an orchestra. And the other one is a kind of do-anything service, trying to relate to so many different age groups. That service goes back and forth from a rhythm section, Top 20, or between a jazz kind of feel -- Brad Henderson is a jazz musician and he's on staff here -- and we try to sing modern music."
This idea of a wide variety is present in what Bias is doing, as well.
"We do a real variety of more recently-written things along with older things. We'll do Andre Crouch, gospel, and with the choir sometimes do Brooklyn Tab Choir, and the next week we'll do Haydn," Bias said.
With three services and two choirs, he's able to explore many, many options, stylistically speaking, especially with two distinct kinds of services -- much like Elkins has at FBC.
"We have two choirs: One serves at 8:15, one at the 9:30 and the 10:55 services," Bias said. "The cathedral choir is about 45 people strong on a Sunday."
The 9:30am service in known as the Regeneration service, and it's the one Bias points to as leaning toward wearing the contemporary or modern labels.
"The Regeneration service is more of a cutting-edge kind of service. They'll do secular music in that service. There's a lot more media involved -- visual and whatnot," he said. But lest anyone mistake it for a rock gig, he is quick to qualify his description.
"We don't' do the kind of stuff where you're jumping up and down because most of our people are too old to jump around," he said with a laugh. "We're not on the hard side with guitar riffs and things."
Like Bias, Elkins speaks of reaching out across musical and stylistic boundaries for one reason only.
"I'm always trying to connect to a different audience and connect a different audience to the Lord," he said.
It's almost like these music ministries are trying to be all things to all people. But is that even possible?
"Ideally, we would love to bring everything, everybody together. I doubt if heaven is divided up into age groups and personal tastes," Elkins said. And while that may seem a little Pollyanna, Elkins averred to as much. "Ideally, one body would worship together, old and young, blending the modern and the ancient together. But it would take a long time to get to that place."
Cleveland spoke a little more pragmatically, and admittedly with a much less active personal filter -- not that that's a bad thing.
"I think like anything else, the church should meet people where they are. That's our job," he said, as if to say that all-things-to-all-people is not only possible, but mandatory.
"I think Asbury has done a better job of that than pretty much any other church. We have a vast demographic," he said. "Sure, we're in south Tulsa, and there are a lot of rich, white people, but we also have [support group] Celebrate Recovery and things like that, where you can meet a lot of fascinating people. And then there's all of Asbury's missions work."
That missions work stretches from Guatemala to a seminary in Estonia to hundreds of upstart Lutheran churches and even more water wells in Tanzania.
"It's almost like worship services are secondary to serving the people of Tulsa and, really, like, the world," Cleveland said.
He went on about Asbury's wide array of choices for its worshippers.
"We've got options for everything in life, so obviously, we'll have options in church and church music," Cleveland. "At Asbury, we've got six different church services with five different worship leaders. We're like the Russell Stover's of church music. There are churches, like Church on the Move, who do only the modern services, and they do it really well. But we're lucky to be able to offer the variety that we do."
While both musicians felt the need to talk about reaching out to all, Elkins spoke about the difficulties involved in actually doing so.
"Practically, it can be difficult, because if you're going to do music like it needs to be done, if you're going to 'A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,' there's a way you have to do it," he said. "There's a way it's supposed to be done. It needs a monster pipe organ."
But there are other pieces of music, other styles, that must be done appropriately, as well -- songs on the other end of the spectrum, for instance. Songs by guitar-wielding worship leaders wearing t-shirts and backed by a band.
"But if you do a Chris Tomlin song, you need to do it like he laid it out. It's hard to do all of that, but people are doing it," Elkins said.
Bias expanded on this idea, as well.
"I like to think of it this way," Bias began. "The music for the worship experience -- the music, the media, the visuals, whatever is done to engage people in worship -- is all good if the idea is to focus them in on Christ. If they are meditating on the Word, if the song -- however it's crafted -- is causing them to have a sense of the presence of God, then that's what we're doing. And we're doing it right."
He then launched into something that one gets the feeling he's said before, and more than once.
"That said, there's room for a variety of things. When you sit down to a meal, you don't sit down to have just one thing. You don't just sit down to nothing but meat," he said. "You have some vegetables, you have some meat, starches, whatever. Then at the end of the meal, you might have a dessert. All those things serve a different purpose. I think worship is the same way."
This extended food analogy led to the issue of the quality of the new church music versus what all three ministers termed "traditional."
"It's good to have the deep, meaningful hymns and their textual integrity and well-crafted melodies," Bias said. "But it's also good to have something that's lighter and that gets into you a little more immediately. That hymn might not come back to you until a few weeks down the road."
