Where are the musicians?: 3 things the PCA needs to start a cross-cultural worship reformation

“We need a music person”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard this from a church planter or a smaller church that’s entering into cross-cultural ministry. They come to me in hopes that I have a clone or some super-skilled person who just happens to be out of work. However, the musicians are not out there in my denomination because we have a low view of worship music, we are not equipping them with the skills that they need, and we are not giving them the incentive to go into church music.

1. Reform our perspective on worship

“The problem with our denomination is that they don’t believe that music in worship can be transformational.” That’s how the problem was put to me last week from a friend who was expressing her frustration with the lack of interest in the PCA with supporting worship musicians. I am blessed to be part of a PCA church that supports my full-time salary and that has invested in worship because they believe in its function in the worship service to be transformational. Especially in a cross-cultural church, the music plays a role of building a community, of teaching our hearts and minds the values of the kingdom, and of inviting us to sing along with the worship song of all creation.

2. Training and experience

I have heard from many church planters who have no musicians at all. If they have a musician, that person is completely unprepared to handle cross-cultural music. If they have a musician who is prepared for cross-cultural music, that person is usually not spiritually prepared to lead a worship service or team. We need to begin to train leaders to be musically and spiritually prepared to become the future worship musicians for the cross-cultural ministries that are being planted today.

3. Full-time employment

After that person is trained and experienced to lead, we need to be able to give them a job. I knew of several musicians who have completed their training only to find that all the offers they get from churches are for volunteer positions or maybe part-time roles. I realize that it’s very expensive to pay someone a full-time salary with benefits, but how can we ask someone who has studied and trained for years to become skilled in their field to work for free. Maybe we need to find ways to give musicians multiple jobs skills (graphic design or web site management) in order to give the church more services for the cash, or we need to find businesses in our communities that will work with the church to give the musician a part-time job to combine with their role at the church until the church grows to the point that it can support a full-time position. Churches need to be willing to invest in the music –especially cross-cultural ministries – because you will be waiting a long time for a super-skilled, financially independent musician to walk in your church and volunteer. Side note: I believe that one full-time, spiritually mature musician who is working to organize and empower the volunteers will far exceed the fruit from a crew of part-time, non-Christian pros.

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  1. #1 by Mark W on August 7, 2013 - 3:32 pm

    Are you saying that we need to financially support a leader, or the musicians? If the leader, then I agree, but if you have to pay musicians for a church service, then something’s wrong. Maybe at a megachurch, but that’s a whole ‘nother set of issues.

    I haven’t heard this at New City, but at somes previous churches they were all into “excellence.” Sure, do your best, but if God needs us all to be pros then he has a problem. The problem with trying to use entertainment to draw them is that the world can do entertainment a lot better, and you don’t have to get up Sunday morning to see it. I know you aren’t advocating that. You are right that worship music deserves time and resources, but if our best realistic effort isn’t good enough for people, then maybe they really aren’t interested in what we have.

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