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Men and the Beat of Their Drums

Turkish armies steamrolled eastern Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, led by large troops beating drums and trumpeting loudly their foregone victory. African drums call up the gods (demons) of their tribes, whipping celebrants into religious, sexual ecstasy. Western Christianity has shied away from the power of drumming, until now. (Some churches still debate the acceptability of guitars in worship! Once we let in the guitars, can drums be far behind?)

What is it about men and drumming?

Can you imagine yourself as part of a group of college students praying and worshiping God for 24 hours a day, let alone 7 days a week? Campus America issues the call of God to students in all universities to come together and undertake just such a miracle. A group of young men in Oklahoma found out drumming was a way for them to pray, to express their passion for God. As Romans 12 tells us to “offer our bodies as a living sacrifice” they are using their whole spirit, soul and bodies to express what God has put into them. God is a big God and he created us with bodies as well as minds and voices, so this seems a way to give more of themselves to God when they express their prayers.

Watch them transform an abandoned warehouse into a drummer’s worship center.

Books have been written about men releasing emotions through drumming and “drum circles.” Males are well-known for low ability to express emotions with words. Actions, sports, wars, dance, fights seem to come easier. Drums have an undeniable power to arouse strong emotion and pounding a drum (or cymbal) rhythmically releases something inside.

Turkish armies steamrolled eastern Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, led by large troops beating drums and trumpeting loudly their foregone victory. African drums call up the gods (demons) of their tribes, whipping celebrants into religious, sexual ecstasy. Western Christianity has shied away from the power of drumming, until now. (Some churches still debate the acceptability of guitars in worship! Once we let in the guitars, can drums be far behind?)

Can the power of drumming be tamed?

At an Easter city-wide worship and prayer meeting in Louisville, a musician from Sojourn Church led an electrifying rendition of the 18th century hymn writer, Isaac Watts‘, “Absent from flesh, O blissful thought.” It began with the energy of a drum and keyboard introduction. We knew from the power that faith was about to be expressed in modern day synergy of music and technology. Then the words were projected onto the screen at the front of the hall in all their 18th century glory. And the tune, someone had written an Appalachian primitive tune to sing under the power of the drum and keyboard. What a combination: flowery words we don’t speak any more, a primitive tune no one would sing in a modern church and the thrill of the mighty drum with keyboard and guitars! The congregation was swept off its feet! [Fittingly Sojourn Church sang it on Easter.]

For more melds of the old and the new checkout some samples (“My Maker and My King” has some taste of the power of the drum). Why tame the drum when it can be put to the service of good theology? or of unceasing prayer? The thoughts going through our heads need to focus on the glorious, holy God of heaven while our bodies here on earth are caught up with expressing His glorious truth. Sometimes truth is exciting.

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