As a part of searching for new Music Ministry staff at New City Fellowship of Lancaster PA, TE Stanley Morton created the following documents. They are a strong statement of vision and of the specific challenges faced in attempting cross cultural worship.
We pray that their search will be fruitful. We pray that we may all get close to this model.
New City Lancaster Music Ministry Philosophy
May God be gracious to us and bless us, and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Psalm 67:1-3
New City Fellowship is an inner-city cross-cultural church that seeks to extend the gospel of grace to all of the people of Lancaster City. Because of our surrounding community, music is an integral part of the life of New City and will reflect a mixture of styles which are primarily from our heritage of hymns (old and new), Contemporary Christian, African, the various expressions of African-American Gospel, and secondarily from Hispanic, Folk, Messianic and Urban/Hip Hop. We celebrate the cultures that are already a part of us, and extend that celebration to those in our neighborhood we wish to reach. What a rich experience we can enjoy as we worship our one God through different musical styles and cultural expressions!
We are Reformed, which means our worship is deliberately biblical, Christ centered, and grace oriented. Although the Reformed worship tradition is usually of a quieter type, we want our worship here in the city to cross cultural divides and speak to hearts of those who are culturally connected to the inner city sub-cultures of Lancaster City (As of the 2010 census, Lancaster city as a whole is 55% white, 40% Hispanic, and 16% African-American). Our worship should be well-prepared and executed.
The lyrics should lead our hearts to be focused on God, who is both the subject and object of worship. The lyrics should teach, edify, admonish, inspire, excite, and comfort us, the body of Christ. At the same time the music should have an urban and melodic groove, characteristic of our community. For city dwellers, the best worship music is:
- celebration, not just cerebralization (overly cognitive in content);
- participation, not only observation (clapping, shouting and the like);
- releasing, not restricting (allowing worshipers to be caught up emotionally in the worship, not just in contemplation).
While worship is never to be governed primarily by what people want, think they need or for simply a euphoric experience, it should nevertheless speak with a musical voice that resonates enough with our community to provide a hospitable worship environment for them.
We want to imitate the urban church music progression which begins with songs that are celebrative, active and stir the emotions and then transition to songs that are more contemplative and thoughtful. Such a progression could start out with a rousing gospel or contemporary Christian song that gets everyone up and on their feet, a second that maintains the momentum and a last song that brings worshipers into a more content filled time of reflection. Examples could be something like “What He’s Done for Me” to “I Just Want To Praise Him” or “God is Good” to “In Christ Alone”.
While some hymns and other songs have not originated in the urban tradition, they should be played in a manner that reflects our urban context and melodic groove, using the appropriate instrumentation, style, tempo, number of repetitions (example – version of All Hail the Power of Jesus Name). Our services can be characterized by all aspects of involvement expressed in the scriptures – instruments, tambourines, cymbals, hand raising, clapping, weeping, shouting and appropriate dancing.
The music should be carefully chosen, adequately rehearsed, and presented by musicians who have prepared themselves before God. Because of the diversity of styles in our worship services, we will endeavor to appreciate styles that are not our personal favorites. However, our range of diversity must be sufficiently limited to reflect a consistent musical voice of the church.
New City Fellowship Lancaster Music Director Job Description
After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness. 2 Chronicles 20:19b
Under the Oversight Team, the Director of Music reports directly to the Senior Pastor or his designee and is responsible for the planning, scheduling, organizing, recruiting volunteers and administering of all musical activities of the church.
Spiritual Qualifications: The candidate for Music Director should be able to give a credible profession faith and have a testimony of the work of Jesus Christ and His gospel in their life. The music director must understand that we must have definite biblical support for all that we do in worship. This means the truths of Scripture and our theological commitments must inform the music selected and performed in our context.
Musical Qualifications: The Music Director should be able to demonstrate musical competence in the urban musical tradition and orientation of inner city churches, vocally and instrumentally. Instrumentalist must be able to play by ear to some extent as well as by score, the preferred instrument being the keyboard or piano. They must also possess the ability to effectively lead a congregation in singing, encouraging them to sing rather than be spectators. Additionally, the Music Director must be able to administrate and coordinate the church’s music ministry including hiring instrumentalists and handling personnel issues. They must be able to build a functional and cohesive team of worship leaders.
Sufficient experience in the urban music tradition is required, which could be a few years to having grown up in that tradition. College and advanced education degrees are welcomed, but not required. Gospel choir or choral directing abilities experience can be helpful.
