Music as Ministry to the Congregation
The role of a true church musician is quite varied, especially from congregation to congregation. There are many facets that make up any music position, from a simple choir director or worship leader to a full time director of music or worship arts. However, one thing must remain constant and true: a church musician must be called to this ministry. In leading the congregation in worship through music and song, the musician must be led by the Holy Spirit, using Scripture and Biblical truths, combined with the music, to motivate the congregation in glorifying God.
As church musicians, we must re-examine our roles, using music as the means to minister to the congregation, rather than just focusing on the excellence of the music. Today’s society has changed so much that for many people, church has become irrelevant. So, we have been at war with each other as to which style of music is right and how best to bring in the numbers. Unfortunately, for many churches, that goal has given way to producing the best music and drama and not focusing on the people themselves. We, as musicians, have been given that opportunity to involve our people and help in teaching them to live a God-filled life.
For a musician used to producing excellence, that can sometimes be a daunting task. We need to remember that it is building a strong faith that must be foremost rather than working only for the best product. We can use different styles of music, drama, and arts in our worship that can reach many different people, but at all times, we must be diligent in keeping with the Scriptures and working hard to keep the show from taking over the message.
One of the most important parts of the church musician’s working life is that of a manager. An increasingly important issue in the church is that of conflict and ego. Musicians, by nature, tend to struggle with keeping egos in check. As leaders, we must not only guard our own ego, but deal with that of those we lead. We must step in as soon as an ego rears its ugly head and remind all what our highest goals are in ministry. While some issues many be harder to resolve than others, we must be loving in our efforts to work with those having difficulties.
For those of us who have been in this ministry for a long time, we have all encountered conflicts from the minor to the serious. There may be jealousies, likes, and dislikes and immoral situations. We must be prepared to deal with all of these. For most musicians, we feel that we just like to make our music, but in church music, that is a different story. This is a necessary part of the job that we have been given. We must love those we work with, even the difficult ones and strive to have good, strong working relationships with all under our direction.
This leads us to teamwork. It is only with the support and cooperation of a strong team between pastor and musicians that a successful worship program depends. There must be strong communication between pastor, musicians, and worship planning teams, should there be one in the church. Too many times we see conflict arise when direction and plans have been misunderstood or mis-communicated simply by not talking with each other. Never assume. The most effective church musician is one who is not simply an excellent musician, but an honest and good communicator.
A church musician must be a person who is willing to invest in the congregation he or she serves, not simply as someone who leads the band or choir rehearsal, but also joins in the life of the congregation. They should have some theological training as well as musical. More and more, we see musicians who work just for the excellence of their trade, forgetting the reason we are in this ministry. We must always be alert to our tendencies to look for the performance as a gift to God, rather than just as entertainment to our congregations.
Above all, we must remember that we are to be an example to the people. How else can we lead others in worship and praise if we are not living an exemplary life ourselves? This is a calling, just as it is of the pastor. We need to keep mindful of this most important duty of church ministry.
In a difficult age for the church, the church musician must look ahead always to the greater good of the people. While we may always want to direct the Robert Shaw Chorale or play in Paul Baloche’s band, it is with some adjustment to our own thinking that we accomplish our goals. We are dealing with the people of God everyday, simple folk who need our guidance, not just in worship, but in all we do in our ministry. In all things, we are to worship God, give God all the glory, and enjoy God forever.
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