Choosing Team Members

Featuring Heath Jarvis Posted on June 4, 2008

Choosing people to minister in music is one of the most controversial of issues in music ministry.  There are those that believe that anyone who expresses a desire to minister should be granted that privilege.  Others contend that people need to prove themselves worthy of the position they are in.  It is an age-old discussion that quite often leads to hurt feelings, bruised egos, and even strife, disunity and church splits!

I believe that the most important thing to consider is the overall picture.  Is the person you are considering for ministry ultimately going to bring ministry to the congregation?  Or will it perhaps be more of a ministry to the person than the rest of the church?  We must make decisions with the needs of the congregation in mind.

I'm sure you've seen this situation before...a person gets up to sing a song and they totally butcher it.  They sing off key, they have terrible intonation, the congregation squirms almost throughout the whole song.  But the person singing is having the time of their life.  They are pouring their heart out into the music they are singing.  This is a situation where the song became more of a ministry to the person singing than to the congregation.

Some churches have a policy of allowing anyone to minister from the platform.  I believe that this policy is not biblical.  The Bible says that David "appointed" people to minister in the tabernacle.  If they were appointed, it means that there must have been some sort of screening, some way of determining whether or not someone was capable of ministry.  David was a skilled musician who knew the importance of excellence in ministry.  He must have taken that into consideration when appointing musicians and singers.

"But that was the Old Testament...", you may say, "...we live under grace now."  We don't live by performance and works like they did under the Old Covenant."  That is true, but even in the New Testament Paul spells out to Timothy the requirements for different ministry offices.  Paul understood that there are certain qualifications that people should meet if they are to be effective as ministers.

I know that this is one of the most difficult parts of being a leader in ministry.  But we have to understand that what we do as ministers needs to be effective and purpose-driven.  We are not up there just to sing songs or to be seen by others.  We are there to provide ministry to the congregations we stand before every week.  And we should realize that certain things will add to or take away from the effectiveness of our ministries.  Lack of excellence is one of the things that will take away from the effectiveness of your ministry.

Let's look at a few examples of good qualities in singers and musicians:

  • Maturity - A congregation will not take an immature person (either spiritually or personality-wise) seriously.  People who are young in the Lord should take some time to grow in the Lord before they attempt a ministry position.  But even some people who have been saved for years may need to grow up before they are going to be taken seriously in ministry.

  • Faithfulness - If a person does not take their position seriously enough to at least show up for services and practices consistently and on time, they don't deserve to be there.  They have proven that they don't take you seriously as a leader and that they don't value the privilege they have of ministering to your congregation either.  Ability should always be out-weighed by availability.

  • Talent - The candidate should possess enough ability to render their ministry effectively to the congregation.  Otherwise they are wasting everybody's time.  Remember, it's all about ministry, not about appeasing the candidate...and certainly not about singing on a stage and being seen by everyone!

If a person is lacking in one or more of these qualities, it may just mean that you need to spend some time with them to help them reach their potential.  On the other hand, it may mean that they should be working in the nursery instead of music ministry.  Learn how to tell the difference, and learn how to successfully handle these situations without hurting people too badly.  Yes, their ego might end up a little bruised, but if you explain everything to them in a mature and sensible manner (and back yourself up with the Word), you should be able to get away without making them upset, angry, or hurt.  And if they still do get upset, angry, or hurt, chances are they weren't mature enough to do it anyway.

As I have said before in other situations, make sure you and your pastor are in agreement regarding this issue.  Talk to your pastor.  Find out exactly what he expects from his platform.  Also, he may know how to handle certain people in your church better than you do.  If you are concerned about how to deal with a specific issue or a specific person, ask your pastor.  Good communication is the key to successful ministry.  Everyone needs to be on the same page.  The right hand needs to know what the left hand is doing.  There must be unity in leadership.

Speaking of communication, make sure that your team knows exactly what you expect of them.  As always, it's a good idea to back yourself up with the Word of God.  People can't argue with the Bible.  Let your team know your goals, your vision, your aspiration, and your requirements.  I strongly suggest using Music Department Guidelines.  Sit down with your pastor and put together some guidelines for conduct, attendance, punctuality, dress, etc. or come up with your own and have your pastor "ratify" them.  Type them up and hand them out to your team.  Remind them of the importance of ministerial excellence, and how excellence will help you meet your goals as a team, and how it will make you more effective as a ministry.  Like I said before, it's all about ministry!

Tags: ,