You’re passionate about your gift. Nothing makes you feel like ministering to God’s people in song. You feel like it’s what you were placed on this earth to do. And you believe that God wants you to do it full time. Sound about right? You’re not alone. There must be thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people just like you. And yet dispite being incredibly gifted and anointed, the vast majority of singers and musicians who have a dream to one day do it full time never achieve that goal.
There are many, many variables, reasons, obstacles that keep people from achieving this goal. I suspect there are as many of them as there are people. But two of them are so common that I believe they affect the vast majority of well-meaning talented believers. This blog isnt’ meant to be an exhaustive study on the subject, but I do want to touch on them both enough to perhaps make you think.
So let’s start with the obvious. In order for one to do anything full time one has to make a full time income from it. Which brings us to the first thing you MUST learn to do if you ever hope to be full time in your music ministry.
Charge a fee.
First of all, I already know every one of the 10 or 20 things that just ran through your mind when I said that. I know the culture in our churches and the unwillingness some people have to pay. I know that many people still see it as wrong for a believer to even ask. I’m not here to defend or debate any of that, only to point out a few things that I hope will give you a different perspective.
1. Love offerings does not a full time income make. You can’t live off love offerings. Besides, if we’re going to get technical here, love offerings are against the law last I heard. But that’s another subject.
2.If you believe God is calling you to full time ministry, then you must believe He has thousands of people earmarked for your gift to bless. If you believe that, then you have a moral obligation to charge for your services. As obvious as this may sound, if you don’t charge for your services you can never expect to grow your ministry past occasional engagements for love tokens. That means that you’ll never walk into what you believe God has called you to do.
Treat it like a business.
Another one sure to leave a bad taste in the mouths of many, but no less true. Contrary to popular belief, a ministry can be a business. And a successful one has to be. And any business owner will tell you that no business will ever be a success without investing money into it. You must invest first in yourself. Your craft. So that when you do charge you don’t have to do it in some shy, apologetic way. Every serious singer should be taking vocal lessons. Every serious musician should be constantly honing his craft.
But it goes way beyond that. Every business needs paying customers. And to get them the business owner must do marketing. I had to learn myself though, that marketing is a learned skill. Too many of us just throw ideas against the wall and see if anything sticks. I did it for years. But I finally had to realize that I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
When I set out to find that out, things started coming to me that seemed to be just what I need. I heard one business coach say “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”. And I certainly found that to be true.
Look, I know the thought of all this is overwhelming. It is for most believers who want to do something real with their ministry. To touch more lives on a bigger scale and still keep it all about God. After all, that’s the real reason most Christian artists avoid doing those two things, isn’t it? And that’s why many of us hesitate to ask for a fee or market ourselves. True enough, you can’t go out there as an unknown just starting out and expect to command a fee. You definitely will need to do many free engagements, participate in local events that invite local artists, build a reputation and a following.
But the first step to growth in your ministry is to get rid of the belief that it is somehow wrong for you to promote yourself and treat your ministry as a business. You need to understand that this is not only ok but something you MUST do in order to achieve your primary goal, which is to minister to God’s people on a bigger scale. If you really feel called to this then failing to do so is really depriving many people of your ministry that may have otherwise been touched by it.
Growth on that scale will come with operating costs that must be met regularly, or you can’t continue to minister. This simply can’t be done depending on the occasional love offering.
I won’t pretend the process is easy though. Or immediate. You’ll need to really do some research and learn a lot about marketing. You’ll need to be out there in front of people performing a lot more often; many times for free as you build a reputation and a following. You’ll need to find groups and organizations that help people like you with the process of growing their ministry.
But the first step to doing anything full time in ministry is to get rid of old beliefs we’ve all grown up hearing and accepting as truth. Ministry, in order to be effective and reach the masses, must incur expenses, and those expenses must be paid in order for you to continue to minister to more and more of God’s people. Ministry and business can and must co-exist. And if you want to do ministry full time you’ll need to get very good at finding a healthy balance between both.