Perhaps a few examples might clarify this issue of quality. One of the more prolific hymnists ever was Charles Wesley. He wrote nearly 8,000 hymns in his 81 years in the 18th century (roughly three times the output of William Wordsworth), and among them is "And Can It Be:"
And can it be that I should gainAn interest in the Savior's blood?Died He for me, who caused His pain--For me, who Him to death pursued?Amazing love! How can it be,That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
'Tis mystery all: th'Immortal dies:Who can explore His strange design?In vain the firstborn seraph triesTo sound the depths of love divine.'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,Let angel minds inquire no more.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,Fast bound in sin and nature's night;Thine eye diffused a quickening ray--I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;My chains fell off, my heart was free,I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
No condemnation now I dread;Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;Alive in Him, my living Head,And clothed in righteousness divine,Bold I approach th'eternal throne,And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Note the rigid adherence to rhyme scheme and structure (and before you tell me that "blood" and "pursued" don't rhyme, look up some information on the vowel shifts our bizarre little language has endured over the years, because when Wesley wrote that in 1738, those words actually did rhyme). Note the power of the words individually, and how Wesley the poet did as poets do: he said as much as possible in as few words as possible.
This is quite different from, say, "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High," written by Rick Founds:
Lord, I lift your name on high.Lord, I love to sing your praises.I'm so glad you're in my life.I'm so glad you came to save us.You came from heaven to earth to show the way,From the earth to the cross my debt to pay,From the cross to the grave,From the grave to the sky,Lord, I lift your name on high.
It's not really even long enough to establish a rhyme scheme, but I think we can all agree that "praises" and "save us" don't rhyme. For that matter, neither do "high" and "life."
Is this the deepest piece of music ever written? Certainly not. But is it bad? Who can say? I can't. And neither can anyone else. There are people reading this article right now saying to themselves, "Hey, I love that song. Why are you saying bad things about it?" Well, I'm not. And I personally know people who find themselves genuinely moved by this song. But its simplicity -- and that of songs like it -- is often one of the elements pointed out by churchgoers who prefer the traditional, choir-hymns-and-organ service to the contemporary or modern aesthetic.
Because of this very contrast, often, the issue of quality has come up. There are those in the traditional camp who mock the so-called praise choruses, calling them "24/7 songs," the joke being that you sing the same seven words 24 times, and then move on to the next, equally simplistic song. But as with "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High," simple songs, songs that might not be perfectly-crafted, nevertheless can have profound impact upon their listeners. So is there an actual issue of quality? Is one kind of worship style better than another?
Bias answered with a tale from his past.
"When I was in California," he began, "I was working in a church there. I was visiting New York. I had a friend there who was a worship leader there and wrote his own songs. Well, he had this song called 'Jesus is a Winner, Man.'"
Bias then sang the song -- very simple, cute (almost annoyingly-so), and just plain corny: "Jesus is a winner, man, a winner, man, a winner, man. Jesus is a winner man. A winner, man, a winner, man, a winner, man, a winner, man, a winner, man, a winner, man, a winner, man. Jesus is a winner, man, a winner, man, a winner, man. Jesus is a winner man." Literally. That's it.
He said he took this cute little ditty (as it wasn't very hard to remember) and brought it back to his California congregation. He taught it to the church, they sang it a few times over several weeks, and according to Bias, the church loved it and had fun with it.
"Well, weeks later, we had a woman who was a church member who had someone in the hospital, and she was desperate for some hope, something, some comfort from the Lord," he said. "And all she could think of was this little ditty. It was enough there to help build up her faith. She said, 'I gotta tell you, that song got us through a really tough time.'"
While Bias wasn't an opponent of the song, nor its simplicity, he nonetheless admits to surprise at the woman's statement.
"I would never think of something that simple having such an effect at such a spiritually difficult time, but it did," he said.
As for Asbury's Cleveland, the rocker, one might expect an answer heavily extolling the virtues of rocking out for Jesus, and one less in favor of the choir-and-organ show. One would be wrong, it turns out. In fact, he hardly touched the issue at all.
"You know, I think there's good and bad in both kinds," he said. Rather than risk his being a cop-out of an answer, he continued with some preaching.
"I think it's hard for people to connect with some of the old texts because honestly, they're lazy and they don't listen," he said. "We're in a fast-paced, Western society that's about immediate gratification. But on the other hand, there's a short verse in the Bible that says, 'Let my words be few.' There's something great in simplicity."
Being a musician who writes songs for his band Stars Go Dim, in addition to writing the occasional piece for the Venue worship service, Cleveland brings more weight to his next words than there would be if they came from a non-writer.
"If I can come up with a simple way to say, 'God, I love, you,' and it resonates the way 'It Is Well With My Soul' does, well, I don't think you necessarily have to bog down a song with big words just to make it touch people," he said.
The irony of the fact that he said this to an Urban Tulsa Weekly writer who has used "snarkily," "conundrum," "fractiously," and "bombastic" in recent weeks seemed lost on him. Maybe I'm not as widely-read as I thought.
