In this day and age that we live, it is very easy to want a quick fix or an app that will take care of what we need. But when it comes to developing musicians and singers, there is really is no substitute for training and mentoring. There is such a need for talented musicians and worship leaders in our churches, and I am a firm believer that talent can be developed from within. Many times people feel that the answer is to bring someone in, but most likely the talent is sitting in your church waiting to be invested in.
Why not have 4-5 drummers and 3-4 bass players, as well as several strong keyboard players in your church? If you find yourself with not many musicians or even worse, no up and coming musicians, you can do something about it. It is absolutely possible, but it takes time and effort. I know you may think, “Well, I don’t know how to play the guitar,” or “I don’t have anyone that can play bass.” This is where you have to do your homework.
One thing I recommend is searching for someone in your area that can help you in the areas that you are not as strong in. For instance, I have a friend in North Carolina that reached out to an area church that has a really good bass player. He asked him if he would be willing to come and teach lessons. That bass player now drives over to their church, one day a week, and teaches bass lessons to several people in that church. This is a great example of someone who knows the importance of developing and training people from within. You can absolutely do this! There is no reason why you shouldn’t have a full band every service at your church and it can happen if you devote some time and do a little planning. If you play piano then start teaching piano to those interested but if there are other areas you are not proficient in, ask around and find someone that will help out. On a side note, it can be a great way to build community with area churches which a wonderful thing.
For those of you that want to develop talent within your department but don’t know where to start, here are a few practical ideas that I suggest to get started. First of all, always try to watch for those people that tend to hang around the church musicians after service or just want to be around when you’re having band practice at the church. Those are most likely people that have a great desire to learn and be involved. These are typically people that you will end up working with because of their hunger to learn and be involved.
Secondly, I would let the church know (especially the youth group) that you are looking for anyone interested in learning an instrument. This is also something that needs to be ongoing, and should be announced every few months, since you always have new families coming into the church. I always remind people you don’t know until you ask! Also, you might be surprised to learn who has an interest.
Lastly, I would set up a group class at the church. This could be one night a week for anyone interested in learning theory, and I would encourage your regular musicians to attend as well. The class will further the skills of everyone in the church, and help to build a culture of developing talent within your department.
Everyone has seen a situation where a music director leaves a church, and it creates a huge void musically. Sometimes, to the point where the church worship service is limited, or worse, almost non-existent. I have always said, “A mark of a great music director, is how they invest in people in building the music culture of a church.” So how does this happen? It begins by training, investing in and developing people. One sign of that is developing the next generation and a team of musicians that can carry on with or without you. When a director is out of town, can the service carry on without them and not skip a beat? It absolutely should be able to. Develop, train, teach, and then develop some more. The rewards are well worth the investment!
Okay, so these are some practical ideas to help get you started! Hopefully they will inspire you to start working toward developing a “team” of musicians and singers that will take your music department to another level.
Before moving to St. Louis, Jeromy was the Director of Music at West Monroe Apostolic Church in Herrin, IL. He also served as an Instructor at John A. Logan College, and at a variety of other Christian schools across southern Illinois and within the greater Chicago area. His experience led him to Gateway College of Evangelism where he served as Director of Music from 1999-2009. He is the founder of “J. Oscar School of Music”, a private teaching studio in St. Louis, with over 250 students enrolled. He enjoys training students, providing them opportunities, and helping them develop their own ministries. Most recently, he has been given the opportunity to be the chair of the new Music Ministry of the United Pentecostal Church. His passion is investing in people and promoting excellence within ministry. Jeromy and his wife Barbie also serve as Music Directors at The Sanctuary in St. Louis, MO, under the leadership of Pastor Tim Dugas and Pastor Scott Graham.