Music Ministry 101: The Structure of Music Ministry Leadership

If you are new the music ministry leadership, you may not know what your role is or what it entails.

The structure of a church’s music ministry will be based on a few factors:
1. Tradition- What’s already been established in the church.
2. Team Capacity- The qualifications of the current music ministry leadership.
3. Resources- How much money is allocated to the music ministry.

Here are the different roles of music ministry that I’m familiar with. Feel free to add other roles in the comment section:

1. The Minister of Music (MOM)– aka Worship Pastor is the head of the entire music ministry department (which includes all performing arts ministries- all choirs, dance/mime ministry, and musicians). This person should be qualified to teach choir parts, write chords/charts for musicians, and provide counsel to all ministries under his/her supervision. The MOM should also be qualified to handle administrative tasks, which include accepting/declining/scheduling ministry opportunities, establishing rules and procedures, and resolving conflicts. The MOM reports directly to the pastor.

2. The Music Director(MD) is over the musicians and reports to the MOM. The MD normally works with or is over the sound dept. Additional duties of the MD will be at the discretion of the MOM.

3. The Choir Director is in charge of leading the choir during Sunday service. This person will be 2nd to the MOM in teaching parts (if qualified to do so). Any additional tasks are at the discretion of the MOM.

4. The Worship Leader- The Worship leader is responsible for leading the congregation in singing, normally at the beginning of service. It’s common for the worship leader to have a dual responsibility in another music ministry leadership role.

5. The Section Leader– The section leader is normally the strongest singer in a section. If the MOM needs someone to sing a part for others in a section, this would be that person. The section leader would be the next person to teach parts if the MOM or choir director is unavailable. In most music ministries, the section leaders assist the worship leader in leading congregational singing (aka the worship team).

6. Music Ministry Officers– The music ministry officers assist the MOM in administrative tasks and maintaining order within the ministry. If conflicts arise in the ministry, the officers would settle issues before escalating them to the pastor. These offices include choir president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and parliamentarian. These positions are still active in some churches but are phasing out in most churches.

If positions 2-6 aren’t available, all responsibilities fall on the MOM. If a MOM isn’t assigned, then these taks will be delegated amongst the other leadership positions. I’ve never seen all roles active in one church; however, it is possible. Most churches will only have a MOM and that person is in charge of everything; at best, you may have a MOM and choir director.

In part 2 of Music Ministry 101, I will discuss the administrative tasks of the music ministry. These tasks are small but daunting and one person shouldn’t have to do all of the work. Delegation is key to an effective music ministry.

If you would like to hear this topic on the Worship Builders Podcast, click here:
Episode 37: Music Ministry 101-The Structure of Music Ministry Leadership

Sonja R. Jones is a wife, mother, educator, author, and a Virtual Worship Pastor. Her assignment is to spiritually cover music ministry leaders, help churches develop and retain music ministry leaders, and equip and send music ministry leaders to churches. Connect with her online at www.sonjarjones.com

12 Steps To Discovering Your Call To Music Ministry

If you’re a regular around here you know I try to share information that offers information to help take your music ministry to the next level. That’s really my only requirement for content here. It needs to teach something. Offer some advice, or some tips. Some kind of how to.

Many people who know they’re called to music ministry still find themselves searching for their specific calling within music ministry. I realized at an early age that mine was teaching and directing.  But if you’ve been struggling to really nail down what your specific calling is in music ministry you’ll love this great article I found on Churchleaders.com .

I really love articles that give specific steps. In his article “Discovering Your Call To Music Ministry” Minister Michael Dottin not only gives us 12 specific steps, he also includes specific scriptures related to each one.  This piece is a quick read, but full of great information I know will bless you if you find yourself in this place. Click the title or image below to read the full article.

article_images/discovering_call_music_ministry_188517085.jpg

Three Ways to Avoid Musical “Drowning Zones”

Cavell Samuels is back this week with another blog post for us. This time he’s addressing a somewhat touchy subject among musicians and members alike; the subject of playing too loud.  Take it away Cavell!

