I have done both. But now days, you see a lot of church praise bands and music programs that are using a lot of technology and digital enhancements in their worship. There's also a lot of "stress" involved with the teams that are creating this music to sound EXACTLY like the CD or Demo on Youtube.
I stopped trying. We have one hour on Sunday morning to be as authentic, to be as pure and true to our presentation of Jesus as possible. Why try to be something we are clearly NOT.
Authentic music used in worship can be strangely peaceful and relaxed. Instead of trying to make the keyboard hook up to the midi-controller and seamlessly generate smooth musical transitions introductions to songs that sound just like the band on the CD, why not use what you have been given and create a sound that is unique to your congregation.
There is a lot of money involved in all that equipment, and I just don't see that it is really bringing in new converts and making them totally sold out on Jesus. There can be money better invested in bringing quality musicians who know their craft and can create a beautiful sound, naturally and with much less stress to 'be exactly like the demo.'
Recently our church brought on a new drummer. He's from a large church in town that plays with all those fancy digital toys and he said, there was a lot of stress on the worship team to produce that exact sound -- and it just became meaningless to him. He and his fiance both came to our church and he's drumming for us now. Regularly. He says he enjoys that we like to just enjoy what we are doing and it is so much more fun and exciting to play and serve.
I couldn't agree more. When we want brass, I bring them in. Many times they are from the local high school. When I need strings or want them, to enhance worship, I bring them in. It's important to me to have as authentic a sound in our worship as possible. If that means that some people won't come or be involved because we are not using the latest toys and bells and whistles, I'm okay with that. Because we are still doing great things in worship and we are not synthesized. We are being authentic with our sound and our resources.
It's true. If you start off by creating a SWOT analysis of your new or current ministry, it will help you be more effective in determining next step goals. This will really help you establish yourself as a leader in your music ministry and your pastor can readily get behind you because he will know what you're planning.
Strengths within the ministry
Start making notes of all the strengths that are present. This will help you because you will already know what needs to be done to be an effective music & worship program... that was drilled into you by college professors. But you need to know what you've got going in or at least before you put your other foot in the water.
Weaknesses within the ministry
Ahem. Duh? What are some weaknesses you see right off the bat that can help you launch forward with a tighter better ministry? List them. Then try to put them in order of what needs fixed first, next and so forth. When I first came to where I am now, I realized quickly that we had several weak spots in the music ministry and in our worship program in general. Actually, this was basically a deck of cards. Which card do you pull out first to work on? The answer is, it doesn't matter, they will come down in the end and that's alright too. But do keep your Pastor involved in the goings on of your music program.
Opportunities for the Future
Yep. What are some opportunities you see right now that will have a positive outlook on the future of your current program. These are things to point out and celebrate and to keep close at hand so you don't lose heart or track of your forward motion.
Threats to the health of the Ministry
Believe it or not, there are going to be threats. People can be threats. Wrong Theology can be threats. Diva attitudes can be threats. A since of entitlement by members of the programs can be threats. You get the picture. Quickly try to identify these threats. Log them and categorize them by: Urgent Response, Needed Response, Final House Cleaning. This lets you and your pastor know what needs your immediate attentions and then what else. Encourage him to help you navigate these responses above so that together you can build a bright program that honors God, celebrates people and exalts creativity for the creator.
Goals for the Year
Based on the above, state significant new goals for your area of responsibility, being as objective as possible. The goals should be aligned to your job profile and the vision of your congregation. Seek out your Pastor's goals for you and the ministry as well... these will definitely help you and the process along. After-all, if the Pastor ain't happy, ain't no staffer happy!
The church and your music budget may not always see eye to eye, but they are going to need to get along and cooperate. For as long as we have had musicians the church has had to contend with an ever growing music budget. But there are some ways you can bridge the concern between the board and the budget.
This past year I noticed that we had push back in offering our Contemporary Praise band musicians more money. We've had a paid band for our praise service since I came here in 09. I've tried to manage that as well as anyone could, but; the reality is that the church is split on the idea of a professional praise band. If the truth be known, we wouldn't have a praise band if we didn't pay them. There is no one in our assembly that plays an instrument that would be in a band if we didn't have a paid band. SAD! I've never worked in a church where they had no instrumental (band type) volunteers.
However, as few as a few weeks ago, I realized that our band is taking advantage of me and our church's generosity. They will cancel being here at the rehearsal on Saturday, and more often than not show up 10 -15 minutes late on Sunday. Consistently. I counted up and figured that I pay them straight for the event.... I am asking no more than 3 full hours of their time. IF I base their $50 off that, and then take into consideration market pay, they each are making $4.66 above market pay. So, I recently installed a swipe card time keeping system.
They now swipe in and swipe out each week. It is up to them to swipe in and up to them to swipe out. If they fail to do either I only award them 2 1/2 hours total pay. They all start at $15.00 an hour... which is $3 above hour gig rate in this area. If they want the premium of $1.66 more (matching the original $50 per weekend service) then they have to be on time, and have no skipped rehearsals for 30 days. After achieving that, then they get paid $1 more an hour the next month, and incrementally if they maintain that they will climb back to the full $16.66.
The benefit is, after I calculated what was going on, we overpaid $576 this past year so far for what they were paid and what they should have been paid. That is almost one full month of musicians pay.
The Bible speaks about paying a man his worth - and we should take advantage of no one. But this goes two ways. I believe my band, over time has become lazy and/or entitled. Well, he'll pay us even if I miss... or he'll pay me even if I'm late it really makes no difference. But, it really does make a difference. It's about what is ethical for your work place (The church) and what is ethical for the stipend musicians, (The band).
There are times I have them here longer for one reason or another, and it is at those times that they will be paid appropriately, so we won't just pay them flat $50, when they should have received $58.
It is about accountability and it is also about making sure that I am responsible and a good steward of the resources the people of the church entrust to me to use. Being a good steward also means being a good manager of the funds and being able to be accountable for how those funds are spent.
Don't be afraid to pay your band, but be fair and be honest to them and to your budget. It will make asking for funds or increases much more favorable because people will know that you are being very responsible with what you have been given.