At any rate, he continued, speaking about specific lyric points of view, pointing out that regardless of quality, the speaker's intention is perhaps the determining factor of a song's appropriateness, at least in terms of what Cleveland himself likes and wishes to use.
"I start making distinctions between those songs that are about me -- 'I want this, I blah blah blah,'" he said. "I don't like to sing those a lot. I'd rather sing, 'You've done,' 'You are,' 'You've done so much for me' -- songs that focus on God instead of us or what we feel. And a lot of the new music is written from our standpoint."
He continued, invoking perhaps the most famous church musician (no, not J. S. Bach) -- King David, author of the Book of Psalms.
"A lot of David's work was about him--'Lord, save me,' 'slay my enemies,' 'Lord, I screwed up,'" Cleveland said. "But I like more God-centered stuff. Then again, I think there's a place for the more literary stuff," he said, hearkening back to his earlier reference to all them five-dollar college words in some hymns. "I don't think one is better than the other. As long as it's bringing worship and praise, it works," he said
"That's what our job is. For me as a worship leader, for 22 minutes on stage every week, my job is about helping people meet God and learn how great he is. If that's with a new chorus that only has five words, I'm okay with that, as long it as helps people come to God," he said.
Why is it that the young bucks are often ones we expect to have dumbass answers, but they so often hit the target so very well?
Elkins address the quality of music, and specifically, the unspoken notion among many church musicians that older is just always better, with his opening statements on the issue.
"I have seen an evolution in worship music that's pretty complex," he began. "There's this Irish couple, the Gettys, who are writing really complex, almost hymn-like stuff. It's modern, it's fantastic, but lyrically, it's getting really complex and deep. There's a lot of music lately that's really well thought-out. It's not just, 'I love you, Lord, and I lift my voice.' That's a really sweet song, but there's some really complex stuff out there."
He continued, referencing the hymn text above, averring to its power.
"If you want to know theology and sing theology, sure, maybe 'I love you Lord,' isn't your best choice," he said. "There's a reason 'And Can It Be' has been around such a long time. You can tell the salvation story and the love of God with that song."
But that particular hymn isn't the only heavy-hitter in the repertoire.
"There are certain songs that stay forever. I think there are some modern songs that will be around for a good, long time. We won't know, because we won't be here," Elkins said. "But I'm hoping people are really aspiring to communicate the love and grace of god, not to make a hit record. That's my hope. And it's our choice -- my responsibility -- to make it happen."
Another main issue to which some people point in an effort to demonstrate the lower quality of music of the non-hymn variety is the stark difference in the rehearsal processes of, say, a choir of 100 voices versus a six-piece band.
While many choir directors lead 60- to 90-minute weekly rehearsals, following pre-planned rehearsal agendas and rehearsing songs as much as six to eight weeks prior to the songs' inclusion in a worship service, many a band rehearsal goes something like this:
LEADER: Hey, guys, here are the chord charts for this week [chord charts look very much like this article does on the page: there's a line of printed lyrics, and above words in the text that correspond with a chord change, there's a capital letter indicating what chord to play. It's violently different from the printed music that a choir sings from or that an orchestra reads]. So let's play.
BAND: (Plays three or four songs.)
LEADER: Okay, see you Sunday.
Sometimes, it's a 20-minute rehearsal. Good? Bad? Who knows?
Elkins offered some insight into the differences.
"The volunteer base of a choir is talented people," he said. "But taking 75 people or whatever and getting them to do something together takes five or six weeks. Not that they're unskilled, but general volunteer singers need a little more time."
Then he opened the possibility that this may actually be comparing apples to, say, ducks.
"When you have a band, everyone's pretty skilled at what they do. If you're a guitar player and you're skilled, you are good at the five chords that are on that chart in front of you. You don't need six weeks of rehearsal," he said.
The subject of lyrical content and complexity came up again, this time pointing to something positive about a denser text.
"The benefit of a choir singing and rehearsing an anthem for six weeks is that they can internalize the words," Elkins said. "When they sing it for the congregation, they have a pretty good grasp on the text and can convey it to the church. But when I have just four singers, they're generally pretty good singers, so we don't need to spend a lot of time on rehearsals." The lyrics that praise God, then, it would seem, don't get as easily internalized as they do for the six-weeks-rehearsing choir members.
While six weeks on the same piece of music might sound like a terrible experience (it's not, because you're rehearsing lots of other songs. And by the way, you should totally go out and join a choir, because it's super fun), it isn't. However, Bias goes one step further, taking on what he considers a widely-held belief about choirs and their rehearsals.
"I'd really like to dispel this idea that choir rehearsals need necessarily boring," Bias said. And it should be noted he was not speaking in opposition to any kind of band or any kind of rehearsal style. "Our choir rehearsal is a worship service. It's a body connecting. We pray, and we worship. Even when we're working on the nuts and bolts of music, I'm moving toward the idea of 'This is our song, this is our message' to try and move things toward worship. It's not a performance, and it's not a rehearsal for a performance."
