Paying for School

My ongoing adventures in life and the pursuit of more...

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

My Open Letter to Vineyard Music

Dear Vineyard Music,

This is a long overdue letter of appreciation. 

I still remember the first Vineyard meeting I walked into. Before a message was preached, a word given, or a ministry time happened, there was the music.

It was in the worship that I felt God spoke to me, it was in the songs that I heard my own heart’s cry, it was the intimate, hungry, vulnerable, simplicity that I, like many others, was moved to say, “this is my tribe, these are my people.”

We used to eagerly look forward to the newest CD that you would produce and our worship leaders and teams would mine them for the songs we would sing. I still remember attending a small Vineyard on holidays that had no band so worship time was a set list pre-programmed to play from Winds of Worship CDs. I settled into my seat expecting boredom and found myself moved to tears as the Spirit came into the room as a song, recorded months earlier in a continent away opened our hearts to God. Those albums not only gave us songs to sing, they shaped our communities with good theology. The songs not only communicated our Vineyard values but the inclusion of local worship teams and songwriters from local churches made us believe we really meant that everyone gets to play.

Thanks to you, I connected with words and music that have brought me closer to God. You’ve been the conduit through which the artists among us, the poets and prophets, could share what God was putting on their hearts. Our whole movement has been enriched through the ministry you all have performed for us. Thanks to you, our churches have had a common songbook from which to sing for 30 years now. Thanks to you, these songs have transcended our own movement and have gone on to inspire other movements and denominations with our theology and values.  A generation of worship leaders and songwriters now exists who have been influenced significantly by the men and women who have shared their music with us through you.

John Wimber used to say that you could tell what we value by looking at our calendars and our checkbooks.  I am grateful that, as a Movement, we have invested a part of our annual income to contribute to the flourishing of our worship community within the Vineyard. I’m grateful that, as a Movement, we have put worship events on the national calendar and we have used the finances we collect from local Vineyard churches to encourage and develop local church worship leaders, sound people, songwriters, singers and musicians.  I would be deeply saddened if there ever came a day when we stopped investing our time and money in Vineyard Music, it would say something tragic about the state of our Movement.

Like the sound person who everyone ignores when things are going well but everyone turns to give the stink eye to when something goes wrong, I feel like we don’t adequately appreciate what we have in Vineyard Music. VM doesn’t belong to a big label, unlike other groups producing worship music. VM doesn’t have the deep pockets, in fact you have worked with shrinking pockets, that many other church labels have. Our songwriters and artists have received little or nothing with which to fund their projects over the last few years and yet we continue to have amazing songs from them come to us through you. You have been swimming in the pond with much bigger fish with a lot more resource for promotion and production and yet you've continued to bring us songs and worship projects that give us a lot of gold to mine.

I suspect very few of us are aware of how little finance you have to work with and while we should be marveling at how you’ve multiplied it to do more than seems possible, we’ve been critical because you haven’t done more. I’m sorry for that. I’m grateful for your willingness to make sacrifices that go unnoticed and the imagination you’ve brought to the table to do more than the resources on hand would seem to make possible.

Thanks, Vineyard Music, for all you’ve done and all you are doing to make our Movement, our local churches, our individual lives, richer and deeper and more beautiful. Thank you, songwriters, musicians, singers and worship leaders for giving and giving in this new age of digital music when making a living at your craft has become all but impossible. Thank you, Vineyard Music, for the hard work you do behind the scenes that has brought life and encouragement and resources to our local churches that makes us who we are.

My hope for the future is that we will invest more and more into Vineyard Music and put an emphasis once again on the power of God's presence - free of hype - that has always been a part of our story as worshipers of God and rescuers of men.

1 comment:

  1. Vineyard Music is the lifting up of my hands and heart to the God who loves me. Worshipping God to this music cleanses and restores because the Holy Spirit meets us in His most powerful grace. Thank you God for blessing us with your presence, for allowing this medium to be a channel. I love you Lord, and I lift my voice, to worship you, Oh my soul, rejoice.