Austin Stone – A well executed worship resource site

Thanks to my friend Chris Hatch, I heard about this church, Austin Stone. They are using video and sharing their music through their website in a way that empowers many other churches to perform their songs. It’s a cool business model, but it’s also an interesting model for how the church can share it’s songs in the digital age. Watching the videos, I am struck with a few random thoughts (2 positive and 1 critical).

Theology is important to my generation. Despite the accusations of traditionalists, the music of post-modern Christians is expected to have theological meat to it. It might not sound the same as Isaac Watts, but theology is not something we want to ignore.

There is an art to writing piano, guitar, and drum parts. (also bass, but there were no tutorials for that. Check out this video for bass tips.) You can see from the tutorials that these musicians are doing a lot more than strumming the four chords. When you go in the studio and take time to craft a song, you have to think about every guitar or drum part as a composer.

Your cultural is invisible to you and blatant to the rest of us. It’s great to see how this church is living out the gospel in their context. If you are not from their culture, you might notice that they dress different, sing different, think different, etc. When I listen to most “modern worship” recordings these days, I am struck by their mono-cultural nature. Did you notice the vintage keys and antique piano? Why not use a Phantom? All the guitar parts are a wash with delay and chimey distortion – where’s the funk or the blues? I’m not saying that they needed to include that stuff, but I am saying that this music is not designed to reach across cultural barriers. It seems to be comfortably easing into a singular cultural expression, but they are probably not doing that intentionally. Right?

True confession: I am totally jealous of this website. I love the video tutorials, the chart downloads, the minimalist design. They have nailed what we imagined our site to be like.

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  1. #1 by Rob Hatch on December 15, 2011 - 9:34 pm

    Kirk – thanks for the link to the site. Your comments are spot on – except I’d add one other thing. My suspicion is that this church has a full time tech/media/web producer. Or at least the budget for funding a project like this one pretty well. Ncfmusic is a solid site – waiting to be filled with the content that can serve the saints. Content production has been the struggle for all of us working pro-bono. (BTW. You arranging with Paul to video your concert Saturday night? Will you send me the material?) Keep up the good work, brother, and lets keep pushing to get material out there that glorifies the savior and edifies the church.

    • #2 by Kirk Ward on December 16, 2011 - 10:16 am

      Spot on, Rob. I’m prone to getting envious of other ministries, and then I remember that they have invested in things differently. I think it would be so cool to have a full time web/communications guru on staff, but I am thankful that when I look at our church budget, I see that our resources are first going toward community development. Still, to see what we want to do fleshed out makes me excited for the possibilities.

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