With Easter but a week away, it seems somewhat odd that I would be working on writing this blog about planning. But then again, this is precisely the time that I had planned to write this blog. So to everything, there is a time and a place.
In the church’s music ministry, all too often we all experience the same frustrations: there’s not enough hours in a day, days in a week or weeks in a month to complete everything we need to and it seems we struggle to stay on top of things. And when something has to go…too often the first thing sacrificed is the time for planning.
Seen as an administrative challenge, nightmare or burden, planning is frequently loathed and even more frequently too short. I would offer that planning is actually an art rather than an administrative task, and after all, as musician, we thrive at the art thing, right? Furthermore it is an art that, when done regularly and well, can lead to great satisfaction, personal fulfillment, and appreciation.
There are four major areas of resultant appreciation: ensembles, pastors/worship planners, assembly, and you.
- Your ensembles appreciate it. Let’s face it – if we have established time to sit down with our Sundays and Seasons, Prelude Music Planner, or other favorite worship planning guide, our computer, and lists of references and resources, we can plan a month out, a season out or even the entire year out. Why is that important? We can focus on variety, appropriateness, difficulty, and attendance patterns. Ensembles will appreciate the director who has taken this time to be organized and cognizant of the big picture. Precious rehearsal time is more efficiently used. Annual traditions are observed and time for learning and growing together is possible.
- Your pastors/worship planners appreciate it. We strive for a coherent worship experience. How do we do that if we have not planned for the lectionary of a given service? If we have not taken the time to study the hymns for the week, how do we successfully deliver a message through music that coincides with the spoken word? Pastors plan to spend time preparing a sermon. As musicians, we spend time preparing to embrace the congregation from gathering to sending. Without a plan, we are lost in the wilderness.
- Your assembly appreciates it. If those assembled as the Body of Christ don’t have a clear road map, they may get lost. Our planning enables the best possible path for that service on that day. Our plan may be to repeat the tried and true, or it may be to try something new. Either way, we are deliberate in our intentions for that experience. We want those assembled to be a part of something – to feel or express emotions – to join together in the overall experience. If the assembly senses no plan, they will find alternatives and start creating their own plan which just leads to chaos.
- You appreciate it. You have time to think, to explore, to be creative and engage yourself in the worship experience. How we do what we do is a dynamic art. Our musical offerings provide a time for us to learn, teach, engage, participate and lead worship to the glory of God – each and every time we do it. With a plan in place, it is easier to exercise freedom and creativity. And in an environment where stress can sometimes seem off the charts, it is kept at bay with a plan in place.
God has a plan for us. He had a plan for his Son on that cross. He planned a miraculous world and all that is in it. He knew where he was headed. Do you know where you’re headed? Appreciate each moment of what we do as church musicians. Enjoy every piece of our vocation and avocation for the ministry to be appreciated and our worship experience full of vitality and strong messaging. Plan to plan.