Not all pastors are musicians, or musically inclined (gifted). As a result they may be tempted to hand over the reins of the music ministry to those who have the skills. This arrangement may work well if the leadership of the Praise Team is spiritually minded, understands the elements that constitute healthy congregational singing, and cooperate well with the pastoral leadership.
Difficulties can arise where this is not the case. In such circumstances the “non-musical” pastor may feel reluctant and unsure in how to bring about the desired change. In addition he may be faced with a popular musician/team. Because of his lack of expertise he is reluctant to “touch” the musical ministry. How should this be handled?
Here are some pointers that may be helpful.
1. The musical ministry is, and needs to be accountable to the leadership of the church. It is an arm of ministry and the leadership of the church is accountable to the Lord for the ministries of the church. There is no place for “loose cannons” or “loose ministries” in the church. Therefore the leadership of the Praise Team is accountable, and needs to report to, the pastoral leadership.
2. The pastor (elders/deacons etc.) can do an inventory of the effectiveness of the ministry of the Praise Team by examining whether the ministry is accomplishing its goals. Two areas should receive special attention.
a) The impact the ministry of the Praise Team is having on the congregation
Here the following questions can be asked: How well is the congregation participating in the singing? Is there active participation, or is the congregation only passively engaged? Is there enthusiasm? Is there discontent with the music, and if so, why? Is the ministry of the Praise Team drawing people in? Are all age groups involved in the singing? Is the choice of the music edifying to the congregation? The main purpose of examining this area is not to cater to all the preferences of style or choice of music, but to establish whether during the singing, worship is actually taking place. Are the members of the congregation experiencing a sense of satisfaction and participation in worshiping?
b) The main focus of the Praise Team
Is the main purpose of the Praise Team to honour God/Christ? Are the musicians drawing attention to themselves more than to God? Who is being glorified? Are the musicians more concerned about how they come across than whether the congregation is actively involved in the singing? Is the music working together with and in support of the preaching? Is the Praise Team responsive to directions from the pastors/church leaders? Or do they “buck” the leadership? The issue here is the spiritual maturity of the Praise Team. This is really an issue of discipleship and has very little to do with musical skill. Is the Praise Team being discipled in their walk with God so that their ministry will become increasingly God-focused?
The musical skills of the musicians may discourage the non-musical pastor from “touching” the work of the Praise Team. But this need not be. In the area of congregational singing the key and ultimate question is not how well the musicians play, but whether the Praise Team is succeeding in drawing the congregation into worship. Musical skills do not automatically accomplish this. Musical skills may camouflage the fact that during the Praise Singing very little worship/congregational singing is actually happening.
Non-musical and perhaps even musically minded pastors may be tempted to take a “hands off” approach to the Praise Team. But the desire of a leader in Christ’s church always needs to be first the pleasing of his Lord and Master. He desires what is best for his congregation and what accomplishes the purpose of the task. If it is determined that some changes need to be made, he then proceeds out of love for Christ and the congregation, and with love for the members of the Praise Team.