Music Ministry Assessment Report

26 Sept. 2016
repared by Darrin j. Pollock, vestry member

Background
The Music Ministry assessment was borne from the Burning Bush meetings that Vestry members conducted with representatives from the various ministries of the church, whose purpose was to inquire how God seemed to be moving and leading in the various ministries. The Music Ministry assessment also arose from budget discussions when Vestry members desired more information about the Music Ministry to inform further decisions about allocating resources.

Rationale
To gather information, two methods were used: a survey and focus groups. The survey and focus groups were advertised through e-mail, bulletin, and announcements; therefore, everyone attending the church, rather than any particular demographic, was encouraged to participate in the survey and focus groups. As a result, 98 individuals completed the survey, and approximately 35 individuals participated in one of two focus group sessions. After a few weeks of data analysis for the survey, the demographic information suggested that individuals from ages 13-30 were under-represented, so several attempts were made to encourage more participation from that age group, and a second focus group was assembled to represent younger voices.

Results from the Focus Groups
I. Music in Worship Services
 A majority of individuals in the focus groups indicated that music is important to their worship experience at St. Timothy’s. Reasons for music being important included that it:

  • enhanced their worship experience
  • brings more of a celebratory nature to the service
  • creates more focus on Christ through the words of music
  • offers people in the community an opportunity to participate in a ministry

 A few people indicated that the music was so important to them that:

  • the strength of the Music Ministry was a deciding factor in choosing a church
  • music is vital to the ministry of the church in general
  • music is as important as the sermon

 Most individuals indicated that the quality of music in a service was, at the very least, somewhat important. For example, some explained that they thoroughly enjoyed the professional quality of choir and instrumental music in the 11:15service and even from specials in the 9:00 service; however, others also indicated that they also thoroughly enjoyed hearing music from church members that may not have been perfect or professional. Many conveyed that a balance of both professional quality and non-professional quality were desirable.
 Most focus group members favorably viewed the professionalism of the choir director, the quality of the music from the choir and organ/instrumentalists, and the current selection of the music. In fact, both those not associated with the choir and some of those serving in the choir expressed deep appreciation of the choir director’s skill and appreciation for the choir music during services helping them worship God.

II. Music Style in Worship Services
 Many individuals explained that the selection and style of music is important in their worship experience and that they desired a regular variety of music in the worship services, including both contemporary and traditional music, not only the traditional music that they indicated could often be difficult to sing or difficult to relate to one’s life.

III. Music Ministry Participation
 A majority of individuals suggested that there could be more diverse opportunities in the Music Ministry for people in the congregation to participate (e.g., bell choir, grass roots small musical groups akin to the Good News Boys, instrumental groups, etc.) during worship services and beyond (i.e. informal groups who simply want to play music together as a form of worship, groups
who would like to minister to others through music).
 Several in the focus group suggested that the Music Ministry should take on a clearer church-community focus, rather than a focus on any particular choir or musical group. Through this church-community focus, the hope would be to build a stronger sense of community.
 Several participants indicated that there should be a more welcoming atmosphere for individuals to participate in the Music Ministry. They suggested that individuals need to know that they are wanted and that there is a place for them to use their musical abilities regardless of prior musical experience.
 Some congregants expressed the desire for more congregational singing within services.
 Many in the focus group expressed a desire for the youth and children to have opportunities to participate in their own choirs or musical groups.
 Several in the focus groups suggested that paying choir members was unnecessary due to the talent available in the congregation. (Note: When asked, individuals were unsure how many choir members were paid.)
 Many in the focus group indicated that a perception problem of the choir may negatively affect participation:

  • Due to the professional quality of the choir and the skill of paid choir members, individuals expressed that potential choir members are intimidated and feel that they are inadequate to participate.
  • Some indicated that the choir had the perception of being exclusive and unwelcoming.
  • Some expressed that the Music Ministry was synonymous with only the choir and paid choir members.
  • Some suggested that they sometimes did not feel appreciated when they participated in the Music Ministry.

 Several individuals from the 9:00 service expressed a desire for the 11:15 choir to sing more often in the 9:00 service; in fact, some suggested that the 9:00 service should have a regular choir (the 11:15 choir and other choirs, like a children’s or youth choir).

IV. Budget
 Many felt that the music budget is appropriate considering the church’s current finances. (Note: Individuals used relative terms when speaking about the budget since they did not know the amount of the music budget outright.)
 Many suggested that the music budget finances should be allotted proportionally when compared to other ministry budgets.

V. Music Ministry and the Future Church
 Some focus group members suggested that when considering the Future Church—the children and youth in the Church now and those in the community who are not currently members of the Church—they were interested in finding ways to make the Music Ministry more exciting and viable for these populations.
 Other individuals declared that when considering the Future Church, they wanted the Music Ministry to:

  • Help their children and youth have an appreciation for the traditional hymns.
  • Offer their children and youth similar opportunities to participate in the Music Ministry and have similar experiences in the ministry that they had.
  • Offer diverse music.
  • Help their children and youth become active rather than passive participants.
  • Offer in some form music opportunities to their children and youth every Sunday.

During one of the focus group discussions, individuals demonstrated excitement when they
discussed the possibilities associated with more congregants becoming involved in a Music
Ministry that encouraged anyone to participate and that offered diverse ministry opportunities
and roles; however, they also admitted initial skepticism in participating in the survey and focus
groups because they doubted that their participation would facilitate real change.

Click here to see the actual survey results.