Music has always played a huge role in the church, especially the charismatic church. Church buildings and programs may change, but throughout the centuries, believers have consistently worshipped God through music and song. My younger brother, Paul Strang, has been a music minister his entire adult life, and I would call him an expert in worship music. One thing I admire about my brother is his incredible gift of playing any worship song he hears—and how he uses this gift to minister to others.
In a recent interview with Paul for my "Strang Report" podcast, he told me he can't take any credit for this gift from God. (You can listen to my entire conversation with him by clicking here or scrolling down.)
"Some people call it playing by ear, but I don't," Paul told me. "If I know a song, I can play it just because I know it from the inside. And it may not be the best rendition, but that is truly a gift from the Lord, and I can't take any credit because I didn't learn what I do from piano lessons."
I remember the music lessons Paul took while we were growing up—especially trumpet lessons. Though his musical touch was less than graceful when he first started learning to play, he did vastly improve the more he practiced. I say that to tease him, of course, but it's true that God has used him greatly over the years in the area of worship.
In fact, in the 1970s, he traveled the country with Terry MacAlmon and ministered in many churches. It was at one such church in Kentucky where he met his wife, Hazie, in 1975. Lately, the Lord has opened doors for Paul to minister through music in a mighty way to the elderly at assisted living facilities.
"I've heard it said that between the ages of 16 and 26, you absorb more of the music in that time," Paul says. "So when you go back with it, all the old jazz standards that I do at some of these senior living centers, they sing along or they mouth the words with me, and it just touches them in some way. And even at the memory centers that I play at, it does strike a memory chord with them and it's fun to see them enjoy the music."
Paul has found that his old-style worship music even touches people who weren't necessarily churchgoers in their younger years.
"Good music is good music," Paul says. "But when it's known on the inside, it has a resonation. Some music that you hear, you say, 'Well, that's nice-sounding,' but when you know it, it resonates inside. And I think that's why some people are so fond of the things that they grew up on."
Paul has his own music ministry called Brighter Day, which you can learn more about on its Facebook page. You can also reach him by calling 859-351-1878, emailing [email protected], or send mail to 431 Monticello Blvd, Lexington, Kentucky 40503.
Music styles have certainly gone through an evolution, especially in the church. Back when I was young, Pentecostals sang plenty of hymns, and it has only been in the last few decades or so that secular music styles have influenced the sound of Christian worship. I remember how shocked I was when I discovered American Idol contestants singing Darlene Zschech's "Shout to the Lord" in 2008. And songs like Bart Millard's "I Can Only Imagine" are still top sellers across the music industry.
But although musical styles may change, the truths of God's Word that we sing about do not. For that reason, I commend my brother for using his musical talent to honor the Lord. To hear more of our conversation, just click on the podcast here or below!
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