1 Remember music is one of the two most volatile areas of ministry. (Children/youth is the other). Don’t be surprised when people get reactive about the music ministry.
2 Consider carefully whether to ask clergy and other staff members to sing in the choir. You need some distance from this high-anxiety area of ministry within your working relationships. You can do it but keep your eyes and ears open.
3 Hire other musicians who are as emotionally mature as possible. Talent is important, but the ability to work with others and be supervised by someone is as critical.
4 Learn about the history of the music ministry in your congregation. Fights about music are often the focus of anxiety, not “about” the music at all.
5 Watch for those who are able to stay calm in the middle of turmoil in the music ministry. Look for ways to make them leaders.
6 Keep your sense of humor. Whether it’s a musical, administrative, personnel or budget issue, getting quickly to laughter will help you sustain yourself.
7 Challenge other musicians to respond maturely to criticism. Stayaware of the tendency to get defensive and to defend your team to the congregation. Defensiveness rarely helps.
8 Be clear on your own philosophy of music and its contribution to worship. Over time, share that with the pastor, lay leaders and with musicians in a self-defining and non-blaming way: “That’s my professional opinion.”
9 Coach other music leaders to use music as a way to enhance and enliven worship, not as an end in itself. Some will find this easier than others. If they can’t see this point you may need another staff person or volunteer in that position
10 Keep your own eye on the larger goal of connecting people with something beyond themselves. Church music is not just about the music, but also to help people move toward God.
Coming soon: My new e-book, 111 Tips to Survive Music Ministry