How To Reach Every Goal You Set For This Year (or any year)

Well, here we are gang. Well into another year. Looking ahead with high hopes, optimism, goals defined. Sound familiar? It should, because many of us were in the same spot this time last year, looking at the same goals we find ourselves NOT having attained this year.

If I’m being honest with you, that’s where I found myself more than once. Especially in business. Year after year I have made promises and said to myself “this will be my year”. But not much changed in my business. Things didn’t necessarily get worse, but they didn’t get much better.

I finally had to get really honest with myself and realize that if I wanted to really see this thing be successful I was going to have to start really putting forth an effort to learn what I didn’t know. I had to come to grips with the fact that what I had been doing so far simply wasn’t working. And the fact is, what I was doing was “not much”. More about that in a moment.

But you see I believed, like most Christians, that when God has told you to do something, or promised something for you life, it would all come automatically. Haven’t you heard people say that? “If God told you to do it you’ll know because doors will fling open for you and all the traffic lights will turn green just as you approach them and people will be showing up bringing you everything you need….” You get the idea. People believe that when God has promised you something it will come easy and without much effort on your part. However the Bible doesn’t seem to support that, does it?

The most glaring example of that to me is the children of Israel. God promised them the new land. A land flowing with milk and honey. It was absolutely, positively theirs, guaranteed. And yet even with that assurance, they couldn’t just walk in and set up camp. They had to “possess it”. They had to go and fight powerful enemies and defeat them. Yeah. It was their land, but it was in possession of their enemies. God gave them favor over their enemies, but He didn’t give them the promised land without effort on their part.

So many of us are not reaching our goals because of a sheer lack of real effort on our part. We think because we can sing, all we have to do is sing somewhere and people will flood us with offers to come sing somewhere else. And they’ll tell 2 friends, and so-on, and so-on, and so-on. And even if that does happen (and it does for some people) people who find themselves with a full calendar realize after not much time that they lack the skill, training and wisdom to keep it going.

Most of us don’t know how much we don’t know. We go about our daily lives, blissfully unaware that God has placed in front of us everything we need to attain the promise, and we are simply not “possessing it”. We are waiting for doors to fling open on their own when God has given us everything we need to simply turn the door knob and walk through.

Getting back to my own story, I came to the realization a few months ago that I wasn’t achieving success in my business because I simply wasn’t putting forth the effort to learn how to market it properly. I, like many small business owners, was simply trying stuff. Throwing ideas against the wall. Reading an occasional article. Throwing a little money at this thing or that thing. But I finally had to get real with myself and resolve to do what ever it takes to increase my knowledge. To get the training. Learn the skill-sets I needed. And I still continue to do that.

As I started following business coaches, reading about marketing and growing a business, learning new skills, I came to a stark realization. I’m gonna need to spend some money to go to the next level. I’ve simply learned all I can learn free. So I looked into the costs involved in taking my training to the next level. I know for me, that is hiring a professional business coach. I had to do the same thing to become trained to be a vocal coach, so why wouldn’t I have to do it for my business?

And the thing is, God showed me how my own mental blocks were my hindrance. He showed me that my “reasons” for not moving forward were really nothing more than excuses. One of the business coaches I had been following actually called me one day. We began to talk about the things I desired in my business and my goals for the coming year. And I began to go into my same old song and dance about how I really want to but just don’t have the money. “It’s the ultimate catch-22″, I told her. ” I know I can make more money by working with you, but I need to make more money to work with you.”

What she said to me next confirmed something God had already put inside of me but I wasn’t accepting. She said “I want you to change that mindset. I want you to stop saying “I don’t have the money to do it” or “I can’t afford to do it”. She continued “I want you to instead start thinking more along the lines of ‘ok, this is how much I need to do it’ and then start looking for ways to make it happen.” That was really powerful for me. Because I understood then that when I started putting forth the effort God would begin making ways.

