I polled some musician friends for this blog topic, asking if they had felt the spirit of God when playing non-religious music. The majority said yes. When I tried to pin them down to specifics, they were less sure. Some common experiences did come to the fore, however.
Community: God’s presence came through strongest when the performance took place before a responsive audience or was performed in a large group, like a marching band. The enthusiasm of the audience raises a performance to a higher level of love. Working together as a group, polished and focused on a common goal, gives the performance a powerful energy.
Nature: Performing music under the stars adds the beauty of creation to the mix. Several musicians reported that outdoor performance stirred them, as if God was looking down approvingly and blessing the concert.
Message: Secular songs with an inspiring message show the fingerprints of God. Many anthems from musical theater and popular music can raise the level of the performance to celestial heights.
My own personal experience of God at an outdoor concert took place in the amphitheater at a local park. The stars were out, breeze blew the trees gently, and the temperature was perfect. Around me were my neighbors of all ages and types: children scampering, lovers cuddling, parents parenting, and elders in folding chairs. The tribute band was playing Earth, Wind and Fire songs. All of a sudden, my heart swelled with the knowledge that this was a foretaste of the Kingdom. This was the new Eden—beauty, love, people, and music. It was a spontaneous moment of awareness of the divine, right here in our midst. That’s why I dare to assert that God rocks outdoor concerts.