********************************************************************************************************************************************

When something is drowning, it is overwhelmed by a large amount of something. In the following paragraphs, I will list three ways to avoid drowning zones. The establishment of “No drowning zones” in our churches is key in the overall musical presentation of the church choir. What do I mean by “No drowning zones?” I am glad you asked! These “drowning zones “ are times in the worship service where musicians play so loudly that they drown out the message of what the choir is communicating though song.

These “drowning zones” are usually prevalent in churches with less seasoned musicians, or seasoned musicians who have placed the message, mandate and mission of Jesus Christ on the back-burner in exchange for them being the center of attention. It is critical that we as musicians not create drowning zones for our churches and ministries, but that we create atmospheres for freedom of worship and proper articulation of the gospel message though song.
As a musician, I know the pressure of wanting to execute the latest chop, latest fill, run, or chord progression you learned while attending the musical workshop earlier in the summer! However, we as musicians must realize that all we do must properly accompany the choir, praise and worship team or soloist, and secondly, we must realize that we as musicians are rendering our talents and skills “Unto the Lord.” Psalm 95:1 declares “O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.”

This making a joyful noise does not mean we as musicians are to drown out the choir, speaker, praise team leader, or anyone else in the service. This joyful noise is a calculated noise, this joyful noise is done in concert with everything else going on in the worship service! This joyful noise is not only to be joyful to the musicians, but this noise must by joyful to the Lord most importantly!

When our corporate sound as musicians glorifies the Lord, the people in our services will be edified and the Savior will be glorified. There have been many instances over the years where the message of the music has been drowned out and all together forgotten during worship service or worship services. As musicians, we must be mindful to not overpower, but to aid and assist our choirs and those who are rendering song selections and other services during worship. Here are a few suggestions on how to avoid drowning zones in our worship services:

1. If you have microphones on your instruments, coordinate with the sound technician to ensure you are not overpowering.

I have seen in smaller churches the Hammond B3 being piped through the house and this causes for the organ to be way too loud. The same applies for the drums as well. If these instruments are going to be loud, please work in concert with your sound team.

2. Keep in mind it’s not about you!

Humility is required in this because let’s be honest, if you are a somewhat skilled musician, people will take notice of your skill. However, this is no reason for you to be the center of attention. Remember, Satan was kicked out of heaven for this very thing! Pride is very destructive, and will cause you to create drowning zones more often than not.

3. Communication between directors, song leaders and musicians.

This is critical, especially if directors and song leaders have expressed concerns that the music has been loud previously. It is extremely critical for musicians to work with everyone to ensure there is the right blend of vocals and music. If this is achieved, the individuals who attend your worship services along with your choir directors and song leaders will be appreciative!

In closing, this was not an all-out assault on musicians in churches and ministries, just a friendly reminder not to create drowning zones in your respective worship services! Musicians, we are a vital part of the overall worship experience. Let us keep in mind that all we do is unto the Lord and what we do as musicians should complement the entire worship service. Remember, work toward achieving “No drowning zones” in our services, be blessed!

 

Cavell Samuels is a man of integrity, honesty and hard work, who has the passion and desire to see things done in the spirit of excellence, and a defender of absolute Bio Pictruth. Cavell’s main desire is that the will of the Lord be done in all areas of his life, and in the lives of others.

4 Ways To Bridge The Spiritual Gap Between Your Music Ministry And Your Pastor

Today I’d like to welcome a guest blogger to The Music Ministry Coach.com . His name is Cavell Samuels. Cavell brings many years of experience working in music ministry to the table and I hope to have him as a regular contributor. In this blog post Cavell will be sharing with us 4 steps that will help us close that spiritual gap that sometimes exists between the music department and the Shepard of the house. Please make Cavell feel welcome by offering your comments. Also, be sure to visit Cavell’s website, which you can find in his bio at the bottom of the article. Take it away Cavell!
**************************************************************************************************************************************************************

This article is a new direction that Kingdom First will be branching off into, as this also deals with the administrative function of churches and  music ministries. The direction I am referring to is the relationship between pastors and musicians. We begin to take steps toward eliminating the gap between pastors musicians, and ministers of music which exists.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 states “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not easily broken.” When the lines of communication, or the cords are broken between the pastor, musicians and ministers of music, this has the potential to cause chaos in a church or ministry and destroy relationships. This is why we that serve in these areas must make all efforts to eliminate all gaps!