Both for me and for you, reaching our goals this year boils down to adopting one word as our motivator. The word is “INVEST”. This, for me, is not just a business. It’s also a ministry. God showed me that in order to really be successful I have to be able to reach many, many more people. Doing so will allow me to be a blessing on a much larger scale. To do that I need to INVEST. I need to invest my time, my talent, my emotions, my heart and yes, my MONEY.

I can’t just show up here and write a blog twice a week and expect people to come, guys. That’s good, but it simply isn’t enough. Even for the blog to be successful I have to market it. If I don’t then nobody sees it, including people God has chosen to be blessed by it. So one of my top priorities last year were to find ways to earn that extra money I need to invest in my business/ministry. I’ve identified what that is, and now it’s time to make it happen. I’ve already planned to work more overtime. I’ve moved into a smaller place. I go out less.

I’ve decided, in other words, to invest in my ministry and my business. If you hope to reach any of your goals this year, you will have to come to the same realization. Even if your ministry is just a ministry and not a business at all, you must invest in that ministry. You must invest in yourself, your skills, your training. You must invest your time. You must, because if you don’t, the ministry cannot survive. Anything that doesn’t grow in some way eventually starts to wither and die.

So I challenge you, as my business coach challenged me, to stop making excuses and start making plans. Stop saying “I don’t have it” and start saying “how can I get it”. Change your mindset and you’ll change your results this year. That business coach told me to decided on a date I wanted to get started with her and make it my business to do everything in my power to find a way to earn the extra money I needed to start on that date.

I’m issuing you the same challenge. Don’t make the mistake of thinking because God gave you a gift, a ministry, a purpose, that there is nothing else for you to do but show up every Sunday. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your having found me out of millions of sites across the world-wide-web is just coincidence. I know for a fact it isn’t, because I fought tooth and nail against focusing my business specifically on on helping music ministries. Traditionally anything Christ-centered or Gospel-focused has a much harder time of succeeding in business, and I was well aware of it.

But God wouldn’t let me put this aside. He dropped in my spirit one day simply this: “I didn’t give you over 30 years of experience in music ministry for you to share your knowledge with just this one church and a few other people right around town.” He told me it was time to share it with a much bigger audience. And, like we always do, I went looking for proof that the audience was actually out there. I didn’t find any. I looked on Google and used their search tools to find out how many people are actually searching for stuff like this. I didn’t find many.

Yet He told me to do it. He told me you were out there, looking. But even though He told me to do this- even though I have His promise that there will be people out there looking for the training services and products He’ll bless me to provide- He helped me to understand that I’d still need to work hard, learn new things, create new skills, and spend money on this business/ministry in order to reach them.

If I don’t I never attain what God promised me. Doesn’t mean I did what He said and it didn’t work. Doesn’t mean I “thought” He said it and He really didn’t. It means He set it before me and I simply didn’t possess it. If I do my part He will do His.

So my battle cry this year- my one word motivator that will keep me on track- is the word INVEST. If I invest in myself, my ministry and my business- both my time and my money- I know that I can’t help but be successful. I’m challenging you to join me and adopt this new mindset for this year and every year. No more “I don’t have”. From here on, it’s “how can I get”. No more waiting for things to come to us. No more standing in front of doors and simply refusing to turn the door-knob. This year let’s “MAKE” it happen. This year let’s POSSESS what God has already promised us.

 

 

Tips for growing your choir

The gospel music industry is constantly evolving. With few exceptions, choirs have become almost extinct. But they remain a strong, viable and important element of music ministry in local churches across the country. Many local choir directors and ministers of music sometimes find it hard to keep their choir healthy and growing. I ran across a great article last night that listed some great tips in that regard. The article is entitled 5 Steps To Build Your Choir .

The website I found this on, http://ministry127.com/ , is a great resource for church leaders in all aspects of ministry, not just music ministry. Under the music ministry category I found several great articles just on choir alone.

