This is a guest post by Joey Hoelscher, a church musician who offers unique behind-the-scenes insight into how performers experience and engage in church services.
I’ve been in the front of my church leading in musical worship in one capacity or another for almost 20 years now. As a church musician, I have something to get off my chest: sometimes I’m not all that engaged at church (when I’m not doing music, that is).
As far as the musical elements of the service go, I’m all in. But when it comes to the non-musical elements of the service (the sermon, church giving) I’m, well, usually a little less than all in. To tell the truth, sometimes I’m barely in at all. That sounds bad, doesn’t it? But it’s true for me, and I’d venture to guess that it’s true for a lot of my fellow church musicians, too.
Let me explain.
Musicians Need Focus
It’s not hard to understand that I enjoy the music. Us musicians spend years honing our musical abilities. If we didn’t enjoy it, we would have given up long before becoming proficient enough to play in church. But playing church music well, regardless of genre, requires both skill and focus. It takes a certain level of technical ability and attention to detail to bring together the music for a worship service, especially for the music to sound great and accomplish its purposes.
I tend to be disengaged from non-musical aspects of the service for numerous reasons. The most obvious is that in many churches, music accompanies other service elements. It’s my job to stay focused on the music part, and doing so requires most or all of my attention. So I may not be able to participate in a scripture meditation while I’m busy playing music underneath. Also, it’s hard (maybe physically impossible!) to contribute to the offering if the plates are passing while I’m singing on stage.
You Miss Things When You’re On the Move
Another confession: I often have a hard time paying attention to the sermon. At my church, all but the core musicians leave the stage during the final song. But the logistics of packing things up (OK, and maybe visiting the men’s room before heading to my seat) mean I usually miss the sermon’s first few minutes.
It can be hard to catch back up. And if I know I’ll be doing one more song at the end of the service, it’s easy for me to start thinking through the logistics of that piece instead of focusing on the message being preached.
The Worst Offense of All: Church Giving
It was literally impossible for me to give as the plates were passed, and as a result I rarely did. I knew I should, and I felt bad about it, but I had no way to give during the service. That all changed when my church implemented an electronic and mobile giving platform. This platform included the ability to schedule recurring donations, which was exactly what I needed to give reliably and regularly. Now I give automatically, the day after I get paid, with no exceptions! And I’m not distracted from my main Sunday role as a musician.
Here’s the thing: it’s not just musicians. Nearly anyone who is serving during the main service faces these challenges. The safety team, children’s workers, tech crew—they all face this. For many of my “confessions,” there aren’t easy solutions. Lack of attention is unfortunately just a side effect of serving. But there is a simple solution for church giving. For the sake of your volunteers, consider implementing a modern giving solution today.