What to Do When You Have Too Many Musicians

Many churches would love to have this “problem.” This is a great time. You must feel very encouraged. The question here is really about stewardship.

Why is God giving us all this talent? This is a common predicament for those who find themselves in a position of great wealth. Believe it or not, there are some people who don’t want to steward great wealth. With it comes great responsibility. It takes a lot of work and effort to manage great resources of any kind.

In my position as my church’s worship leader, I’ve always thought of myself as the manager of God’s musical resources within this church. I take this responsibility very seriously, realizing all these people belong to God. He created them for a purpose. There is a fine line between our perceived needs and the church’s needs. My goal is to help people fulfill their place in ministry. I am not familiar with your exact situation or season, but I would encourage you to examine your paradigm here.

Let’s look at Romans 12-1:8 (NIV.) Every believer in the church has a contribution to make in the body of Christ. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” This verse is about the life of worship and about using our gifts. Everyone needs to worship with their lives. Part of that worship is using our gifts for the glory of God, to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.

Verses 4-5 tell us, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

In verses 6-8, we are told seven times to “let him.” Starting with verse 4: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”

When I try to put myself in your place, I think God would be asking me to “build the bench.”

Let’s talk about building the bench. The bench is not the place where people never play. The bench is the place where they are ready to use their gifts at a moment’s notice. The bench has great benefits. For the inexperienced player, the bench allows them to train with the rest of the team. The bench also allows the team to share the load, avoiding burnout and injury. Finally, the bench provides a sense of teamwork, community and family.

Romans 12 is an example of how God wants us to include everyone into active service. God created each of us to use our gifts for Him. As a leader, our task is to try to figure out the puzzle and make a place in which each gifted person can serve.

If your team is “full,” here are some ideas. As we teach biblical principles of teamwork, servanthood and family, we are reminded there is a place for everyone to serve in the ministry of the church. We willingly let another person use their gifts even when it means we have to share opportunities and responsibilities.

Start a new service time or form a team that can help other churches that have a smaller talent pool than yours does. Increase the number of people you use at a given service—for example, start an orchestra or choir. (It’s not as scary as you might think!) Try a new rotation that allows more teams to serve in your existing services—for example, each team serves every other week while rehearsing every week with the whole team together. Another idea is to promote existing team members to leadership positions, allowing new leadership to take on the added responsibility of expanding your team.

How many musicians do we need at the church? According to Romans 12, when someone has a gift in the church we are to let them use it. It is our responsibility to create the ministry climate that allows every member to incorporate their unique contribution to the body of Christ. This approach takes more work up front but is absolutely worth the investment.   

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Rick Muchow
Rick Muchow is the Pastor of Worship at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA and has served faithfully there for 21 years. Rick has recorded 11 albums and has 84 songs registered with CCLI; he also authored The Worship Answer Book and is a contributing editor to Leadership journal. Rick offers resources and ministry support to the local church through his Web site, EncouragingMusic.com.