In the city of Los Angeles it’s hard not to notice the various churches adorning nearly every street corner. Maybe it’s the entertainment business as a whole and the enemy’s grip on so many lost souls. Or maybe it’s the melting pot of culture and the need to find the home that identifies with your relationship to Christ. Whatever the case may be, if you a professional musician in Los Angeles then you will eventually be asked to work in the church as either a musician, music director, or praise team member. After ten years in this city I have held the distinguished role of guitarist and music director at various ministries, and for the last five years I have had the pleasure and honor of playing guitar for Anthony Evans, travelling to churches and arenas across the country to facilitate worship. In that time I have scene two very obvious types of musicians. There are those who serve the kingdom and those serve themselves. If I am being honest, I myself have fallen at different times into both categories. Here are 5 vital tips to serving God in his Kingdom that will surely bring favor to those around you as well as to you in your own life.
It’s no secret that musicians are notoriously late. Knowing this, we cannot succumb to the stereotype, especially in worship, when there are so many moving parts. As musicians we are important part of worship, helping usher in the spirit so that the word can be heard and resonate with as many people as possible. We also set an example for everyone in the congregation. Therefore we need to be on time. In the music business on time is technically late because of setup, so for us, this means get there early. Set up your equipment and get to a place where you can pray and ask God to be present with you so that you can best serve him. The results are surprising.
Most churches now use Planning Center (www.planningcenter.org) to get music out to musicians. This service makes being prepared easier than ever before. With so many resources on the Internet, there is no reason a musician should come to rehearsal or to service unprepared. Unless you truly have no access to the audio and to the Internet, there is no excuse for lack of preparation. If the pastor up without a sermon he would certainly be deemed an unfit leader. We are leaders in our branch of ministry; therefore we must hold ourselves to the same standard.
3. Dress To Impress
When I was a child it was unacceptable to wear anything other than black slacks and a tie to church. In today’s world many people dress casual for church, but sloppiness, that has become far too prevalent on the bandstand. As Christian musicians we represent two parties every time we pick up the instrument, the music community as a whole and the Christian community as a whole. Know your environment and what is appropriate. It is not necessary to wear a suit when everyone is wearing jeans, but it is necessary to show that you care. People are looking at us from the moment service begins often until the very end.
4. Know Your Gear
Whether it’s Gospel or CCM the current trends in Christian music follow those in secular music. Todays world require sounds and patches that simulate what is happening on the recording. For Gospel music guitarists need a great clean tone, chorus, a nice compressor, and a good overdrive. For CCM guitarist need a slew of effects. For all worship music guitarists need a good delay pedal. Whatever instruments you play, know the sounds, not only the parts. This process of learning patches will dramatically improve your workflow outside of the church as well.
5. Smile, God Is Watching
We are ministers of music, spreading the good Word to everyone, not only through our playing, but also in our mannerisms, in the way we carry ourselves. Smiling, enjoying what you do, which is of course a privilege, goes a long way. When you arrive, shake hands with everyone you can. Ask people how their lives are going. Look for ways to encourage others. The job does not begin and end with the music; it is an all-encompassing job that begins the moment you wake up. We can change the world by being true Disciples of Christ each and everyday. The example we set off of the bandstand is what can truly inspire people.
My name is Chris Vazquez. I am the owner of SoundLife Music Academy in Los Angeles, CA. You can find out more information about our in-home and online instructional services at www.soundlifelessons.com. I am also a veteran session musician in the Los Angeles community, having worked with Leona Lewis, Daniel Powter, JoJo, and many other notable secular artists and well as Christian artists like Anthony Evans and Crystal Lewis. I am also the music director for City Life Church in Orange County, California.