This week I’ve been playing in the pit orchestra for CYT Wichita’s production of Cinderella Enchanted next week. My participation has reminded me of some sage advice I received from Wade Williams of Perimeter Church in Atlanta. He encouraged me to regularly play in groups outside the church. Stan Endicott believes most church worship and music directors should earn part of their income through musical endeavors outside the church.
As I seek to gig more in 2012, I think I’m starting to see some of why these brothers advise the way they do.
Here’s 10 reasons to consider why every church music or worship director should sing and/or play in groups outside the church:
10) It will stretch you musically. If you’re in a contemporary church, you may find the music gets old after a while. How many times can you play a 1-4-5 progression? Even classical musicians will find themselves challenged in good ways when they play repertoire from outside the sacred realm. Playing outside the church gives you the chance to spread your musical wings.
9) You’ll be reminded of your role. When you sit under someone else’s direction, you’ll get a chance to review the role of each person in a musical ensemble and the importance of your leadership role–and if you’re an instrumentalist, how that fits into the whole.
8) It gives you fresh perspective on why you’re doing what you do on Sundays. When you play in bars, concert halls or for parties, music is the main deal (or can be). In worship, music serves a greater purpose–underscoring the celebration of God’s goodness and glory.
7) Take time to watch how others lead. When we constantly lead and take little time to be directed, we forget some of the subtleties involved with clear communication and building camraderie among your group members.
6) It will keep you humble. Many times the worship leader is often the chief musician in his church. Playing outside the church helps us realize there are many phenomenal musicians who are more passionate about their music than we are. This has inspired me to take my practice time more seriously. When you’re the best in your setting, you don’t feel pushed to pursue God’s best for you.
5) It keeps us connected with how the rest of the world views music. Playing in a club last weekend, I realized that many view music as a way of escape. I’m also amazed how many people know all the words to ALL these songs we do by people like Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and The Who. Why is that less true in our churches? Hmm…A topic for another day. 🙂
4) You’ll have a chance to brush shoulders with people you would never meet otherwise. Music breaks down many barriers. I have talked to people in bars and in the theater that I would never see in church. God has used some of those conversations to form some new musical and ministry opportunities.
3) You can focus on improving your craft without feeling guilty. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel guilty building in time for practicing my instruments. It doesn’t feel like a spiritual ministry that the church should pay for. Yet, to be good leaders in our church, we must keep our skill sets sharp–lest we fall into mediocrity. Playing in outside venues provides a good excuse and motivation to focus our practice time.
2) You can show off your musical chops appropriately without being accused of being a showboat. I’ve found it’s important for me to have musical outlets where my improvisational skills are expected and desired. Otherwise, I will force them on my congregation and distract their attention from their primary duty of worshipping God.
1) If you take other church musicians with you, you’ll find chances to learn how to be salt and light. I’m playing with a group called Evan LaRue and SoloBone. Several Christians came together to start this band because we want to be salt and light. This becomes obvious through our stage presence and song selection. More than once this has opened the opportunity to start spiritual conversations.
I’m sure there are more than 10 reasons to play regularly outside the church. What are some of your reasons?