It was my privilege to serve as the organ clinician at a recent Church Music Institute workshop in Portland, Oregon for church musicians and clergy. We had the opportunity to share ideas with colleagues, celebrate worship together and revel in a day of joyous music making and music sharing. It was a day for church leaders to be mindful of the past, to strengthen our commitment to the present, and to prepare for the future.
What does it mean for a church organist to prepare for the future? A thought-provoking question for all organists involved in church music to be sure. Will the future of church music leadership look like it does today? Will my church remain the same? What about the new hymnals being compiled? Will I be asked to play music of a different style than I now play? Will the congregation continue to enjoy the traditional hymns of the church or will they prefer something more contemporary? Will the organ continue to be an important instrument in our worship?
There are more questions than answers to be sure, but communication I believe is the key for preparing for the future as church musicians. Communication not only with the members and staff of your current church, but communication with other organists and church leaders from around the area. Sharing ideas with colleagues in a positive enriching way at workshops such as the CMI conference in Portland prepares one for the future. Reading, listening, and studying to enrich your skills and enhance your knowledge not only of today’s worship styles but past worship trends also point the way to the future.
Look to the future as an exciting adventure instead of a daunting task–one to be anticipated by every church organist.