An “Unconventional” Philosophy of Music Ministry

When we debuted this series several months ago I wasn’t ready to write my philosophy of music ministry.  I had hundreds of ideas but I was still trying to develop them into a coherent philosophy.  I have been a full-time minister of music for seven years but my philosophy has been developing even longer.  A little background…

In college, I was a music major and I knew God was leading me to serve his church musically, but I knew there was more to it than just the music side.  Through prayer I was led to switch my major to Educational Ministries (Christian Studies) and minor in music.  I really believe God wanted to expose me to wider area of ministry.  I was able to go on international mission trips, revival teams, serve in the local church on the weekend, travel & sing in a quartet, and help lead the BSU praise band.  Most of these things would not have been impossible if I had to go on choir tour, attend multiple ensemble rehearsals, and practice for juries.  The joyous life of a music major!  There have been times on my ministry journey that I have regretted not finishing my music major but I know God had a different plan for me.  I was able to go to seminary and study worship leadership which also greatly influenced my philosophy of ministry.  More background…

In both of my full-time ministry assignments, I was the first full-time music person in the church’s history.  In some ways this is a blessing and some ways it’s not.  When you are the first full-time person there is no one to compare your ministry with.  (There’s no conversation about how Bro Johnnie used to do things.)  PTL!  However, there is also not a clearly defined set of expectations for the music ministry.  The church has a bunch of ideas they’d like to see you work on, but nothing really fits together.  Ultimately, you end up setting the expectations by what you do or don’t do.  In other cases, they may not have “any” expectations which can be equally difficult.  A church with little to no musical expectations can make it difficult to garner support for the music ministry and often leads to discouragement.  These and other reasons are why I have learned it is vitally important to have a solid philosophy of ministry.  You need to know what you believe and what God wants to accomplish through you.

So what is my philosophy of music ministry?  One word = Discipleship.  What?  Isn’t that for the minister of education?  Do music and discipleship even go together???  My answer is a resounding yes!!!  I believe that a minister of music / worship leader’s primary responsibility is to invest in the spiritual growth of the people under their care.  (That means your choir, praise team, instrumentalists, techies, etc.)  Over the years, discipleship has been one of the farthest things from the minds of most music leaders.  In the past 25 years, the church in general has emphasized “specialized” ministry positions specifically (music, youth, children, etc).  This compartmentalized mindset has led to the exaltation of musical skill / performance in a leader and devalued the importance of spiritual depth.  While these “specialized” areas are certainly not going away any time soon, there is an overwhelming need for leaders in these areas to prioritize the spiritual over the musical.  It is important for choirs to learn their parts so that they can give God their best and clearly communicate the gospel on Sunday morning.  However, have you ever stopped to evaluate what you are after?  Are you really concerned with building “more fully devoted followers of Christ” or “more fully devoted & musically proficient choir members?”  Are you about building a music ministry or about building people?  Are you about fulfilling your musical vision or the mission of the church in which you serve?  The music that glorifies God the most comes from the lives of His children being conformed more into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ!

I am a minister who uses music as a language to teach / magnify God’s glory and greatness to His people.  Every time I select music I am teaching what is most important.  Every rehearsal I lead, I am teaching what is important.  Every conversation, I have with those in my care, I am teaching what is important.  Sadly, there are many times I emphasize the technical aspects over the spiritual.  Striking the right balance is key and something I will continue to work on the rest of my ministry.  I don’t get it right all the time (my church can vouch for that!!!), but I do know what God wants to do through me.  Be a disciple-maker!

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4 thoughts on “An “Unconventional” Philosophy of Music Ministry

  1. Pingback: Zach Rice | An Unconventional Philosophy of Music Ministry

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