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More Bass = More Salvations!

More Bass = More Salvations!

By Chris Olson on June 19, 2013

Hopefully you’re sensible enough to realize that this statement is complete nonsense. And if you don’t . . .  well, we will be praying for you. However, the notion is interesting if nothing else. I occasionally hang out  in guitar gear–related forums/FB pages/websites. In one such forum, there has been a joke stated many times that basically implies that the louder the bass, the more people will get saved. As though it’s a one to one correlation . . .

How awesome would that be? The Great Commission fulfilled with the push of a slider, with the simple turn of a gain knob!

Of course, it doesn’t work that way. Now, as worship leaders, we’ve all struggled and thought through the question of worship service vs. rock concert. Lighting. Fog. Stage design. Musical arrangement. Transitions. All of these things play a role, are tools, and are, therefore, important. And often when we discuss this particular issue, it’s questioning the heart behind it all. Is it all for show? Well, I’d like to ask another question: Are we trying to manipulate emotions in the church?

Kinda harsh, I know. And I really think that very, very few of us actually do this intentionally. But it’s interesting to think about. Music elicits a reaction within us, as humans. It’s science, pure and simple. And God created music for enjoyment – ours and His. It’s a good thing! And it’s good to be intentional.

But do we really think pushing the bass to 11 (see what I did there?) will draw out some added spiritual response? Will a longer guitar solo bring more people to Jesus? I don’t necessarily think so. But what I do know is that the Lord places worship leaders and team members in places of ministry for a reason, and He speaks through those members through the worship set.

If you’re truly tuned-in to the Spirit, and are seeking His guidance in your set planning and your practices, then I don’t think we need to overthink it too much (and yeah, I realize that by bringing this up at all I am inviting you to overthink it). Sure, an eight bar guitar solo may not really make much of a difference compared to a four bar solo – so who cares? What feels right for the song? How does it affect the flow of the song? What comes after the solo? How does that piece of the puzzle add to the greater image that we’re trying to create?

I personally enjoy loud bass. Make the floor rumble, I say. But I don’t necessarily attach any kind of expectation to that. Does a song in 6/8 somehow magically cause the Holy Spirit to work in peoples’ lives more than a song in 4/4? No. Of course not. You should feel silly for even asking that question! (Wait . . . I asked that question . . . ) But, maybe that time signature provides a nice dynamic shift in the worship set that simply makes it seem more fresh and new, and perhaps gets the attention of some of the congregation, thereby drawing them back into the act of worship?

The point is this: Don’t overthink it. And don’t try to manipulate emotions with music and call it “strategy.”

Our job is to create an atmosphere – an environment – where we can more easily point our church to Christ. God, by His Holy Spirit, will do the rest. He really will. Whether you shake the floor with your bass, or if you don’t have a bass guitar at all. Just be faithful.

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Chris Olson

Chris Olson

Chris has been involved in worship ministry in some way for over 20 years, ranging from worship team guitarist/bassist/drummer to staff worship pastor. Chris presently serves as one of the worship leaders at Grace Church in Overland Park, KS, and is also a songwriter with a passion to write songs for the local church.  Chris married WAY up when his wife Rachel said “I do,” and they have two awesomely awesome kids, Aedan and Caitlin.

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