In our worship ministry, there has been much talk of how the congregation will “ruin” the way a song is sung, so why make too much of an attempt to teach it correctly? Just last week I heard one of our youngest musicians (who is not even that formally trained) say the same thing in relation to a new song we were learning. I was sorry to see this transferring from one generation to the next. Do you have helpful wisdom to change this?
Let me begin by saying that this way of thinking is no different than if the pastor was to say, “The people never actually end up doing what I say in the sermon anyhow, so I’ll just not put much effort into my sermons anymore.” That focus is all wrong. Of course we hope and pray that our ministry will impact the hearts and lives of people. However, that’s not our primary motivation. The Bible tells us that we’re to do all that we do “to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) All that we do is done to honor the Lord. Can we truly honor God with a half-hearted effort? Of course not. From a musical perspective, Psalm 33:3 says that we should “play skillfully.” To really do this, we’re going to need to work at it and do our best.
Further, I’d like you to consider something that perhaps you have not thought about before. As a teacher, if I desire to move people from Point A to Point B, I cannot just talk about Point B. You see, Point B looks much more attainable after I’ve told them about Points C, D, E, F and G. Suddenly, Point B, that had looked like a big leap, doesn’t look nearly as distant. The same is true in our music. If you’re doing the best you can and the people still don’t seem to quite get the song, what would happen if you slacked off? I would suggest that if the musicians do a half-hearted job with the music, the congregation would lose all motivation for working any harder to get it musically correct.
Finally, this entire scenario scares me because it creates an “us vs. them” mentality. This is clearly wrong. When we begin to view the congregation as our opposition we’ve missed the whole point of what we’re doing. Our job is not to deride those good-for-nothing people out there, but to lead them—our brothers and sisters in Christ—in worship of Almighty God. Instilling the “us vs. them” way of thinking into the next generation is a very dangerous thing indeed.
Share these thoughts with your musicians. Instill in them a new resolve to do their best, not just for the folks in the pews, but for the glory of God!