The other day our daughter had a band concert. Every year Colorado Springs Christian School's High School Concert Band goes to specific high school in the area and they have a concert together. It was a really nice concert and they sounded great.
Usually, our school (CSCS) has concerts in their gymnasium, which as everyone knows are the worst kind of room for acoustics. Additionally, the band teacher forces every parent to sit through fifth grade band, sixth grade band, seventh and eighth grade band, high school band, and jazz band. The concerts are usually around 2 hours long and everyone is sitting on bleachers or plastic folding chairs. I love hearing my daughter preform but becoming crippled in the process is not the best time I have ever had. I will not even talk about when they combine all the above with the corresponding choirs (Can I get an "Amen", Mark?).
However, the venue for this concert was an old school theater. It had the nice padded seats and it was built for acoustics. The CSCS band sounded great! The other band was good but something about their performance was not as impressive, and not just because my daughter is the CSCS band. I was considering this for a while. The second band had some fantastic individual players. They had a huge number of students in the band. Their director was obviously accomplished. What was it that made the difference?
Then I remembered something that happened before each band played. When the second band got up to play, one individual played a single note and then the rest of the band played the same note. They held it for a while and then they were done. This was presumably the tuning. This is somewhat an imprecise way of tuning an entire band. First of all, it assumes the lone-note player was in tune to begin with. If this person is out of tune, and the entire band tunes themselves to this player, then the entire band will be off.
Second, it assumes that everyone else playing the note is playing to make sure they are in tune and not just playing the note because that is just what they do. I am sure someone on that stage knows that before the conductor comes out someone will play a note and I will play a note and then we will get started. I am sure the concept of tuning has been lost to this individual.
Finally, it assumes that each person has the ear to hear if their instrument is out of tune. It is hard to tune an instrument with just the ear if you are not regularly practicing how to do that and listening for the harmonics. I am not sure every one of these high schoolers had that ability.
In contrast to this, the CSCS band directors had tuners and went to each individual in the band and tuned them to the tuner. It took much longer but each player's instrument was tuned to the correct pitch. They did not have to check their tuning with the person sitting beside them because they all were tuned to the same thing. Once the individual tuning was accomplish, the director ran them through a scale. No tunings, no problem. Their scale was fantastic. Their music was the best I had ever heard them play. It was truly a beautiful concert.
This reminds me of the church. Too many times in the church we have one person blaring some discordant note and then others in the body begin to "tune" their thoughts and beliefs to this out-of-tune teaching. The leader of the church proclaims something they believe is truth but is in actuality "out of tune." Then, the entire congregation is tempted to hold to the same untruth. Then when the body stands together and "performs" for their community, it is less than satisfying.
Either that, or like the band, people just uncritically repeat what they heard. They are not worried about "tuning" but instead just make the noise when they are supposed to. They are told to play and they play without concern for the proper tone. Or, there are people in these churches who want to be in tune but need to develop the skill to do so. However, if they are never taught how, they unfortunatly never learn how to distinguish the right tone from the tone which is off just a tad.
The trend now-a-days is jettison the concept of truth out the nearest window and teach that everyone should feel free to interpret Scripture in their own context and hold to what they feel is right. This produces a noisy, off-pitch church.
What the church must do is have every individual tune their beliefs, thoughts, wills to the one true tone: the Word of God, the Truth. We are not to align our lives to match those around us but to the one true example of Jesus revealed to us in Scripture. Then when church attempts to reach out to those who are lost, they hear the beautiful melodies, the rich bass lines, and the intriguing harmonies.
Just as the note middle A is 440 hertz and not up to every musician to decide what it sounds like, truth is NOT decided on by what feels right or sounds good. Truth is what lines up with Scripture. When each believer stays in tune, that is, looks to the truth and aligns their life to its teachings, then the resultant church will be an enjoyable thing to behold.