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    Views and opinions expressed in this blog should not be associated with Hyde Park Baptist Church unless specifically stated. You know the drill...this is just me and my thoughts.
  • Definition of Worship

    "Worship is communion with God in which believers, by grace, center their mind's attention and their heart's affection on the Lord, humby glorifying God in response to His greatness and His Word." ~Dr. Bruce Leafblad
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Music Ministry as Music Education

Are you a music minister? A worship leader? A “song leader”? A Pastor of Creative Arts? A _________(fill in the blank for your title of the main music pastor of a church)?

If so…I hope you’re ready. I hope you are gearing up for the next wave of music ministry. Not only will you be responsible for all creative aspects of your church’s worship services (be it music, choir, bands, praise teams, drama, creative movement, lights, video, sound, etc.), but my prediction is that you will soon become your community’s only music educator. Did you hear that? The weight of any future in anything musical will soon become heavy upon music ministers.

This won’t happen tomorrow…or next month…and for some communities where the arts are of higher priority, maybe it won’t happen for years, maybe decades. But it is coming.

Before I tell you why I think it is coming, let me recite some stats for you.

Did you know that when children study music in school, they also improve their reading, spelling, and math skills? Music also increases a student’s learning capability in many other areas.
– in recent reports, students taking music courses scored an average of 20 to 40 points higher on both verbal and math portions of the SAT than students who took no arts courses
– moreover, students who took more than four years of music and the other arts scored 34 points better on the verbal section of the SAT than those who took less than a year
– Students who participate in their school band or orchestra are 52% more likely to go on to college and graduate – many on scholarship
– A recent Rockefeller Foundation study discovered that music students have the highest rate of admittance to medical schools.
The facts are clear: Children who study music are more successful students.

However, school systems do not generally seem to see this. With the current economic situation, “specialty” teachers are being dismissed from school districts. It includes higher language arts (foreign languages), visual arts, and performance arts (music, drama, etc.) One high school in Georgia is losing an art teacher with a Doctorate and over 35 years experience in THAT school alone to retirement…not replacing the position, just dropping the program altogether. One school in South Carolina is dropping its orchestra program – and this in a big city, not a small community! The country’s economy is forcing schools to make the hard decisions…learn to count and read…or learn to play an instrument and experience group camaraderie at its best.

Honestly, I don’t blame them too much. I can’t argue with their logic. I mean, even putting a sports program on the chopping block instead of a music program…that seriously cuts a source of revenue. So I’m not too surprised. However…how will the gap in music education be overcome? How will students of all ages ever learn the arts? Just wait until college to start? I don’t think so.

I think Music Ministers will have to pick up the mantle of Music Education. Not only within the four walls of the church (children’s choirs, youth bands, handbells, afterschool music academies, etc.)…but I think Music Ministers will have to get outside the walls of the church.

Here’s a crazy idea…when your local school is cutting their band program because they can’t afford to pay the teacher…could you step in and say, “I’ll teach it. I’ll do it for free.” Would your church leadership even let you do that? Could you teach an elementary school music class?

I’m not lifting myself up as an example…I haven’t gotten involved like I should…but I did have this happen to me one year in Texas. The local high school had to fire their band director about a month before school was to start for some “indiscrepancies”. They found a somewhat local college band director to take over the band program that year, but he could only do the band class…not the other music classes. The principal of the school, a member of my church, had a crazy idea. He came to me, his music minister, and asked if I could teach an Advanced Placement Music Theory class and an Instrumental Ensemble Class. With the church’s approval, I taught two classes for that year.

Yes…it was a tought schedule to keep. Yes…I had some rough students to deal with. But I also had successes. The ones of my Music Theory class that took the AP exam passed it. One of them went on to clep her first year of music theory at college…majoring in music (and she couldn’t even read notes or rhythms at the beginning of that theory class!).

What about you? Can you take the light of Christ into your local school system by offering to teach a program that might otherwise be cancelled? Is this the future of Music Ministry? how else will the next generation of artist be found, trained, exposed, set loose? What’s your role?

(disclaimer: I truly honor you as a music educator. I am not promoting your dismissal so I can have your job without pay. I am simply stating what you must admit is a realistic fear…that your job as a music educator will most likely be eliminated. It is a terrible need that we continue music education…this post may be an option we find necessary in the future. You have my utmost respect for what you deal with day in and day out and I will honor you any way I can.)


Adoration, Praise, Thanksgiving

Though I hated memorizing these and thought “seminary should be a cut above memorization” I am thankful to Dr. Leafblad for giving me the best understanding of true biblical worship. Though I can’t recall these definitions from memory any more (probably couldn’t within a few days of the exam), I still find them quite engaging as each word carries its own weight. Your thoughts?

1. Adoration is contemplative worship which is pre-occupied with the beauty and splendor of the Lord in the context of an intimate personal relationship of loving submission to the Savior in which the enjoyment of and delight in the revealed mysteries and experienced marvels of God’s character are expressed in attitudes and acts of intense heart-devotion.

2. Praise is celebrative worship in which believers glorify and exalt the Lord through expressive acts enthusiastically proclaiming the unrivaled excellence of His character, His Nmae and His actions in a spirit of uninhibited rejoicing.

3. Thanksgiving is grateful worship in which believers responding to the working of God around them and within them acknowledge the manifold blessings, gifts, and favors of God, and His specific actions in their behalf, in a spirit of humble appreciation.

Long time…

As I’ve stated, writing is not a huge gift of mine. Consistency in some ways isn’t either. It’s funny though, you’ll find my attitude and character to be quite consistent, but making time for blogging and daily bible reading seems to be difficult for me.

But that’s not what I came here today to share. I just want to share how amazing God has been recently to me and my family.

As you may know from previous posts, my wife and I accepted a call to move to South Carolina to begin serving a new church there (after 3 and a half years in Georgia). We have a house for sale in GA and we are living rent-free in a house in South Carolina. Even rent-free we are still struggling financially. My wife just accepted a part-time job so that will help TREMENDOUSLY but we also had a very bad few days a few weeks ago.

We finally had a contract on our house in GA! We were so excited to get out of that and move on so we could buy a place here (closer to our church than the 30 minute drive we have at the borrowed house). The contract fell through due to financing issues so we were a little down about that since it’s been about 8 months since we put it on the market. The next day, we get a call from the family that owns the house we are borrowing…unfortunately they are having some business difficulties with the economy the way it is and they are putting this house we are living in on the market. So not only has our house not sold, but the house we are living in could be sold and we could be without a place to stay. It was a very difficult few days until we really stopped to think about it…would God really put us out on the street? Even if He did, wouldn’t we still be better off in His care anyway? When we came to this realization, we understood that His plans are not our plans, His ways are not our ways (see Isaiah 55:8).

In these last few months of financial uncertainty, God has brought several different people across our path that have given un-asked-for financial contributions to our family. We found a friend of a friend who has given us some sound financial advice for our near future for purchasing a home when ours sells (www.haroldsmithteam.com).

Beyond these financial issues for which we’ve found the “peace that passes all understanding”, our new church home since July has been a huge blessing…one for which I cannot even begin to thank God enough for. This church (www.eastpickens.org) is on FIRE! God is doing some amazing things here and I cannot wait to see more of Him!

Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” God is good. Give Him all the glory.