For the African-American church anyway, it doesn’t appear that the Gospel choir is going anywhere any time soon. But like anything, a Gospel choir must continue to grow or it eventually dies. Recruiting members isn’t something most of us give much thought to. This article gives some simple, practical tips on how to keep your choir growing and why it’s important.  Make sure to head over to the link above and take a look at the article.

Having trouble finding new song leaders in your choir? Most would-be song leaders don’t come forward because of one thing. They’re afraid of doing adlibs. Develop and encourage new leaders from within your own ranks with my new  training video Adlib Like A Pro.

 

Take your worship ministry to the next level in 6 steps

You know we’re all about next level ministry here. In fact I wrote a blog a while back called “How To Develop Next Level Mentality For Your Music Ministry” . Last night I came across another great article on taking your music ministry to the next level that I thought you should see. The Author Maurice Overholt lists 6 steps for taking your worship ministry to the next level. I really enjoyed the article because he approached it from an entirely different angle than I did and really did a nice job of explaining each step.  It’s a nice quick read that’s sure to be a blessing to you. I’ve included a link to Maurice’s blog as well as his website below. Surf on over and check it out. Be sure to leave a comment for him and tell him you heard about him here at The Music Ministry Coach.com!

 

Six Steps for Taking Your Worship Ministry to the Next Level

http://mauriceoverholt.com10/1/12

Trying to understand how to grow your church’s worship ministry can be challenging and overwhelming. Anyone, however, can discover how to take What kinds of new music should we introduce? What kinds of physical

Want to see growth in your music ministry? Stop using this word today.

I was watching one of those weekly shows once where they open with the end of the episode, then they take you back and show how that moment came to be. I’m gonna do that today, just because I think it would be a more interesting read.  Ok so it’s Sunday morning, about 8:30. I jump on my fan page and post this long status update. It starts getting responses almost right away. People started liking it and commenting on it. It really resonated with everyone.

Now let’s rewind a few months. We’ve only had a praise team for a short time. We’ve struggled, had personnel changes, challenges with leadership, schedules, etc. But recently our former worship leader, a minister, stepped down to focus on preaching. The new worship leader was appointed from our own ranks, an extremely talented and anointed woman of God. We began working together and positive change started happening almost immediately. We all had the sense God was about to begin using the praise team in a mighty way to affect change in the way we worship God on Sunday mornings. So naturally the devil got busy.

We only had 2 tenors, and one of them was now gone, leaving just one.  He’s an amazing, powerful lead vocalist who leads most of our choir songs that need a male leader. But like many very talented lead singers, he has always struggled with vocal harmony. Well, to make a long story short the devil began using this one small thing to dismantle and unravel everything we had accomplished and hinder us from moving forward. It was really causing us to struggle as a whole. I knew I had to do something to move us past this, and I knew I was the only one who could.

I started toying with the idea of leaving the keyboard and singing with the praise team on Sunday morning. But each time I discussed this with the band we simply couldn’t bear the thought of not having the keyboard involved in the musical arrangements. Keys are such an important element in the sound of worship music. During these conversations someone would almost always mention me playing and singing from the keyboard, but I had been so adamant for so long that I “couldn’t”, that now when anyone mentioned it, they did so almost as a joke. But I had reached a point where I knew in my heart that was the only option to get us past this so we could move forward into where God was trying to take us.

So just this past Wednesday night at rehearsal, after again struggling most of the night and still not really able to perfect the harmony, I knew it was time for me to step out of this comfort zone and stop saying I can’t do it. God had given me everything I needed to move us beyond this hurdle and I simply was unwilling to do it. Why? Oh I had my reasons. Good reasons. We all do. But none of them mattered at the moment. Suffice it to say that I knew singing and playing was something I could in fact learn to do if I just practiced it. But it was easier to just continue saying “I can’t sing and play”.