More on that P-word in a bit.
Cleveland spoke mainly about his rehearsal style, and that is is most likely a product of the people in it.
"I assume that everyone can play," he said, referring to band members and potential members. "So I have to approach them with the idea that they have something to say, something to offer, and who am I to try and tell them what they can and can't do?"
It would seem that the rehearsals for Cleveland's Venue 68 band are a lot less structured than, say, one of Bias' choir rehearsals.
And regarding the ability of the musicians present, Cleveland also raised the spectre of the professional church player. There are choirs in town that pay singers to be there every week. There are praise bands that pay their members each week, as well. Cleveland took a moderate stance on the subject.
"There are pros and cons of both," he said, referring to the volunteer-versus-professional debate. "I think it's great to have a group of people who are making it their service to the church, and while the music might suffer from time to time, you know their hearts are in it."
However, he finished up with that P-word mentioned above: a word that is a touchy subject among many in and around modern church music.
"Whereas with paid guys, you run the risk of it just being a gig," Cleveland said. "And there's the problem many people have with this style of music and worship -- that it becomes a performance by the singer or the band, rather than a tool to worship God and to help others do the same."
That's the main sticking point often heard in debates about the pros and cons of each worship style: that the music takes place in a worship service, and not at an arena. The people in the crowd constitute the congregation, not the audience.
Bias readily speaks of this issue, making it about the players' motivations.
"Early on, we had individuals who were more into themselves than they were into the team or in to worship," he said of the early days of bringing this type of contemporary music to the congregation of his church. "They would draw attention to themselves rather than the Lord. Sometimes I had to ask people not to participate any more."
Elkins performance looks at the motivations, but understands that there are differing views -- probably as many as there are different individual worshippers.
"A lot of people have really passionate views about this: 'My superb performance is my offering to God,' he said. "While we want to serve up something superb, everything is supposed to be there to help us meet God, from the prelude to the postlude."
Quick to take the spotlight off of anything not related to God and the work of the church, Elkins talked about his and his church's purpose, which remains the same, irrespective of musical style.
"We're not here to do specific things that we love," he said. "I'm not here to say, 'I like this kind of music, so that's all we should do.' We're here to bring people to God."
Cleveland takes a completely different view, readily and unapologetically using the debated word, but he has some pretty sound reasoning to back up what he's saying.
"I've been on the road more than 200 days a year with my band Stars Go Dim," he began. "The people who know about that might put me under a microscope and say, 'What's the difference between what he's doing on Saturday nights and what he does on Sunday?'"
And that is a valid question. Is there a difference? While the Saturday night Stars Go Dim gig might be in a bar or a club or a concert hall, Cleveland maintains that the music is what matters.
"What I do is sing love songs," he said. "I sing them on Saturday, and I sing them on Sunday. Passion has to come from somewhere."
Regarding whether a musician is performing or leading worship or has the best intentions or any other myriad possibilities and variations, Cleveland says it all comes to one point, one place.
"It's where your heart is. For me, it's a personal thing to know that I know where I'm at personally, and it's really nobody else's business," he said. "That might be harsh for some people, but if they've got a problem with it, maybe it's their problem."
He then punched a bear.
Okay, not really, but he did get kind of John Wayne right there, didn't he?
When looking ahead, both Cleveland and Elkins have their eyes set on the future of church music. Where it goes is anyone's guess.
"I don't know what the next fad in church music is going to be, but there will be a new one," Cleveland said. "And there will be a time when I'm not as relevant as I am now. But the best church music leaders are the ones who can see that these things are always changing."
Elkins summed up the church's responsibility regardless of musical and worship fads that will come and go.
"People bringing people together," he said. To him, this is paramount. When pressed on the issue of what's coming, though, he does have something to say, though not anything really all that concrete.
"It's hard to say. Who knows what church will look like in 15 years?" he asked. And he's right.
Think about the world 15 years ago and how drastically it has changed -- politically, technologically (the Internet wasn't even a hint of the amazing thing it has since become), scientifically (Pluto was still a planet), and few if any could have accurately described 2012 while standing in the middle of 1998.
At any rate, no matter what fads come and go (and they will), Cleveland focuses on the horizon.
"The leaders who can change with the times are the ones who are going to succeed," he said. "If we don't change and don't evolve and don't keep thinking about what we're doing, we're going to close up shop in 20 years."
Elkins is like-minded about the inevitable changes.
"Whatever it is, I need to evolve and stay with these changes," he said. "Because no matter what, I need to help people meet God."
As long as all three of these church musicians continue down that path, adhering to it strictly, all three feel they're pretty well set for whatever the whims of fashion throw at them.
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