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Minister of Music compared to MD/Organist who "develops the music ministry"

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    Minister of Music compared to MD/Organist who "develops the music ministry"

    I am what I'd call a Gandhi Jew - Gandhi famously said that he considered himself a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew.

    I'm 62 years old and have been at my first church position, as Music Director and Organist at a United Methodist Church, for 2-1/2 years now. (I've also held a High Holy Day Choir Director position at a synagogue since I was in college.)

    I love what I do at church, and when I see all the good things that our church does, such as raising money for poor and serving meals to the housebound, I could not be more pleased. I participate fully in all church services with the except of taking communion. My wife was raised in the Episcopal church, and she and I both are comfortable participating in any kind of religious service we've ever been a part of. We married not despite our religious differences but, I think, because of them. I hope I've described myself sufficiently.

    For the first time, I'm looking at notices for other church positions because, while I love where I am, I also want to consider a position that pays better. My church is small, in financial distress, and in rough terms I make about what a substitute organist makes if they played every week. I do a good deal more, am responsible for more, and am happy to do it, but it would also be nice to get paid more.

    Now on to my question: While I'm very happy being an Music Director and Organist, I would not apply for a position that include "Minister of Music" in its job description because I do not wish a religious position, just a musical one in service of the church. In the middle, I find myself reading job descriptions whose title is Music Director and Organist, but whose description includes things like, "participate in developing the music ministry of the church" or "lead, grow, and diversify the church's music ministry". Where does helping and/or leading the Music Ministry fit in the continuum (if one could be said to exist) between Music Director and Organist on the one side and Minister of Music on the other?

    As I looked around on the Internet, reading results from a search on "church music ministry", it seems that some churches feel the job is to provide a place for members to have a devotional music experience as a member of the choir, and I'm all for that. It's calling myself some kind of "minister" that feels inappropriate for me.

    You have my thanks in advance for your thoughtful replies.

    -S-

    #2
    Steve,

    You have raised some interesting points about what we all do for our respective churches. I have to think about them some more to see if I could offer any more advice than this : I feel that what you are doing at your current church IS in fact a ministry, even if there is no title describing it as such. When we play for services of worship in any situation, we are providing a ministry to the congregation members. As in, ministering to them by making the service nicer, better, complete, etc. So, perhaps you are getting concerned about a mere title, rather than the actual function of our jobs ? Just my opinion FWIW.
    Regards, Larry

    At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 ! ), E-5AR ( X 2, 1 parts, 1 not ), D80 ( parts ), FX-1, FX-20, HS-7T ( parts ), EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen organs : T12-A, T-12B, ADC-6000D. Baldwin 626. Hammond Concorde. Lowrey CH32-1. A bunch of Synthesizers and Keyboards. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with VISTA ), Hammond A105, Baldwin 720T, Several small and medium size pipe organs of many sorts and builders.

    Comment


      #3
      Steve,

      I do not have a lot of experience with this. However, I do know that sometimes (maybe most times) the title "Minister of Music" refers to someone who not only has a musical background but who has also been to seminary and ordained as a minister. Sometimes depending upon the person's training the title may change within the same church; i.e., if someone is an ordained minister the title will be Minister of Music and, later, if another person serves who is not ordained the title will be Music Director. This change would be primarily in smaller congregations.

      I hope this helps a little.

      Allen
      Currently own: Roland Atelier AT-90, Yamaha 115D, Roland DP-90SE, Yamaha PSR-S910

      YouTube Channel

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Larrytow View Post
        -snip- When we play for services of worship in any situation, we are providing a ministry to the congregation members. As in, ministering to them by making the service nicer, better, complete, etc. So, perhaps you are getting concerned about a mere title, rather than the actual function of our jobs ? Just my opinion FWIW.
        Thank you, Larry.

        Here's what, besides considering another job, got me thinking about all this: I recently subbed in the choir at another church whose Christmas Eve service was at a different time than mine. The organist led a prayer at the end of the choir rehearsal. That isn't something I'd feel comfortable doing, and I know his title isn't just MD/Organist but Minister of Music.

