Sometimes we musicians get so caught up with organising and making music happen for our church gatherings that we forget to take stock of how things are going. Are we really achieving any of the goals of our ministry? Or is it just a lot of hard work?
For me, music ministry goals are:
* to engage people in enthusiastic praise of our great God who alone is worthy of our praise,
* to provide encouragement for the gathered Body of believers, and
* to declare/teach the great truths that God has revealed of himself and the gospel in His Word.
So how do you measure whether or not we are achieving that, at all?
Like many areas of ministry such results cannot be quantified. God doesn’t keep a score card and send us a report!
However by talking to people and allowing them the freedom to give encouragement and criticism, they can help you know how you are going with your goals. (It is, afterall, God’s people we are serving.) Thick skin is always required in the music department, so give grace to those who are willing to share their views. You need to hear them, whether they be “right” or “wrong” or somewhere inbetween. Godly insights, shared in a loving manner, can lead to greater effectiveness.
One way to measure the engagement of your congregation is simply by joining with them in the praise times during your service. This Sunday, for the first time in a long time, I was able to simply be a member of the congregation, with the opportunity to listen carefully to the most important voices – the voices of the gathered body of Christ. I could easily hear which songs were being sung with enthusiasm, and which were still probably too difficult for the non-musical person to catch on to. It helped me realise which songs needed to be retired, better than if I was actually leading or playing on team.
Speaking of singability I find it really helpful (in the planning stage) to play potential new songs to people who aren’t on the music team. If you find they can sing along by the second hearing (and they think the song is truthful and encouraging) then you probably have something most people in your church can sing, and sing well together (which is, afterall, the whole point).
In King David’s time, the musicians were clothed in white and stood apart from the assembled worshipers: “All the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives—stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets.” (2 Chronicles 5:12)
Unlike these musicians we need to see ourselves as part of the gathered body, not removed from, more important or better than them. Often we are the last to know when something isn’t working to encourage people in corporate praise. We must be willing to listen, review and change and adapt to meet our goals – and not be too proud or stubborn to change.
For more help thinking through congregational singing, check out these posts:
Worship through Congregational singing (a post from Christ Our Hope Church)