You Don't Need A Crowd To Make Good Music
If you love Nashville like I love Nashville, I’m guessing I know one thing about Nashville you love most. It’s the music.
Wander down any one of several streets, stop in at any one of several dozen honky-tonks, and you’ll find some of the best music you’ve ever heard. And it’s almost always played by someone you’ve never heard of.
Hundreds of musicians with songs in their souls and dreams in their hearts go to Nashville looking for fame. Most of them don’t find it. (One writer estimated there are 300 out-of-work musicians and 3,000 out-of-work singers in Nashville on any given day.)
Music Makers We Don’t Know
It’s hard to get famous making music. For every star, a thousand others never got discovered and never made it big.
Many of these are excellent musicians satisfied to make music in venues offering steady work and appreciation sometimes fervent but always from a limited audience. Some are directing school bands and choirs. Some teach in universities (often as under-paid adjuncts). A few get tapped when a Broadway touring show recruits local players to join a pit orchestra for a week. Others form chamber quartets and jazz combos to play at weddings and bar mitzvahs. Most of them display talent the rest of us can only wish for. All of them make lives richer because they keep making music, no matter the size of the crowd.
If you think about it, you’ll see their situation is a lot like that of so many earning a living in ministry.
Ministry We Don’t See
Wander this country and stop in at any one of several dozen county seat churches and you’ll find some of the best preaching you’ve ever heard. And almost always those sermons will be delivered by someone most have never heard of.
Hundreds with commitment in their souls and dreams in their hearts enter ministry with a passion to serve God. The opportunities are many, but few of those bring fame.
For every megachurch preacher and best-selling Christian author, there are a thousand equally committed Christian leaders serving well where most don’t notice. Some plant churches meeting in musty school auditoriums. Some preach month after month to folks filling fifty half-empty rows; between Sundays they lead youth groups, plan Bible studies, and offer counsel—all with little recognition and no fanfare. Some open the Bible for people who can’t read. Many confront disease and danger in the Third World just for the chance to share God’s promise of a better world.
Some of them wish they had more influence and more opportunity. Some of them look longingly at ministries led by those with names known by many. But most don’t realize their megachurch counterparts regularly dream about leaving the pressure, finding a church of 100, and enjoying the satisfaction of watching a small church thrive.
Passion the World Needs
Making music and doing ministry have a lot in common.
The world needs more music than will ever be heard on Spotify or found on iTunes. And we tap our toes and sing along when we hear it all around us. So, if you can play or sing, don’t let the size of your space determine the energy you pour into the music you make.
The world needs more ministry than will ever be celebrated at Catalyst or reported in Outreach magazine. Changed lives all around us are a testimony to faithful ministry unnoticed by the crowds. So if you can shepherd or preach or teach or counsel, don’t let the size of your situation limit the passion you pour into your ministry. God can use your service to make spirits sing.
Are you satisfied with the size of your influence? What would encourage you to keep making music in the ministry where you find yourself today?