Gospel Light was exceedingly blessed by the visit of Pastor Jim Donath and his wife Lois this Sunday evening, April 11. (Pastor Giardino had recently met Pastor Donath during his trip to the Leadership Conference in San Diego.) This musical duo delighted those in attendance with a harmonically blended, expertly performed gospel music. They, in turn, were pleased by the music of our young Gospel Light trio of Jesenia, Julia and Michael G., with Pastor Donath making note that these young people had the choice of doing many other things, but were instead here at church “singing for the Lord.”
After the music of the evening, Pastor Donath introduced himself and his wife by way of personal testimony. He noted that his path to the position of pastor was very similar to our Pastor Giardino, using his journey to inspire us to “get involved” with the church and not just occupy a church seat. Of special note was his decision to allow 80+ Burmese christian man and women in Buffalo to conduct their church services with his church building, which was an enormous blessing for folks who had been meeting in a crowded living room.
Pastor Donath claimed his sermon was a one point message: “Music is a very controversial subject.” The pastor stated that there is “bound to be someone preaching against your kind of music.” After pointing out that the bible has over 500 references to music, he had the congregation turn to the story of king Nebuchadnezzer and his image of gold in Daniel 3:1-7. The king had enticed the people and officers of the provinces together using music as the lure. This was the king’s means in which to “hoodwink” them and threaten them into worshiping the golden image. In a similar manner, today’s music industry attempts to “get your money” and “bow to their music.”
Warning against the unsavory influences within secular music, Pastor Donath offered himself as an example; he still “likes the music he grew up with, but now I have a new song in my heart.” He has been using a 12-string guitar for 20 years to prevent him from going back to his rock-n-roll roots with a 6-string guitar. Even contemporary christian music causes controversy, Pastor Donath pointed out. “Otherwise sweet people will get upset and say ‘I’m not giving up my music’” when confronted. Pastor Donath continued, “People give up all other vices in their life after being saved, but won’t give up their style of christian music.”
The pastor’s slide presentation focused on the evidence and research into the physical and emotional health effects of music, both good and bad. Pastor Donath’s objective was to give us “a clearer understanding of the important roll music plays in our lives and in the church.” He urged Gospel Light to come to a “decisive unity of choice” in our type of music, to avoid infighting for the the sake of unity within the church. He also pointed out that our choice of music will determine what type of person will attend our church, since to some, the type of music in the church is often more important than doctrine.
Pastor Donath stated that music can either “enable or degrade” a person’s character and health, building you up or tearing you down. We were given many examples of how “the very sound of the music” can affect human physiology, anatomy, metabolism, blood pressure, digestion, emotions, and more. Yet, Pastor Donath said, “God’s people are wrongly saying that music is neutral”, wishing to ignore the voice of the Holy Spirit of God warning them about seduction and sin. The truth is that “somehow the human mind creates significance in sounds” and thus, we should seek principled and godly meanings in the music we choose to listen to. He concluded with a number of questions to us, including, “What kind of music are you listening to?” and “Are you unified with your church’s music program?”