New Series: Music Ministry Philosophy

Last week, we shared a series about cantatas.  This week, we share a new series: Music Ministry Philosophy.  Within this series, our trio of writers will share our personal philosophy of music ministry.  These philisophies have been shaped by our influences, mentors, educators, past churches, and current ones.  Our views may differ in substance, or length, but have one common goal of glorifying God in the ministry we are serving in.

Here is my Music Ministry Philosophy:

The Ministry of Music dates back to ancient times were music was used to communicate the message of hope, love, and grace through Gregorian chants, and monophonic tunes.  Later, music was advanced through the hands and minds of classical composers Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Scholars and religious leaders such as Martin Luther consider music to be just as important as the Word of God.  Luther’s influence and his 95 Thesis helped to prove that music was an important form of conveying emotion and that there needed to be more music in worship.

Martin Luther encouraged people to sing during worship services. Why it is necessary for the congregation to sing?  The congregational song symbolizes and realizes the principle of direct access of the believer to the Father, and thus exemplifies in itself alone the whole spirit of the worship of the Church.  Martin Luther once wrote, “Music and theology alone are capable of giving peace and happiness to troubled souls. This plainly proves that the devil, the source of all unhappiness and worries, flees music as much as he does theology.”

Instruments were used constantly in the Old Testament in celebratory fashions from trumpets, cymbals, pipes, and horns.  The Levites were the first examples of music ministers in the Old Testament; these groups of believers shown organization and leadership skills as well as the importance of music in glorifying God.

Based on my twenty years in music ministry as a participant, volunteer, and paid music minister (part-time & full-time), I believe that the role of the minister of music is to:

  • Minister to the people of Christ through the many avenues of music and worship
  • Be an active leader of the church in aspects of music and worship
  • In order to work most effectively, the pastor must understand that worship does not consists of music alone.  Worship is the blending together of ways to glorify and honor God through prayer, reading of scripture, presentation of the Word, singing of songs, and offerings.
  • The music leader should be a part of a team and not left to plan worship alone.  The pastor and music minister should work ahead of time to plan the services for the congregation and for Christ.  Working together helps to establish a unity of thematic which is useful to the visitor and the regular attendee, alike.  A unified message presented to the congregation shows a thought process, planning, more preparation time that letting each staff person do their own thing.

Scripturally, in I Chronicles, David and the Levites sought after the best singers and leaders.

  • “…and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers… (I Chronicles 15:27).”

You should be skilled and trained in your ministry.

  • “Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it (I Chronicles 15:22).”
  • “…all of them trained and skilled in music for the Lord (I Chronicles 25:7).”

Instruments should be used in the church (though not specifically mentioned in the New Testament).

  • “In the New Testament, worship continued in the synagogues until the Christians were unwelcome there, so there was a rich musical heritage already established.  The fact that music is mentioned less often in the New Testament does not mean it was less important.” (Life Application Study Bible)
  • The Psalms show an abundance of music instrument references.  David and the other writers of the Psalms indicate the importance of using your voice and any other form to praise and glorify God (dance, instruments, voice).

Church services should not be labeled (ie: contemporary or traditional) but simply be called worship.

  • When we label our services, we automatically leave a particular group out.  If we say this service is a contemporary service and we will not sing any hymns or read from the King James Version of God’s Word, we are putting a limit on who God will reach under our leadership.
  • Baptists began early in their faith with divided beliefs of the Sandy Creek and Charleston cultures.  In 2007, churches should take on the “Ephesian” unity of the body of Christ scriptural lesson and plan worship to glorify God, not the people of the body.
  • In his book, “Jubilate: Church Music in the Evangelical Tradition” Donald Hustad, renowned church musician prefers a contemporary traditional church service.  This style “incorporates new elements with the traditional—new types of music, new forms of praying and perhaps preaching.  These forms unite the terms which have been used to express division.  Worship must be traditional because it must demonstrate that our God has intersected all of human history.”

This personal philosophy will change as years go on and I continue to grow in my walk of faith.  As responsibilities increase and churches grow my hope is that churches and staff continue to understand that no one staff person is greater that the other and it is a community effort to reach the lost and incorporate a true worship service.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” -John 4:23-24

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