• Lead the congregation each week in joyful celebration of God’s grace according to the music philosophy. Prepare and perform reflective instrumental selections for the offering (weekly) and Communion (first Sunday of the month).
• Assist the senior pastor in casting the church’s music vision
• Provide spiritual support and care for the worship team members (i.e. prayer, a listening ear, and in other ways not requiring more professional involvement)
• Participate on the leadership team of the church as the Music Director.
• As available, provide appropriate music for weddings and funerals held at the church.
• Oversee purchases of office supplies (paper, transparencies, etc) and of music ministry equipment, and improvements or repair of instruments within the annual budget. Equipment purchases should be discussed with the pastor. The director will advise the pastor concerning the music department’s portion of the annual budget.
• Work with the pastor to develop short and long range music ministry goals and objectives.
• Recruit volunteers of all ages in the worship service and other musical events. The Director must discern how the voices of the volunteers will fit to lead specific songs, thus enhancing worship. This also applies to instrumentalists.
• Select music that will appropriately highlight the upcoming week’s sermon text, theme or topic. Pastors should provide the sermon texts at least two months in advance to aid in music selection. The benediction song should encourage an appropriate response to the hearing of God’s Word.
• Provide the pastor with the song selection schedule one month in advance for review and approval. These songs shall come from the informal “cannon” of songs that the congregation knows, as well as new songs introduced throughout the year.
• Keep archives of all music selections, music choices and historical lists. They must maintain the music library in an orderly manner and ensure that contents are identified as property of New City Fellowship Lancaster, and are in compliance with all legal requirements for the use of copyright materials.
• Have four paid Sundays off per year. On these Sundays, they are to engage a capable substitute from within the worship team, or a guest worship leader with pastoral approval. Guest musician information should be given to the church secretary. The director may request unpaid leave if needed.
• Be given three Sundays per year (separate from vacation days) to observe and network with other inner-city music ministries.
• In the first year of the Music Director being hired, his or her performance shall be reviewed at three months, six months, and thereafter annually with the pastor and a future personnel committee as a committee of Session. The Session is the body ultimately responsible for hiring or releasing the music director. Either the Pastor and Session, or the Director of Music may request a performance evaluation at any time. That evaluation should be scheduled no later than two weeks from the date of the request. A resignation or a dismissal, except for moral reasons, requires a four week written notice. A salary review will be scheduled at six months in the first year, at the first year anniversary, and thereafter annually.
Checklists for Rehearsals and Worship Services
Checklist for evaluating sets of worship songs
1. Do the songs contain a good balance of personal expression “(I Just Wanna Praise You)” and recognition of unchanging truth “(Lord You Are Good And Your Mercies Endureth Forever)”?
2. Is each song theologically sound and clear in its meaning (even if the meaning is simple)?
3. Does the set as a whole have the urban progression? That is, does the opening song have sufficient energy to serve as a celebratory opener? And does the multi-song set at mid-service move from the lively to the meditative?
4. Do the songs in the multi-song set flow well together musically, i.e. do they avoid jarring transitions between drastically different genres? If genres outside of our primary style are employed, are they located in the service and played in a manner that enables them not to clash with the overall urban feel of the service?
5. Is each song sufficiently singable for the congregation to sing without much difficulty? (This question does not apply to solos or complex choir pieces during preludes and offerings.)
6. Does the overall set take the sermon theme into account, without overkill (i.e. we want to avoid five songs that are almost identical in lyrical content).
7. Is the song following the sermon a fitting response to the sermon theme?
Checklist for rehearsal readiness and worship service
· Run rehearsals to encourage joyful volunteer participation.
· Provide song sheets for each singer and musician, consistent across the team regarding lyrics and key.
· Provide songs sheets for instrumental musicians of songs to be done in the future, so they may practice on their own before practicing with the rest of the team at a future rehearsal.
· Plan how much time to spend working on music for future services and how much will be needed to prepare for the coming Sunday
· Determine which voices will best lead each given song, vocally and instrumentally, on the coming Sunday.
· Determine as best can how each song will begin and conclude, how many times chorus’s will repeat etc, (of course it’s appropriate for some of these decisions to be made while the entire team is present).
· Send song selections to the church secretary by Thursday morning at 8:00 AM.
· Coordinate with the A/V team regularly to assure quality sound and video/visuals for each Sunday.
· All prepare song sheets, chord sheets and transparencies are Ariel font, 32 point. Where instrumentalists may need music to practice on their own before the next service, the director will provide such materials by the rehearsal before the service.