The church of Jesus Christ in Malaysia has been blessed with numerous gifted musicians and singers. These gifts to the church are scattered across the denominations throughout the country. But why are a large number of these musicians not progressing in their ministry? Some, on the contrary, are dying flames in our churches today.
Being a music minister for the past 11 years, teaching church music ( sometimes up to 9 churches on a weekly basis ), conducting Praise & Worship seminars, a professional musician, serving in big Evangelistic rallies and weekly church music practice has offered some insights. It is beyond doubt that talented, spiritually disciplined musicians are in our churches today.
I have personally met unknown worship leaders who are just as "good" as the big names who lead in major rallies and combined meetings. There are guitarists, bassists and keyboardists from mainline churches who are more skilful than their Charismatic counterparts. What about those Christian violinists, cellists, opera singers, etc. who are well known in non-Christian circles? Sad to say, a large number of them will not reach their full potential or their full calling to the music ministry.
For musicians in their local churches, the most frustrating obstacle is the lack of quality "musical fellowship." The opportunity to refresh one's musical zeal by jamming with musicians of similar or higher standard; To exchange ideas, be creative, inspire and be inspired by others.
Music is not something that can be done like a routine closing of the accounts. It is creative like the creativity of Him who brought the universe about.
Music is a tool of the church, but for the musician it is more than that. Non-musicians will find that hard to comprehend. So we have dedicated music ministers who perform their weekly duties with no chance of refreshing themselves, except with their local uninspiring team. Most of these uninspiring team members are probably not true musicians.
They could be the lawyer, businessman or pastor, etc. who are filling in because they are mature in the Lord. They hardly have the time to practice, let alone stimulate the true, gifted music minister. How can you ask someone who is filling in because of his maturity to keep pace with a true music minister? You can't! To a musician, not being able to release the creativity is like an auditor who can't balance his ledgers, even if it is only one cent. Yes! Imagine the frustration of the auditor who can't balance the ledgers week in week out. For this and other reasons many have given up their quest to excel in their ministry. Giving in to the majority of uninspiring musicians, they settle for mediocrity, and that is equivalent to burying their talent and in the process, are dying flames to the passion of their calling.
Did God make a mistake by distributing the gifts? What would happen if all the gifted musicians attended the same church? Indeed what would happen? Music ministers should be thoroughly committed to their local church but most of them are so tied down to the prayer meetings, cell groups, etc. that they miss the other end of the stick. There should be a place where the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work; A place where they serve at a regional, state and national level.
Why can't these evangelistic meetings have the best Christian musicians Malaysia has to offer? Rather than a local church band with a good guitarist but mediocre the rest? Simply because the talented Methodist pianist is still doing whatever he's been doing not knowing that there is a good Baptist drummer who does not know that the independent church down the road has an excellent bass player. So each one does his thing in his own church, weakening, frustrated as precious time flies by. Look at groups who have managed to unite from different churches like Joshua race and Impressions. That's what can happen when we see the music ministry from a broader perspective beyond our local church context.
There are other factors that discourage the music minister, but for a start if we can come out of our local context and "jam fellowship" with other brothers and sisters, working together in unity for one cause, using our talents as one body in the one Spirit, that would reverse the negative patterns on our musicians. That would be in accordance to God's will and we would be responsibly handling the gifts that the Lord has bestowed upon our churches.
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