If you are reading this post, the first question that comes to mind probably is where do I start in the addressing or preventing of this from taking place? I will provide a few tips to aid and assist in firstly, having this conversation, if the problem exists, and two, to place some parameters in place in an attempt to prevent this from taking place. We , as musicians, pastors, and ministers of music cannot afford to have division in our services, division in our ministries, and division in our churches!

1. Have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ

Why are you putting this as a part of this article? I thought that all who are musicians, pastors and ministers of music are already saved? Contrary to popular belief, this is not always the case. I have ran into many musicians, ministers of music and even some pastors who do not have a relationship with the Lord. I John 2:17 declares : “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

The will of the Lord is found in His Word! His Word declares in Romans 10:9-10-“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Acts 4:12 puts it like this: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

I could give many other scriptures, but the bottom line is ALL that serve in ANY area of and in ministry should have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the #1 prerequisite, even above talent. Total commitment to Christ is essential for service to the Lord! If you are not serving the Lord, you are serving yourself! The key to relationship with the Lord is for you to be in second place, not the Lord! Relationship with the Lord involves placing Him first!

2. Proper, Biblical Conversation

Psalm 19:14 says“Let the words of my mouth and words of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” This is not just a thing pastors and preachers pray before teaching or preaching, but something that we should live by. On many occasions people do not have a problem with what was said, but have a problem with how things are said! We, as units (musicians, ministers of music, and pastors) that are working in our churches must keep in mind that we are to talk to one another in a civil and appropriate manner. I have learned through many years of experience that talking to people the right way goes a long way in building strong relationships. Asking the Lord to frame our words, speech and presentation works wonders. So we must always keep this in mind and ask the Lord to frame our words when dealing with others.

3. Fellowship, fellowship, fellowship

This is key in eliminating the gap between pastors, musicians and ministers of music. Many times you can learn many things just by being in the same room and being connected with others. I would recommend for fellowships to take place outside of the church or ministry. For those of you who are on salary at your respective church or ministry, this is fellowship outside of work. Psalm 133:1 states “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Fellowship fosters friendship and friendship foster unity! It is extremely vital for musicians, ministers of music and pastors to be united! Our worship services depend on this unity, our families depend on this unity, and our communities at large depend on this unity! Regular fellowship is essential for great relationships between the musicians, pastors and ministers of music.

4. Prayer

Luke 18:1 states “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men aught always to pray, and not faint.” Prayer is key in our respective walks with the Lord, and is no different in our functions as musicians, ministers of music and pastors. There is an old saying that states the family that prays together stays together. This is true for us in our service as musicians, ministers of music and pastors. Prayer with each other is key and should take place often. Prayer should always take place before any meeting, rehearsal sessions, and before any services you may be participating in.

Personally, I can tell the difference in my playing when I pray, verses when I do not pray. Prayer is essential in breaking down and spiritual walls, breaking down anything going on in the spiritual realm, and essential in our hearing from the Lord regarding the flow and direction of our lives and our worship services.

Keep in mind prayer is a dialogue (The Lord speaking to us and our speaking to the Lord) and not a monologue (Just us speaking). When we are praying, we must allow time for listening in our prayer time. If we are to be ready at all times, we should pray at all times. This will help in our service to the Lord!

Again, these are just a few tips to aid and assist in the eliminating of the gap which may be evident with musicians, ministers of music and pastors. In these days and times, we cannot afford for any gaps to take place in our ministries and in our churches! Our churches and ministries need for us to be strong! The only way we are going to be strong and eliminate any gaps is only through the Lord’s help!

