Someone recently sent me this question: Can you share your standards for those who participate “up front” on Sunday mornings?
After my last post on this topic, Matt Blick wondered if a list of standards would even be helpful. He wrote, “Lists are not as helpful as developing relationships which are open to challenges on character issues no matter how small. Sometimes it’s just a comment or attitude you want to query that’s often hard to pin a commandment on! To which I say, AMEN! Rules without relationship usually results in rebellion, whether you’re leading a group of musicians or your own children!
However, with that understood, it helps to have an idea of what standards we’re expecting our musicians to fulfill as part of the team. Here’s a list we came up with a while back, with comments. We haven’t shared this with our team in one setting, although these standards have been communicated along the way in various meetings.
We start with our mission as a team. Our mission is to 1) demonstrate a devotion to God’s glory in Christ in our daily lives; 2) joyfully and skillfully serve the congregation under the direction of the congregational worship leader; 3) value the varied giftings and contributions of each member of the team; and 4) embrace opportunities for incorporating and training others.
Those who serve on the Sunday music team must:
1. Be members of Covenant Life Church, actively involved in a care group. Every member of the church is already expected to be an active part of a small group. This simply reminds musicians that the music team isn’t primarily responsible for their souls and encouraging them in their walk with God.
2. Be in agreement with the doctrines and practices of Covenant Life Church. This hasn’t ever been an issue for us, but we thought it was important enough to include as an expectation for those who serve the church publicly.
3. Be growing in their knowledge of and love for God through the consistent practice of the spiritual disciplines, especially the study of God’s Word and prayer. We want to head off the impression that “worship” is only about what we do on Sunday mornings or in front of other people.
4. Be able to genuinely and visibly engage with God as they lead others in corporate worship. At some point I’ll share more detailed thoughts on God’s desires regarding expression in congregational worship. Briefly, external expression is both commanded and exemplified in Scripture (Ps. 95, 2 Chron. 7:3); external expression without heart engagement (unless done as means to stir up faith) is unacceptable to God (Mt. 15:8-9); external expression without loving acts in life is hypocritical (Amos 5:23-24); and wisdom and love should characterize all our discussions in this area. Having said that, we desire to have people up front who are evidently engaging with God through the lyrics they’re singing. Their faces should be radiant! (Ps. 34:5)
5. Be devoted to exemplifying humble servanthood. This will be reflected in seeking out and receiving input from others, valuing the varied giftings and contributions of others on the team, and joyfully accepting changing roles and seasons of service. We regularly communicate to our group that no one has a lifetime membership card to the music team. God moves people in and out of ministries for different reasons, and we want to be the first ones to welcome role changes that enable us and others to serve God’s people more effectively.
6. Faithfully and punctually attend required meetings and rehearsals. While exceptions are made, generally the only people who play/sing at an event are the ones who were at the rehearsals. The exceptions are granted when the excuse is legitimate, the person has sufficient musical gifting, and they don’t assume rehearsals are optional.
7. Be committed to growing in their musical skill. Being on the music team is an opportunity to grow, not a sign that I’ve arrived. Those who play by ear can learn to read notes. Those who never play scales and start practicing them. We want to grow in our skill not for the sake of impressing, but for the sake of having more tools to serve others with.
8. Willingly communicate to the appropriate pastor any circumstances, responsibilities, or patterns of sin that might affect the integrity of their participation on the team. It’s the music team member’s responsibility to let the leader know if there are any reasons they shouldn’t be held up as an example to others. Of course, if someone’s sin is obvious, we should lovingly, biblically, and firmly talk to them about stepping down from the team and pursuing help to change. Leading a team of musicians can be a challenging, fulfilling, time-consuming, and inspiring task. If you’re in that position, may God give you grace to lead effectively, wisely, and faithfully for the glory of our Savior.
Thanks for posting these. I agree with the need to be careful about referring to our standards as “rules,” which may produce mere external conformity. Yet having nothing articulated can lead to sloppiness, inconsistency, and confusion. We have communicated ours as “expectations,” which, like the word “standards,” communicates the fact that the ministry of leading our congregation in worship is one in which we bear personal responsibility and accountability before God and his people.