theme and variations

Recently a radio station in Fort Wayne was purchased by the local public radio network. On the day of the purchase, it stopped being an oldies station, but the network was not ready to start the new programming. As a result, for a few days we had a station that was 24 hours of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”.

Obviously, there were many versions of the canon. From original instruments to rock guitar to new age vocal, we heard the familar two measure bass line over and over and over. Because the canon itself is a theme and variations, I couldn’t begin to guess how many times the theme was played on that station during those few days.

Hope and I started to enjoy listening to the all canon station. There was something intriguing about finding out how the familiar could be changed without changing.

And I started wondering about church. What are the irreducible minimums for church, for a gathering, for a community, for a collection of people, to be the church? What makes it the canon, which, when heard, makes everyone say, “yep, that’s the church”? What has to be there?

Well? What must be there?

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4 responses to “theme and variations

  1. I dunno about hearing Canon over & over – I have such a low threshold of dealing with repetition in music that it would drive me crazy. (That’s one of my problems with modern worship music in most churches. Can we sing that same chorus for the tenth time, please?)

    As to the irreducibles, I’d vote for one being good worship music. Without too much repetition.

  2. Love the Lord your God . . .
    Love you neighbor as yourself

    And to Paul: if you get to vote, it’s not an irreducible

  3. Love the Lord you God . . .
    Love you neighbor as yourself

    And to Paul: if you get to vote, it’s not an irreducible

  4. Hi Jon,

    I posted a comment yesterday but it never appeared. Don’t know why. When I worked in the Middle East we tried to identify ‘minimum church’ so that we could know when we had planted a church. From there we tried to describe ‘mature church’ to help a group grow.

    I would define a minimum church today in terms of the presence of Christ through faith among a group of people that share a common corporate identity and the sacraments. This doesn’t deal much with character or mission, but I think it captures the essense of the minimum needed to say ‘Here’s a local church.’