But when you’re continually unwilling to step out on your own, it’s just like God to put you in a position where you don’t have a choice. That’s exactly what He did Wednesday night. Our one tenor was going to be leading one of the new songs, leaving us with no tenor at all. And there was nobody I could move to tenor without leaving someone else short. So God just spoke to me, quietly and in my own voice like He does, and told me…”you can sing this and play. These songs are easy enough. You sing tenor from the keyboard.”

I knew at that moment there was no more excuses. So without any protest or argument I just asked for a mic at the keyboard. We did the songs in a few minutes, God came in and moved at rehearsal and I knew then that I’d be doing it permanently. After thinking about it the rest of the week, contemplating all the time I had wasted saying I can’t do it and where I could have been by now; after all the weeks we’ve struggled and NOT sang songs because we couldn’t get the tenor part right; I felt almost responsible in a way.

I thought about it the rest of that week.  Sunday morning I got up with all this on my mind and that voice spoke to me again. In the middle of sitting at the keyboard I got the overwhelming urge to go to my fan page and post something about what was about to happen, all that God had been revealing to me about the word “can’t” and how much it has been hindering me from moving forward- and thus hindering the whole praise team. So I just sat down and started typing. What my followers saw Sunday morning was unscripted and unedited. It was this:

The praise team is doing all new material this morning, and one of them will be led by our only tenor….which means I’m gonna have to sing and play at the same time today (gulp!).
Singing and playing is something I’ve always had a problem with, and I used to say when the subject came up “I can’t sing and play, you’re gonna have to choose one!” And we’d all have a chuckle about it.
But my own tendency to be introspective made me have to stop saying that, even jokingly. Because honestly it wasn’t true. I can sing and play…if I practice doing it. So it’s not that I’m physically not able to sing and play. I just haven’t cared enough or had enough of a reason to apply myself and learn.

The funny thing is, it’s really just a matter of practicing it. Getting used to doing them both at the same time. That’s about as hard as switching to your weak hand for all of your writing. But you see how important what you say is? “I can’t” is a phrase that plants a seed in your spirit that convinces you of just that. But when you change that verbiage to something like “I haven’t learned how yet” or something similar, everything changes. Now something your mind was all too happy to use as an excuse before has been changed to a very honest truth that holds you accountable. Now every time you talk about that thing you have to face the truth that it’s not that you can’t. You just haven’t really tried yet.

 

The power to get wealth; what it really takes

the power to get wealth

Lately I keep thinking about that scripture in Deuteronomy 8:18 that says God has given us the power to get wealth. But then I heard a statistic recently regarding the popularity of reality shows. Turns out most people say they watch them because they’re bored and have nothing else to do. What I’ve learned this year that has really sunk in more than any other time in my life, is simply that the power to get wealth is in knowledge. In the past I, like many others, have said that you can’t be successful trying to market to believers; especially black ones. But there was one flaw in my thinking. Black Christians spend a lot of money. And there are in fact  companies successfully making an income selling stuff to them. And they’re not all selling bibles and hats. And most of them aren’t faith-based businesses.

So last year after having my services on-line for some time and having “marginal” success at best, I decided to take ownership of where I am and what I’m doing- and NOT doing- to reach my goals. I got real honest with myself and admitted that I know nothing about how to market properly and that I was basically just putting stuff up and hoping people would come.  Blindly trying different things, tossing them against the wall and seeing what would stick. So I made a commitment that I would really get serious about learning how to properly market my stuff on-line. So while many people are coming home parking in front of the tv because there’s “nothing else to do”, I started coming home and get on-line. I stopped chatting and playing games and started reading about internet marketing.

Now instead of tv and games I read forums and websites and articles and courses about the how to create and market products and services on-line. Then I spend hours sifting and sorting through information over-load and hype. Then even more hours learning how to apply what I’m learning. It’s been frustrating. And time consuming. And overwhelming. And more than once I’ve felt like I was getting nowhere (that’s because the Devil kept me focused on what I wasn’t accomplishing so I couldn’t see how much I had already accomplished- but that’s another blog for another day).