        There is ministering as a word for helping, guiding, assisting, etc.. There is also Ministering in an official capacity in a religion, being a Minister. You are saying, if I understand you correctly, that anyone who is a Minister is also ministering and I certainly hope that's true, but I question if the reverse is also true. I don't know anything about this, but I suspect that some denominations ordain their Ministers of Music - could anyone confirm this?

        Thank you again for the conversation thus far.

        -S-

        Comment


          #5
          Allen, we were posting at the same time.

          I think your example is what happened in my church when they hired me, but I got hired without a formal application. The church was without an organist, I subbed probably every other week over period of a few months, and then they offered me the job. I never saw a job description, and my contract doesn't use the words Music Ministry, it just say things like prepare music, work with the minister, and the like. Before I started, the minister and I spoke about my views on religion, and I said the same kinds of things I said above, and the minister and the church were fine with that.

          I don't mean to be picayune about the wording but I want to make sure I understand the language that a potential new church for me is using. I could ask them, but I don't want to apply for a position where the job description indicates I'm not wanted in the first place.

          So this brings me back to my current question. What does asking a MD to help with the music ministry mean, other than just doing what I'd consider a good job in any music leading situation? Isn't it redundant to ask the MD/organist to provide a welcoming, nurturing atmosphere where church choir participants can express their devotion - isn't that just asking the MD/organist to do their job?

          -S-

          - - - Updated - - -

          Allen, I just reread your post. I do know at least one person with the title Minister of Music who was not ordained.

          -S-

          Comment


            #6
            Steve,

            If I read you correctly, you're asking about the difference between the interpretations of the position. If so, I see a dichotomy in what various churches are asking.
            • On the one hand, there are churches who believe the Music Director/Minister/Organist should as qualified as the pastor for the position they hold. These churches will see the position as truly a spiritual ministry, therefore, the organist should be spiritually qualified (i.e. a Christian) in order to fill the position. Perhaps a Conservative Baptist or Independent Fundamental church would fall in this category.
            • Then there are churches may who believe the position can be used to minister to the person who fills the position (if they even care). These churches believe in Christianity and Christian conversion, but do not feel the person filling the position necessarily needs to be as spiritually qualified as the pastor or other leader in the church. Perhaps an American Baptist or Methodist church would fall in this category.
            • The remainder of the churches are generally about being inclusive in who is part of the church, therefore, the person filling the position does not necessarily have to have any specific spiritual beliefs at all--they just need to qualify musically for the position. Perhaps a Unitarian church would fall into this category.

            What I've described above are those on both ends of the spectrum, as well as those churches who float in the middle. Think of it as a continuum. Bottom line, you won't know where a church is on that continuum unless you ask the pastor, and even then, the pastor may be out-of-touch with the beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and attitudes of the congregation and what they will accept.

            Roll the dice and see where they land. You never know.

            Michael

            P.S. Many of the mainline denominations will not have a problem with Judaism on its face. After all, they read the same Scriptures in the Old Testament.
            Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
            • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
            • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
            • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

            Comment


              #7
              Michael, thank you. I will keep everyone posted on how this all goes for me.

              -S-

              Comment


                #8
                When I joined my current church (UMC) in 1980, the Choir was directed by the Minister of Music, who was an ordained Elder who later earned a Doctorate in Sacred Music--he retired in 1999 after 27 years service to the church. Our current Music Director is not clergy, but has all the musical duties that the Minister of Music had. He supervises the entire music program of the church including the Adult, Youth, and Children's Choirs, the Handbell program, arranges for special events and concerts, picks the Hymns, etc.

                I believe the "development of the music program" involves selecting appropriate Hymns and anthems for the various services and functions supported by the music department. He is a "minister" to the extent that his efforts support the religious experiences of the congregation and various musicians involved. I do not believe that this function requires ordination or even adherence to a specific Denomination or religious venue, although such affiliation is probably helpful. I do know that when we were looking for a replacement for our retiring MoM, we did not exclude applications from qualified individuals who were not UMC (although the man who was hired was of that Denomination--IMHO he was also the best qualified of those who we considered).

