. . .Also known as the wind chime, You know, that multi-tone little-hanging-chime percussion instrument played with the percussionists finger to give an other-worldly fantasy feel to music or dramatic situations.

(Please don’t take this post too seriously)

There is a considerable degree of controversy surrounding this musical device and even among Evangelical circles there is often a great divide in different individual’s beliefs. I can’t count how many times a seemingly innocuous twitter comment about the Mark Tree from a well known evangelical leader has gone viral with thousands of agreeing/hating retweets.

And this is no surprise. On one end of the spectrum, there are those who would say that all usages of this instrument in a worship setting are ‘evil’, ‘following worldliness right into the sewer’, or even ‘digestionally-challenging-to-those-who-have-the-slightest-musical-taste’.

Others suggest that there is no bad time to employ this instrument; it should be ‘played’ at every event that happens in a church, right down to adult baptisms and/or funerals.

I say, can’t we find a middle road here? This ‘instrument’ is neither inherently good nor bad. The key factor is how it is used.

So here, for the Responsible Puppet Reader, is a handy pair of lists to be employed by thoughtful modern worship directors to determine what the appropriate times are for this instrument’s usage.

Good Times To Use The Mark Tree:
1. In a worship song – during a transition period when the song is getting softer and more introspective, particularly if it’s been at least a month since the last time you used it in a worship setting.

Okay, I guess that’s really the only good time to use this instrument.

Inappropriate Times To Use The Mark Tree:
1. As implied above, during baptism services and/or funerals.
2. During a sermon based on Hebrews or Malachi. Or any of the genealogies. Or elsewhere in the Old or New Testament.
3. As a part of an ‘organ only’ service.
4. Communion. So I guess pretty much all of the sacraments are out.
5. During announcements, unless the speaker presenting them is talking about the bussing schedule for the ‘Witness at the Renaissance Festival’ event.
6. In the middle of a ‘Pray silently’ moment.
7. During the “Visitors, Please Introduce Yourselves” portion of a service.
8. During an alter call.
9. As a part of a ‘saxophone only’ service.
10. Right after the benediction.

As you can see, there are plenty of potential pitfalls with Mark tree usage. It is understandable if you just want to avoid using it altogether. But a wise Music Director can navigate these ‘danger zones’ and avoid the horrific musical consequences that so many service leaders have fallen into, pulling all the congregants – kicking and screaming – down with them.

Has your church used the Mark Tree in worship services? Would you have suggestions/amendments for the ‘Good’ and ‘Inappropriate’ lists?