Magazine article The American Organist

Forging a Collaborative Relationship between Clergy and Musicians

Magazine article The American Organist

Forging a Collaborative Relationship between Clergy and Musicians

Article excerpt

MUSICIANS IN PART-TIME EMPLOYMENT

In all the churches I know about, including churches where I have worshiped or worked, the core ministry team is the same-a pastor and musician(s). Unfortunately, some never think of this relationship as a team. But it is one of the most significant staff relationships in the church, and one of the most critical components in any church's realization of its mission and ministry.

Churches operate with different staffing patterns according to denomination, size, and location. I'm writing from the assumption that many churches have clergy and musicians as principal worship designers. These individuals may have different perspectives on the worship experience, its goals, and how they are achieved. All too often, one hears of uncollegial, unhealthy, and sometimes even abusive relationships between clergy and musician. And the situation can become even more challenging in this era of falling attendance, diminishing resources, and seismic shifts in worship styles.

Can we begin with a mutual "confession"? If we are to be totally honest, we musicians can be elitist, controlling, difficult, demanding, and uncompromising. My clergy colleagues make the same confession: they, too, can be elitist, controlling, difficult, demanding, and uncompromising. So, how then can we-clergy and musicians-function as a team, rather than rivals, to better understand one another, and work more effectively together?

Develop an understanding of roles. When musicians and clergy begin working together, one of their first conversations should concern the relationship they want with each other. It's a two-way street, and while musicians do not have the position of power that clergy have, being on the same page is critical. Building trust takes time, work, and patience. Commitment to building the relationship will pay huge dividends. Have this conversation as early in your relationship as possible in order to give yourselves a solid foundation upon which to build a team.

Work toward a common understanding of the role of music in worship. Share your visions: How does each of you experience music as supporting and enhancing the other elements of the service? Effective church musicians have a cogent, spiritually grounded, and thoughtfully articulated theology of music's role in church, particularly in worship. It's helpful, too, for clergy to share their ideas about how God speaks through music as well as through the spoken word (scripture, liturgy, sermon). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.