 

Bio PicCavell Samuels is a man of integrity, honesty and hard work, who has the passion and desire to see things done in the spirit of excellence, and a defender of absolute truth. Cavell’s main desire is that the will of the Lord be done in all areas of his life, and in the lives of others. Visit Cavell’s website at KingdomFirstConsulting.com

How To Protect Your Church Music Ministry From Copyright Infringement (part 2 of 6): Using Secular Music

How To Protect Your Church Music Ministry From Copyright Infringement (part 2 of 6): Using Secular Music

“Today Susan Fontaine , Founder and President Christian Copyright Solutions  is back for her second installment in the 6-part series on protecting your church music department against copyright infringement. Susan covers the use of secular music in your worship service. I realize many churches are against this. For those that do, Susan has some great advice to share today regarding what you need to know to keep it all legal. It’s all yours Susan!
***************************************************************************

The first time I remember hearing a secular song used in worship was at a rural church in northern Indiana. It was “Let My Love Open the Door,” by Pete Townsend, performed by a spunky blond woman from the praise band. It was a catchy and energetic way to kick off a service closing out their “Doors” series, which would invite people to walk through a large door on stage to symbolize their acceptance of Christ.

I became an instant fan of using secular music in worship, if it supported the message. I anticipated opposition to the idea from our church’s leadership, partially from a legal perspective (was a church even allowed to do that without special permission?) but mainly from a theological perspective. It can be controversial, as a lot of people feel secular music has no place in sacred worship. Granger pastor Tim Stevens makes the case for using secular music in his book, Pop Goes the Church, saying there is biblical precedent and gospel imperative for churches to leverage pop culture to reach secular people.

If you can remove the theological stumbling block for your congregation and fellow worship planners, you can rest easy knowing that the legal stumbling block has already been taken care of. As it turns out, secular music is included under the Religious Services Exemption to U.S. copyright law, stating that churches do not need a performance license to play live or pre-recorded versions of any kind of music (sacred or secular) in the context of regular worship services. The only exception in the exemption is “dramatico-musical” works (operas and plays) of a secular nature. These are not exempt and would require licensing.

It’s important to note that this exemption only applies to playing or performing music, and does not extend to reproducing music in any form, such as making an audio or video recording of music in your service, or making copies of song lyrics.

The morning after that service at Granger, I heard Pete Townshend’s song again on a pop radio station, and I was immediately reminded of the service’s message. To this day, I remember that Christian message whenever I hear the song. That’s the power of using pop songs in worship, and there’s no law to keep you from embracing it.

Want to know more about copyright myths that put your church at risk? Watch this helpful video from Christian Copyright Solutions and download their free downloadable resource to worship ministers – 6 Myths About Copyrights That Put Your Church at Risk.

CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches, as well as representation, administration and advocacy for copyright owners.

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.

 

True or false: A music ministry should never “perform”

I haven’t heard anyone debating this lately, but among many church circles it is often said that Christian musical entities should never “perform”. I’ll say right off the bat here that I do understand the heart of the people that say it. But I think all the fear, disdain and general rejection of the notion of performing (as opposed to ministering) is based largely on a mis-understanding or misinterpretation of the meaning of the word itself. So in this blog I want to do two things.

First, I want to give you a very clear, definitive answer of not only the word “perform” but the word “performance”. Once we have that we’ll take a closer look at the whole “performance” thing, how it relates to music ministry and why I think the whole thing is really much ado about nothing. First, let’s get the definitions out of the way.

per·form

 [per-fawrm]

verb (used with object)

1. to carry out; execute; do: to perform miracles.
2. to go through or execute in the proper, customary, or established manner: to perform the ceremony.
3. to carry into effect; fulfill: Perform what you promise.
4. to act (a play, part, etc.), as on the stage, in movies, or on television.
5. to render (music), as by playing or singing.
6. to accomplish (any action involving skill or ability), as before an audience: to perform a juggling act.
7. to complete.

per·for·mance

 [per-fawr-muh ns]

noun

1. a musical, dramatic, or other entertainment presented before an audience.
2. the act of performing a ceremony, play, piece of music, etc.
3. the execution or accomplishment of work, acts, feats, etc.
4. a particular action, deed, or proceeding.
5. an action or proceeding of an unusual or spectacular kind: His temper tantrum was quite a performance.

 

If you take a closer look at the definitions for the word “performance” you start to get clues of where all the hoopla about the word came from. In the first definition you see another word mentioned that we don’t like; “entertainment”. You see, somewhere way back in history someone decided Christians should never be entertained or find anything entertaining. So for many people who dislike the word perform being associated with music ministry, there is this notion that if you say you’re going to perform, you are suggesting that your offering will somehow be fake, or less sincere…for “entertainment” and not ministry.