But I’ve come to understand that God makes it possible for us to get the knowledge, which equals the power that we can then use to get wealth.  Most of us don’t ever get it because we stop short of getting the knowledge. It’s taken me several years to really get this. I thought that because I felt like God told me to do something, and I was pretty good at it, people would come. And they’d tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on and so on. I found out though, that real life doesn’t work like that shampoo commercial.  I’m a vocal coach . People who study with me say  I’m pretty good. But that’s not enough, and that’s the truth I’ve had to learn. People don’t tend to go tell two friends when they’re happy. But they’ll tell 10 friends when they’re not, lol! Now that I do get it though, things are starting to happen.

I’m a vocal coach now because one day I believed God spoke to me and told me that’s the direction I should be going. What I did next though, is the reason I am one today. And what I did next is get on line and start searching out how to become one. If I hadn’t, I still wouldn’t be one no matter what God said to me. But here’s the thing. Sometimes it isn’t even that deep. I did spend money, get training, take lessons, go through a certification process to learn to teach voice professionally. But God has given us the power to get wealth using knowledge we already have.  One of the products I promoted was built from things I just learned from being in music ministry most of my life. Not something I went to school for. Just something I’ve learned how to do over the years. It’s called “Ad-lib Like A Pro“.

So anyway, I posted this blog announcing the sale on all my products, then I posted about Ad-Lib Like A Pro separately a couple of times. Now, before this year I would have just put it on my website and waited for people to come. Then hoped some of them might buy it.  Or worse yet, I would have thought “that would be a great idea” and then stopped right there and went back to playing Farmville. But because I got serious last year and determined I’d learn everything I needed to know about how to be more successful, I have a new mindset now. Now when I have an idea or a thought, I start researching how to do it. I learn as much as I can free and when I determine I’ve gone as far as I can free I spend some money. Because I understand now better than any other time in my life that God is always giving us ideas, placing people in front of us, putting us in the right place at the right time. And it’s up to us to take it from there. Because of that mindset Ad-lib Like A Pro and Vocal Ministry Breakthrough generated over $250 in sales, and did so less than a week before Christmas. That’s just putting it out there to you guys.

The point of this whole thing is not to talk about what I’ve managed to do. That’s not much money in the grand scheme of things. It’s more about really coming to grips with what it really takes to move to the next level with pretty-much anything we want to do. As we come to the end of the year we’ll all start talking about what a great year 2013 will be like we do every year. But most of us say that expecting that God will simply just drop it all in our laps without much effort on our parts. I have had to learn it just doesn’t work that way. God gives us ideas and knowledge and skills that we can use to be successful. But then He expects us to do something with it. He answers prayers by placing people in our paths that can help us achieve the things we’ve been praying for. It’s then up to us to see that as an opportunity He’s placed in front of us and then take advantage of it.

So many people are absolutely convinced God told them to do something or pursue a thing until that first hurdle comes. Or the first realization it will take time and work and money. Then just as quickly as we got the revelation it was Him, we suddenly get another revelation that it wasn’t. I’ve learned that while there are definitely things out of our control out there, very little of what’s holding most of us back has anything to do with our circumstances, income, background, race or anything else. God didn’t make any specifications about whom He gave the power to get wealth. He didn’t say He gave it to only one or two segments of the population or to one race of people over another one. We just have to understand what that power is, and that He gave us the ability to get it any time we want it. Other scriptures reinforce that notion, like 2 Timothy 2:15. Hosea 4:6 and Proverbs 4:7 .

Moving into 2013 I’ve had to understand that having a desire and even the talent to do something does not guarantee I’ll be successful with it. I must study, learn, grow in my knowledge and expertise of that thing. I must invest time and yes, money. He has indeed given us the power to get wealth. And as I’ve seen proof of myself, it will kick in as soon as we’re ready to start using it.

