Years ago, I sat in a lecture on the subject of Music and Arts ministry development. There was one point made that has stuck with me for years, and something I always consider in ministry. The lecturer challenged Music and Arts leaders to make the ministry “Easy to Enter (easy to join) and Harder to Leave.” opposed to “Difficult to Enter and Easier to Leave”
There aren’t many churches around where if you were to walk in from the street wanting to get involved in the music ministry, you can freely do so. For most churches have some type of prerequisite; and many are understandable. First, I believe restrictions and prerequisites in ministry are important, and the specifics are and should be up to the ministry and its culture. However, without trying to tell you what your guidelines should be, I want us to be aware that our steps to serve and be apart can tend to distract growth oppose to attract growth.
Let me explain further the two thoughts in joining a ministry team.
Easy to Enter and Harder to leave:
How do you get involved? Find out where the meeting is and go. Have fun in a loving community. Let's get your contact information and anticipate the next week.
Difficult to Enter and Easier to Leave:
How do you get involved?
A bunch of rules, restrictions and guidelines, and you quickly head out the door. Here are some specific examples:
1. For the simple knowledge of how to get involved you must go through this one person.
To explain…The person who is interested in getting involved sees you on stage, so they naturally approach you inquiring how to be apart. Your response is… you will need to talk to the Worship Pastor, Music Director, Music administrator. Oppose to everyone who is apart of the ministry is able to articulate how to get involved in the arts ministry. This “one man assigned as the gate keeper” is a subtle way of not welcoming any and everyone to be apart.
2. You gotta set up a meeting with the Pastor.
3. You must be a member of the church.
4. You gotta be a member for a certain amount of time.
5. You must be of a certain spiritual maturity to be apart of certain areas of the arts ministries.
6. You gotta be of a certain musical level
7. You must be saved.
Ok. Now as you take a look at this list, I’m sure you can see your church in there somewhere. Some of you could probably add a couple of restrictions that your church practices. As a matter of fact, many of you (as I) can back up some of our restrictions with the word of God, and because of that, these restrictions are "non-negotiables" for us. If you don’t know, you have turned away many people with tight rules and restrictions. People who are unqualified, and qualified. A lot of our restrictions have basically co-signed with the sinner who says, “I have to get my stuff together before I go to church.” Now that they have finally decided to be apart of a church, we are saying “you have to get your stuff together a little better before you can get involved.”
But think about these restrictions for a moment, and what your ministry would look like if these restrictions were not in place. I would argue that your ministry would be in one of two categories; a place with a bunch of confusion, and spiritual mayhem; (which is what everyone fears) or it is a place where the worship pastor is really a pastor; where the minister of music is a minister first. In other words, success in an idea of “no restrictions” or “limited restrictions” would come from an environment that makes it difficult for you not to change. A place where you grow or go. It is a place where you are forever growing while the one who does not want to grow is so uncomfortable they just can’t stick around.
So specifically what does this ministry with no restrictions look like? Well the sinner is embraced with love and ministry that challenges the need for Christ in their life. The saved non-member is being loved and embraced within community in such a way that there’s no reason they wouldn’t want to be a member. The talented saved artist who secretly has the “it don’t take all that” attitude about worship, is consistently welcomed in an environment where worship is consistently taught and practiced making it difficult for him not to be affected. "Easy to Enter and Hard to Leave" means that when there is a life change, or a schedule change the member fights to stay in community with the team because of the benefits they find in being apart.
So what do you think? I know many don’t agree with this philosophy, and hopefully the discussion can spark ideas that may be in the middle. But to me this idea sounds like real community. It sounds like what we say church should look like; where we as the body is walking with you to your next place in life. But like I said earlier, it sounds like a place where the Worship Pastor really needs to be a Pastor. Within this idea, the leaders cannot get distracted by the music that needs to be learned, and program that needs to be prepared. In this environment the people that God has trusted us to lead must be first priority. Yes I know, looking for the holiest, most talented artist sure makes life so much easier as a leader. But think about how many people who could have saw you on stage and could relate to you because your similar talents, but never was given an opportunity to allow that thing that connects you to him (the art) to meet.