As I said in the opening paragraph, I really do believe people who say this have their heart in the right place. However, when you take a look at the definition for the word “perform” you really start to understand that there’s nothing sinister about the word nor the notion of “performing”.  Stripped of all the extra implications and other stuff, to “perform” is, quite simply, the act of getting up and doing something in front of a bunch of people. It’s that simple. There is nothing sinful or fake about it. Even if it happens to actually make someone smile or laugh.

Here’s the one truth I want you to take away from this. Absolutely everything we do in the delivery of the word of God through music is part of what makes it a “ministry”. That is why everything we do needs to be done at the highest level we can aspire to. If ministry really is the goal, we must understand that the presentation, or”performance” of it is a critical part of effective ministry.  Often a message is only going to be as powerful as it’s messenger’s delivery of it. You’ve seen enough outstanding preachers AND bad preachers to verify that is true.

It is for that reason that we leave our homes and families, drive across town to church in the middle of the week and practice these songs. Learn musical arrangements. Memorize lyrics and harmonies. If we are never to perform, then why would we even need to do all this? Why not just show up Sunday morning and make it all up? Why should we spend all this time learning and perfecting these songs if it’s really true that we should never “perform”?  Because if we did it would most likely be a chaotic, disorganized mess, that’s why. So, just as the dynamic preacher studies and prepares himself for his message Sunday morning we prepare and rehearse and perfect our songs so the “performance” of them will minister to God’s people in a powerful way.

Heck, call it something else if it makes you feel better. Some people say “render” selections, for example. At the end of the day though, it’s really no more than getting up in front of an audience and “delivering/rendering/espousing/ pontificating (lol, whatever) the word of God in song.  You can even say “minister in song” if it sounds better. But even if you say that you’re talking about the performing of those songs in front of an audience. The two really can’t be separated.

So the whole ” a choir should never perform” thing  didn’t make sense to me the very first time I heard it. But I didn’t bother to debate it or argue  about it. And I don’t suggest you do either. Just know in your heart of hearts that it’s not about what you call it, it’s about why you’re doing it.

Image courtesy of “Stuart Miles”FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why you should NEVER sing entire songs with your eyes closed (part 2)

Welcome Back!

So in part one I discussed the fact that singing with your eyes closed disconnects you from your audience and basically makes them an outsider looking in on your “private” conversation with God.

But let’s face it. Keeping your eyes open comes with it’s own challenges. I know I’m stating the obvious here, but one of the biggest “disadvantages” of singing with your eyes open is that you can SEE everybody. LOL! Yes, this is not always the greatest thing. Because the honest truth is, no matter how good or anointed a person is, there will be people in the audience that are just not with you. For whatever reason. They might not like the song. They may be distracted. Heck, sometimes it’s just good old-fashioned hatin’. It can be somewhat discouraging when you see that from up on stage.
The other challenge is where to look. I already said in part 1 that simply staring at one spot in the room or up at the ceiling isn’t any better than having your eyes closed. You’re just as disconnected from the audience that way as with your eyes closed.

So what do you do??

I teach my students a very simple performance tip called the “Four Square” method. It’s a very easy to implement method of connecting with your audience in a genuine, effective way. It will also keep you from staring at one fixed spot in the room. It works like this:

As you stand in front of a room, mentally divide it into four large squares. As you sing, simply move your eyes from square to square, each time focusing just briefly on one person sitting in that area. Simply continue to do that throughout the song. Go to square one; look at the person in the front row. Move your eyes to square 2. Make eye contact with the person in the middle. And so on, you get the idea.

This keeps your eyes moving and keeps you connected with the audience in a much deeper way. More importantly though, it allows God to speak directly to people with the message in the song, through YOU.

So what about those people who aren’t looking very nice? Not enjoying you for whatever reason? There will always be some. That’s just reality. But the great thing is, unless you really need to come see me (smile) there will usually be a lot more people who ARE enjoying you and being blessed. As you continue to rotate through the four squares, simply keep coming back to those people who are being blessed. Clearly that’s who you’re there to sing to anyway.