Updated: Oct 22, 2022
November 9, 2021
Hidden talents often sit on the church pew week after week, yet no one knows these “secret agent” musicians are even musical. Tremendous, potential blessings reside in these talented and often hesitant musicians, and God is just waiting to use them. I believe several reasons keep hesitant musicians from serving the Lord in music ministry.
First, fear of exposing oneself keeps these musicians from using their talents for God. Perhaps these dear people feel they are not “good enough” to play in church and the “really talented” people are the ones who should be performing. God is pleased to use anyone who is willing to give his talents back to God, and God has an appropriate place of service for each person. Perhaps your proficiency level is not quite ready to play in front of the entire church, but God can still use you! Find an older saint who would love to hear you play some hymns, or play hymns for your family at home. Playing in a group at church with more seasoned musicians will not only boost your confidence but also develop your skill level as you learn from more advanced players.
Second, laziness keeps some musicians from contributing to the church music ministry. Practicing for a solo or special does take work, and some people are just not willing to put forth the effort to serve. Many large churches have already established programs with musicians who have been contributing for decades, and even talented musicians feel little compulsion to contribute. The area of the country I live in is saturated with talented church musicians, many of whom have their college and even master’s degrees in music, yet they sit on the pews week after week doing nothing for God. Many smaller churches all across America are starving for musical talent, and these precious churches would be thrilled to have someone who could play a simple hymn from the hymnal. What a waste for these highly trained musicians to hide their talents when so many churches are in dire need of help! Perhaps the Lord may be calling you to serve in a smaller church with no established music ministry.
Third, well-established music ministries sometimes do not afford organic growth. Some churches are so established in their routines, musicians, etc. that there is little room for new or learning musicians; this scenario can be a true discouragement to musicians who want to serve God but there seems to be no vacancy in the schedule. I can think of one such sad scenario. My sister-in-law loves to play her violin and desired to join the orchestra of a large church, but the orchestra director told her there was no room for her (which was really just an excuse on the part of the director). My sister-in-law is now happily using her skills elsewhere, but I believe that orchestra director grieved the heart of God by refusing to allow participation. If you are encountering a similar situation, may I encourage you that God may be preparing you to serve in a smaller church that would love to use your talents? Our pastor had been praying for a young couple to join the church, and little did we know that God would open so many doors of ministry for us at our current church. What a blessing to see God use our gifts and allow us to be an answer to prayer!
Though the reasons for not participating in church music ministries can be numerous, I believe there are at least four positive reasons for musicians to contribute heartily in a church music ministry.
First, participating in a music ministry allows musicians to “offer the sacrifice of praise to God” (Hebrews 13:15). More than anything, God desires true praise and humble worship from His people, and musicians have the blessed privilege of directing hearts to God through right music. Our music should be an outworking of gratitude in our hearts for all that God has done for us. Godly music also extols the very character of God and brings Him the glory due to His name.
Second, participating in the church music ministry impacts the next generation of church musicians. By participating in my church’s music ministry, I can set a godly example for young people and encourage them to learn instruments and use their music for God. Christian churches around the globe desperately need trained musicians with a surrendered heart for God, and mature musicians can have a tremendous impact on the next generation of church musicians by encouraging and teaching them.
Third, participating in the church music ministry keeps musical skills sharp. Though the first two afore-mentioned reasons are the purest in motive, there are always positive personal benefits for serving the Lord. Actively participating in a church music ministry is a fantastic way to keep musical skills sharp despite the busyness of life. For many musicians, the busyness of adult life replaces practice time, and many musicians barely pick up their instruments anymore. The long, yet rewarding practice hours of the high school and college days are now replaced with changing diapers, cleaning, cooking, or going to a stressful full-time job. Participation in church music ministry forces practicing which keeps fingers and muscles limber, and learning new music can also build upon current skillsets.
Fourth, participating in the church music ministry gives a musical goal to work towards. If you are like me, I enjoy practicing towards a goal, specifically a performance opportunity. By signing up for an offertory or volunteering to accompany a soloist, I have the privilege of learning new music which gives life to my practice times. Practicing with no goal in mind is often unproductive, but a future goal gives me new music to learn and something to anticipate.
If you have been hesitant to use your musical gifts for God, I hope that you are encouraged to seek opportunities to serve the Lord through music! If you play the violin, may I recommend my simple and enjoyable arrangement of Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners? This arrangement can also be played at Christmastime as Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus which is more bang for your buck.