Entertainer or Minister?


I’ve worked with many Christian artists, bands, worship leaders, and others in “faith-based” performing arts over the past 30 years. The demands on these folks comes from all sides: the church, the music industry, family, business partners, investors, etc. So many times finding the right balance in defining whether it’s ministry or business or entertainment can be daunting.

In fact, it is my contention that the balancing act altogether is unscriptural (finding “balance” many times means compromise). At some point the ministry “calling” can get pushed aside and the performance aspect becomes the main thing.

If you’ve been called by God to “go ye therefore and preach the Gospel” then your mandate is clear. God has gifted you in music (or speaking, acting, etc.) so you have a vehicle for your message. Keeping ministry the priority is the challenge. Record labels and producers are constantly pitching new ideas and telling you that you need a new project. Your fans demand new music for their playlists. Your family members either complain about your “constant need for attention” or they ask when they can join you on the road, as if it’s some cool road-trip vacay.

When you’ve left the stage or platform hopefully you’ll ponder questions like these:

  1. Was God pleased with my offering of music and talent?
  2. Were others drawn into His presence?
  3. Did I entertain or minister?

Let’s face it: you’re on the bus (or van) driving from gig to gig in churches and other Christian venues. The audience is primarily composed of believers who already know the Lord. So what is the message you are presenting? Salvation? They already have that. Repentance? That’s meddling so we don’t go there. Streets of gold? They’re trying to pay rent, so that’s not helping right now.

If your primary audience is believers and saved folks, then what are you doing to “go ye therefore and preach the Gospel?”

It all comes down to why you are are doing what you’re doing in the first place. And that is (or should be) clearly defined in your mission statement and vision statements.

Mission Statement: A written declaration of an organization’s core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time. Properly crafted mission statements (1) serve as filters to separate what is important from what is not, (2) clearly state which markets will be served and how, and (3) communicate a sense of intended direction to the entire organization.

Vision Statement: An aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serves as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action. [note]See http://www.businessdictionary.com for definitions.[/note]

A mission is different from a vision in that the former is the cause and the latter is the effect; a mission is something to be accomplished whereas a vision is something to be pursued for that accomplishment.

I’m always surprised how many touring artists, bands, and others in Christian itinerant ministry have no clue what their mission and vision statements are. Many times they record some music, start singing around town at churches and special events, and before long they’re in “full-time” music ministry outside the four walls of the local church.

Yet there are no clearly delineated goals or purpose statements that guide them. That’s why when I consult with an artist or band we START with defining mission and vision statements. If they don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing, when the love offering is too low to cover gas, or no one shows up at the gig, what’s going to be the driving force to keep them going to the next engagement if they have no clearly defined purpose? All too often this is the point when most Christian musicians drop out altogether.

We all love experiencing great Christian music – it uplifts us, encourages us, provides a safe place where we can experience God’s presence. There’s nothing wrong with sharing your musical gifts with others in this way. But we need to remember that music was created by God as a means to worship Him. We were created to worship our Creator through music!

So, back to the original premise: if you’ve been called to “go ye therefore and preach the Gospel” through your music and the only audience you have is composed of saved and sanctified folks, then are you truly fulfilling your mission? Has it been a while since you revisited your mission and vision statements?

If you’re not sure how to answer that question, then I’ve just answered it for you. And my next article will address some ways you can fulfill your calling both inside the church or venue as well as beyond its four walls.

Do you need to write or update your mission and vision statements but you’re not sure how? Let me help. That’s one of the most fulfilling parts of my calling to facilitate ministry!

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