My name is Miguel Ruiz, and I am a church musician and music teacher serving a Lutheran church and school on Long Island, NY. This blog is my place to express my thoughts on my two favorite subjects, music and theology, and especially in the various ways these two disciplines interact, in the worship of the church. I write from a confessional Lutheran position, and use these writing exercises to process my journey and the many wonderful discoveries I am making. To learn more about what I do, head on over to my splash page at www.about.me/mruizmusic.
I was born into a Christian family and brought up in the Calvary Chapel tradition. From an early age, I was home-schooled and began attending youth group at a nearby Southern Baptist congregation. After graduating from a public high school, I went off to a conservative Christian college in San Diego, which embraces dispensational theology and is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. It was there I made two of the most important discoveries of my life. First, I met the lovely woman with whom I am spending the rest of my life, and thereby fulfilled the Christian college shoe-factory quota (build up their souls and send them out in pairs). She is amazing and never ceases to surprise me in the way she pours out selfless love on all those around her. I’ll stop there before this bio becomes hyper-saturated with cheese.
The second discovery was my vocational calling, serving the church as a musician. Being the generic-evangelical environment that it was, I was trained in classical music but exposed to mostly low-church, contemporary expressions of worship. I led music for chapel services, served on music teams at nearby local churches, and eventually interned at a mega church where I was allowed to direct the choir and orchestra.
After graduation, I headed into full time work as a “music minister” and youth pastor for Southern Baptist churches. Most of my experiences there were bad. Very bad. I have never in my life encountered so much betrayal, politics, and fighting as I did those five years. I was severely disillusioned by the lack of unity and cooperation for a common mission in the church. For a good portion of that time I sincerely desired an option to do anything other than church related work.
I knew something was wrong. It caused me to ask many questions and dig much deeper in my faith than I had ever had to before. As I came to the realization that Evangelicalism, as a whole, in America, had been derailed by moralistic therapeutic deism, consumer driven pragmatism, and dogmatic chronological snobbery, it became clear to me that I had to find a new home for my faith. I could no longer in good conscience contribute to this machine that had so little to do with the mission or message of Jesus.
So I embarked upon what I am calling a “confessional identity crisis.” I knew I was a Christian, and I knew that I had to follow Jesus as a Protestant, but I felt that what was rediscovered at the Reformation had been lost again. So I began to study and compare the various confessional writings of the historic Reformation churches to see which one was in fullest agreement with the words in the Bible.
I finally settled on the Lutheran church, where I have found a spiritual home for my family and a refuge for “recovering Evangelicals.” To learn more about that journey and how I came to this decision, see my “Why I am a Lutheran” series.
Join me as I share my thoughts on music and the church, and what it looks like when the body of Christ responds with song to the gift of faith!