                I don't think one should get too hung up on the title of the position; discussion with the church officials would be more enlightening as to the nature of the job. And I don't think it very important to avoid applying for a job that one might possibly not be appropriate for--let them lay that out for you and make a decision accordingly.

                David

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by davidecasteel View Post
                  I don't think one should get too hung up on the title of the position; discussion with the church officials would be more enlightening as to the nature of the job. And I don't think it very important to avoid applying for a job that one might possibly not be appropriate for--let them lay that out for you and make a decision accordingly.
                  Thank you, David. From your response and the others as well, I'm beginning to see that it's really OK to apply for something I'd want to do. And I know that it will also be a two-way street - meeting the minister and some people from the church will give me a sense as to whether their institution is something I want to be a part of.

                  -S-

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Steve,

                    Not sure I can add to anything that's been said. Michael did a great job marking out the different approaches taken in different types of churches.

                    You mentioned that you would be uncomfortable leading the choir in a prayer, so I assume you want to provide musical direction but steer clear of spiritual involvement with your choir, or at least stay away from providing any spiritual direction to them on a personal level.

                    To be honest, you may be selling yourself short. One doesn't necessarily have to be of the same faith in order to be a spiritual mentor to someone else. Different though your outlook might be, your spiritual perspective might actually prove to be very valuable in a church. Thoughtful and sincere Christians (and non-Christians) today are often open to participating religiously with folks of other faiths, and it can be a very uplifting and enlightening and spiritually enriching experience. So you might think about actually entering into that small measure of spiritual union with your choristers, even though it is outside the expected domain of a choir director. A brief and heartfelt non-sectarian prayer offered by the director at the close of a rehearsal might be a very warm and uniting bit of ritual that the choir would genuinely come to love.

                    I don't think you can truly discern just by reading a job description or a want ad how much a given church really does expect of you by way of ministerial function. Obviously, many "evangelical" churches expect all ministerial staff to be more or less "spiritual leaders" in a way similar to the lead pastor. But I have known a great many choir director/organists who moved easily from one denomination to another or even served both Christian and Jewish congregations interchangeably, and who never found it uncomfortable in the least. Probably many choir rehearsals do not end with prayer (though it does seem somewhat fitting), and certainly many musicians I know have very little interest in providing spiritual guidance or leadership in a church.

                    So your best course of action is to ask questions, lots of them. And have a thorough understanding of the position and all the expectations, even the unwritten ones, before you accept.

                    Best wishes and good luck!
                    John
                    ----------
                    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
                    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
                    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
                    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
                    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                      ... So you might think about actually entering into that small measure of spiritual union with your choristers, even though it is outside the expected domain of a choir director. A brief and heartfelt non-sectarian prayer offered by the director at the close of a rehearsal might be a very warm and uniting bit of ritual that the choir would genuinely come to love.
                      John, food for thought, for sure. You're right - even though it's not something I've ever done, it isn't something I should write off as something I'll never do, either.

                      Thank you very much.

                      -S-

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Concerning leading the Choir in prayer, that is not necessarily a task for the Choir Director, Music Director, Minister of Music, etc. The Adult Choir at my church has a designated Chaplain, who is both a singer and an ordained UMC pastor (not on the staff). And we currently also have 2 retired pastors in the Choir (did have 3, but the former MoM retired from the Choir last week due to aging issues--when he retired he went to another church for 5 years to allow the new Director to settle in, then just joined the Choir as a Tenor). The Choir has a slate of officers who are voted into office each fall and serve for one or more years. The Chaplain is just one of those positions (and has been filled by the same person for a number of years now--no term limit). At the end of each rehearsal, the Chaplain is called to render a short presentation/prayer, and then the President goes over any issues facing the body. Just before dismissal, the entire body stands, joins hands, and sings "Alleluia". Although the current Chaplain is ordained, the job description does not require it--the UMC supports "lay ministry" and would accept any person willing to take on the responsibility.