The one big drawback about passion

I suspect this will resonate with groups of all sizes and types, but I think choirs and praise teams will relate most. One of the most frustrating things about group music ministry is the unfortunate task of dealing with all the different personalities, quirks and idiosyncrasies of people. To call it challenging would be an understatement, wouldn’t it?

But if you’re a part of a choir, praise team or other group music ministry, you know exactly what I mean. The lack of enthusiasm. Tardiness. Absenteeism. A less than positive attitude. In a word, Apathy. The sad truth is not everyone that is a part of any given group is necessarily there for the right reasons. But I think that’s a lot less common than perhaps we think. Many people join the music ministry because they love it, but have simply been there so long that they aren’t excited about it anymore, as I described in Music Ministry Auto-Pilot, it’s a routine that has become routine.

We must also understand that not everything is as obvious as it seems. We often don’t know why a person is constantly late, missing rehearsals, generally apathetic, or whatever the problem may be.  And I’ve found over the years when you have such things happening across the group as a whole it’s a sign of a bigger issue or issues. The group as a whole may not be happy with some aspect of the way the ministry is administrated.

I’ve been talking about passion and love for ministry here lately and how they both intertwine. It is the life-blood of every ministry. Without it a ministry can’t be effective or, in my opinion, anointed. But here’s something I want you to really pay close attention to and understand, especially if you’re in a leadership position.

Passion cannot be mandated.

Let me explain what I mean by that. You see, the typical reaction to wide-spread apathy in a group is one of frustration. After all, this stuff should be obvious by now. This is music ministry. We know this.  Right? So leaders who find themselves dealing with these kinds of issues can sometimes react in a rather scolding manner. We start addressing the issues at rehearsals. And even though we often use all the right language, scripture and teaching, often it all comes across rather combative. Sometimes it even comes across like scolding. I’ve been guilty of this a lot, I won’t pretend otherwise.

It’s hard not to. Believe me I get it.  But the thing is, you can never get someone passionate about something by forcing it down their throats or beating them over the heads with it. Your motivation for doing so may be absolutely born out of passion, but the approach is often all wrong. Passion cannot be mandated. It can’t be forced upon people. It can’t be an ultimatum. That doesn’t negate the need for boundaries and established rules by far. But we’re talking something that goes beyond just showing up when you’re supposed to and doing what you’re supposed to do. We’re talking about enthusiastic, passionate participation in a ministry.
That kind of passion can only be shared. Shown. Lived outwardly in front of people. When it is experienced that way it is felt. Seen. Understood. And eventually, caught. I’ve come to understand over the years that the more passionate I am about my own service, my own position, my own ministry- about everything I do related to music ministry- the more it changes people’s attitudes around me.

I’ve always been known around my church for my love of the music ministry. Being passionate about it. But it seems here lately that reputation has grown even more. Not because I go around saying it though. I just am. It shows in the way I play, the way I sing, the way I direct. I can’t help but show it, because it’s just in me. And so these days when I speak to the choir or praise team about issues or challenges, the conversation is different. My tone is different.

It’s still deliberate, still one of authority, still adamant. But nowadays when I talk to my praise team about the importance of perfecting our sound, it’s coming less from that place of frustration and more from a place of  “I so want you to feel the way I feel”, or “when you begin to really understand this the way God gave it to me it’s going to transform this whole experience for you”.

I talk about how powerful and anointed our ministry can be. I talk about the importance of knowing our songs,  just like I always have. But now instead of negative language about “not sounding a mess” or “getting up there messing up” or “half-doing it”….you get the idea….I find myself instead talking about how powerful it is to be absolutely sure of every note and every word of a song. I talk about how freeing it is to sing without any fear or doubts. How it frees you to really worship God and feel His presence in a much more powerful way. I talk about how it affects the audience, and changes the atmosphere, and makes the people more receptive to the word of God.

