Having lived in New England for over 16 years now, I have had the opportunity to visit many churches in the region. I am thankful for many godly men who faithfully proclaim God’s Word to their flocks week after week, and we pray regularly for the many churches who are still searching for pastors. The vast majority of churches in New England are smaller works, but God has raised up these lighthouses in the midst of an increasingly dark and liberal culture.
One thing that I have observed in New England is the lack of musicians in the churches. Sure, there are exceptions, but many churches in New England do not have any or many capable and/or confident musicians to serve in the music ministry. There might be a lone pastor’s wife who took a few years of piano lessons, but who struggles weekly to play through the three or four rehearsed hymns each week. There might be the person in the youth group who is taking piano lessons and is the only one who is able to play anything on the piano. While God can and does use people like this to minister and be a blessing to these churches, New England needs more.
I offer two ways to help with this situation. First, I encourage college students who are musicians to consider helping out smaller works around the country. Get away from your comfort zone of either your college town, or your home town. When I was in school, our President used to regularly implore its graduates to spend at least three years in a small local church someplace that needs help. You train as musicians to minister for the glory of God and for the edification of His church. I urge you to view your musical talents and abilities through that lens and get out and serve someplace. Don’t go into a church ministry believing you have all the musical answers to life, or looking to upheave a church’s music ministry. Submit yourself to a pastor’s authority and teaching and do all you can to uphold his arms and build up the ministry of that church.
The second way to help is for us as parents to raise our children with a ministry mindset. While there are many ways our youth can reach out and serve the Lord, learning a musical instrument is something that they can take with them through the rest of their earthly lives. If you have children who are taking instrumental lessons (especially piano) train them while they are young that they are doing this ultimately for the Lord’s glory rather than for their own personal pleasure or benefit. While we want our children to enjoy what they do, they need to see that their greatest enjoyment in music will come through seeing the bigger picture of serving the Lord in a local church. Our two children each play piano; my son also plays the organ and my daughter also plays the harp. They see the reality of churches in New England without many, if any capable and/or confident pianists. As parents, we need to train our children for future ministry in local churches.
Just this past week, I learned of another church in New England whose pianist is moving out of state, leaving that church without anyone to play. I have known other churches in New England who have gone months or years without any pianist to help lead congregational singing. I know of others who have one player who may not be as confident or capable playing. They are praying for more to come.
May God help Christian parents who have musical children to train them up to serve the Lord with their musical talents. There will be times when the child does not “like” playing, or would rather do something else, but urge them to continue and to take more delight in God’s greater purpose than in fulfilling their own desires. Train them to think of something bigger than themselves. Train them to think of how they can use their talents for the Lord in their church currently, but also in the future when they grow up, leave the home, and find another church in which to serve.
Those of us with children must disciple them towards this end.
Train your children for ministry!