5 Tips for Getting Started


By Ryan McLouth

Help! I just started a new position in music ministry, and I’m not sure what to do! This has happened to everyone at some point. Maybe you’re part of a church plant, you’re a new hire at a congregation you aren’t familiar with, or you’ve been asked to start a new service at an existing congregation—we all need some guidance in these scenarios. Here are a few strategies to get the ball rolling if you or someone you know is found in this type of situation.
1. Build a worship team and learn the strengths of each individual. You may be walking into a situation where the worship arts ensemble already exists and is highly developed. However, it is more likely that you’ll be entering a setup in which some recruiting and strengthening will be necessary. In an established congregation, work with your superior to implement existing frameworks and tailor to your own strengths. In smaller, less established, or new congregations, you may have to do some recruiting for your team. Depending on the situation, you may find that this can take place within the congregation, but recruiting externally can be equally productive. Once you have some team members secured in a situation where a framework did not previously exist, the next step should be planning some time to develop relationships and discover strengths.     
2. Your new musical structure should play to the strengths of your team and your congregation. Try to balance the style of music that your team is best equipped to lead with the style that your congregation is comfortable with singing or learning.
3. Develop a repertoire. After identifying and strengthening a team and planning the framework for worship, a good next step is selecting some worship songs to use as your core congregational repertoire. Thirty songs for congregational purposes is usually a good start. This does not mean you need to teach the music team or congregation all of these songs upfront. These are just the songs that you suspect you’ll use as primary repertoire for corporate worship, and you’ll want to keep these in rotation so that your congregation can become familiar with them. Remember, your primary purpose with congregational music is to get people singing. Save the one-off or performance material for special music.
4. Get to know your resources and technology. Do you have a sound system? Does it need to be serviced? Do you have projection, or are you working with hymnals? Do you have instruments you can make use of? It’s always a good idea to take note of your resources, make an inventory and request any purchases or repairs as soon as possible. If you don’t have a budget for this, there may be ways to implement an effective worship service with what you have. Just start getting organized as early as possible.
5. Establish a mentorship or collaborative relationship. You may already know someone that you can rely on in this area. If not, it is good to find someone that you can contact with questions or concerns who may have more experience than you. You’ll find that this can be one of your most valuable resources.
Thanks for tuning in again this month. If you have any questions, contact me anytime at (660) 651-9964 or rmclouth@centralmethodist.edu. Until next time, keep playing and singing.