WEST BAINES, ARKANSAS
"We've all done it. We've been singing a song with a group, or maybe especially when we are alone, and we simply cannot remember the words. We get stuck. That's what we want to avoid," explained McKinley Grant, Senior Music Minister for Internal Outreach at The Gathering Spot.
This former First Baptist Church of West Baines, Arkansas was once filled hymnals in the racks on the backs of pews. "These books were more commonly referred to as 'song books' or 'hymn books'," said Grant. "I always wondered what those funny racks were on the back of the pews," said 15 year old Iris Johnson standing nearby.
In the later 1990's the church was the first in West Baines to go completely to Power Point presentations. "It was revival," said 22 year old Haley Williams. "You could tell that the PowerPoint brought the Spirit to this very spot." Which may be, in part, why the church voted to change it's name to The Gathering Spot at the turn of the millennium. The name change brought excitement and attendance grew for a while. But, "soon it seemed that attendance became stagnant. That's when I came up with the idea of the repetitive one word song," said Grant. "Quiet simply, the song consists of repeating the same word over and over again to a common tune."
Grant continued, "It all started when we were singing 'Holy, Holy, Holy' off the song screen during one morning service. I noticed vastly different participation throughout the song. There was obviously greater participation during the repetitive 'Holy Holy Holy' parts. When we came to other words and phrases, there was a considerable drop off in the volume. Then it hit me. With less different words in the song, more people will be able to remember the words. It's a simple concept, and it works."
Noah Thornton, 17, testified, "With the new songs, I get it, I finally get it. Before, when the words were constantly whizzing by on the song screen, I couldn't keep up. I never knew how to say most of those bigger church words. But now, after singing 'Sanctification' over and over again, it's obvious to me that these types of songs have helped me grow spiritually. I can now pronounce the word 'sanctification' with confidence."
"Don't worry," said Grant, "it's not all churchy all the time. Most days we begin with a very comfortable ice breaker. For example, this week, we plan to sing the repetitive one word song 'Joy' to the theme of The Flintstones. Now who can't do that? Everyone will participate, and it's a lot of fun. Last week, we opened with 'Faith' to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. The week before that, it was 'Hope" to the theme from Welcome Back Kotter. Try it yourself. You'll see."