Should I stay or should I go?

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by tb-player, Jul 14, 2021.

  1. tb-player

    tb-player sarcasm intended... always! Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2019
    Disclaimer: I know we're not allowed to talk religion on these boards, but the venue in question is a church. And it's a regular gig. I'll do my best not to cross that line.

    I grew up in church. It's part of the fabric of who I am, whether I like it or not. I've almost always volunteered to 'serve' in music wherever I've attended. Most recently, I've been playing bass (& sometimes lead guitar) at a the 'big church' (roughly 1500-2000 ppl) in our small(ish) town. Been doing that a few times a month for the past 5 years.

    I'm surrounded by a good group of musicians. No attitudes. Good vibe. Okay... maybe the keyboard player noodles instead of knowing his part, but that's to be expected with gospel keyboard players, right?

    Over the years, I have found my beliefs to drift away from those of the church. While Evangelical churches have become more and more corporate and political, I have become less so. But I've kept playing, telling myself that I do it because of the relationships I have with my fellow bandmates and a few other folks at the church. And I've liked the idea of helping out, since this church does a lot for the community.

    Recently, the church band has been transitioning to click tracks, Ableton...etc, along with an upscale video/audio suite. I've started noticing some new musicians that I don't know or have that relationship with. I've also started noticing that a lot of the older players are playing less and less. Without those guys, I become one of the older guys on stage by a decade or more. Granted I'm young at heart (immature? lol) and stuff like that doesn't bother me. Still, it's different than it used to be.

    I still enjoy playing. But the new, enhanced focus on the stage production is a little off-putting. It feels like the focus is on the wrong thing. The influx of what I see as restrictive changes, combined with my growing and changing belief system is making me wonder if it's worth showing up anymore. Maybe it's better to walk away, for my own well-being. Or maybe it's good for me to continue to help out?

    I've discussed this with the lead pastor. I've also talked with the worship pastor (I think he gets it). But I'm not sure I'm getting unbiased advice from either of them. I mean, they have to be there, since their paycheck is tied to the success of the church, right?

    Without getting into a religious discussion, I'm curious if anyone else here has had a similar experience? Maybe it wasn't a church, but something similar? What did you do? If not, what would you do?
  2. Treblefree


    Apr 8, 2016
    Upstate, SC
    Not sure what you mean by your beliefs are drifting away from the church, but that statement alone would likely have the largest impact on my decision if in the same boat as you.

    If you mean the church is changing belief system or approach more than you are comfortable with, then I'd probably move on depending on if it is going away from Bible based belief system or if you mean this more of a music thing that you don't believe in, then that is another discussion too. If you mean you are not believing or losing faith like you used to have but the church is still Bible based, then I'd spend some serious time in prayer and reading the Bible for guidance. Maybe you need to find another church that is more foundational in the Bible and then plug yourself in there if you feel like you're not being fed, but you should also spend time in the Word to get fed too.

    If entirely music thing, then I get that too. Played in a very large church most Sundays for about 15 years. Up to 4 services a week. Often I was the every week guy if I didn't block out dates. I suspect as the gray hair started being noticeble a change was coming. We did all the Ableton stuff, tracks, etc. Had a killer system and loved playing through it and loved the energy, but also sometimes, it seemed cheesy and too routine or too much about the production value. The bigger it got, the more that image permeated I think, but in defense, people's attention spans are shorter and shorter all the time so changing camera angles and having stage roving cameras and AV stuff may be more and more necessary to keep people engaged; what do I know. The message was always still straight on the righteous pathway though and all about salvation, so I never would have left on my own because I believed heavily in the mission and greatly respect the lead pastor.

