Music - A World-Wide Web of Christian Music

Terry Schultz (Chicago, Illinois USA)
Tom Kuster (New Ulm, Minnesota USA)

Archived discussion

About the presenters

Dr. Terry Louis Schultz currently serves as International Hispanic Outreach Consultant, Coordinator for Haiti, and Latin America Music Coordinator for WELS World Missions. He spent 20 years as a missionary, 15 in Peru, and lived in the Dominican Republic for five years to serve Haiti. Terry authored two books. No More Fear – Jesus, the Evil Spirits, and You, and Rescued from the Belly of the Beast (on infant baptism). He illustrated Luther’s Catechism for use in South Sudanese refugee camps and Haiti. Terry is overseeing production of a culturally appropriate Spanish hymnal. Its music, arranged for guitar and Latin percussion, is currently being used in churches in Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, as well as in New York City and Terry’s current hometown, Chicago.
Dr. Tom Kuster, after pastoral positions in Madison, Wisconsin and Muskegon, Michigan, spent his career teaching Communication courses in college, for 20 years at Dr. Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota, and 20 more at Bethany Lutheran Seminary and College, Mankato, Minnesota, where he helped develop a strong Communication major, helped design Bethany's first media production studio, and in 2009 founded the Christ in Media Institute. He and wife Judy have nine children and are co-hosts of this Online Conference.

(The following is written in the present tense, as if the site were already functioning — but ALAS it's not yet; we need a site manager and some funding to make it real.)

version 2.0 March 2016

Brief description of this service:

This website is a resource of Christian music from around the world. The musical styles are appropriate to varied cultures, and the messages conveyed by lyrics are doctrinally sound according to Confessional Lutheranism. Churches from around the world can submit Christian music that they have composed or adapted from public domain music and used both in and outside of worship settings. This music is freely available for anyone to listen to, and to download and use for their own enjoyment and in worship, without cost or copyright restrictions.

The site aims to make each piece of music available in (up to) five formats:

  1. Audio file containing the vocal track and the instrumental accompaniment track
  2. Audio file of the instrumental accompaniment only (so that the lyrics can be translated into any language and sung with the accompaniment track).
  3. Audio file of vocals in the original language. (Separate files of vocals in alternate languages can also be added.)
  4. Text file of lyrics in the original language and in English.
  5. Sheet music version containing the guitar chords, (possibly also the melodic line, percussion arrangements, etc.).

The music files reside on [or a similar site]. The text files reside on the website itself, along with all directions about how the site can be used, and instructions for submitting music to the site, and accessing and downloading all music and text files.

Specifications and Procedures:

1. The website design includes the following:

  • about this service
  • rules and protocols for use
  • hints for achieving quality recordings: recording techniques
  • procedures for submitting music
  • procedures for downloading music
  • suggestions for using music
  • lists of available music, indexed in a variety of ways (musically, geographically, thematically) for easy search and discovery
  • the music files in five versions (see 3 below)

2. Operation protocols

  • Submissions are accepted openly, from any Christian source worldwide.
  • The music is freely available for download and use by anyone interested.
  • Submitters agree to adhere to the standards of the site, especially in regard to
    • Theological integrity of lyrics: items on the site conform to the doctrinal position of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod — see and
    • Quality of the files: the Site Manager works with submitters to assure that files are of acceptable quality. These are the preferred file formats: .mp3 for audio, .docx or .pdf for text, .pdf for sheet music
    • Copyright-free: submitters agree that their work is freely available through the site on a creative commons license (CC BY-NC-SA).
  • Users agree to provide feedback on their use of any downloads.

3. Required versions of each song

The initial submission to the Site Manager must include these two:

  1. vocals with accompaniment track — an .mp3 audio file is preferred, other audio formats are acceptable. If a video file is submitted, the audio is extracted from it.
  2. lyrics in original language and English — .doc or .docx files are preferred, .pdf is accepted
  3. If the submission is approved, the Site Manager works with submitters to create the following:
  4. accompaniment only track
  5. vocal only track
    • language 1
    • language 2 etc. if available
  6. sheet music: guitar chord minimum

4. Supervision of the project: responsibilities of the Project Supervisor (Pastor Terry Schultz)

  • signs off on policies for site use
  • assures doctrinal integrity (see "Vetting processes" 5c below)
  • with the help of the Site Manager, designs a publicity campaign to draw attention to the site and its services, requesting contributions of music from around the world, and publicizing the music available through the site.
  • solicits music from churches and individuals around the world
    • develops informational materials
    • identifies locations to approach with requests
    • identifies contact persons in various locations
    • supports and encourages potential music donors
  • assists users with non-technology questions

5. Management of the website: responsibilities of the Site Manager

a) Making the site operational

The Site Manager is in place while the person hired to design the site is at work, so as to guide its development along lines desired in site planning and so as to understand fully how to operate the site, and how to maintain and update it as needed in the future. The Site Manager is involved in decisions regarding hosting the site, and choosing and renewing its domain name (URL).

b) Accepting contributions and initial screening

The Site Manager responds to inquiries from potential contributors regarding what kinds of materials are desired, and how to submit them. Contributions of music are sent first to the Site Manager. The Site Manager is the initial screener of contributions. In cases where unsuitable materials are sent, the Site Manager explains why they cannot be accepted. If contributions seem suitable, the Site Manager forwards them to those responsible for vetting.

c) Vetting processes:

Before being placed on the site, contributions must be vetted in (at least) two ways: for copyright, and for theological content. The Site Manager plays a role in each of these, as follows:

Vetting part A: Legal/political concerns: A site policy requires that all materials be in the public domain. A process must be developed which is to be applied to each contribution to assure that it meets this requirement. The Site Manager (or a team member) is tasked with developing a standard copyright vetting process, and applying it to each contribution.

