Growth Through An Effective Music Ministry
By William M. Anderson Jr.
It is a joy to watch someone grow physically. It is a blessing to watch someone grow spiritually. It is natural to grow.
Music is no exception. Growing churches have growing music ministries. That’s logical and natural. It doesn’t just happen, however. Just as the farmer helps the growth process by cultivating and tending the garden, so church leaders must help the growth process by cultivating and tending their “garden,” so to speak people.
We’ll begin by looking at growth factors in the assembly where the most significant music and singing take place, the congregational service. Choirs are important. Instrumental groups are exciting. Festivals are fun. Choir trips are rewarding. But the time on Sunday when the church assembles to worship contains the most significant music.
Music can help a church as it grows. The music ministry can grow, which adds to the church member-ship when new people join music groups. Music also can help Christians to grow in their Christian experience.
Growth Factors In Congregational Services
Music has an influence on growth in congregational services. The role of music in congregational services in growing churches is significant.
Ron Lewis, consultant on church growth, in an interview in the April 1980 issue of The Cassette Musician, spoke of music in growing churches. He said that growth is more of an atmosphere than a program. He concluded that music has a part in contributing to that atmosphere and that music in growing churches has several things in common.
1 Music helps put people at ease. The atmosphere is relaxed, not tense. People enjoy the singing and are enthusiastic.
2 Music teaches people to be responsive and gives them opportunities to respond. As they sing, people can make the words, although they may have been written years ago, become a fresh testimony from the heart.
3 Music can be exciting. When the music reflects an attitude of celebration, excitement prevails. When the people are involved in the music, their participation in the overall service is heightened.
4 An affirmative attitude prevails. The music director encourages the congregation. The pastor is positive in his remarks. The people in the congregation affirm the pastor, music director, choir members, and accompanists. Each sincerely encourages the others, thanking them for their part in the service.
5 Music helps make going to church enjoyable. People look forward to meeting together, because they know it is going to be enjoyable. They anticipate being able to say: it was a good service today. I’m glad I was there.”
Wants And Needs Of The Congregation
It is important to know the songs the members of the congregation know and like, which is a product of their background, taste, and experience.
Suppose a new music director or pastor began his ministry in a church. How would he discover what the people like to sing and what kind of music they like to hear?
Listen: Ask people what they like to sing, and pay attention to their answers. Listen to casual conversations in various groups such as Sunday School class meetings, committee meetings, and Baptist Women’s and Baptist Men’s meetings.
Have A Favorites Time In An Evening Service�Check with the accompanists to be sure they are comfortable with this endeavor. Make a mental note if the people suggest several songs that have not been sung recently. Plan to sing some of them again in the near future.
Take A Survey: This is a rather formal way to discover the wants and needs of the people. The survey allows them to give the matter more thought and can be a meaningful instrument.
On page 75 is part of a survey included in the Convention Press book Ideas for Effective Worship Services, compiled by James Barry and Jack Gulledge. You may wish to design your own form.
Participation As A Growth Factor
When the congregation is assembled in the meeting place, there are as many musical needs as there are people. Some people in the congregation may be quite knowledgeable about music. Others may know nothing about music. Most of them know what they like. All of them know what they don’t like.
When the church is assembled for worship, infants, children, youth, and adults all experience the same songs, prayers, Scripture readings, sermons, and appeals.
How can you plan to meet the musical needs of such a varied congregation? You can start with an effort to get people to participate.
Bob Norman, pastor of Northway Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, wrote an article “Worship Is Not a Spectator Sport” that appeared in the April 1976 issue of Church Administration magazine. He stated that worship in the early church consisted mainly of teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers. He cited Acts 2:42 as a reference. Worshipers, he said, were not passive recipients; they were active participants. Human warmth and fellowship were among the strongest appeals that early Christianity made to the world. The fellowship was not a fruit of worship; it was an integral part of worship.
What does all of this say? It’s simple; worshipers must participate. As worship planners, we need to remember that fact. Norman continued: “True worship breathes perennial freshness into our spirits…. This involvement gives the people freedom to express their feelings of worship. Joy and zest can be awakened, praise sung together, and prayer broadened in scope. Scriptures can strike home; persons can be stirred to deeper Christian commitment, exhilarated by a sense of having really joined with other believers in reaffirming their faith in the living God and Savior.”