    It's a long story, but God called me to another church at the exact time I went from every week player to not getting another invite on PCO. Was very easy for me to transition, but I had been thinking about it to some degree also like you. I landed at my brother's church that I had been to a couple/few times over a half year or so and played at once when I was off and their guy wanted a week off. Now I get to play on the worship team with my brother (drummer) every week. Their bass player caused a bit of a scene one day and left about the same time that I stopped getting invited to my long-term church so I was instantly asked to play there to help out and have been there pretty much ever since.
  3. tb-player

    tb-player sarcasm intended... always! Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2019
    Thanks for the reply. I didn't elaborate because I didn't want to break TB rules. Let me just say this, with regard to beliefs drifting away from the church... most big Evangelical churches are more about self-help than anything related to "do justice, love mercy, walk humbly...etc." Mine seems to be headed in that direction as well. The music performance/production is part of that... whatever keeps the butts in the seats.

    I haven't necessarily lost faith. I've just lost faith in church, as a whole. But I still like some of the people I'm playing with. It's a tough spot to be in. I don't want to harsh their experience. But I don't want to be biting my tongue & eye-rolling every week either.
    JettBlaq, Dynacord, J_Bass and 4 others like this.
  4. Ender_rpm


    Apr 18, 2004
    St. Louis MO
    I got out of playing churches due to a change in philosophies in the early 00's, but most of the subsequent changes Ive heard of make me glad I got while the getting was good. If the emphasis on SHOW over WORSHIP bugs you, Id roll out.
    oldandbold, JettBlaq, The Owl and 4 others like this.
  5. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Eugene Oregon
    People tend to ride it out to the bitter end. Congrats to you for realizing the issues and trying to work out a solution.

    Uncomfortable is uncomfortable. If you can’t get comfortable then move on. It’s not going to get better as the trend is clearly established. Good luck
  6. tb-player

    tb-player sarcasm intended... always! Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2019
    That's where I'm leaning. My views on church and faith started changing 18 years ago. So I've been sticking it out for a looooong while. They can't accuse me of being fair-weathered. I think it may be time. :smug:
  7. tb-player

    tb-player sarcasm intended... always! Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2019
    I agree. Our church is modeling itself after some specific churches. I've observed them and, in my opinion, it's gonna get worse. Personally, I think it's an ugly trend in church-culture as a whole. Maybe it's time to start my YouTube bass channel and shred with the rest of the youngsters. :cool:
  8. fu22ba55


    Apr 16, 2009
    Whether your playing secular or non-secular music, you'll always eventually have to confront some kind of generational shift, or generation gap as you get older. The church is trying to "stay current" or "stay relevant" and keep attracting new members.

    Religion aside, it sounds like they're trying to focus on more of a full audio-visual production, rather than simply musical production. Just like if a secular band wanted to start adding video / film / etc to their stage show.

    If you still enjoy the music, look at it as an opportunity for you to learn the mechanics of synchronizing a live band with multimedia. Useful in large productions like Broadway shows, etc. Maybe dive into that side of it, and learn some of that stuff. (Adobe After Effects, or Ableton, etc...)

    If you still enjoy the people it's attracting to the church, then you'll just need to balance your own preferences for what worship music "should be" with the benefit it provides the church.

    Worst case, treat the worship music as more of a gig, and start a side project that's strictly music-focused?
  9. Sounds like they've moved away from you at least as much as you've moved away from them. Nothing wrong with moving on.
    PlayTheBass and Gaolee like this.
  10. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    I can’t speak to the spiritual aspect of it, which I realize might be the most important thing here.

    I will say this; learning modern show preparation, presentation, skills that entertain - keep “butts in seats” as you so perfectly phrased it - and skills made for video, no other way to put it - is an exceptionally valuable skill for any musician and frankly one that most of us don’t get the chance to learn in any context, because the money simply isn’t there. The last time I worked on that sort of production, it was for a major cable network, and 27 years ago. I’d love to have a shot at learning how to work in such an environment now, because there are a boatload of skills and knowledge I could learn. Skills and knowledge that just simply don’t get discussed here on TB. Or anywhere else, really. This is not exactly a forum for top-tier show business professionals, but more low-level professionals who work bars, clubs, county fairs, that sort of thing. Which are the vast majority of musician jobs, so that makes sense. Your environment is transitioning into something that is another couple of levels above that.

