In what ways must the success of the Christ in Media Institute depend on the contributions from the Music discipline?

By Prof. Tim Tollefson

Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers!
I will sing to the LORD, I will sing;
I will make music to the LORD, the God of Israel.

 (Judges 5:3 NIV)

Music fits especially well into the current multi-media society, and new technologies have made it fairly easy and inexpensive for average people to make professional recordings which can be put onto CDs, DVDs, and websites.  Thus, people today often expect to hear some form of music connected with these media.  Mass media outreach materials that do not make use of music would seem incomplete to the modern public.  The inclusion of musicians in the proposed Christ in Media Institute would help to create more interesting, emotional, and professional outreach materials; it would also continue the Church’s long and beautiful tradition of tying music to God’s Word.

Since the beginning of the Christian Church, music has been closely tied to the worship experience of gathered believers.  In our churches today, music is a vital component of worship.  However, in the area of evangelism, there are certainly many ways in which music could play a larger role.  Musicians connected to the Christ in Media Institute would actively look for new ways to use music as an evangelism tool through mass media.

There are many ways that musicians could contribute to mass media outreach materials.  Audio recordings of musical performances by church members or Bethany college students could be used as background music for a video presentation (DVD, website, or television), or a video recording of a live performance (of an individual or an ensemble) could be included.  Recordings of original sacred music by living composers could be produced and used in a variety of media.

There are other (more ambitious) possibilities as well.  For example, faculty and students of the Bethany communications department could work with the Bethany music department to develop a video that focuses on a single large-scale musical composition (like a Bach cantata), explaining the theology and history behind the piece.  Such a project could include a narrator, interviews with pastors, choir directors, performers, and music historians to highlight the text and the theological message of the composition.  Of course, it would also include a video presentation of a live performance.  The video could be made into a DVD, put onto a website, or broadcast on television.

Music has a crucial role to play in modern-day evangelism, and there are many people in our churches and schools who are eager to use their musical skills in a way that contributes to Christian outreach, as opposed to only performing in a worship setting.  The Christ in Media Institute could be an important conduit connecting these musicians to each other, and to other artists who are interested in Lutheran evangelism.