Foundations of Ministry in Orchestra
Tens of thousands of people in the United States play their instruments in ministry. When posed the question, there would certainly be a great variety of reasons or motivations for why they play. We need to know God’s will as given in His perfect word, and then we need to do what He says. The following is a look at the biblical basis for instrumental music ministry.
First, we worship God because He alone is worthy. He is worthy because of Who He is – the creator God – holy, loving, omniscient, all powerful, omnipresent. He is the only God over all creation, yet He is intimately involved in great detail in the lives of His people. Parenthetically, I have never understood how God could know everything about me yet love me completely. He is also worthy because of His works. Revelation 4:11 tells us, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” No one can do what God can do, and only He can do what no one else can do. His attributes are clearly visible in His creation (Romans 1:20, Psalm 19:1). His greatness is seen in His dealings with His world. His goodness is seen in His dealings with us. His greatness includes His great love.
Second, God has given us each a gift, in this case musical talent. In 1 Peter 4:10 we read, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Talent is not listed in scripture as a spiritual gift, it is nonetheless from God. Over many years, many of these musically talented people received instruction on a musical instrument – even private lessons, and put in many hours of practice. Over time, that musical talent was developed into musical skills. What a unique and wonderful privilege it is to play our instruments!
Third, God calls us to use these musical skills to give to Him His His due praise and worship with our instruments. Psalm 150, Psalm 33:3 and other passages on scripture make clear the call to praise Him on instruments, and skillfully so. Be sure of God’s call in your life to play your instrument in ministry. Whatever other reasons there may be for people playing their instruments in a church, the top of the list should be that they know that this is what God wants for them to do.
Fourth, we must be obedient to His call. That means being fully and actively involved, and being prepared musically. There is a biblical patten of giving to the Lord sacrificially. King David exemplified that in 2 Sam. 24:24. Truly, God deserves far beyond anything we could ever give – including our time and efforts. With that in mind, it follows that our participation in instrumental ministry is on His terms, not our convenience or preference. We are not to come with agendas of which part we want to play, or how prominent we want to be. We play for God’s glory – Psalm 115:1, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.” As we serve, God reminds us in 2 Cor.9:7 that He loves for us to give cheerfully.
Fifth, our playing is to be motivated by love for Jesus (1 Cor. 16:14) – with hearts of thankfulness and joy. When we consider Who God is and what He has done, is now doing, and what He is going to do, the normal response of a Christian will be to worship Him. When we realize that God loves us, He created us, makes salvation available to us, and sustains us each day, playing our instruments thankfully and joyfully is easy!
Sixth, our strength and perseverance in ministry is God. We read in Galatians 2:20 that Jesus lives in and through the Christian. As we minister with our instruments, it is Him working in and through us by faith. We do not work for Him. Our strength and enthusiasm may eventually fade, but His strength is endless! When someone is weary or burned out in ministry, they need to make sure they are ministering in the strength which God supplies rather then their own strength.
Seventh, We need to recognize God’s standards for His servants. Psalm 24:3-4 instructs that in order to enter into His presence and be a tool in God’s hands, He requires of us clean hands and a pure heart. Clean hands would of course refer to the things we do. A pure heart would be made pure by God through saving faith in the Lord Jesus. Only when we are right with God can we be His servants in instrumental music ministry.
God is worthy of worship. He gifts us, then calls us to use these gifts in His worship. We know that when we are right with God and worship Him with our instruments, we are doing what He has gifted us and called us to do.