Rodd Jefferson has this idea that church is like a jazz gig. I reviewed each of his six reasons with the accompanying rationale. As a jazz lover, I cringed when he said that jazz is a dying trade and wanted to dispute the whole thing… but sadly, I can’t. When compared with the church, his thesis becomes all the more poignant, and this is the point that ultimately convinces me that he is right after all.
I still find myself wanting to stipulate that the emerging church is going to be like jazz too — but in all the right ways this time. Maybe jazz being for the player could mean once more that we’re all missional, we’re all participants. Yeah, that would work… maybe the missional church could really be the Birth of the Cool.
Ahhh….don’t give up on jazz yet! Jazz mothered hip-hop…it lives on! And so will the church.
Blues. It’s always been about the blues. Blues is raw, authentic, willing to embrace the lament and celebrate the rebirth.
Stevie Ray Vaughan is your new spiritual director.
Church like jazz? There’d be a lot more interest in church if Diana Krall was the worship leader. :)
Don’t be too down about Jazz – the wonderful part about what the Internet is doing to the world is that even minority interests are still really large. By comparison to many things, Jazz is HUGE. And I’d be lost without it. Jazz to me is still one of those great pleasures in life and music.
The comparison in my post was intended to challenge us to think about church – all of the bad things about the Jazz experience is sadly a little too visible in the church experience. But here’s the flipside, the wonder and thrill of engaging with each other, which is the experience of the jazz player and jazz lover, is still very much a part of what we are supposed to be doing at church. The trick is finding a way to help people connect with the church experience, and make them cognisant of the fact that the church is made of people, not style, or process, or tradition.
Thanks for the post, and great blog. I chuckled at the link between birth of the cool and the church – crazy, but it just might work!!! “Rouge” is one of my all time favourite jazz pieces.
Is he copying Donald Miller?
Mike – Donald Miller said he never liked Jazz because it “didn’t resolve.” Turns out he had the same problem with church, but in the end of the book he seemed to make peace with both… not really copying Miller on this; there are other comparisons between jazz and the church – see the blog of Jazz Theologian (link is in my “Active Blogroll”).
Rodd – that’s exactly how I read your post. In a number of ways, jazz helped save my waning interest in music (I’m not a musician, just a music-lover). I confess I’m torn with Robbymac’s statements about the blues, because I also really appreciate blues. There’s a lot of crossover between jazz and blues, perhaps in part because those two musical forms pushed cultural boundaries for the acceptance of black musicians… but that’s just a single facet of a complex relationship, I think. I compared the negative aspects of Starbucks to church, others have drawn out positives… I think the same is true of jazz, where both negative and positive comparisons can be made. We should learn from both. I find it interesting to see how old rockers are increasingly turning to jazz, and how they credit jazz and blues musicians for inspiration throught their whole careers. Hmmm…. Miles Davis and Robert Johnson as the desert fathers? Musical Patristics anyone?
Rodney – hoo-yeah, you betcha. That *might* even get me to attend an *institutional* church!
Jeremy – Uh, if hip-hop came from jazz, then everything in me wants to call that relationship the darkest moment in jazz history. But that’s just me, no offense! ;^)
Robbymac – Stevie Ray’s in regular rotation for that big worship-jam in the sky. Or he will be when he gets past the crowd of musicians sitting at the feet of Robert Johnson.