The New Testament places significant emphasis on music as part of the “one another” aspects of the Christian life.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16)

One of the most regular times that Christians use music to teach and admonish one another is in the corporate worship services of the local church. And the musicians—vocal and instrumental—who serve in this ministry can greatly enhance this part of a service.

In a recent meeting with some of the special music groups at Lancaster Baptist Church, I shared a devotional with three truths from James 4 on how musicians can positively impact a church service.

Be Humble

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. … Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (James 4:6, 10)

Musical skill and technique is important, and ideally church musicians are constantly growing in these areas. But having a humble spirit in our worship and in how we approach the music ministry is far more important.

All of us battle pride. But, perhaps because of the acquired skill and the more visible presentation of music ministry, musicians seem to especially need to guard against pride.

Pride or humility in music ministry shows up in a variety of ways: how we interact with one another, how we respond when we aren’t asked to sing (or to sing a particular part), how we respond when we’ve practiced and a song gets cut, and, of course, who we are looking to exalt as we sing.

The key to being humble while serving in music ministry is to sing or play for the audience of One—Jesus.

The key to being humble while serving in music ministry is to sing or play for the audience of One—Jesus. Click To Tweet

Be Holy

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (James 4:7–8)

Music in a church service is part of our worship, and worship should be holy.

Music in a church service is part of our worship, and worship should be holy. Click To Tweet

We get a glimpse into the worship going on around the throne of God in Heaven in Isaiah 6:

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. (Isaiah 6:1–3)

Without a fresh glimpse of the holiness of God, we enter worship with a sense of self-satisfaction. But when we see the Lord “high and lifted up,” we respond, as Isaiah did, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).

As we see in Psalms, this doesn’t mean that worship should be all somber. Actually, corporate worship should be a celebration of God’s holiness and faithfulness. But it should be led by people who are walking in holiness.

I have never considered the use of a publisher or artist’s single song an endorsement of all their music or doctrine. (See more on that in this three-part post: Biblical Principles for Music and Worship.) However, when church publishers or artists become known for errant doctrine or immoral practices, I believe that’s reason to eliminate their music from the repertoire of a Bible-believing Baptist church. (For that reason, Lancaster Baptist no longer uses music from Bethel, Hillsong, and others in our services.)

Church music is not entertainment. It is to lift all of our hearts in worship to our holy God. So those who help lead in this worship should do so with “holy hands” (1 Timothy 2:8) and no known sin between themselves and the Lord.

Be Helpful

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (James 4:10)

One of the gauges of humility in ministry is our spirit to help. A proud Christian sees his contribution to ministry through the lens of his preferences and ideas. A humble Christian brings a servant’s heart that recognizes there is a larger picture and simply wants to have a part in lifting up the Lord.

Like humility, helpfulness in music ministry takes on dozens of forms. It includes being on time for practices and learning the mechanical preferences of the pastor or music director (when to come onto the platform or where to stand). It includes smiling while you sing and kindness in how you interact with those serving alongside you.

A Harmonious Team

There is a beauty—a richness—in music that includes harmony. And there is a similar beauty that honors the Lord when there is a team of musicians who are humble, holy, and helpful as they lead a congregation in worship.

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