Dear Church Family! It has been such an honor to serve at Maranatha over the past six years. God has blessed me with a love and passion for worship ministry. I’m thankful that God uses my gift of music to serve the church and ultimately to glorify Himself!
Planning For Music Ministry
One large aspect of my ministry at Maranatha is planning for the music ministry. The main areas of this ministry are: choosing songs, recruiting musicians, scheduling musicians, scheduling the tech crew, creating the special music schedule, helping to plan large events around key times of the year, planning for VBS music, and communicating with the pastors and others involved in leading the service to create an order and make sure each aspect flows well!
In a time where songwriting from Christian artists is at an all-time high, which songs do we choose? How do we add new worship music to our services while continuing to blend in the songs written hundreds of years ago that the church has leaned on for so many generations? How do we choose between what is congregational and what is not? What does congregational even mean? How do we choose between what songs are good, and what songs are best? How do we choose songs that are relevant to our culture today? I also have stylistic considerations like fast songs, slow songs, loud songs, soft songs. What about the theology of our songs? Are they scriptural? Are the songs God-centered, or me-centered; us songs, or me songs? Are they revelation songs in that they speak of aspects of God’s character, or are they response songs in that we are taking time to respond emotionally to the truth that has been revealed to us; or are they both in that many songs begin with revelation and then end with response?
I go through all these questions with each of our songs and consider how each of these songs work together to best support the message being preached, and ultimately how the songs work together to draw our hearts and minds to be focused on Christ and His Gospel.
Another large aspect of the music ministry is the choosing/recruiting of musicians. One of our goals for music ministry is for the congregation to be the primary instrument of praise to the Lord! How many times did you hear Pastor Kenoyer spur us on in our singing? How many times has Pastor Andrew taken time to tie in our songs with the truth of what he’s preaching that day? This overarching objective directs our thinking in how we encourage and choose musicians to be a part of the worship team. Our ambition, which sets our body apart from most churches in our culture today, is to involve all of those who have a heart for worship ministry and a gifting in music (and/or tech) to serve, and disciple them to grow in their love for the Lord and use their abilities for the purpose of serving the local body and ultimately to glorify God. Many churches will hold auditions and hand-select a band that will play; many also are willing to hire musicians to play if they cannot fill a spot for a specific instrument within the band. Both scenarios would not fit well with a church whose aim is the congregation being the primary instrument and taking people with specific gifting within the congregation and discipling them into a role of leadership. Biblical corporate worship is not a concert performance; therefore, participation from the congregation is vital!
As you can imagine, because of our philosophy, we have A LOT of people involved in the music/worship ministry at Maranatha! WHAT A BLESSING!! It really is an amazing blessing that so many people are involved in this ministry! With lots of people though, comes the logistical task of managing people, and schedules. This takes a good deal of time, and communication is key. Managing when people can practice and play while balancing that with all their work, family, and other ministry schedules can be a real challenge. It involves trying to schedule family members on the same week, finding people to fill-in on specific Sunday’s when people can’t be there, aligning the special music schedule with other ministries that people are involved in, and keeping track of all of those college students that are amazing musicians so we can allow them to serve when they are back here with us on breaks. This means A LOT of communication is going on at various times throughout the day and night.
The Tech Crew
Throughout the years, I’ve picked up more tasks just by the nature of them needing to be done. I now manage scheduling of the tech crew which currently consists of people in charge of the sound, camera, and presentation. For many years in the presentation role, we’ve used faithful teens, who either had a desire to run technology or just a desire to serve in any capacity. Because it is such a big task, and because of his desire to minister in this way, I’ve been training Jeff Holderby to run our presentation software and how to use our iMac computer in the back of the church. We have begun to strategically pick out and train individuals that have a love for technology and desire to worship the Lord through that avenue. Eventually, the idea is for Jeff to manage the presentation ministry by scheduling, training, and recruiting individuals under my supervision.
I’ve been working with Gar and Mike to gain a deeper understanding of our soundboard for two reasons. First, so that I can be able to run it when others are unable to be present. Second, so I can train others on the basics, so more people are able to serve. Gar Philips heads up the sound crew. We are slowly but surely building a team of people who also have extensive musical training and expertise, and a desire to serve the Lord and our body by running the sound board under Gar’s care.
Technology - The Harvest Is Digital but the Workers Are Few
Over the course of the past couple years, God has grown an increasing love in my heart for using technology as a way to both lead people to our church, but also allow the reach of our church to be more extensive than just our on-campus relationships allow. God has been using me in three different areas: our church website, podcasting & streaming, and videos.
