5 Ideas for Taking Your Ministry into the Community

Last month, I had the honor and privilege of presenting two sessions at Music and Worship Arts Week at Lake Junaluska, presented by the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts.

My session was called "Go and Do: Taking Your Music Ministry into the Community."

Here are the highlights:

I believe we are called to use the gifts God has given us to serve others. Thinking about putting on a concert in the community? Want to take your music ministry beyond the walls of the church? Want to bring more people into your church through music? A good place to start is figuring out your strengths, the strengths of the people in your program, and the needs and wants of your community.

Ask yourself these questions:

What are the strengths of your program? 
What do your groups do well? 
What are your strengths as a leader? 
What will work well in your community?

Ashley Danyew | Junaluska_1 Peter 4:10

Here are a few ideas, drawn from my own experiences and inspired by some of the great leaders and directors I've known:

1. Interactive Lecture Recital

I know what you're thinking: Interactive lecture recital? Does that make it less boring?

My definition of lecture recital is "concert experience meets music education." Talk to the audience, ask questions, play musical examples that illustrate some of the inspiration behind the work. Invite the audience into the process of making and creating the music.

Use this model to present a set of spirituals, sacred art songs, or American folk hymns. Ask musicians in your church to co-present and perform with you. Prepare a program for a group in the church (i.e. Women's Fellowship) or bill it as a casual Sunday afternoon concert experience and offer concert credit for local college students.

2. Conversational Concert

The Conversational Concert is similar to the Interactive Lecture Recital, but perhaps a little more informal. These programs may be based on a theme or a compilation of music from different styles and periods. Plan a 45-minute concert with a soloist or a chamber ensemble, or create more of a "variety show" with several different "acts." Invite musicians from your church to perform, share their backgrounds, and offer insight into the music. People love hearing how you got into music, who and what inspired you, and how you chose your instrument. Tell a story and invite people to ask questions along the way.

3. Top 10 Concert

In this model, choir members vote on their favorite anthems from the past year. This is a great way to keep momentum at the end of the year (and keep music in the folders!). Group the winning anthems by theme. Write narration to tie everything together and make it feel more like a program. For variations on this idea, try a dinner theater, talent show, or Broadway revue.

Ashley Danyew | Junaluska_William Perkins quote

4. Musical Memory

Some of you may remember hearing me talk about Musical Memory - SD and I created it for our first-ever Westminster Chamber Music Workshop in 2011. We also included a shortened version in a concert we put together last year called "The Art of Song: Musical Pairs."

This is an interactive music listening game for audiences of all ages! Audience members work to find musicalmatches, like in the card game, "Memory." Each card (projected on a screen or displayed on foam board) corresponds to a musical clip. Unlike the card game, the matches are not identical clips, but pieces that have a common musical theme.

The music in Musical Memory crosses musical genres - jazz, classical, pop, sacred. As such, it works well for people of all ages and musical backgrounds! There is something for everyone. This activity also works well in community spaces and venues - all you need is a good sound system!

5. Choral Festival

Join forces with other local church choirs to create a one-day festival and community concert! Bring in a guest clinician to work with the combined choir for the day and take a free-will offering to benefit a local charity. There are lots of options for repertoire - SATB, SSAA, TTBB, and even a select ensemble. This works well in community spaces and venues - a great experience for your choir members and the community!

There are lots of ways to organize creative concerts and music events in the community - these are just a few ideas.

Have you used any of these models in your church ministry? What have you done that works really well? I'd love to hear!