So … You’re a Music Minister… and it’s December …

Heather Sorenson
Heather Sorenson entered the church music industry in her twenties, and her name quickly became a welcomed fixture in the publishing world. Heather is hired by the largest and most respected publishers in the world, and her pieces remain at the top of Bestsellers lists and Editor’s Choice selections.  Diversity is the characteristic that makes Heather somewhat of an anomaly in the industry: she easily maneuvers both the traditional and contemporary genres of Christian music, often combining the two for a unique blend that has become her artistic fingerprint. Initially recognized for her skill as a pianist, Heather is now known for her compositions in choral anthems, solo piano collections, and orchestrations. Her works are performed regularly at competitions, concerts, recitals, and churches worldwide.  In the past several years, Heather has appeared multiple times at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Constitution Hall. Although her career is sometimes on a big stage, Heather’s heart is leading the Church in worship, and she feels that her greatest calling is using her music to connect people with God.  Years of experience as a church music administrator and music educator have proven to be invaluable experience, and teaching has become a large part of Heather’s ministry. She taught all elementary levels of music at Grace Academy of Dallas for 4 years, served as an adjunct music professor at Baylor University, and has served on many master class panels in piano and songwriting. Heather regularly is a guest speaker and conductor at churches across America, and leads scores of sessions each year at various worship conferences, schools, and universities.  Heather makes her home in the Dallas, TX area with her beloved (and very vocal) beagle, Lucy.

So, you’re a Music Minister … and it’s December. I actually snickered out loud while writing that statement! I offer you my condolences and my congratulations! If we were all sitting around a table right now, there would be many shared smiles, yawns, and encouraging phrases offered, such as: “Hang in there! How many more rehearsals? When’s your last performance of the season? Praying for you!” As music ministers, we’ve ALL been caught up in the Christmas machine at some point. If December were a musical work, we might title it “Presto,” with the descriptors of con moto or molto accel. It comes with the territory, though, and we somehow enjoy our crazy! I won’t use up any internet real estate encouraging you to slow down. That’s the same sermon we all preach to ourselves each year, and you’re probably a better preacher than I am.

But here is a space where I will park for just a minute:

To those of us who call ourselves ministers (and in a broader sense, who among us is NOT?), what if we used this season to….well….minister? Crazy talk, you might say! This is Presto December, after all. However, if social media has made one healthy contribution to the Church, it has been in raising awareness of the dark side of Christmas for hurting people. ‘Tis the season of staggering burdens and brokenness for so many. So, what if we skipped the time spent making and wrapping up 25 dozen cookies for choir members this year, and instead, went to coffee one-on-one with people who might need to know that someone cares? Is there a choir member on the fringe of the group with whom you could share a family dinner? Who are the people who sit by themselves in church? Which families have experienced loss, not just this year, but in years past? Even perfect families are not so perfect if we would take time to really know each other. And that might just be where real ministry starts. Music in the folders, detailed schedules, perfectly planned rehearsals: that’s the JOB. Investing in people, giving our time, carrying burdens: that’s the MINISTRY.

I have learned a few things in this area over the years:
1. A person can simultaneously experience the miracle of Christmas AND deep grief. Peace and pain can coexist. Faith and paralysis are not mutually exclusive. Struggling with Christmas doesn’t equal struggling with Christ. This is not necessarily a spiritual battle for which someone needs to claim victory.
2. Hurting people don’t really need one more Christmas party to attend- they need you. They need the Christ in you. And while they might appreciate the gesture of a dozen cookies dropped off on their doorstep, a listening ear and a servant’s heart will go miles further in soothing a bruised soul this Christmas.

Broken people are everywhere, and they are people we know. Our choirs and congregations are full of them. What if we all intentionally ministered during this Christmas season? And here’s some more crazy talk, but what if we just ministered all the time? I pray God’s blessing on each of you as you feed His sheep during this very special time of year.

Merry Christmas,
Heather

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