Questions & Answers with Music Pastors
How often do you meet with your pastor to review his vision for the church & how the music ministry can support & move that vision forward?
We meet every week. We discuss the weekend’s services, and what went right/what we could do better. We also talk about the position of the church, the music ministry and the music ministry’s role in the next step for the church. My pastor, Lawson Whitson, is a great communicator.
Aaron Underwood, Music Pastor, New Life Church of Jesus Christ, Concord, NC
Wow, what a question. since my dad and brother are my pastors I guess my situation is a little different. Being raised with the same pastor, values and views make it both easier and difficult. Because sometimes there are assumptions made on both sides. Our music program has been a training ground for young people which is a passion for our pastors. We have discussions about how music ministry is the visual part of the church but because the overall vision remains the established it's mostly tweaks. However as a staff we meet once a year when our pastor gives us specific direction for our ministries.
Also, I want to add, that I took this position from the greatest role model in Music Ministry and Prayer Leading one could ever ask for, my mother and pastor’s wife, Judy Doughty, I haven't had to do much but maintain her vision and continue investing in the next generation. Marlo Spidle, Minister of Music, Apostolic Center, Mattoon, IL.
Key ministry leaders (pastoral staff, student ministries, creative arts, multi-cultural ministries, guest services, community connections) meet every other month to discuss the vision of the church along with other important topics. We do this by asking questions such as, "What is your ministry's mission? How does this tie in with the overall vision of the church? What project(s) are you currently working on? What are your greatest obstacles? What can we do to help you?"
Chris Sims, Minister of Music, Apostolic Life, Urbana, IL
Because I am his wife, I kind of know what he wants for a service. We don't have "formal" meetings. I try to pay close attention to what's coming up & plan accordingly. If there's a special service with a particular theme, I'll look for something to go along with that whether it's a special song or a new worship song.
I'm sure that's not how most places do things - because it's not a family connection. Our former pastor - when I was music director was my brother-in-law. I've been blessed. I believe a lot of confusion & frustration can be eliminated (or at least lessened) if a person will just pay close attention to what's happening - what's on the schedule? What has the pastor been preaching lately? And if they will stay prayed up themselves!
Karla Holley, Worship Leader / Pastor’s Wife, Life Tabernacle, Wichita Falls, TX
We have a weekly meeting with Pastor Warman to go over "things". Then once a month all the department heads get together to discuss upcoming events and what everyone needs if it's their event. We have a monthly production meeting that includes media, sound, music, live stream, to go over any changes coming up, programs, etc.
Buffie Dumas, Minister of Music, The Apostolic Church of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI
My pastor and I meet about one to two times a year.
Lana Lyman, Minister of Music, Eastside Apostolic, Redmand, WA
Well I'm married to the Pastor! Our vision was knowing that music plays a huge part in what people feel when they come to church. So the worship at the beginning, song during prayer, song for the offering, 2 choir selections for Sunday services. I am adamant about having a choir Sunday Am & PM. We have Praise Singers that lead worship in addition to the choir. People love to sing, and having choirs and worship teams give people a chance to minister and be involved in the worship. People have told us over and over that the first time they ever visited our church, or even viewed us on live-stream, they loved the choir. We realize that if you are going to have a choir, you must have a strong leader, loyal to the Pastor. I am over all the music, but I have a Chorale Director, Youth Choir Director, Children's Choir Director, as well as a Director that helps me with my Choir. We always have goals to accomplish and practice new songs for Christmas, Easter, Pentecost Sunday, etc.
If we have invitations such as General Conference, Camp Meeting, District Conference, How Sweet The Sound, or other conferences such as Building the Bridge and Fueling the Fire, we work towards special songs and our sound. We may have Anniversary Service, Dedication service, All Nations Sunday, always gives us incentive. We have had special choir workshops with music ministers especially if we are hosting a big service. That way the guest choir leader teaches new songs and leads the music to free me up during these times. I also interject an old song, chorus, or hymn just to engage visitors. Such as a couple of Sundays ago, I sang "O Happy Day." The whole church was one big choir, and the visitors were singing and smiling. Music moves people. Music and worship gets people ready to receive The Word!
Alexa Olson, Music Pastor, The Pentecostals of Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL
One thing I can say about my pastor is that he does like communicating with his staff and wants details and options for any situation whether it’s about financial issues, event/service planning, or the spiritual condition of the church. How often we communicate is really determined on the time of the year and approaching deadlines to upcoming projects.
On average we do try to meet up at least once a week to have our Tuesday staff meeting. Most of the full time ministry tries to have a consistent time of rest so our first day back in the office is on Tuesday and that’s when we have a round table discussion about department progress. Sometimes the focus is on creative ministries that I oversee (lighting/media/music/av) and other times the focus is on other church related matters, again it just depends on what function of the church is considered priority at that time.
I have tried to do my best to really cater my communication in ways that the pastor prefers and learn to work around his work schedule. Every pastor that I have assisted has a different way of going about it so I never expect any two situations to be the same. It’s not uncommon for us not to meet in person to go over broad vision goals. Most of the time you catch it as he is speaking to the whole staff and he allows us the freedom to create how we interpret that vision.
Some pastors tend to be very specific in what their vision is for the music department. I have been blessed to have pastors in my life that all have a musical background of various degrees. In many ways it has helped me because they have a better understanding of why you may be asking for improvements in the music department or appreciate the people and the role the music department has on the health of the church. Other pastors tend to not be musically inclined so they rely more on your interpretation of the vision and goals for the church. I have found that each have their pro’s and con’s in terms of communication and as the MD part of the job is learning how to communicate back to your leaders/pastor.
In regards to how we help the pastor move his vision forward, I think it’s important to know where your pastor’s heart is. After hours of listen and watching my pastor I feel confident in saying that his main priorities for the church are
1. Everybody participates in worship.
2. New people are being trained for ministry.
3. That you connect with people on a personal level.
Overseeing our departments I try to keep this in mind and find ways to implement them.
However communication goes two ways so I have to make sure that I am prepared to communicate back to my pastor so that I’m ready to hear what he has to say and be sensitive to the leading of God’s spirit because your communication and relationship does have to ability to effect the whole church whether the congregation understand what’s going on or not. As a minister of music I constantly have to remind myself of a few things and I hope this helps someone.
1. It’s not your job to change your pastor and “fix” personality or leadership flaws. Just have a plan and way of getting the vision done.
2. Know that your called to ministry and when you don’t feel like going on because we all get frustrated, remember,… you’re called to be where your at and let God be in control.
3. Your pastor has a vision for the church and for your department and chances are you too will have a vision for your church and for your department. It is very possible that they may look very different and that is okay. But remember, you are there to support his vision first, and if you can find ways to insert your vision into the process, even better.
4. Be honest, be passionate, be respectful (always).
5. If you are using the church to build a name for yourself, you will always be frustrated. But if you are serving because you love people so much you want them to experience the same presence of God that you get to experience every day and use music as an expression of your praise and worship then you will meet your goals. Lead with love.
Every relationship is different, but if the relationship ever starts to feel strained, don’t lose all hope. Remember, like in any relationship, sometimes conflict can make it stronger…………… if you work through it. So no matter the problems or differences, communicate with your pastor and work through it.
Luis Lenzi, Worship Pastor, East Valley Pentecostal Church, San Jose, CA