                        David

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by davidecasteel View Post
                          Concerning leading the Choir in prayer, that is not necessarily a task for the Choir Director, Music Director, Minister of Music, etc. The Adult Choir at my church has a designated Chaplain, who is both a singer and an ordained UMC pastor (not on the staff). And we currently also have 2 retired pastors in the Choir (did have 3, but the former MoM retired from the Choir last week due to aging issues--when he retired he went to another church for 5 years to allow the new Director to settle in, then just joined the Choir as a Tenor). The Choir has a slate of officers who are voted into office each fall and serve for one or more years. The Chaplain is just one of those positions (and has been filled by the same person for a number of years now--no term limit). At the end of each rehearsal, the Chaplain is called to render a short presentation/prayer, and then the President goes over any issues facing the body. Just before dismissal, the entire body stands, joins hands, and sings "Alleluia". Although the current Chaplain is ordained, the job description does not require it--the UMC supports "lay ministry" and would accept any person willing to take on the responsibility.
                          Very good, David, and thank you. You're right - one of the most striking things to me about the UMC service at our church is that it's started, every week, by a lay member of the congregation, who welcomes everyone, leads several prayers, announces the first hymn, and then the leadership of the service is turned over to the minister. It's a good thing for me to keep in mind. And so is offering to any member of the choir who wishes to lead a prayer the opportunity to do so.

                          -S-

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Steve Freides View Post
                            Thank you, Larry.

                            Here's what, besides considering another job, got me thinking about all this: I recently subbed in the choir at another church whose Christmas Eve service was at a different time than mine. The organist led a prayer at the end of the choir rehearsal. That isn't something I'd feel comfortable doing, and I know his title isn't just MD/Organist but Minister of Music.

                            There is ministering as a word for helping, guiding, assisting, etc.. There is also Ministering in an official capacity in a religion, being a Minister. You are saying, if I understand you correctly, that anyone who is a Minister is also ministering and I certainly hope that's true, but I question if the reverse is also true. I don't know anything about this, but I suspect that some denominations ordain their Ministers of Music - could anyone confirm this?

                            Thank you again for the conversation thus far.

                            -S-
                            I recently was asked to step on staff at our small baptist church as the "Music Director", but the position is actually considered to be a "Minister" of music. The pastor and I have talked and I plan to eventually become ordained in the future, although it is definitely not required ( I am already licensed as a minister, though). We look at the worship/music leader as one who is leading our folks into worship and adoration of the Lord. Music is simply another way to proclaim the gospel and to help folks to "declare God's worth" in our lives - telling Him how much He means to us because of what He did for us in giving us His Son to die on the cross to for forgiveness of sins. My role as worship leader is to encourage but also to teach and model to the congregation what this looks like through music. I plan music that fits thematically with whatever the sermon is for the week, and we always try to be sure that our lyrics, whether hymns or choruses, are biblically focused and give a very clear message of what it means to walk in a relationship with Christ and what it means to grow in our faith. Because of the fact that our musical worship is so very impacting, our lead pastor considers the music position to be significantly similar to that of any other pastoral role- providing shepherding and spiritual leadership to the folks in the congregation - but through musical worship. After all, we are not just singing tunes - we are using lyrics to declare the value of our Lord and Savior in our lives, which is the ultimate goal of our church music (That being said, there is definitely a place in the service for music without words which can also be glorifying to the Lord). We don't want music in the church simply "for the sake of having music". It has to have a deeper purpose. Otherwise, you could just put any type of music in church and be done with it. The job of leading folks into the presence of the Lord is, in my opinion, a very sacred trust and calling - something that cannot be taken lightly. Church leaders have great impact on the church body.

                            All of that being said, I humbly submit these thoughts to you - something to consider as we engage in the role of music leaders in the church.
                            Craig

                            Hammond L143 with Leslie 760

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Thank you, Craig.

                              As others have observed, not everyone looks at the position as you do. There can be a distinction between leading the people into worship and leading the people in the music that leads them into worship. Both kinds of churches are home to many devout Christians, and it's my hope that you see the value in other way, too.

                              -S-

                              Comment

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