blackmarlin (blackmarlin) wrote in churchmusician,


Hello all!

I'm joining and posting because I'm in a bit of a sticky situation. Let me start back a couple of years ago when my then-girlfriend-now-wife's father resumed his post as Choir Director at their old church. I was kind of a shower-singer who'd done some musicals in high school, and they asked me to join the choir (as they were very short on male voices). I had some reservations, mainly because my own experiences with organized religion were pretty overwhelmingly negative. However, the chance for quality family time, and the musical challenge (I couldn't read music) were intriguing to me, and eventually I started singing regularly with the choir.

Now, this church is small-ish, attendance between 100 and 200, and demographically the older folks far outweigh the younger folks. A few contemporary-music zealots from other churches led a drive to create an early-morning praise service. This apparently had been tried several times in the past, and failed. And though this iteration was honestly quite bad at first, it became apparent that the praise service wasn't going away because just enough of the right people were convinced that it was somehow going to bring in the young kids in droves. At first, the church was extremely divided about the service, but lately there's been an uneasy truce between the contemporary and tradtitional folks. Still, however, attendance has dwindled noticably even in just the two years I've been attending.

Last year, my father-in-law, who was doubling as the bass player in the praise band, decided he wanted to take a break, and I was tapped to take over on bass. I hadn't so much as picked up my bass in several years (since my old band broke up), but it was another cool challenge, and I reacquainting myself with playing bass was awesome. When my father-in-law came back to the band, they had me do auxiliary percussion and sing. Even though I didn't really like most of the music, I remembered some of the songs from my youth (my stepmom was the worship leader at my old church), and just plain playing in a band was so much fun. I agreed to become a full memeber of the band--playing bass, auxilliary percussion, filling in on drum set sometimes, and singing (I'd never played and sung before, COOL BUT HARD). I got a lot of compliments on my playing and singing from many members of the congregation, and honestly it was pretty darn fun . . . and somehow this atheist/agnostic was signed up for like eight hours a week in church, LOL. Earlier this year, the praise team leader took a week off and had me lead the group in his absence. Picking the songs, running rehearsal, leading the service, the whole bit. I was pretty nervous, but it came off well and I found myself thinking of ways to improve the service . . .

Well, last week, the praise leader resigned (as he'd been threatening to do fo a while). I am applying for the position and I'm fairly confident I'll get it. Now you see my dilemma: I'm not actually a Christian. I was well indoctrinated by my stepmom and dad, and I'm well acquianted with modern Christian church life and worship. Basically, I can fake it pretty well. I'm excited for the opportunity to lead a band and improve myself musically. I'm excited to help act as a peacemaker and ambassador between the two services, and help integrate traditional elements into the contemporary service and vice-versa. I have come to love this church family, and I don't want to see it die! However, I'm pretty nervous that someone's going to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

So what do you all think? Should I apply? Even if I'm committed and work hard and put on a cool service and make the congregation happy and give people positive worship experiences, is it an unforgivable thing to have a non-Christian lead a Christian praise service? Keep in mind that right now, no one outside my family and the pastor know that I am not actually a Christian. In fact, the pastor and I have had lunch a few times to discuss my concerns about the direction of the church and my involvement in it. Do I need to be upfront about this to the congregation? To date, I haven't actually joined the church, because as part of that you have to state in front of the church that you accept Jesus as your personal lord and savior, and frankly I'm not willing to stand up in front of a church and swear a lie.

As you can tell I have a lot of conflicting feelings about this. ANY help or advice is appreciated.

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