Last issue I started a series of articles in a narrative fashion about how a worship leader starts an instrumental ensemble in his church. The character, Ben, has been charged by the pastor to start an instrumental ensemble. Ben, who has instrumental music experience, went to the local band concert and was amazed to see how many kids from church were in this group. We pick up there …
The next day, Ben wrote notes to the church member teens that performed in the concert, knowing: People love positive reinforcement. He also started sketching out the best-case scenario on paper. He filled out the orchestra of the students he saw the night before, mixed with the adults that he knew played instruments. “Not bad,” he thought, “but I’m sure there are probably more, and I’d sure like to tap into the unchurched bunch as well.” Ben finished his work, realizing that it was his day for hospital visitation.
On the drive back from the hospital, Ben saw the local music store. He realized that he really had not been there much in his time at the church. He pulled up, and went in. He said hello to the store owner, and discussed his new mission.
The store owner replied, “Well, to do this orchestra, you’d need music stands for sure. I’d be glad to put a bid together for you.” Ben replied that that would be wonderful and started for the door, when he saw a flyer up for the community band that was organizing for the summer. The opening rehearsal was in just a few days. Ben said, “Do you need percussionists?” The store owner laughed and said, “Drummers? No … Percussionists? Badly!” Ben wrote down the time and took out through the door.
It had been two weeks since the pastor had spoken to Ben about this idea. It was really starting to take shape. But he needed a lot more time. In no time it was Monday night, and Ben came to community band rehearsal with a few percussion instruments in his truck. As he walked in, he saw some familiar faces, but mostly new folks. He saw the high school band director warming up his trombone. He said, “Hi” and then noticed he recognized the percussion instruments as the ones used in the concert the other night. Adding his own instruments to the mix, he settled right in to find himself the only percussionist in the group. “OOOH,” he thought, “Timpani … it has been a while.” However, very soon after the downbeat of rehearsal, he found that he was in his element. He also noticed approving nods from the conductor, the music store owner, and the high school band director.
This was certainly a way to mix with the community. What he didn’t know was that he was in the midst of a people group known as “Cultural Creatives;” a blend of artisans and musicians, a people-group the mainstream North American evangelical church has largely left behind. He started looking around. He noticed a 65-year-old woman sitting by a 15-year-old “goth” looking off the same music stand in the clarinet section. He saw a buzz-headed teen playing French horn and wearing a USMC t-shirt, and two seats down, a 50-ish long-haired trumpet player donned with a tie-dye shirt.
“Wow” thought Ben. “I would love to see this kind of mix in our church.”
The end of the rehearsal arrived so very soon, but it came with refreshments. Ben walked over to the table, and conversations started so easily, and cards and phone numbers swapped, some people saying, “friend me” and others writing e-mail addresses carefully. As he was packing his gear, Ben realized an age-old concept that years of business, church and raising a family had removed from his mind until tonight, and this one bears repeating: Active musicians, attract active musicians. Ben had a pocket full of prospects. But one thought was nagging him. “Many prospects that I have are unchurched, and for all I know unsaved.” He knew where his next stop would be.
At the conclusion of this series, I will have info where you can get the whole story, online.
JOHN FRANCIS / MBC worship specialist