The War Department: Music In The Black Church
Sunday morning is, whether you acknowledge it or not, spiritual warfare. All manner of spirits wander through your front door Sunday morning and collect themselves among the hedgehogs taking up space in your sanctuary. Their sole purpose is to prevent people from worshipping, to distract with foolishness. Sadly, the source of this foolishness is, increasingly, the pastor himself. A wise pastor invests in his minister of music. The neophyte or egotistical pastor routinely micromanages Sunday mornings, constantly leaving his seat, running around, flapping his arms, grabbing the mic, putting on a show: Me! Me! Me! Me! The choir has practiced prayerfully and meticulously, but the pastor starts shouting out other songs, causing chaos. These guys are terrible pastors. They are run by their egos and their investment is in the show.
There is likely no more important a component to church ministry
than music. Flatly: a church without an effective (or, at least,
entertaining) music ministry simply will not grow. It will
remain centered around and supported by the same circle of
believers who either have a messiah complex about their pastor
or who are too stubborn to admit their church is stuck in second
gear. They are not progressing, not moving. A black church
without an effective (or at least entertaining) music ministry
is like an infantry without tanks. It can’t move. It can’t wage
effective battles. All it does is hunker down in ditches and
struggle to hold ground. It is not advancing. Seems, these days,
churches can become almost like night clubs. The average night
club has a life span of less than five years. This month’s “hot”
joint quickly becomes yesterday’s news, with the hundreds of
thousands of dollars invested and the sweat of dozens completely
ignored by the stampeding herds moving off to the next glittery
showplace. This is one of two typical Church Folk modes: the
wanderer. Folks not rooted in the word of God but wandering
about looking for the “hot” joint, the best show. Pastors should
beware of these people, groups of Sunday pew warmers gathering
week after week. It may please or impress him to see his numbers
growing, but that is literally all that is happening: his
numbers are growing. His church is not. The day after he loses
his star minister of music or that lead singer, those
fair-weather Saints will move on. Churches experience
exponential decimation when they lose their music ministry, when
they are singing a capella or to tracks or, worse, signing along
to CDs. This is cancer to a black church, which thrives mainly
on the wafting strains of the Hammond B3 organ console.
This makes the minister of music perhaps second to the pastor himself as the most powerful man in the church. Highly-skilled minstrels (not a derogatory term in this context) carry a special anointing along with a portentous gift. The gift makes them good players, but it is the anointing that keeps them in tune with the move of the Holy Spirit. More than simply being a good player, the august and effectual minister of music has a kind of radar, an inexplicable sense of what is going on in the room. Even more so than the pastor himself, the anointed minister understand instinctively whether the room is high or low, whether it needs to be stroked to a higher emotional plane or whether it is time to lower the emotional tempo in order to concentrate the congregants’ minds and hearts on God’s word. The anointed minister knows not only where the service is at in the program at all times, but he also understands where the service is at in terms of the move of the Holy Spirit in the room. Like a good quarterback, the anointed minister will survey the field and often call an audible at the line of scrimmage, changing the play (or the song) at the last minute. No matter how hard a choir has rehearsed, no matter carefully the pastor has planned the service, it is the anointed minister of music who knows best in the heat of Sunday morning battle.
Sunday morning is, whether you acknowledge it or not, spiritual warfare. All manner of spirits wander through your front door Sunday morning and collect themselves among the hedgehogs taking up space in your sanctuary. Their sole purpose is to prevent people from worshipping, to distract with foolishness. Sadly, the source of this foolishness is, increasingly, the pastor himself. The pastor constantly leaving his seat, running around, flapping his arms, grabbing the mic, putting on a show: Me! Me! Me! Me! 100 people up there but he has to do absolutely everything. The choir has practiced prayerfully and meticulously, but the pastor starts shouting out other songs, showing no respect to their service. he's in the mic almost all the time. It's all him, being a monkey.
church is the Starship Enterprise, the pastor is certainly
Captain Picard. But the minister of music is the helmsman
steering the ship. A wise pastor knows and trusts and invests
himself in having a good relationship with his minister of
music. The neophyte or egotistical pastor routinely knocks the
helmsman out of his chair and sits down at the helm, steering
the ship himself. Picard looks ridiculous seated at the helm, a
subordinate position held usually by a young officer. Picard can
actually steer the ship from the console on his command chair.
When the captain/pastor abandons his position and seats himself
in that chair he is now blinded to the bigger picture. The enemy
has lured the pastor out of the pastor’s zone and distracted him
with the business of putting on the Sunday show. Usually, when a
pastor starts micromanaging Sunday mornings, running the pulpit,
directing the music, just out of his seat every time you look up
there--always center stage--he is allowing Satan to use him.
These guys are terrible pastors. They are run by their egos and
their investment is in the show. The wise pastor, the anointed
pastor, remains in the captain’s chair, taking in the big
picture, seeing the entirety of the battlefield rather than
idiotically climbing into a tank and firing off rounds himself.
The anointed pastor is submitted to the Holy Spirit. Sunday mornings, the Spirit should be moving through your minister of music, which means, in essence, the anointed pastor is submitted to the anointed minister of music. The anointed pastor will remain in his place, in the captain’s chair, in command, until the minister of music releases the pulpit to him. He will trust that minister and invest in that minister and protect that minister. Anything else reveals not an anointed or effective pastor but a dilettante indulging his ego. The people who enthusiastically follow these clowns who are up and pacing back and forth and all over the place from yea to amen, are usually the least spiritual and most poorly biblically educated church members. They are, in the vast majority, not people plugged into the Holy Spirit but plugged into the pastor, into his antics, his show. They are not worshipping God, they are applauding him, and he’s getting off on it. He is a captain who does not understand that, as with the pastorate or the U.S. presidency, the office is often as much about not doing something as it is about doing something. What makes effective, stirring, and awesome bass playing is not the notes the bass player hits but the pauses he chooses to place between them. The silences, the notes he doesn’t play, are equally as important as the notes he does play. It is these silences, these pauses, that creates rhythm. The wise pastor doles out his Sunday morning presence with wisdom, in doses. He does not clobber the congregants with The Pastor Johnson Show. He pastors. He serves, he supports, he coordinates. Sunday is not about him.
Because the role of music is so vital to the church, the enemy loves to set up camp in this ministry. The music ministry is, typically, where most if not all of the mess begins. It is the biggest source of strife, of division, of jealousy and hatred, in any church anywhere. The minister of music is, typically, the biggest target, under enemy attack from the very moment of his hire. Again and again I have seen pastors adopt one of two different postures: Meddle or Ignore. Pastor: your minister of music is a prime target for Satanic influence. Satan will attack through the minister’s ego, through his gifting, through his sexuality, through his finances, through his health, through his emotions. You don't just hire the guy and walk away.
Next to the pastor, the minister of music is usually the most influential person in the church. The two of you must be in sync spiritually and administratively. There must be a good relationship, the two of you watching one another’s back, praying with and for one another. There can be no daylight between the pastor and this person because, if there is, that’s where the devil will attack, widening that gap until the pastor, roiling with jealousy or rage, fires the minister of music or the minister of music, weary of the pastor’s browbeating and micromanaging, walks. In terms of guys who can really rock a Hammond, it is a seller’s market. These people are indispensible to black churches, yet experienced, dynamic tradesmen are becoming fewer and fewer with each successive generation. Abusing your minister of music is the mark of a dilettante pastor, a pastor who’s clearly and obviously out of fellowship with Jesus Christ. This is an abusive, evil spirit the pastor is allowing to control him.