Effective Music Ministry Starts with Relationship
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]f only there was a simple formula, a magic pill, or a tried and true process that would guarantee effective music ministry. If only selecting 3 worship songs with prescribed tempos (a clappy song, a medium song, and a slow reflective song) and the exact instrumentation for a five piece band would mean that people worshipped. If only spending 11.2 minutes per song would mean a perfectly effective rehearsal. If the perfect font on the overhead screens and the perfect volume in the worship center would mean people would sing well. But there is no quick fix, no formulaic answer based on studies of famous worship artists. I’ve read the books, attended conferences, taken graduate courses to increase my skills, select better songs, and be more efficient. There are a lot of great ideas and great products that will definitely help create a better worship service, make it easier for worshippers to learn music and sing, make the musicians sound better and the entire service run more smoothly. This is good! But in my experience of music ministry, I’ve found that the most critical aspect of ministry is the most difficult to define. It is relationship. Ministry can’t take place in a vacuum; it always involves people. And when we work with people, we must build relationships in a way that honors God.
The most important relationship is our relationship with God. Without being in relationship with the Eternal, Almighty, Creator, there is no worship. Worship can only happen when we know God and respond to Him for who He is and what He has done. We need to be continually fostering this relationship, spending time and energy to know God more, practicing the art of praising Him privately, and disciplining ourselves to praying fervently. The exceptionally talented musician might be able to fake it for a while, but eventually, if there is no relationship with the Creator, the ministry will probably fail. How is your relationship with God right now? Did you spend time with Him today? Did you dive into His Word, get down on your knees, sing songs to Him?
We also need to cultivate relationships with those around us. In John 13, Jesus commanded us to love one another, reminding us that others will know we are His people by our love for each other. What does that kind of love mean? It means being in a relationship. It means being happy for those who are experiencing happiness and celebrating their wins. It means sharing the burden of grief with those who have lost someone they love. It means getting into the nitty-gritty of your worship team’s lives. Listening, helping, supporting, encouraging. It means rehearsal can’t be all business, all the time. It means growing together, growing our relationship with God together, being honest, and showing integrity together. It’s just as important to cultivate relationships with our overseers – our pastors, church leaders, committee members – as it is with those on our teams and with the people in our congregation. Maybe it means a quick phone call, sending a note to someone who is discouraged, or dropping an email of congrats. Maybe it means getting to know their children, their hopes and dreams, their spouses, their relationship with God. What have you done today to grow relationships with those around you?
How can we improve our relationships?
Communication. Practice your communication skills. Be quick to listen and much slower to speak. People will be so much more open to the words of your message if they think you’ve heard theirs. Don’t worry about having all the answers. “Let me think about it” and “I’ll get back to you” work great as long as you are known to follow through. Worry less about defending your choices, and think more about what the other person is really trying to say. This is the hard work of communication –being willing to put the other person’s thoughts and needs before our own.
Reconciliation. Ministry is such a messy profession, especially music ministry, where people have exceptionally strong feelings and preferences. That means working hard at reconciling with those who have different opinions than yours. If you’ve hurt someone, apologize and make amends. If someone has hurt you, go to them rather than talking about them.
Humility. Humility doesn’t mean putting yourself down, it means putting others first. Treat people with importance because they are important, not because they can provide skill or talent that will enhance the music ministry.
Integrity. Are you a person of your word? Do you do what you say you’re going to do? Are you the person you say you are? It is hard for people-pleasers to be persons of integrity, but if you want to build solid relationships, it is a necessity. It doesn’t mean that things will always be smooth sailing – there will be disagreements and disappointments along the way, but if you show integrity, people will know that you strive to do what is right and just in God’s eyes.
Before you order plan your next worship set, ask yourself, is my relationship with God where it needs to be right now? Are my relationships with my people where they need to be right now? What do I need to do to make them right?
Amanda is a toddler-chasing, coffee drinking, fashion boot-wearing, Fit-bit addicted, Jesus-loving, wife and mom to 5 small children. She spends her free time absorbed in fashion and tattoos, watching Pirates of the Caribbean, Googling, attempting clean eating, all while spreading autism awareness, encouraging adoption and foster care, championing the underdog, and of course, juicing.
Amanda serves the local church as a licensed American Baptist pastor, worship leader, free-lance writer, and church musician. She holds a Master of Divinity from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, a Bachelor of Arts in Church Music from Eastern University, and a cosmetology license from Metro Beauty Academy. Her favorite places to be are the local zoo, the church piano bench, Facebook, and anywhere her family is.