Category Archives: Music

Preaching Contests

scorecardsEven though the school year is still early in the Fall semester, things are already heating up in the annual Ebenezer Baptist College  sermon contest with preacher boys looking forward to smiting their opponents on the church platform.

This year sees two formidable contenders emerging from the field of expository behemoths: Reginald “Reggie” McDonald, a pastoral ministries senior from Wichita, Kansas and Zedekiah Hosea Buckwalter, a missions major from Flint, Michigan. With such a strong matchup there’s likely to be more than a little blood, sweat, and tears shed on the oak wood of the  sacred desk.

“It’s all about crafting the perfect words,” said Buckwalter in a recent interview with Preacher Boy Monthly. “I’ve been working on my delivery ever since my freshman speech devotional and it’s almost perfect now.”

But Reggie disagrees about the method. “It’s not about delivery, it’s simply a matter of how much of the Holy Spirit you have,” argued McDonald. “Other than maybe the pastor himself, nobody on campus has as much of the Holy Spirit as I do. That’s just a fact.”

Neither contender would reveal the content of their sermon, although historically sermons on sin have always been favored in the contest. “A little lust goes a long way in a sermon,” explained a Bible faculty member who asked to stay anonymous, “Preaching on sin takes less preparation overall and as long as you stay on familiar topics like adultery, alcohol, and abortion, it’s easy to get the audience responding to you too. It also gives the preacher a chance to yell. Volume is always good for a few easy points.”

As always, scouts from major Baptist churches around the country have been  attending the semi-final “preach-offs” to recruit fresh talent. First round draft picks are often immediately placed as head pastor of a mid-sized congregation, while later picks are inevitably forced to start as volunteer assistant youth ministers and part-time Christian school gym teachers.

Thanks to Bill for this reminder of a piece that I wrote some time ago.

Traveling Musical Families

singingfamilyIn fundy churches, the most common type of traveling musical family is the missionary family. The traveling family musical act is a mainstay of the fundamentalist missionary endeavor. If a missionary is to be a success on deputation and furlough he or his family must sing, play an instrument, and be able to quote John 3:16 in a foreign language. As a reward for doing these things (and not necessarily for doing them well) the missionary is then allowed to sell tapes and CDs of his family’s musical feats on the back table after the service.

There is another type of musical family that is modeled more along the lines of the von Trapp family. These are families with large numbers of children who consider traveling and performing to be their mission. It’s not easy get this act going for the simple reason that it requires having a large family. Two musical kids are hardly worth driving to see unless they’re really exceptional but by the time you’re up to seven musical children it’s a phenomenon, and twelve children barely have to have any musical talent at all to attract a crowd.

There are other costs to be considered too. Matching outfits for all those kids don’t come cheap. Not to mention the cost of transporting them from place to place. Thankfully, people are usually generous with their love offerings to musical acts.

In fact, missionaries are often thrilled to find out that a “big name” in the family musician trade is going to be present that week for the simple fact that they help boost the offerings. Man shall not live by flute solos alone.

Be sure to stop by the display table in the back.

(thanks to Don for bringing back many memories for this post.)



If a fundamentalist church is of any size at all they will inevitably have a choir of consisting of at least fourteen women and no more than six men. It is possible in smaller churches for the choir to outnumber the rest of the congregation.

Most fundamentalist choirs don’t have a professional director. The guy with the title Music Director usually spends the bulk of his time teaching 5th grade science at the Christian school and cleaning the church bathrooms. They also lack expensive sound equipment, choir robes, and auditions. All that is required to join the choir is a healthy pair of lung and the desire to make a joyful noise. Professionals who think they know better than the choir director and keep whining about things like musical pitch and meter need not apply.

In addition to singing at weekly services the Fundamental Baptist choir is also responsible for the yearly Christmas cantata, Easter cantata, God and Country Sunday, and special music at revivals. The miracle is that they do it all on thirty minutes of practice before the Sunday evening service. It’s a good thing that fundamentalists don’t believe in singing too much new music.

Break out the song books and fire up the organ. As they say in southern churches, “Y’all pray for us now, we ain’t practiced much.”