If your church has been around for a while, it undoubtedly started out with a pianist and/or an organist. That person was the center of the music. I remember recognizing this quite dramatically when I was 12 years old, the first time the pastor’s wife in my little church of 100 was sick and couldn’t play piano. I was asked to step up and was stunned to notice that I had more power than the choir director. This despite the fact that I had been in orchestras and I knew how to follow a conductor, it turned out the conductor was following me!
This paradigm becomes so ingrained that even when band instruments are added – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboard, bass, drums – the piano remains the central point of the music and the mix and directs how everything happens. You can tell this is the case not only when the piano plays the introduction and then the band comes in with the congregation, but also when the piano player is mentioned in the bulletin, to the exclusion of every other musician!
I’m sure this scenario isn’t the one Jesus had in mind when he said this, but I think this is one of those cases where putting new wine into old wineskins isn’t going to work out so well.
How this shift happens isn’t easy, it’s a discontinuity no doubt, but we need new wineskins in order for the group to move forward, and everyone needs to be aware of it. The long and terrible reign of the piano player as dictator for life must come to an end 😉 ha!