After items are posted to the site, questions and challenges about copyright might arise regarding them. The Site Manager (or team member) is familiar with the laws in regard to intellectual property rights (creative commons, etc.), as they apply in a variety of national settings around the world, and is able to deal with challenges appropriately as they arise.

Vetting part B: Theological concerns: A site policy requires that all materials be theologically sound, according to the teachings of Confessional Lutheranism.

The Site Manager and the Project Supervisor work together to develop protocols for theological vetting, made especially challenging in the many expected instances where lyrics are in languages they do not understand. They may work primarily with English translations, but have a means of checking other languages for theological faithfulness.

The Site Manager is capable of subjecting each submission to an initial theological screening; items found clearly not suitable at this point are rejected by the Site Manager. All other contributions are passed on to the Project Supervisor (or his designee) who passes judgment on the theological content of the item. Some items may require adjustments to become acceptable; in such cases the Project Supervisor works via the Site Manager with the contributor to make the requested changes.

d) Preparing /creating files for upload to the site

First, on a basic level, if the submitted files are not yet of acceptable quality, the Site Manager (or team members) can advise contributors about how to re-record the contribution to create a suitable file.

Since those contributing or suggesting music for the site will not in every case be equipped to create the desired set of files (five types: see "Required versions" section 3 above), the Site Manager (or members of his team of consultants) will need to work with contributors to create the alternative files, and make sure they are in the preferred formats. We might expect, typically, that contributions will first arrive as simple recordings of a performance (vocal accompanied by instruments, as in a worship setting). If copies of the lyrics/words, both in the native language and in English, do not accompany the submission, the Site Manager will need to request them. When it passes the Site Manager's preliminary screening, the submission is sent to others for vetting to assure its compliance with the site requirements (doctrinal, copyright, etc.). Once a contribution is approved, the Site Manager (or team members) work with the contributor to create the desired additional formats: accompaniment-only, vocal only, guitar chord. This might require significant musicology knowledge and skill.

e) Posting: putting contributions onto the site

The Site Manager (or a team member) uploads the files to the website, making sure they are properly indexed and available for search and for download.

f) Troubleshooting:

People from all over the world, in a wide variety of situations (at internet cafés, on mobile devices, etc.) will be downloading materials from the site. Questions about how to do that, along with problems doing so, might be frequent. The Site Manager (or team member) needs to assist people to answer their questions and troubleshoot their difficulties.

6. Costs (estimates)

a. One-time cost

  • Website design - $1000

b. Continuing costs

  • domain name — $100/ year ?
  • pro unlimited subscription (or similar) — $135/year
  • Server space for hosting (if not included in previous item) — $100/year
  • Stipend for Project Supervisor —TBD
  • Stipend for Site Manager — (suggested) $1500/year

Bottom line: $2500 first year for start-up, $1800/year annual thereafter

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Judy Kuster 26 days ago
An exciting project with lots of good thinking and many appropriate steps to develop! Just a few quick ideas as I read your proposal:

I’m wondering how many people will have the expertise to meet the “required versions of each song.” Will you create a team of people with the expertise to help?

Among the users “requirements” you state “Users agree to provide feedback on their use of any downloads.” Have you considered that users might also acknowledge the source they accessed to download the music (providing the name and URL would help make the site more visible to others) as well as give credit to the submitter of the music?

You might want to check the March 2016 edition on Consumer Rankings that has an interesting ranking of “Our Best Web Hosting Picks for 2016.”
Michael Duncan 25 days ago
Wow, what an undertaking. Thanks for all of your hard work in organizing this venture.
Judy Kuster 19 days ago
Terry and Tom, You may be interested in a collection of some Christian music videos in various languages on IndigiTube ( I also know there are many Christian music videos in various languages on YouTube to explore. I'm not sure how scriptural they are, but it does give an idea of music in various cultures. As an example check YouTube with the keywords Hmong Christian music.
Terry Schultz 11 days ago
Thank you Judy for your comments and also Mike for your encouragement! I just returned from a week-long CELC regional conference in Medellin, Colombia where I was able to offer music workshops every day to national church leaders from our WELs and ELS Latin missions. We discovered quite a bit of talent for lyric writing among our Latin brothers! There was huge interest in our recently recorded Spanish liturgy and worship song resources. I am convinced more than ever that a website for the exchange of music resources would be a blessing to our churches throughout the world. May the Lord continue to bless our efforts for the Kingdom!
judy Kuster 10 days ago
Terry and Tom, Kunihira Patrick from Uganda just posted on Mike Hartman’s “Using Social Media to Become Known Throughout Latin America (Panel)” with his email address and a bit of information about a children’s choir in Uganda called “Pillars of God”. I’ve been exploring online about them - most are orphans and their songs are wonderful (some with a lot more energy than I will ever have!!). Find many "hits" by putting The Pillars Of Africa Children's Choir into YouTube. There is also an interview about them on CNN.

I especially liked a Christian song in their language and also in English at:

I believe this is their website They also have a FB page at