    So there is discomfort there. Discomfort at having to “up your game”, which is never pleasant but can have some serious rewards, and discomfort with what may be changes in the values of an organization, which is also never pleasant and frequently has no remedy. That part I have no advice for, save that compromises to your core values are frequently not worth any rewards you gain from them.

    I wish you all the luck and success you desire, and hope that you can find your way to a resolution you can live and thrive with.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
  11. tb-player

    tb-player sarcasm intended... always! Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2019
    This is an interesting take. I guess I've kind of been treating it like a gig since Covid started and we were playing for an empty building while tapping for YouTube. That was actually one of my favorite times of playing. Without the crowd we really focused on the music and each other. It was a good 'gig'.

    I don't feel like it's an age thing for me. The large majority of the folks attending are my age. The band, admittedly, is skewing a little younger. But I've had plenty of opportunities to work with the younger musicians on how to lock in, listen to others, emphasize what not's being played...etc. That has been rewarding... especially when they listen.

    I guess it's just a matter of deciding if that part is important the aspects I don't like about organized religion.
  12. Stewie


    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    I used to do all sorts of repairs and projects for the church my wife and I attend(ed). They somehow lost the cheerful community spirit and became very stern. I still do a few projects if a good friend of ours asks, but mostly they drove me away. Remember Jiminy Cricket and let your conscience be your guide
  13. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    In a different forum, I would put this another way, respectfully. To honor TB's outlines and rules, I'll leave that somewhere else.

    I'd only say I see a lot of these changes as well, and they do not speak to me positively, speaking for myself.

    You can only follow what your faith and your heart tells you.
    Gaolee, dirtychinchilla and tb-player like this.
  14. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Maybe find a church whose values are more in line with yours. About ten years ago I had to leave a church I was playing at because I could no longer support their attitudes, etc. I was soon recruited by a small church that can barely put together a band and singers. It's not the most musically inspiring situation, but I feel good being a part of it.
    bassista6, LBS-bass, Gaolee and 7 others like this.
  15. fu22ba55


    Apr 16, 2009
    I can't really speak (intelligently) to the religion part, since I'm agnostic enough to keep my music separate from faith, etc... BUT...

    If playing the music is PART of your worship, PART of practicing your faith, and you feel like it's currently hampering your ability (or desire) to practice your faith, then maybe look for a better fit in the worship-music community.

    If it's just a gig (and doesn't impact your ability to practice your faith), then just roll with it.
    Ender_rpm likes this.
  16. I transitioned to children’s church and writing bible songs for kids.
    With adults it’s:
    Too loud
    Too soft
    Too slow
    Too fast
    Too old
    Too new
    They complain. Kids really get into worshiping and that’s much more fulfilling.
    Px2, scowboy, jefff100 and 2 others like this.
  17. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Take "church" out of the equation:
    1. You've played with a group of musicians you respect and enjoy for the last 5 years.
    2. Philosophies have drifted a bit since then in a direction you really don't relate to.
    3. The composition of the musicians has changed and you're not sure you are in sync with them.

    Sounds like you need to find a new gig to me.
  18. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx!

    Oct 31, 2006
    Western Hemisphere
    Sounds like you need to walk away, and start playing with like-minded people in a more secular setting. And keep in mind- a good bass player is ALWAYS in demand! Good luck.
    thunesBARROW, BLYN and tb-player like this.
  19. Ric5

    Ric5 Inactive

    Jan 29, 2008
    I like 5, 8, 10, and 12 string basses
    I would love to play in a church band, but my beliefs are different than most big churches so I play in secular bands and I do church in the home without music for now. With the home church and with zoom I am free to practice my religion as I see fit, and that is important to me.
    JettBlaq and tb-player like this.
  20. tb-player

    tb-player sarcasm intended... always! Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2019
    Good advice. By taking the ‘church’ out of it, you also take out the guilt (if you grew up in church, you know… lol)
    mikewalker, Gaolee, JettBlaq and 3 others like this.