Children's Music in the Southern Baptist Convention: An Ethnographic Study of Four Churches in Maryland Examining the Effects of Doctrine and Local Church Autonomy on Children's Music
Diab, Melak Victoria
Provine, Robert C
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The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the largest Protestant denomination and the largest group of Baptists in the United States. Furthermore, LifeWay Christian Resources, the Southern Baptist publishing house, is the largest Christian publisher in the United States, producing various literature and media resources, including music material for children. However, the autonomous nature of the local Baptist church gives it absolute freedom to choose programs and materials apart from the Southern Baptist National Convention and LifeWay. This study examines the dynamics of the relationship between the National Convention and the local church as it pertains to children's music. The study looks at the theological and organizational framework on the national level and the local church level and how they affect children and children's music in an autonomous local church setting. The study reveals that all resources and programs related to children on the local church and national convention level, such as children's choir and Vacation Bible School, and Sunday school, are directed towards teaching the children about the two most fundamental concepts of the faith, these are conversion (how to become a Christian) and worship (how to commune with God). The SBC curriculum for children is undergirded by Howard Gardener's theory of multiple intelligences, and makes extensive use of creative movement and American Sign Language to capture children's attention. However, the nature of local church autonomy gives each church the freedom to tailor SBC curriculum to its specific needs or to choose a curriculum from another denomination altogether.