Website Building & Upkeep
This past year, I’ve been given the blessing of rebuilding and restructuring the church website. This has been quite a large undertaking! Though difficult to learn, it has been an incredible joy to do! To know that God is using our website to put resources into people’s hands across the world, and to lead people here in Columbus to visit our church is amazing! In our technological age, it is VITAL that our body taps into technology and uses the social platforms available to be a beacon of light in our culture and the world.
The goal of our website is to reach those outside of our church with the knowledge of our existence, with the truth of what we believe, with resources to aid their spiritual growth, and with a welcoming invitation to come and visit and ultimately plug into our our local body.
Technology is always changing, and there’s always more work to do to make it more effective. I still must design and develop the ministry areas of our site. My goal is to be finished with this section by spring of 2019.
Continuing to dream of how to increase the reach of our church led me to research podcasting. Podcasting is the production of our sermons or other teaching materials as audio files that people can listen to on their computers or mobile devices. Podcasting has been increasing exponentially in popularity over the past few years for many reasons. Mostly, it’s because it’s become much easier and cheaper to do given newer technology. People also travel a lot, and many times would rather listen to a podcast than the radio because they can control what they are listening to. For the short time that we’ve had a podcast, we’ve had over 250 people download one of our sermons, over a variety of podcasting platforms, and in a variety of countries. What an amazing opportunity for God to use our technology to allow the reach of our church to be greater than just within the walls of our building!
We are working to broaden the reach of our videos as well and which platforms are best to do this. Without inviting people to our Vimeo page or even promoting our page, the following graph gives you an idea of how far our reach can be. At every one of the countries where you see a dot, one of our videos has been presented to viewers. They didn’t necessarily play the video, but it has been offered to them. I am working on ways we can increase the number of times someone clicks “play” once the video has popped in front of the them. Even so just look at the reach that we have at our disposal, simply by taking an hour a week to create a video and upload the video to Vimeo. We have yet to tap into YouTube with all its potential.
The past few months, I’ve been experimenting with live streaming. At first, it was a totally selfish family thing - my brother Bill desiring to be a part of the service, but not being able to handle the auditorium due to health issues. I began to realize that this could be a tangible way to meet the needs of some in our church body who aren’t physically able to be a part of the service, but still want to be plugged into Maranatha’s ministry! I decided to use my handy iPhone and give it a try on my personal Facebook account. The first time I tried it, there was 230 views! Wow, that’s a lot. Since then, we’ve decided to stream it on the church’s Facebook page so that members on our page can view it and share to gain a wider reach of people. The most recent stream (October 7) stats show 261 people reached, and 1 share (we need to promote it better amongst our own people). Because of the great response from streaming, I’m now working with a few others in our body to figure out how to use as much of the current video and sound equipment that we already have to get the livestream going with better video and audio quality, and possibly not only on Facebook Live, but also YouTube Live at the same time.
Motivation of Ministry
Yes, there’s no shortage of tasks to complete. However, much more important than the tasks, is the heart or motivating factors that lead us to do the tasks. Worship, Discipleship, and Outreach are three goals that direct our music and technology ministry. The supreme motivation is the desire to glorify God and be good stewards with the time and resources He’s given to us as we desire to know God and make Him known!
Leading Maranatha to worship is scary. It’s humbling, and it causes a sense of holy fear and awe in my heart. I don’t want to stand in the way of people worshiping God. I know my failures, I know my sin struggles, and I know that apart from God doing this work, and guiding my heart and mind, I can do nothing of significance for Him. There is a song that comes to mind that powerfully portrays this truth: “The Potter’s Hands.”
The Potter’s Hands
I'm captured by, Your Holy calling Set me apart I know You're drawing me to Yourself Lead me Lord I pray
Take me, Mold me Use me, Fill me I give my life to the Potter's hands Call me, Guide me Lead me, Walk beside me I give my life to the Potter's hand
Paul said in Philippians 3 that he could boast if anyone could, but he chose only to boast in Christ. He counted all his earthly accomplishments and gain as “garbage” for the sake of knowing Christ and being found in Him! When my gaze gets off knowing Christ and being found IN HIM, and focuses on the best: musical “riffs”, singing musicians, entertaining music, or best-looking website, etc., my earthly ministry along with all the STUFF will be just that - garbage, worthless, and meaningless! Oh, that God would help my focus and the focus of our church to be fixed only on Christ ALONE!