But these days I don’t just say “we have to do it, it’s important”. I talk about what a wonderful feeling it is when God uses us mightily that way. I speak from a place of love and passion that they can see, and hear, and feel. Passion  expressed, shared, lived outwardly, is caught. It’s embraced. I’ve been doing this a very long time, so I know how all this sounds. I know it’s easier said than done, and I wouldn’t sit here and try to convince you that I always get it right.

But I do know that the more passionately I approach ministry from every angle-especially conversations about it- the more of it I see creeping into others around me.

 

3 powerful steps to an anointed music ministry

 

There’s a biblical phrase that comes to mind every time I think about being in a state of great anticipation or excitement that I find hard to contain. It’s found in Jeremiah 20:9  where he spoke the often quoted phrase “just like fire, shut up in my bones”.  But Jeremiah wasn’t excited or happy when he said it. He was actually talking about all of the bad things that happen to him when he speaks about God, and how that even though he desires to avoid speaking of God to avoid those things, he finds that he simply can’t hold it in.

For me, I think about that phrase after a great rehearsal where we’ve really worked hard, perfected the song and are excited to present it to our congregation. Over the years I’ve often compared the process of learning a new song to that of a minister’s preparation to bring the message on Sunday morning. When our hearts and minds are in the right place, the two are very similar. Music ministry, after all, is the message and the word of God in song; or it should be if we’re choosing the right song and focusing on the message as our main motivation for choosing them.

That being the case, a choir or praise team should go through a similar process a minister goes through when preparing to deliver his message. A minister consecrates himself. Prays that God use him as a vessel to deliver a word to His people.  A minister has a study somewhere, where he goes to prepare for his message. He digs into it,  searches the scripture for understanding, gets that message into his spirit.  In the process of doing so the message begins to resonate with him on a personal level. God begins to speak to him and give him things that he knows will be a blessing to the congregation.Then he organizes and formulates his thoughts so that he can deliver them effectively to the congregation. He knows he must be prepared or he won’t be able to deliver the message effectively. By the time Sunday rolls around a minister is often burning with anticipation to deliver that message because he knows how much it’s going to bless the people of God.

When we’re approaching music ministry correctly we should be experiencing something similar. I said to my sanctuary choir once that when we come to rehearsal what we’re doing is not unlike what the minister does when he goes into his study. The sanctuary choir stand, practice room or wherever it is that we rehearse, becomes our “study”. The process of learning and perfecting the song(s) is our way of preparing our message to be delivered to God’s people. When we get up on Sunday morning, that stage or that choir stand becomes the pulpit or podium from which we deliver that message to the congregation.

Often the difference in an anointed music ministry and a ministry that simply fills a spot on the program is the attitude and mindset that ministry takes toward every song and every rehearsal. Some of us are still missing the whole “MINISTRY” part of music ministry. Many of us are choosing songs because they’re popular, or contemporary, or older, or have a great beat. So we often miss the fact that some songs just don’t say much lyrically.

Other times we’re so focused on “the words” and “the parts” that we miss the message.  I think that’s a challenge for many music ministries (both choirs and praise teams) because we don’t fully understand that every song really is a mini-sermon. We don’t get the importance of understanding and connecting to it spiritually in some way, and we don’t fully understand or appreciate the importance of preparation to the effective delivery of that message.

Prime example;

There was a song once that the choir really liked but I didn’t feel we “got it”. There was no fire or enthusiasm at rehearsal. And even though it was a very simple song- the kind we learn in 10 minutes at any given rehearsal- we struggled, stumbled and really never got to that level of excitement and fire that we often reach with a new song at rehearsal. Sure enough, the first time we did it, it absolutely tanked.  We missed marks, guessed and fumbled our way through it and it went over like a rock.

