I can already hear the question being raised: can you really do that? For many of us long-timers, we traditionally have associated our role as Music Minister with the week to week preparation for Sunday worship services. Our job focus primarily has been musical, with other pastoral responsibilities added into the mix as needed. We thought of discipleship as that “thing” that was scheduled at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday nights! Remember Church Training? Remember reading out of the quarterlies? My, how times have changed.
As we consider the statistical surveys indicating a marked numerical decline in the North American evangelical church, this should cause us to pause and give serious consideration to what we are personally doing to fulfill the great commission of Jesus Christ. This task is not just for the Senior Pastor or the Minister of Education.
My heart is encouraged by what I am hearing from some of our music and worship pastors. One of our young men is leading an intensive weekly discipleship group of men (not necessarily involved in the music ministry), which is set up to meet together for approximately six months. At the end of this training, each of these men are expected to begin leading their own discipleship group! Another of our music pastors is leading a weekly disciple-making group in his home on Thursday nights, training 3-4 young couples at a time in faith building studies. Are these two music pastors doing something outside their realm of responsibilities? Perhaps so thirty years ago, but today, certainly NOT.
It is time for followers of Christ, called to serve Him through music, to aggressively pursue the Biblical mandate to go and make disciples. This calls for a radical commitment on our part. Here are a few practical considerations:
- The one who desires to disciple others must first embrace a life-style characterized by regular, consistent private worship. Spiritual intimacy with God is prerequisite to any attempt to invest in the lives of others.
- The Pastor and staff should first coordinate their disciple-making strategies.
- The disciple-maker should have a fluid and growing knowledge of God’s Word, including Biblical models of disciple-making. A few of these are:
From the Old Testament, Joshua 4:1-24 (Verses 21-24, “And he said to the sons of Israel, ‘When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, “What are these stones?” then you shall inform your children, saying, “Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.” For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”)
From the New Testament, Luke 24:13-35 (Verse 15, “And it came about that while they were conversing and discussing, Jesus Himself approached, and began traveling with them.” Verse 27, “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” Verse 32, “And they said to one another, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?’”)
- Disciple-making can be broad (large group context) and narrow (small group context). As the disciple progresses along in spiritual growth and maturity, the disciple-maker should set up multiple opportunities to input truth, both explicitly (instructional moments) and implicitly (modeling moments).
- Disciple-making necessitates regular quality time with the disciple. If you serve in the role of Music Pastor, you could include some of the following in your course of instruction:
- A weekly one-on-one time of teaching (non-musical).
- A weekly small group (3-4) time (non-musical) of intense doctrinal and practical instruction.
- A weekly large choir or orchestral experience, during which you steadily communicate the truths of God’s Word extracted from the music’s theological foundations.
- A weekly worship team, praise band, or vocal leadership team (small group), during which you budget time for imparting truth and encouraging spiritual growth.
- A weekly children’s choir, youth choir, or youth ensemble experience, which would permit you to mentor students and give individual attention through small group activities.
- A successful disciple-making music/worship ministry should be multiplying, in that the new disciple, upon completion of their course of study, assumes the role of active disciple-maker.
We cannot do any of this in our own strength! “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord.” It is time for us to make a radical commitment to invest in the extremely rewarding process of disciple-making! If you don’t, then who will?
Slater Murphy has been the Director, Church Music, of the Mississippi Baptist Convention since August, 2011. In addition, he continues his love of leading worship by conducting and being a member of the Mississippi Singing Churchmen since 1985, conducting the Mississippi Baptist All-State Youth Choir & Orchestra, and currently serving as the Interim Worship Leader at North Oxford Baptist Church. Slater and his wife, Marsha, live in Jackson, MS. Slater can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.