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Sunday, January 13, 2008

dissertation finish line

I am excited to say that I have completed the full draft of my D.Min. project on worship and music. I have been working on the degree for 7 1/2 years, and writing the dissertation (technically, it's a "project") for 5 1/2 of those years, though significant portions of it began in studies and discussions 8 and 9 years ago at my previous church.

I still have to "defend" it before several professors and make any revisions they require, but the great weight has been lifted. Well, one interesting challenge remaining will be to condense the 320 pg. project into a 300-word abstract. I figure if I find one key word for each page I'll be close.

What is it about, you ask? Well thanks for asking!

It's about music and worship. =)

I'm going to write here instead about why I choose the topic of music and worship.

I have been musical all my life. I have played piano by ear since I was about 4. I took 14 years of classical piano and majored in music composition. I was a professional musician and songwriter for a while. I still have a small music studio that I use to help friends develop and record their musical ideas.

It has been clear to me for a long time that God made me to be creative and musical. And yet God also called me to serve and follow him as a child, and from my teenage years I began to sense a call to pastoral ministry. And I love being a pastor. I have been on this quest since I was a teenager to figure out how to integrate this pastoral calling and these musical gifts.

So I started studying and writing and playing and trying out the balance. And I found a doctoral program that allowed me to study the practical implications deeply, with the accountability to help me press through to completion.

The purpose of the dissertation is to try to establish the biblical purpose and function of music in worship. The topic addresses my own interest and need very profoundly, but I hope it will also be a resource to the church at large, for so many churches have been conflicted over music and worship.

I think I write from a unique vantage point. I am a pastor/preacher and a musician. I am classically trained (read music) and play/improvise by ear. I am right on the cusp between baby boomers and the so-called generation X, and feel like I have one foot planted in modernism and one in post-modernism. I understand both languages.

Anyway, I'm excited about it. I hope as I have opportunity to share the conclusions and contents with folks, they will be too.


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