This question was sent to me a while ago, but is relevant to many of us.
“What do you think of asking music team members to adhere to stricter/higher personal standards re: dress, devotional life, testimony, etc than members of other “teams” in the church because of the public, “up front” nature of the work?”
Serving in the church of Jesus Christ is always a privilege. “The greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Mt. 23:11) While there are many ways to serve “behind the scenes” in the church, the music team isn’t one of them. For that reason, I think holding musicians to higher personal standards is wise for at least two reasons.
First, the maturity of those on the team affects the church. Throughout Scripture, those who lead are held to a stricter standard for character (Titus 1:5-9, 1 Tim. 3:2-12, James 3:1). Whether someone is actually speaking or not, their presence in front of the congregation week after week implies that their life is worthy of emulation – not perfect, but showing evidences of the Gospel’s fruit in their lives. Our heart for God’s glory should be seen not only when we sing on Sundays, but in the way we relate to our spouse, children, friends, and others. Otherwise it’s easy for the church to think worship is more about singing than the way we live. If a leader learns that one of the musicians is living in unrepentant sin, they should either speak to them personally, or ask a pastor to get involved. If there’s no change, the member should be taken off the team, and helped in the process of Gospel-motivated sanctification. The goal is not simply keeping the team “pure,” but helping every member of the church grow into maturity in Christ.
Second, members of the team affect other members. If one of your musicians is given making divisive comments, or often complains, or engages in self-promotion, it will weaken the unity of the group. I remember trying to keep a guitar player on the team who consistently struggled with receiving correction and wanting to be used more. Rehearsals were a challenge, and we had numerous painful conversations. In hindsight, it would have served him and the other musicians if I had taken him off the team until his heart was in a better place.
It’s wise to make standards and expectations for heart and behavior clear before someone joins the team. When I first came to my current church eight years ago, I took time to set clear standards for participation. We revisit that every few years for the sake of new members who have been added. It’s always easier to remind someone of what you’ve already told them, than to think they’ll adhere to unspoken expectations.
You can e-mail any questions regarding music and worship in the church to email@example.com.
May you find joy in God’s relentless grace today.
[You can view Part 2 of this post here.]