The title of this post has a double meaning, much like one of Jesus’ parables – an earthly one and a heavenly one. The earthly meaning refers to the ways the written word can protect you in administrative and employment matters. The heavenly is the protection that the Word of God provides. I’ll start with the former.
In the last few weeks, I’ve seen situation after situation where members and leaders have had differences of opinion, problems over dress code, rehearsal time, and the like. The most important thing I have at those times is a written note, calendar, policy, or e-mail detailing what was said, or what was explained prior. There’s just no way a minister of music can keep up with all the issues and dates without some time of organization plan. Some have a secretary to help keep up with such things, most do not. So it’s important to develop a music ministry policy or handbook that can cover how the ministry will handle day to day operations, rehearsals, and other things that can come up each week.
In my ministry I had each choir president and director tell me what their regular duties were, as well as their implied or non-official jobs that they ended up being responsible for. It was almost two years of work, but I finally compiled all the things I learned into a single document detailing what each position was responsible for. This helps both current leaders and new ones. The new leaders benefit because there is a basic plan of action they can follow, and current leaders can not hang their hats on a real description of their duties, and not feel like they have to work in the dark without a sense of where their authority begins and ends.
Choir rules, regulations, and structure, especially disciplinary procedures, must be in a written format that is easily understandable and accessible. The time it takes to write down your plan is nothing when compared to the time it takes to explain it after something happens.
Not only are you protecting your time, you protect your talent by having a detailed job description that helps your church leader and you remain on the same page. Often times musicians and ministers of music find themselves asked to do things way out of their gifting or their job. Now, I know we all should go the extra mile at times, but the problem is sometimes the extra mile becomes a marathon. When leaders do not understand your primary focus, you can be driven off track and become frustrated and ineffective in the job you do have – creating a worship atmosphere through music. So take the time to ask your pastor or board to write out exactly what you are responsible for. You’ll find the process at times illuminating and liberating, as you discover what you’ll not responsible for and the things you are already doing that you thought were not recognized.
Next time we’ll deal with part two – the protection of the “Word”, capital W.