At the next rehearsal we went over it again and it was much of the same thing. So I said to them, “look guys, we’re either connecting with this song spiritually or we’re not. We either get it or we don’t, and if we can’t find a spiritual connection with this song then we need to scrap it. There’s no way a song this simple should be giving us this much trouble. Not every song is for us to do, and we son’t always understand why. But we have to do songs we can connect with spiritually so we can minister.”

So I told them at rehearsal that we’d try it one more time and if we don’t get it, we’re scrapping the song. Right after my little speech we went over the song again and the difference was amazing.  There was excitement and energy at rehearsal. Whether it was my little speech or the thought of losing the song is still a mystery. But suddenly everyone was engaged, enthusiastic and on fire.  And that next Sunday, you could feel the anticipation.

The message we missed was finally burning in our spirits, like fire. We couldn’t wait to deliver that message to our congregation-PROPERLY this time- from a different place than when we did before. We did, and it went over great. But it proved to me that it was there all along, and we had simply been missing something in the process of preparation. Sometimes it’s the wrong song. Sometimes it’s the right song at the wrong time for US. Often though, it’s our own mindset that keeps us from going to that next level.

So in summary, I believe if want a powerful, anointed ministry that you’re excited to deliver week after week- one that burns in you like fire the way Jeremiah’s message burned in him, you must:

1. Choose songs for the message.

Listen closely and critically to the lyrical content of songs and make sure they actually have a real message. Don’t neglect the importance of a strong musical arrangement though. Even a good message when coupled with an awful arrangement can fall flat. Just make sure though, that the arrangement alone is not the reason you’re choosing the song. Forget about how current or how old a song is. It is irrelevant if the message is powerful. Don’t sing a song just because it’s new. Don’t avoid a song just because it’s old.

2. Consecrate and  Connect Spiritually.

We must approach rehearsal and ministry prayerfully. Pray together at rehearsal. Pray that God uses the ministry to bless His people, and that everything you do is for His glory and not your own.  Then seek to find, understand and connect on a spiritual and personal level with the song(s) you’ll sing. If we’re choosing songs with powerful messages, then even if you don’t like the song personally you should still be able to find something in it that you can internalize and connect to in a personal way spiritually. It is very important that the song means something to your choir, group or praise team as a group and not just individually. It’s also very important that you’re able to recognize when a song simply doesn’t register with you as a group for whatever reason and be willing to table or scrap that song altogether.

3. Change the way you see and approach rehearsals

Many choirs and praise teams don’t show much enthusiasm at choir rehearsal because for many of us we’re dragging ourselves there after long days at work. We’re tired. And honestly, we just don’t see it as much more than “rehearsal”. This is absolutely a mindset/attitude issue.

Our results change dramatically when our attitude and mindset towards rehearsal changes from “rehearsal” to “preparation to minister to God’s people”. When you begin to see rehearsal as  preparation to deliver a word from God to His people, it takes on a different meaning. The work of perfecting a song can be something you dread or something you enjoy and see as a  necessary part of effective, anointed ministry. It can be one more thing you have to drag yourself to, or it can be a spiritual and emotional lift that gets you through the week. The difference lies in how you choose to see it.

There is nothing like being at a rehearsal where you’re excited, energized and spiritually ignited by the songs you’re rehearsing. That’s when you know you “get it”. But that’s a choice, and something we must decide to do if we want to have a ministry that is anointed and a message that burns in us like fire.

 

 

3 ways to develop a “next level” mentality for your music ministry (or anything else you want)

3 ways to develop a “next level” mentality for your music ministry (or anything else you want)

For a great many of us, singing and/or playing an instrument in church is just something we’ve always done. Those of us like me, who gravitate to the front and take on positions like choir director and parts instructor end up doing so because we simply have a natural God-given talent for it. For that reason though, many of us spend most of our lives at pretty-much the same level as far as our music ministry goes. That’s just human nature, really. We all cling to the familiar, don’t we? We stick with what we know. What we’ve always done.
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