He talks about 'plumb lines' - organisational proverbs that we write to clarify exactly what we value in a particular ministry area. They are a tool of alignment - when someone new comes onto your team, you share the 'plumb lines' with them to make sure that they are on the same page as you. They don't represent the only way of doing ministry, instead they represent your way of doing it.
I really like the idea of plumb lines so I thought I'd try to write some. Here are some that represent the things that I value in music ministry in church. These ones cover general stuff and how we play. I've not written any yet on how we choose songs. Any thoughts?
Plumb Lines for Music Ministry
Playing an instrument or songleading in church is not about being on a roster, it’s about ministering the word of God to people. A roster is about sharing the load so no one has to do more than their fair share. A ministry of the word of God, it’s about helping people know God better, better understand the gospel, and better love and serve Jesus. We want to do this as well as we can. Thoughtfully. Skillfully. Helpfully. Prayerfully.
Our job is to facilitate the singing of the congregation. We lead the music in such a way so that the congregation sings heartily. The measure of our success as church musicians is not in how good we sound, but in how well the congregation sings.
The music is the first thing that a visitor notices about a church. We want our music to say that we are passionate in our love for Jesus, committed to biblical truth, contemporary but historically aware, and appropriately polished in our presentation.
How we play
The more often we play in church, the better we will get. It is unhelpful to be on a music roster only once a month.
The more a particular group plays together, the better they will sound. So the same people play together as much as possible.
The more into a song we are, the more convincingly we present it to church. Before introducing a song to church, song leaders and band members make sure that they know it well and are able to articulate what the song is about and what it contributes emotionally and theologically to church.
The congregation will not be more into a song than the musicians are. We pray for the ability to feel the content and emotion of the song and to communicate it with our instruments, with our voices, with our faces and with our bodies.
The chart is servant, not master. We choose the key, the introduction, the tempo and the arrangement that suits our congregation. We work hard at developing our musical skills so that we can adjust quickly to changes in style and key.