Free Music brings Inspiration

Music is always a controversial subject in churches.

This post is not about whether or not to use ancient hymns or modern “praise and worship” music.  You may sing Amazing Grace or Shout to the Lord, but without creativity and passion behind it, either one can fall flat.

An ancient chant can be deeply moving.  A modern pop song can lift the spirits of someone in need of a moment of joyful release. Music is a powerful tool in any church’s toolbox.  Music goes way beyond the worship liturgy, however.  Music can enhance social media posts, videos, classes and small groups.

There are two great resources I recommend for finding great music:

1. Free Music Archive

Here you will find a wide variety of music styles (from rap to classical).  All of the items here are preview-able, downloadable and….wait for it…..100% FREE!

creative commons

On the right side of every page is a little “Creative Commons” logo (pictured above) , clicking on this logo which will tells you how these songs may be used. Often it will require you to credit the artist.  Most often this means placing a line of text in your video description, on your website, etc.  You may learn more about how to properly give an attribution HERE.

  1.  Archive.org

Archive.org is a wonderful place for finding freebies of all types, but I want to focus on the music aspect for the time being. A wide array of genres are available from old hymns to hip hop and garage bands.

Many items are Public Domain works, so they may be freely used for any purpose.  Some items are labeled as Creative

Commons and require attribution as described above.

The reason I list this site as #2, is that there is SO MUCH content on this site it can be nearly impossible to track anything down.

You will definitely have to use the filter feature and search box (Pictured here)

filtering music

 QUICK TIP: This site is excellent for finding classical, swing, opera and world music.  It helps if you have an idea of what type of music you’re looking for before visiting archive.org.

What Can I Do With These Sites?

Use as background audio for promotional videos

Record yourself reading a poem over musical accompaniment to use in a worship service, retreat, class, etc.

Here is a worship video I made using public domain footage and music:

  Download some swing or jazz music for a theme night party or dance.

Check out these Benny Goodman songs from archive.org

 Use an instrumental track and write some new lyrics for a special launch of a stewardship campaign or worship series.

What could you make with this song?

Search for soft, melodic songs to use as meditative moments.  As song plays, have congregants to light candles of hope or peace.

QUICK TIP:

This tip is a refreshing worship element to include in a Memorial Day service or social justice related service. Soft Instrumentals can also be used as a background for scripture/sacred text or poetry readings.

Whether you favor the traditional hymns or crave a bit of ska-punk electronica, it is the creativity behind how we use music that is the most valuable of all.  Try some of these ways to spice up your musical moments and let me know if you try these ideas or create your own!

Sunday is just the beginning

Remember the buzz of Sunday mornings?  It was a day to take  a break from my “Knight Rider” T-shirt and find something with a collar.  Smells of pot roast were sure to great us after putting in our two hours of Sunday sacred.  The singing, the preaching…all seemed so marvelous and special.

So…

What happened?

I see “church folks” run in texting with one hand and carrying a binder full of

B_Me / Pixabay

Council minutes with the other.  Forty-five minutes later, there is just enough time to scarf down a post-church  cookie and hurry off to a soccer match.   It would seem the Sunday magic has fled.

As churches see their attendance dwindle, we can wax nostalgic for the “good ol’ days” when pews were packed and “church” was an all day phenomenon that stood in stark contrast to the rest of the week.  As western society races ever toward secularization we, in church leadership, are tasked with re-imagining the way church integrates with busy family and social lives.

For decades we have been accustomed to a modified version of the Sabbath.   We may not have totally “rested” on Sunday, but we made an attempt to meet, eat, sleep and watch The Wonderful World of Disney.. Days of rest are few and far between in the modern era. . One is  considered to be extremely balanced if  five minutes of quiet meditation finds itself into our weekly routine.

There is immense value in knowing how to pull back from the chaos of life and practice intentional moments of gratitude and reflection.  There is a wealth of inspiration to be gained from the gathering of people together to sing, pray, listen and share.

but this is only one piece of the puzzle..

We must have a moment of clarity.

Church is about more than Sunday!

I call it the “Being Church Mindset.”  The days of “having church” may be numbered, but that doesn’t mean that “being church” must share this fate.

We must find ways to connect with our congregations organically.  

We must actually and intentionally care for them; their lives, their jobs, their families.  Yes, “worship”  holds an important place in the life of the church, but it is only ONE piece.  The things we do on the other six days have the potential to take a congregation from dwindling on life support to thriving!

Here are some ways to “be church” throughout the week:

  • Get your Latté on!  It’s time to go on a caffeine bender. Go through your church directory and one-by-one invite each person/couple to a coffee break, lunch or even a cup of  tap water on a park bench!  The food or beverage is not the
    coffee together
    StockSnap / Pixabay

    issue, it’s the connection.  In the ministry we tend to think that our communication must be accompanied by candle lighting and a choir anthem, but that is actually extremely far from the story the Gospels tell.  The real beauty of spiritual connection came at the side of the community well or through the basket of fish and bread.  Check in with your spiritual family, ask about the things that matter to them.

  • Publish a blog, post to Facebook, etc.  Don’t skip this step….it is NOT optional.  If you are thinking “I’m not on Facebook.,” my response would be, “Well, ‘they’ are!”  Very quickly we learn the lesson in ministry that it’s not about us.  I understand the fear of technology and what it is doing to society, but that is no excuse to ignore it!  We have a responsibility to go wherever the people are.  If the people are on the mountain side, we must go to the mountain side.  If the people are on Instagram….then we must go there.  I’m not saying you have to master social media, but I am strongly urging you to pick at least one platform and start sharing.  Your church family will look forward to seeing pictures of the new tulips that are growing by the entryway or hearing insights to the week’s scripture reading.  Even if people can’t make it to the worship service that week, they will still be “in the loop.”
  • Monitor community events and inform your congregation.  Take a look at sites like Eventbrite and Eventful and ask if anyone is interested in attending.  We get so used to promoting our own events and fundraisers, we forget to engage with our local community.  Perhaps there is a jazz concert in the park, this gives you opportunity to connect with those in your church who have a love for jazz or parks, or both!
  • Organize a “Little Lights” pool.  Does anyone in your church community have a need for a simple task to be done?  Are there people in your church that would be willing to help?  For example, there may be a congregant who needs a ride to the grocery store. Can we find someone who can volunteer to pick them up once or twice a month for a joint shopping trip?  Does an elderly member have a picture to be hung?  Surely someone at the church has a hammer and a half-hour to help out.  Creating a simple needs list with pen and paper, spreadsheet  or through a platform like Scribbles  is a great way to get your members to interact with each other.
calendar
tigerlily713 / Pixabay

Let’s face it, attention spans are getting shorter and weekly worship attendance is decreasing for many churches.  This doesn’t have to be the end of all things congregational!  We ARE church.  We can “make church” wherever we are.  The modern social reality doesn’t lend itself to separating church life from everything else.  Churches will soon find that in order to stay relevant, we must fully integrate with the lives of our members.  And not only be present in their lives, but provide value.  This list is in no way comprehensive, but I hope it stimulates discussion about how you can take these concepts and develop a “Monday through Saturday” strategy that will keep your connecting with and uplifting each other!