“How is the Church Music Institute funded?” is a frequent question when introducing CMI to friends and potential users of CMI resources. It is a reasonable question. The $75 membership fee giving access to thousands of titles of curated music can’t possibly fund CMI . Church musicians and clergy who are paid modestly at best do not seem a deep well of funding for CMI. Churches have their own struggles to meet budgets and they will give to the poor before CMI, right? CMI does not sell music so there is no revenue stream from music sales. Workshop and Festival admission fees are low so these cannot be revenue generators. Are you scratching your head yet?
All these statements are true. Yet CMI is in process of having its best fall fundraising period in its history. Why this is so is a tribute to our donors. It is happening because those who understand and care about music in worship are making it happen. These are people who, like my mother used to say, put their money where their mouths are. People like you who are reading this article. Who are you? Does one (or more) of these characteristics fit you?
1. You know we remember what we sing longer than words we hear. You are the person who leaves church humming a tune that keeps rolling around in your head and nourishes you all week long. It may have been written last week or three centuries ago – that doesn’t matter. It connects you with a text containing truth that is ageless.
2. You love the music of the church as your parents and grandparents did, and you want future generations of Christians to know God through music. There are hymns and pieces of music that tie you to your faith, your family, and a church community dear to you. When you hear a hymn it reminds you of people and the God you love.
3. You know God deserves the best music, and that requires effort and investment. Good music doesn’t “just happen.” It takes education, training, planning, nurturing, care.
4. You give whatever you can because you care about church music. Every gift matters. It might be a gift of singing faithfully in a choir, or keeping the choral library in order, or volunteering at CMI, or tuning the piano, or it might even be a financial gift.
5. You give because you know not everyone understands how important music is. Not everyone has capacity to understand and support the arts. Music has always been supported by a few so that many can benefit. How music works is sometimes hard to understand and takes time to comprehend. If it could be explained easily with words it wouldn’t be music. That’s o.k.
6. You give because your life has been changed and continues to be transformed by excellent music. Gratitude underlies your support of church music.
7. You have resources beyond current needs and want to make a difference. You understand the power of music to change lives, to lift spirits, to challenge minds, to call us to a higher character, to open us to hear God’s spirit within ourselves. Fine church music is worthy of support because it builds Christians of integrity.
8. You value God’s presence in your life and want to bring the richness of faith to our contemporary world. You want to be part of an effort to bring the best of historic Christianity and the gifts of current musicians together for worshipping congregations in today’s world.
9. You remember how much a musician or music program in your formative years shaped your faith and want to give back. The music of your childhood and youth, and those wonderful texts that accompany it, shape who you are and what you are becoming. You want to invest in such efforts with lasting value in gratitude for what you have received.
10. You know the song of the church is truthful. So many of the texts we sing have been true for centuries, are true today, and will be true in the future. In an age of uncertainty, giving to an effort whose basis is Scripture, integrity, and truth is an investment in the core of Christianity, a moral compass in changing times.
And that’s who those are who answered the call to a matching challenge of $50,000 in September and who gave generously to make sure we meet the match. While we await final numbers, we are very close if not all the way to the finish line with the match. These are the people my mother would say have “put their money where their mouths are.”
Are you one of the people above? I suspect you are. The door is always open for investors of any kind, whether singers (in the congregation or “rehearsed” choir), instrumentalists, volunteers, prayer warriors, those who carry the good news of the importance of music to the faith, and yes, those who will support this work financially so yet more can hear the good news. Thanks for being friends of church music.