Sing Unto the Lord


When to fire your music team
March 31, 2008, 9:35 am
Filed under: Thinking Music

I had a friend talk to me on the weekend and he said that in his experience the area of church life that has given the most grief is the music team. The music team can be full of arrogance, pride, selfishness, bitterness, angst and divisiveness. Often when music is pushed to do well it means that musos get cut who aren’t good enough and that causes pastoral issues, or musos get put on who are great but full of themselves and that creates a music team full of glory-seekers.

In his mind, it’s not essential in the Bible to have a music team so lets just get rid of it. I actually agree with him.

Sort of.

I think that a music team can lead your people to sin more than to be joyful in Christ. They can cause fractiousness and gossip and resentment quicker than it takes a celebrity to get of jail. There is no where in the New Testament that says such a team needs to exist. In fact you could argue that the music team that is there in the old testament is, like the rest of the priesthood, now found within each member of Christ’s body and fulfilled in Jesus himself. We don’t need a special group to run our singing. It doesn’t need to be world class. It isn’t a sin to have bad music. Perhaps you need to drop your music team.

But…

A more ideal situation would be to have a music team that loves Jesus and his people more than themselves. I personally would cut someone who was obviously self seeking before I cut someone who couldn’t sing. Nothing kills music teams more than fights. Music teams fight because we are involved in art. Artists generally have the tendency to put their ego and sense of self on the line with their art. It is a very ‘self revealing’ role. However this approach is not acceptable in a church context. Your ‘art’ is not yours to give. You are serving your church. As you sing together, a song becomes a joint offering of worship from the whole congregation. So often we are taught as church musicians that we are bringing our talents to be our worship to God. That’s individualist crap.

You are using the gifts that God has graciously given you to serve his people in joining together and firing each other up to live lives of magnification and worship. That means that if it doesn’t serve the church for you to play a certain way… don’t do it. If it doesn’t serve church for you to play at all, then listen to your team leader for advice and maybe you should serve elsewhere. Church music is about church. Not about individuals wanting to do ‘their bit for God’.

This is why I like the idea of Bands rather than a team. People already understand some of this thinking when they are in a band. They get that they aren’t individuals. They work together. They arrange together to get the best result as a band. As soon as one member is keen to express themselves contrary to the way the band is heading, they come into trouble.

The model of a Music team as opposed to a few bands encourages people to do their own thing. They are on the roster with different people all the time and so a ‘every man for themselves’ philosophy can take root. Our church has just moved to having bands right across morning and evening congregations. The results have been amazing. People are working together in a way they never have before. I’m excited also by my friend’s experience.

Like I said before he had felt like it wasn’t worth having music in church because it caused too many problems, but now he said that at the church he is at the music works on a band structure. There are three smaller bands instead of one massive crew. He said that the music has been sweet and conflict has been absent. I’d encourage you to start thinking about the structure of your team and how you can be working to debunk individualism within music ministry. It can be a fantastic tool in gathering together. It would be a shame to have to get rid of it because of sin.

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5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Nice ones Dan… good post.

Comment by Sam

Yeh some humbling stuff in there.

This move toward more of a band structure has got me thinking of what the place of the song leader is? Should they have less of a leading role?

Comment by Max

We have tried both formats at my prev church. I think the band approach has the advantages of building consistancy and community, though it can also discourage relationships with the guys in other bands.

Comment by Jeff A

What about if we just get a karaoke machine full of all the church songs? 😛

Comment by Luke

Hey Dan,
as one of those involved, can I express the Blessing that this move has been.
However (and there is always one of those, isn’t there? ;’) I think that while we have a “band structure”, we also need to ensure that we don’t sink into a rigid “Band-A, Band-B, Band-C” and these are the same forever and a day.
I want to play with the other musos, because that is a way I have found to ‘hone my skills’ – or maybe it’s just me rubbing the others ‘the wrong way’ :’)
So, I hope that once the current roster completes, we will be “mixed up” and new Band combo’s formed.
IHS,
.h

Comment by harrywwc




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