Category Archives: Uncategorized

When the Answer is No

No is one of my least favorite words. While I do not enjoy its implications, I realize that it is sometimes necessary to say. There are times that life simply does not allow another project to be added to my plate. I also accept that the word “no” is powerful and is the right of every individual to chose what they will be involved in.

Anyone working in ministry of any type must learn how to respond when the answer is “no.” As a new season of work begins for me, I have been fortunate to hear quite a few positive answers. I have also been told no. How I respond to the negative and the positive will have a direct impact on the effectiveness of my ministry and my relations with those I serve. Here are a few points that I am trying to remember as I hear “no's” this season.

It's not personal. When people say that are unable to assist or participate, it's not something that should be taken personally. In many ways, it should be seen as a sign of respect. They are not committing to doing something now that they may have to recant later.

It's not permanent. All answers will not be “no” from this individual from now until the end of eternity. When circumstances change, the individual will more than likely be excited to participate. However, I must admit that when I hear “no” consistently from an individual, I am less likely to ask them to join in on a project until they tell me they want to be involved.

It's not something I can change. Even if I see how this project can be beneficial in so many ways to their personal development, no amount of comment on my part is going to change their response. Rather than focusing on the negative answer, I must learn to focus on those who have responded positively and move forward.

It's not a reflection on my effectiveness in ministry. I have struggled with this one over the years. It becomes very easy to listen to the deceitful voices that tell me I have missed God's direction if others are not willing to follow my leadership and that my ministry is ineffective. When projects REPEATEDLY result in failure, it is a good idea to evaluate the mission statement of your ministry and how it aligns with that of the local congregation. Nevertheless, everyone will face challenges where plans will fall through. If they didn't, we wouldn't be human and would have no need for divine direction. When projects fail, take the time to reflect and learn a lesson, but don't throw in the towel! Your ministry's effectiveness is not determined by man and will not be judged by the Heavenly Father based on a single success or failure.

As you begin a new season of ministry, determine that you are going to focus on the positive and walk in confidence of what God is leading you to do. Don't allow yourself to be distracted by negative responses to your requests for help. The One who planted the vision within your heart will also be the One who will bring it to pass in His perfect time for the development of His kingdom.


Easter is Here

 Well, Easter is not ACTUALLY here yet, but most of us in worship ministry have begun making plans for the Easter season.  Depending upon your rehearsal schedule, some have already started working on the Easter cantata;  I’ll conduct my first rehearsal of the season this Wednesday evening.

Since I have a seasonal choir only — coming together for Easter and/or Christmas — I have spent much of the week praying for the singers who will join me and getting the word out through Facebook, bulletin announcements, and letters.  I have a number of singers in mind that I would like to see in the choir and I’ve done as much as I can to make it happen.  Now I simply watch God work things out for His ultimate glory.

This year, I have several young ladies between the ages of 12 and 15 who enjoy singing, but have never experienced singing in an organized group.  A few of them read notation; others have no formal training at all.  I have invited these girls to sing in the choir this year and am working on developing a mentorship program that will connect these young people with established members of the music ministry.  I’ll definitely have to let you know how that goes.

Like many seasonal choirs, I have gaps in certain sections of my choir. I have very few sopranos and basses.  That means I have to spend a lot of time searching for a work that is pleasant to sing and listen to that has a limited range.  Normally, I’m not terribly satisfied with my options, but this year I was pleasantly surprised to find Grace in All Its Glory.  This musical from Camp Kirkland features settings of traditional hymns (including O Sacred Head Now Crowned with Thorns) as well as works from the southern Gospel and contemporary praise and worship genres.  The soprano line never extends above the top of the clef and  rarely settles in the upper tessitura. With lots of doubling and unison lines, Kirkland’s musical is easily assessible by virtually any choir.

Now that the choral selections are made, it is time to begin focusing on the new music I will introduce into corporate worship during the Lent season to prepare out hearts and minds for the celebration of Easter.  More on that next week.  In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your Easter plans.  What cantata is on the agenda this year?  Have you found a great song to teach the congregation? 


Totally Devoted

 Worship leaders find themselves extremely busy each week as they prepare for the Sunday services.  Song selection, finalizing keys and instrumentation, and rehearsals dominate the early part of the week.  As the week continues, we oversee projection, make final adjustments to our chord charts, rehearse some more, and communicate final details with the senior pastor as well as the members of our team.  We are so devoted to making the music as excellent as it can possibly be that I sometimes fear we forget to devote our hearts totally to the One to whom we are singing.  At least, I know I have been guilty in the past.

During the first 21 days of the New Year, my church has called its members around the world to a time of seeking and recommitment.  As part of this call, members were encouraged to participate in some sort of fast during this time.  Fasting, though not a popular topic or discipline, is an essential way of bringing our will in line with the will of the Father.  Fasting can be so much more than food…..and that was important for me to understand.  While I “knew” this fact to be true intellectually, I had never really participated in an extended fast.  

I don’t believe it is necessary to tell you how I fasted or how long I did it;  the point is not to proclaim my accomplishments.  The outcome of the fast in my life is much more important.  While I eliminated things from my life as a sacrifice of praise to my Father, He drew me to Himself and spoke directly to my heart through His Word and His Spirit.   I don’t think I will ever be the same again!  

Am I perfect?  Not by a long shot…..I’m still a work in progress…….but I am actively pursuing a life that will be more and more like Christ everyday.  Man’s opinion is mattering less and less to me; I want Him to find pleasure in my worship and my life.  And I’m taking comfort in the words found in Deuteronomy 31:6:  “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.  He will not leave you or forsake you.”  Now THAT’S what I call a promise to depend on!

I’m looking forward to a wonderful day tomorrow filled with worship of my resurrected King!  I pray that you are blessed as you lead your congregation in worship and that all of our songs rise to the Father as sweet praise that His Spirit will inhabit. 


New Year, New Songs

Another year has arrived.  Resolutions and planning abound.  As we make plans and resolutions for the new year, it can be easy to forget our role in ministry as we resolve, plan, and dream.  This week, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I want to do better this year as a music minister.
There are goals that address needed improvements in the technological issues of the worship service.  Many of these have already begun to be implemented….and I’ll keep you updated on those in a future post.  I also want to improve the offerings for involvement in the music ministry by a larger segment of the congregation.  As a result, I plan to present an Easter cantata this year after several years of hiatus.
The goal that will prove to be most challenging for me is including more “new” music in the worship service.  Just the idea of adding “new” music is riddled with challenges.  How does one find the best new music in the enormous praise and worship market?  While there is something to be said for finding out what other churches are singing, it is important to remember that each congregation has a unique DNA.  Just because a song is a stirring anthem for one worship setting does not mean it will fit another church’s needs.  There is no easy way to plow through the music to find the one that will speak to the local body of believers while successfully blending with the current musical landscape of the group.
Once you finally find the song, then comes the process of either finding the scores (which can be more difficult that you might imagine) or creating an original chord chart.  That leads us to teaching the choir and/or praise team the song before introducing it to the congregation.  It’s a never-ending process…..daunting, yes;  but also rewarding and what we are called to do as ministers of music.
My senior pastor is planning on preaching sermon series throughout the year that will last roughly 4-5 weeks.  What an opportunity to assist his ministry by including a new song that is relevant to each series!  That is my goal for the year 2012.  The challenges I face are getting a handle on his plans far enough in advance to research songs, get music, and teach it to everyone involved.  The rewards……are beyond anything I can imagine.  This is where hearing the voice of God as I seek His will in all aspects of the ministry will be crucial.  Pray for me as I begin this journey.
What’s the last new song you taught your congregation?  I’m always looking for ideas…..