My first experience in music ministry happened fairly soon after I first picked up a guitar at 15 years of age. I knew about 20 chords and could play a few songs from a new songbook titled Scripture in Song. Fortunately most of songs were in guitar-friendly keys.
There were four of us who played guitar in a small country Baptist church. I know one song we dreaded was "Rise and Shine"
('God said to Noah there's gonna be a floody floody...'). The chords were simple, but strumming rhythm was a real wrist breaker.
After church we would retire to one of our homes and listen to latest Larry Norman or Randy Stonehill album, and try to work out chords and guitar licks. As Bryan Adams sang, 'I played it till my fingers bled...those were best days of my life'. The songs were simple and we'd try and embellish them with influences from progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd and Yes. However there's a limit to what you can do with a $20 nylon string guitar. Sometimes this went down well. At other times some of elders would warn us of dangers of getting so caught up in music that we forgot main game. In their quirky country ways, they had a point.
In years since then I have enjoyed being part of many different music teams. My studies meant I moved around a fair bit, so I was part of a number of churches. Some were well resourced and it was a struggle to get to do what I loved, whereas others were small and welcomed whatever help they got.
When Willow Creek team first came to Australia I witnessed what was possible with a dynamic, creative and well-resourced team. However, my frustration was that models of music ministry I was seeing presented by big, well-resourced, upper middle class churches was simply not achievable in majority of churches.
This sparked my interest in training and developing churches without these kinds of resources. The problem was to distil from 20 years of experience 'what things really mattered'. What were issues that could make or break a music ministry, whether in a mega church or a church struggling to survive as demographic change followed its course?
Since then I've had privilege of speaking with hundreds of music ministers and team members here in Australia and from overseas. From those conversations, these are what I believe are 12 "biggies" for creating an effective music ministry.
Notice that I said effective, not "successful". Many people equate success with big budgets and large teams. An effective