Is quality job one? for church musicians..."a conversation"

re: Music in worship... Church music.. professionals and amateurs interacting to worship GOD...
---taken from a lengthy FB exchange on the subject with some excellent friends and colleagues and fellow musicians in ministry

Intention is critical but it must be followed with execution. Quality doesn't come from quantity. 
Finding the balance. It is quite a challenge. I despise the loss of commitment to excellence. Not about style. It's about understanding that there is a bar. And not everything is good enough.

How would we define quality?

How about using a measuring stick for something beyond karaoke level. I would say: Elegant, diverse, stylistically uniform, innovative, flowing, alive, cohesive... In tune, right notes.../rhythms, coordinated and inspirational both for performers and audience The list can easily go on.

Success here is about seeking not settling. Too many music ministers settle... With such low levels of expectation. And then overuse words like amazing, awesome, lifechanging... Congregations are too polite to say what they actually think.

The Westminster Choir College model is proof of what I am saying. It can be done. If not by all, it should be done by more. Musicians in ministry should lead by example. Showing the way. Modeling quality, and teaching others how to execute along with providing a place for all. A balance as I said before... Tough job and too many fail these days.

How would you propose that churches "practically achieve this quality goal?" 

Quality stems from skill of the leader and an appreciation and willingness to seek beyond the average. Expecting more is the start for me. There is no difference from the business world, or from the performing world practically..
From choirs to praise teams to soloists, they will rise to the level of expectation coupled with/multiplied by the skill of the expecter If the leader is even willing to strive for quality. Most settle for quantity. In business terms.. do you want to be Apple or Microsoft.. age old question.

Admittedly for churches...there are some differences:

It is a hard problem. A solution must be balanced and demonstrate inclusionary excellence and begins with leadership and honesty. Commitment to want change, to be better, and courage to manage through the consequences.

A few guiding principles..

Inclusion, there is a bar. Seeking excellence, balance..., heart is what matters ultimately. Some days better than others...Sounds familiar to me.
Leading in worship is not about the performers. Agreed. But the performance does matter.

But shouldn't we cut these music ministers more slack... they are servants, even volunteers.. in many cases...?
Cutting slack. Don't agree. Too much settling for me. Leaders must be accountable for failures along with successes. --- being paid and valued for excellence are still important and different things. Money and excellence don't always go together. More of the WCC way, sadly.

Shouldn't we serve our church? as musicians...
devotion to church and the institutional establishment...vs use of talent in ministry. Also not the same thing.
working in the church is hard... leading is harder... to those whom much is given, much is expected...

Shouldn't there be a place for everyone? yes but...
Standards should be there. Musicians in ministry should lead by example and uphold those standards. That imperative extends to all leaders in music ministry, not just the music minister.

Courage and actions generate consequences. Successes and failures. That is how we grow and learn.

Committments, accountability, and communication are keys to any real community and to relationships.
Affirmation without expectation & accountability does no good in the long term though it can be useful in short term. again. Back to balance, inclusion, leadership... And standards...


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