The fourth and highest level of effectiveness for church musicians (and technical assistants) is to be a minister through music. (To read about Levels 1 – 3 go here.) People on Level 4 still desire the excellence of Level 2. Like those on Level 3, they see the great blessing musical praise can be to God and other people. However, Level 4 folks realize that our music is not the minister; we are the ministers. To put is a different way, God didn’t ordain the music to bless Him and others. He ordained us to serve Him. And we are responsible to serve whether we’re making music or not. Ministry is more about who we are than about something we do.
Church staff music leaders are often called “Ministers of Music.” I would not suggest that anyone change their title. But for me, I much prefer this description: “Minister through music.” That subtle change of preposition quickly and clearly reminds me of my role as God’s minister. Peter said, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.” (1 Peter 4:10a NIV)  Level 4 ministers not only view themselves as ministers, they also understand that their ministry extends far beyond the music they assist with during Sunday worship services. They desire to get involved in people’s lives as God gives them the opportunity. When someone in the audience or congregation makes a public commitment, they are willing to pray for them and follow up with them in any way possible. Ministers with the greatest effectiveness in God’s Kingdom will seek to help people grow in their faith. They even look for ways to bear each others’ burdens. (See Galatians 6:2) “Tall order to fill,” you say? Absolutely. But, then again, slaves of the King should expect to have some challenging tasks…
Let me explain it like this: If we believed that our music does the ministering, once the songs stop, so would our responsibilities to those listening. We would not be obligated to minister to them beyond the “show” from the platform. An approach like that could foster a “personality driven” ministry. Think about it: Musicians who see themselves primarily as “personalities” tend to view their ministries as mostly what they do on stage. But true ministers are available and want to be used of God even when they’re off the stage.
The singers that Jehoshaphat appointed in 2 Chronicles 20:21 certainly qualified as Level 4 ministers. They were Levites, so their “job” was to sing in the Temple. Yet, they willingly went way beyond the “call of duty” as they marched in the opposite direction from the Ark and the Temple. They weren’t just ministering before the Lord; they were now waging war! Talk about stretching themselves! They were pegging Level 4!
In a word, a minister through music is first and foremost…a servant…