"For Those Who Are Passionate About Reaching The Younger Generation"

Youth Ministry Topics Developing Student Praise and Worship

Professional Report on Music (Part 1)

Steve Miller

Unleashing the Power of Music
Professional Youth Ministry Report, Volume Two
For Those Who Are Serious About Youth Ministry
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Introduction - The Power of Music

Chapter One……… Let Your Purpose Drive Your Music
Chapter Two …….. Learn From Global Successes
Chapter Three …… Choose and Tweak Your Styles Carefully
Chapter Four ………Get Wise Input
Chapter Five ………. Develop a Studied Conviction on Style

Addendum
Sources
Recommended Resources

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If after reading this report you find it valuable, why not forward it to your friends in ministry and/or e-mail a brief endorsement to smillero@mindspring.com that we can use your comments to encourage others to jump on board? Also look for an invitation to sign up for the "Global Youth Ministry Exchange," which will allow you to e-mail questions and responses to one another.

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GETTING THE MOST OUT OF THIS REPORT. Have you ever returned home from an exceptional youth ministry conference only to put the notebook on the shelf and realize a month later that your life and ministry were not affected at all? Over the next hour or so you will be exposed to many ideas that successful youth workers are implementing worldwide. How can you avoid walking away with a mere jumble of ideas, an overwhelming sense of failure or with a vague commitment to do better? Here's a plan to help you take away a couple of specific ideas and a plan for implementation:

  • Pray for God to give you specific ideas to help you develop music in your context.
  • Highlight new or significant ideas that stand out to you. Your word processor probably has a highlighting tool if you're reading at your computer.
  • Record your ideas to implement in the "Action Points" section. Do a quick scroll to the end of the article and you'll find a section where you can write them down as you read.
  • Consider reading this in several sittings, since it contains a lot of content on one aspect of ministry. Take a few points and reflect on them during a week of ministry. Howard Hendricks has suggested that many people need to spend less time reading and more time reflecting on what they read.
  • After reading the article, put your "Action Points" in order of priority. Concentrate on implementing your #1 and #2 priorities.

Introduction - The Power of Music

God used music to revolutionize my life. I first felt its power in my salvation. In 1974, in a hotel conference room, on a retreat I attended solely because my girl friend was going, a young guitarist played some music that opened my heart to the gospel. Shortly thereafter, I attended a home bible study group that taught me what it meant to follow Jesus. Heart-felt, youth oriented worship was a major attraction of that group. There, I experienced music's power in worship.

When someone introduced me to Christian bands through concerts and cassettes, I experienced the power of music to transform my mind. Petra's Let Everything That Has Breath replaced Steppenwolf's Born to be Wild as my dominant thoughts, making the Christian life much easier to live.

Thirty years of youth ministry reinforced over and over the potential of music to transform the lives of students. Church growth experts agree. George Verwer, major force in world missions and founder of Operation Mobilization told me that "Wherever the church is growing it is on the cutting edge of music."

Music's not a sideshow to God. Thus, King David appointed 4,000 Levites to praise God with instruments (I Chronicles 23:5) and 288 trained singers to praise God with their voices (I Chronicles 25:7). The longest book in the Bible? The Psalms, the hymnbook of the ancient Jews.

If we don't take our music as seriously as God does, we may find ourselves on the periphery of His work. However, when we take music seriously, we must expect opposition. The forces of evil will attempt to thwart any attempts we make to create and sustain effective music ministry.

Effective music ministry isn't easy. Historically, many music ministries have been rendered ineffective through misguided theologies of worship, lack of spiritual maturity, misunderstanding cultural variables, and missing subtle shifts in popular style. I've seen minor tweaks of worship style transform struggling youth groups into powerful ministries.

How can we know if our worship style is slightly off? Should we let a musician play in a worship team if he's not a believer? What can we learn from music ministries that are making an impact? How can you start a music ministry from scratch? How can we answer those who complain that our styles are worldly? Prayerfully study this report, as well as the significant linked articles, to answer these questions and more.

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Chapter One
Let Your Purpose Drive Your Music

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You're a 22-year-old youth minister who loves popular contemporary worship music. Some of your youth argue for a heavier style. Do you change styles based on their preference? A regional musician wants to come lead worship at your group. Do you let him? You hear a Christian song that you just love. You want to use it at next week's youth meeting. Should you? By first determining your purpose(s) for using music in your ministry setting, many of your answers will become clear.

Some youth ministers, caught up in the current praise and worship movement, view music solely for how it can be used for praise and worship. They exclusively use songs with "vertical" lyrics, those that speak directly to God. Yet, the Scriptures give a wider range of legitimate purposes for music. Understanding them can help us choose the best songs to fulfill the purpose of each setting.

In addition to praise (Psalm 43:4) we find music used for teaching (Colossians 3:16), confession (Psalm 51), petitioning God (Psalm 3), relating a personal testimony (Psalm 116), and admonishing (Colossians 3:16). Evangelistic music could be considered a type of teaching (how to be saved) or admonishing (urging a person to receive Christ). Significantly, the Bible never commands us to restrict our use of music to only these purposes. Those who condemn using "secular" music would have to stop singing "Happy Birthday" to a child or singing patriotic songs. Since the Bible doesn't condemn either, let's not try to be more "spiritual"than the Bible. By neglecting the many legitimate purposes of music, we seriously limit the impact of this powerful medium.

Do I use that Christian song that I love at next week's youth meeting? In the light of these passages, I must ask, "What purpose(s) are we trying to fulfill with music at the meeting?" If we need a song to teach a certain truth, and both the lyrics and style would function well to reinforce that truth, go with it. Do I allow the regional artist to come lead? I must ask, "Would his heart, style, and content help us fulfill the purpose of our meeting?" If not, you don't need him. By clarifying my purpose(s) for music in my unique ministry setting, I can begin the process of determining the most effective music to fulfill that purpose.

Paul David Cull (Brazil) is implementing purpose to bring more focus to worship. According to Paul, "Often the groups/churches will jump around a lot from quiet worship to exhortation to loud praise and back, with no apparent sense of direction in the worship event. This has meant that we have to 'pick and mix' appropriate songs and teach the kids to flow from celebration to adoration, from third person to first person songs."

Many successful ministries globally are unleashing the power of music to fulfill their specific ministry objectives. They choose musical styles, not by what they personally like, but according to which style best helps them fulfill the biblical purpose they want to accomplish. Their musical choices are purpose driven rather than personal preference driven. Perhaps a glimpse of these ministries will push us outside our own ministry boxes, helping us to unleash the power of music in our own ministries.

Click HERE for Part Two of this Global Report on Music.