Maybe this has happened to you. Coming home from a Life Teen conference, you returned home in a fog of doubt and confusion at your ability to recreate the vibrant music you heard at a conference. With hands in the air, enraptured in worship, you made an internal commitment to take your music ministry to the next level. Or for some, you made the commitment to do something at your parish that has never been done before.
Here are some thoughts for you to consider as you begin to form your music ministry or as you seek to take the existing music ministry to the next level:
We are after true talent and true prayerfulness:
- Auditions for music ministry are a must. If you’ve been looking to start over, hold an evening or two of auditions to find the group that you can really work and pray with. It is impossible to assemble an effective ministry if your motto is “Come one, Come all!” Not everyone is called to join a parish’s team of music ministers. You are not a bad person if you help someone use their gifts to instead serve as an usher or a lector. The Lord is glorified when people use their TRUE gifts to serve Him.
- The BEST music ministry comes from people whose hearts are hungry for the Lord. When everyone understands why you are there, it’s easier to make those tough decisions along the way to create a solid music ministry for your parish. The most talented musician can destroy the integrity of a music ministry with arrogance and pride. Yet a faithful person with lesser talent can contribute much more to your music ministry.
Once you have the pieces assembled in your music ministry, it’s time to move forward.
- Plan with a Liturgy Team. Initiate a Liturgy planning meeting, if there is not already one in place. Your Pastor, youth minister and Liturgist should all be there along with the music minister. Some people meet weekly, bi-weekly, even monthly. As long as you are getting together to pray about and for the Sunday Liturgy, you are taking a great step in improving the celebration of the liturgy. Remember that music has never been, and will never be the central focus of the Mass. Mass is not good because the music is good, Mass is good because of the Eucharistic presence of Jesus.
- Pick better songs. Spend more time and thought into your song selections. The Life Teen Liturgy Guides are great tools to get you started. The best Liturgies are those that celebrate our rich musical tradition as well as artists’ recent songs for worship. It does a teen well to see that the Church has been alive and well for some time, and that it continues to flourish. Teens want to be a part of a larger story.
- Rehearse. Don’t just stop rehearsing when the song sounds good. Work a bit more on the instrumentalists’ arrangements or the vocal performance. Work on your harmonies and dynamics throughout each of the songs. Practically speaking, it takes a long time for a group to begin to feel “tight.” At some point, you begin repeating songs you’ve played, you become familiar with the general repertoire, you can navigate the songs as a group, as one body, a single organism. You will feel the Spirit moving throughout the Liturgy, at work and alive among your ministry team.
- Pray. Pray before every practice and every Mass. Pray for each other, offer intentions, pray for the community and burdens among your brethren, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you through each Liturgy, laying aside all ego and pride for the sake of the Body of Christ.
- Get to know one another. If possible, take time every month to go out to a meal together. Go buy some cheap tickets to a baseball game, get out for dessert or a movie together one night a month. Spend time just getting to know each other and your families.
May God bless you in your efforts to lead teens and the entire parish closer to Christ through the gift of music. Please know that you are in our prayers. If there is anything we can do to better serve your ministry, please let us know.