Music Network Event: A Life of Worship

Adam Penwright 30 Oct 17

Saturday 21st October was the UCCF Music Network’s annual autumn gathering for 2017, and what a day it was!  Around 40 of us came from across the country to spend a day learning from the Bible, worshipping God together, and looking at the challenges of being a Christian music student. I want to share some of the points which I found particularly helpful and ways in which this training day has specifically helped my walk with God.

I know that one of the most common struggles amongst Christian musicians is figuring out how we can spend so much time looking at our own abilities and yourself, without becoming self-obsessed! It’s so easy to make music or talents an idol and the focus of our life. Whether it’s in a performance, composition, or academic context, I find it very easy to be proud in times of achievement and distraught in times of failure, and a big part of this is being forced to spend so much time refining and evaluating my own abilities. The problem with this is that while I am focused on myself, I’m forgetting my identity, and missing out on how awesome God is! And so at this training day, it was incredibly helpful to be reminded simply that Christ is the centre of all that we do. Whilst as musicians, we have been blessed with the gift of music in our lives, even the best performance, composition, or competition will never even come remotely close to matching the glory of knowing Christ as our Lord and Saviour! We have an "audience of one": a God who has given us music to use and enjoy; a God who has created all and reigns supreme over all; a God who is a gracious Father and has an incredible, unconditional love for us.

Another challenge which has been particularly relevant for me recently at university is that music is so often used as a platform for politics and philosophy, and in this, we are often surrounded by ideas and theories that seem contrary to biblical principles. Jesus says that He is truth (John 14:6), an idea that is extremely unpopular in a postmodern conversation! This training day provided a reminder to stand firm in our spiritual convictions, while still speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We even spent some time looking at particular academic questions and debates that have come up in our music studies, to have a look at what might be some good ways of answering and tackling the difficult questions.

Part of being within the UCCF Music Network is looking at how to grow as ambassadors for Christ within our music departments and circles of influence. It’s a massive blessing to be studying a course that is so sociable, but it can be hard to know how to use this in a really positive way. A topic that was really helpful for me to hear about was the idea that worship and witness should go hand in hand – that they’re ‘intimately intertwined’! Imagine for a moment, that you are describing a musician or celebrity that you love, to a friend. You wouldn’t often start by giving a timeline of that person's life and explaining to your friend the evidence for their existence, but would instead talk about how much you like this person, how amazing they are, and what kind of an impact that they have had on your life! So why do I talk about God quite so differently?! Psalm 96:4 says ‘For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods.’ Our hearts should be so enraptured that we can’t resist singing God’s praises with joy, and continue saying how great He is to our friends!

It is so encouraging to be able to spend a day together as Christian musicians from all over the country, not only to learn and be reminded of these gospel truths, but also to build one another up and have fun together! To finish off the day, we went to a local restaurant together for a really lovely meal (thanks to UCCF for the £10 subsidy!), which was such a good opportunity to get to know one another better, make connections across universities and colleges, and to spend time together in fellowship.

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