Music Makes the People Come Together

Introduction. Of the non-essential to salvation matters where Christians disagree, the type and style of music in the Church for worship (or otherwise) has been a hot topic, maybe in your church, the hottest. At times, this disagreement settles down and at other times, it surfaces with a roar. Fights develop over questions like hymns or contemporary music style. Organ or drums; how big should the choir be, if there should be one; to what extent should the lyrics be evaluated theologically; at what level should the volume be set; how many songs; when; how much music; who is qualified to lead the choir or band? Sadly, these matters have split churches and fractured fellowship among communities of believers. These disagreements however, do not negate the fact that Paul told the Ephesians not to get drunk but instead, “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18b-20, ESV, italics added for emphasis). Music is an important aspect of the Church, stirring hearts toward God to give thanks and praise. Therefore, a strong music ministry is a necessity for the local church.

What is Music Ministry and Why. In her song “Music,” Madonna sings, “It's like riding on the wind, and it never goes away. Touches everything I'm in, got to have it everyday. Music makes the people come together” (Madonna 2000). Although her secular song is about music, she still captures the power that music has to move us deeply in our souls and communicate a certain beauty between one another that is not easily shared in other forms. And in this way, people can communicate that moving beauty with God; while at the same time, the Holy Spirit can use music to stir our hearts and affections toward our Creator. (It is worth noting that because music does stir us so deeply, it also has the ability to stir other emotions and potentially turn us away from God, shifting our affection toward a false idol.)

A good music ministry helps bring people into a place where they can openly worship God. Hymns or songs can be selected to work in conjunction with the sermon or teaching. While the worshiper speaks to God through music, God also uses music to speak to the worshiper. In addition, music serves as a way to worship throughout daily activities, so teaching songs and hymns helps the congregation take their praise and thanksgiving everywhere, and into everything they do.

Typically, a music ministry leader will have a selection of songs that are used regularly. The lyrics may be projected on a screen or the printed in the program. If hymns are used, hymnals should be available. Some churches will print the lyrics of music into a booklet to simplify worship in settings were screens are not available, not necessary, or not wanted. And a music ministry affords people the opportunity to use their gifts and talents to play an instrument, sing, dance, run sound boards, or write songs.

A strong leader is necessary for music ministry. Partly because music is a powerful way that the gospel is ministered in the lives of both believers and non-believers, but also because the music ministry is an area where it seems everybody as an opinion and often wants it done their preferred way. Criswell says “Of course everybody will want the organ softer or louder. Everybody will want different music. The church that has a broad spectrum of music presented in its worship services will have all of the people quite happy most of the time (we hope!)” (Criswell 1980, 191). It is arguable that appeasing people to make them happy should not be a requirement of a music ministry, but Criswell is right in that there will be competing desires among the members of the church. Therefore, the leader of the music ministry needs to be capable of leading in such an environment.

Examples of Music Ministry. The most obvious example of music ministry is the leading of worship during corporate services, but there are other ways to use music ministry. Worship gatherings made up of a few local churches are one example. Having a concert and barbecue in the street is another. Some churches offer music workshops to children. And finally, incorporating other art forms with the music, such as dance, poetry, painting and sculpting, and theater can have a powerful impact on those coming together to worship. It is important however, that no matter what type of style of music, the music ministry serves to point to God, not to become the focal point of the worship. The band should be insignificant in light of the worship and the one being worshiped.

Criswell, W.A. Criswell's Guidebook for Pastors. Nashville, Tenn: Broadman Press, 1980.
Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzaï. 2000 Music. “Music.” Preformed by Madonna and others.
Warner Brothers. [CD, Track 1]. 

*Photo by Any Burnfield is registered under a Creative Commons License.