Music and the Pastor

Pastors often spend a great deal of time studying the Bible.  In seminary (and for some, pre or post-seminary), they learn the biblical languages.  They read lots of books on lots of ministry related topics.  You can identify a church planter when you see a bunch of church planting books on his shelf, the counselor will have lots of counseling books, the small group leader will have books on community, and the missionary will have more than a few books on evangelism and mission work.  Most pastors read up on many topics to remain well-rounded and have a good understanding of the wide range of ministry areas within the Church.  I tend to be this kind of pastor and a cursory look at my library supports my argument.  So now I've picked up a guitar.

It would be unfortunate if anybody got the wrong idea here.  First, I am not called to be a worship leader or play on a worship team.  I am not gifted in music.  I'm not looking to play the guitar like a champ.  I'm only hoping to gain a very basic understanding of music.  I'd also like, at some point, to play music with my family so we can enhance our worship together at home or around a campfire.  And maybe in a real pinch, I could play some D, C, and G chords or something at a small gathering where worship is required but there really isn't anybody to play an instrument (but I'm a long way from this being a possibility).  Second, I found my acoustic Squire (by Fender) parlor guitar at a garage sale for $10.  I put new strings on it and have done what could be done to adjust the action, but that's about it.  (It's pictured in this post.)

Completely lost, I quickly found help as I reached out to our worship pastor and a worship intern for a little guidance.  Both of these guys were thrilled to offer advice, and having a guitar in my hands seemed to serve as a miraculous bridge between a stuffy preacher and an artsy musician.  We were almost communicating in the same language, if only for a moment. 

One of our Sunday morning worship guitarists, Scott Graves, is the owner of On Track Music Guitar School in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He and I met and I began my journey on the Scott Graves Guitar Method.  It's humbling, but also rather enjoyable to be learning the basic foundations of playing the guitar.  Callouses rapidly formed on my fingers and rattly fret sounds soon started sounding like chords and even chord changes.  (At the time I wrote this post, I've figured out how to play two classic hymns: Amazing Grace and Rock of Ages.)  Relaxation from practice sessions at the end of long ministry day is enjoyable, and I often find that I practice for an hour or more without noticing the passing time. (Scott encouraged 20 minute sessions, but it's just too addicting.)

Thinking more about music and the amount of talent and giftedness among our worship team, I've discovered a growing appreciation for our musicians and singers.  Too often, preachers take the musicians for granted--myself included.  This may be in part because of a lack of awareness.  So just as a pastor or preacher takes time to learn the various aspects associated with ministry, he or she should make an effort to learn a little more about music, even if only with a $10 garage sale guitar.  And if time is available, lessons could really enhance the preacher's ability to contribute to services as needed.  How many times does a pastor or chaplain hoping to have some worship and an atypical event struggle to find a musician to help?  How valuable might it be if the preacher could, in a pinch, lead worship too?  I'm sure if I stick with Scott Graves and the On Track Music Guitar School for even a little while, I'll be capable to help out at men's retreats, outdoor prayer services, family camps, or other special events. I might not be gifted in music, but then again, God is not always looking for a rock star.