The key word is participation.
Growth Through Enlistment
Enlistment is reaching out. Enlistment is involvement. The motive is to involve more people in music groups for what it can do for them (their personal growth) and for what it can do through them (help the church to grow).
Here are some suggestions about enlistment.
Tell the people what’s going on. A flow of information to prospects, choir members, and to the church will increase interest and involvement. Use the church’s newsletter to assist in enlistment. 77 Promotion Ideas for Church Music by Thad Roberts, Convention Press, contains many helpful enlistment ideas.
Make personal contacts. The number and quality of personal visits make a significant impact on new member enlistment and continued involvement of present members.
Provide space and equipment. If you are beginning a new group, provide a place for them to meet and include that information in your communications.
Schedule a rehearsal time. Growth will be enhanced by the provision of rehearsal time.
Growth Through Enlisting Music Leaders
Enlisting persons to lead music groups is vital to an effective music ministry. The progress made by music groups is in direct proportion to the leadership skills of the leader. Music groups do not advance beyond the leader’s ability to give guidance. Hence, the leader as well as the member must be willing to grow.
The goal of enlisting leaders is to find persons with the skill, interest, and experience, or to find persons with the potential.
Communicate clearly and completely. Know what the leader will be expected to do. If possible, put it in writing.
Contact the prospective worker. Make the contact deliberate rather than a casual meeting in the hall or a telephone conversation.
Present a complete picture of the leadership positions. Identify the persons and the groups they will work with, the responsibilities, the needs to be met, and the rewards to be experienced.
Give the potential leaders time for deliberate and prayerful consideration. Set a date to check on their decisions.
If the answer is yes, give the workers appropriate materials, introduce them to the present staff, show them the rehearsal areas, explain the planning processes, and discuss the training opportunities that will help them succeed.
If you get a negative answer, express appreciation to them for considering the position. Determine if there is an interest in working in the future or for working in another area.
Growth Through Enlisting Music Members
Persons join and retain membership in music groups when being a member of that group is satisfying to them. People tend to associate with groups that satisfy their needs of security, belonging, esteem, and fulfillment. They tend to associate with groups that reflect their tastes and goals.
An effective enlistment effort will highlight the ways membership in music groups meets individual needs. Publicize these benefits during an enlistment effort.
Usually, enlistment of members gets its strongest emphasis in August and September with major enrollment projects.
One enlistment project is Talent Search. The purpose of Talent Search is to search the church member-ship to discover prospects for existing and new music groups. The project will culminate in enlisting new members.
Talent Search is directed mainly toward youth and adults, since all members of the Preschool and Children’s Sunday School departments are prospects.
After the date for the search has been set, designate someone in every Sunday School department to be in charge of distributing the questionnaires and collecting them after they have been completed. Publicize the search, and set up a filing system that will make the tabulation easily accessible.
Briefly, the process is this. Prepare a Talent Search Survey card for every member of each Adult and Youth Sunday School department. After working with the director of the department, arrange to make a brief presentation during the department period, and give out the cards. After the cards are filled out, the designated person takes them to the church office or wherever the instructions indicate. The music director or members of an appropriate committee look at the cards and make a list of prospects. Plans are made to contact those who were absent on the day the search was made. Develop a list of prospective leaders and prospective members, and begin to enlist.
A musical church attracts. Many people have been attracted to a church service in progress and ultimately to the Lord by music. There are many testimonies about people who have walked off the street into a worship service because the music was attractive and inviting.
Many choirs from churches have sung in malls and airports and have attracted a crowd each time. Choirs sing in rest homes, hospitals, and other places as they, by their actions, say, “We care.”
Music is also an attractive outreach opportunity for a church. Seasonal opportunities are frequently used as an outreach activity. During Christmas or Easter, many choirs schedule programs that are appealing to the community.
Each summer, many youth choirs embark on mission projects that include music as an integral part of their effort.
Revival services contain music that is appealing to the listener.
Music then provides the small church with an exciting channel for growth and many occasions for out-reach.
Article “Growth Through An Effective Music Ministry” written by William M. Anderson Jr. is excerpted from Helping A Small Church Grow written by Bruce Grubbs.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”