Pastor's Blog

Music is Part of Your Life

Music is Part of Your Life

Mark Johanson - July 31, 2023

In October 2001, after only four years since returning to Apple as CEO, Steve Jobs introduced a consumer product to the masses that, in his words, didn’t just “change the way we listened to music, it changed the entire music industry.” The device was the iPod, and within several years the device became the most popular portable music player, surpassing all others. In his introduction of the revolutionary product, Jobs justified Apple’s decision to focus on digital music rather than digital video or digital photography because “music is a part of everyone’s life,” and, “music has been around forever—it will always be around.” In other words, Apple—who was at that time emerging from near-bankruptcy—was targeting a large market.


Fast forward twenty-two years, and while the iPod itself has been discontinued, music indeed is still around, and I feel confident that it’s still part of everyone’s life. The evolution of how we listen to and enjoy music is a fascinating field of study. In the music industry, it is crucial for professional musicians to continually learn new techniques and incorporate technology into how music is composed and performed—this is no different than any other industry that uses technology. Despite this reality, the unchanging cycle of adapting to a new procedure, investing in that process, and succeeding only to discover that this very process or product is obsolete in a short amount of time is a frustrating reality.


Allow me to offer an example that may be more relevant: as the parent of two young children, I have found it to be much easier to simply sing to my children, rather than to 1) find a YouTube video of a children’s song; 2) endure five seconds of an ad I don’t want my four-year-old to see or hear before I can tap “Skip Ad”; 3) realize the Bluetooth speaker isn’t connected to my iPad and then fuss with that for a few minutes; and then 4) realize my daughter has lost interest and has moved onto something else.


This past June, the Xperience (our high school worship music ministry) went on a successful round-trip tour to Chicago. The worship shows which the group presents are characteristically contemporary in nature and involve a great deal of technology and worship band instruments (guitars, drums, etc.). While on tour, we stopped at Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana—my alma mater. Valpo is known, among other reasons, for its stunning 2,000-seat chapel with notably excellent acoustics. As we concluded our tour of the campus, I took the group of 15 youth and 5 adults to the chancel of the chapel, which is situated in the round, elevated above the nave, and had everyone stand in a large circle. Together, we stood at the foot of the cross and sang choruses from two of our songs, completely a cappella, with no technology or instruments. The moment when we released the final chord and the sound continued reverberating for 4-5 seconds in the chapel was one that cannot be described. It was one of those “you had to be there” moments.


Singing together with a group, where there is safety in numbers, and where God is the audience of our music, is something you can’t describe. How often do we as adults get to come together and recite poetry? How often do we get to participate in something bigger than ourselves that feels collaborative instead of competitive? Does your 9-5 offer that? Probably not; most don’t.


I want to invite you to a new initiative that’s starting up this Sunday, and which will continue throughout August and through Labor Day Weekend. Every Sunday, a “pick-up choir” is going to meet at 8:00 AM in the Music Room to enjoy fellowship, light refreshments, and some group singing in a non-judgmental and supportive environment (if you’re not a choir person, but you’ve caught yourself singing in the car, this is for you). Together, we will learn a simple spiritual—a song you most likely already know and don’t need to know how to read music to participate in—and then we will share it at the prelude of the Traditional worship service. Children are encouraged to attend along with their parents!


Music is indeed a part of everyone’s life. If you’ve been feeling the nudge to get involved a little more at church but can’t make a long-term commitment, consider stepping a little bit out of your comfort zone and make some music with us these next few weeks. We look forward to having you!


-Mark Johanson

Minister of Music & Worship