Worship pastor: Music has impactful ministry
March 19th, 2014 / By: Sharayah Colter | Staff Writer / comments
Trouble is ordinary. Pain is common. Trials nip relentlessly at the heels of the trials in front of them. They’re essentially the ticker tape of the human existence. Only rarely and for short seasons can easy describe life on earth. If that were not the case, a sizable portion of Scripture would seem to speak to a problem nobody has.
As it is, though, everyone does have that problem—cancer for some, bankruptcy for others, flat tires for nearly everyone at some point.
Scott Bryant, worship pastor at Lamar Baptist Church in Arlington, said he sees music as a God-given tool that can be used for good or bad—as a balm for a deflated soul or as claws that tear down a soul one swift swipe at a time. When used as God intended, he said, it reflects the scene of perfect worship going on around the throne in heaven. Whether a sacrifice of praise or a shout of jubilation, worship, he said, can help heal hearts and restore joy.
“John reminds us that God created all things,” Bryant said. “Nothing apart from him exists. That’s everything. That would include leadership. That would include music. That would include worship, which began before he created time, and that’s a whole study within itself. I have seen the value of that when people are hurting and a song will minister to them—the words and where those words come from, if they’re scripturally based, if they’re theologically correct and right for the situation. Sometimes music can really reach a person at that level more than words or other things. All of us have probably experienced that, whether we’re happy or sad or in between or just needing encouragement or direction, the Lord just speaks in so many ways.”
Bryant said that in his role as worship pastor he often witnesses firsthand how the Lord speaks to people in the congregation—breaking hard hearts, comforting grieving hearts, guiding aimless hearts—as those deep, soul-level transactions register on the countenance of the people.
“You can see that expressed in corporate worship,” Bryant said. “You can’t read people’s hearts—only God can do that, but when you see what’s going on, on the outside, you can kind of tell when God’s touching hearts where it’s needed, and sometimes people will verbalize that later.”
Bryant explained that certain scientific aspects of music—harmonies, melodies, tones, scales, the way sound travels—are obvious testaments to God as creator. He said certain tones can soothe, and others can stir, while some, such as those used in war, can even cause a person to become ill and unable to fight. The measurable science behind it is what has allowed things like music therapy to have some success, Bryant said. What some in that field do not realize, he said, is that the science only affirms both the general and special revelation of God and the Bible’s claims that God did indeed create the world and created it with intricate order.
“I think it’s a great industry, [but] it’s kind of like some of the other sciences; they tend to want to shut God out,” Bryant said. “To me, they are discovering about the creator and what he’s already doing, but then not giving him credit, glory and honor for that. Science is cracking the door open for Christian people called to that to inject that [field] with Christ and with what it should be. But for me, the Scripture is the foundation.”
Bryant said he saw firsthand how music seems to have some way of ministering that can penetrate to the spirit when nothing else can, during his grandmother’s final days on earth. He recalled that she had suffered multiple strokes and could not really respond anymore. Living several states away, Bryant would call and talk to her on the phone, even though she could no longer talk back. One day, though, he felt led to sing her favorite song to her—“There is a Savior.”
A few minutes after hanging up from the one-sided conversation, the nurse attending to his grandmother called his phone.
“The nurse said [my grandmother] cuddled up to the phone and tried to mouth the words of the song as I sang,” Bryant said. “She said, ‘I don’t know what you said or did, but she responded like no other time.’
“Sing for people, even if you don’t sing very well.”
Bryant pointed out that Scripture tells of God using music and worship to minister to people time and time again, citing the 1 Samuel 16 account of a distressed Saul becoming “refreshed and well” when David played the harp for him. Bryant went on to say that references to music and worship in the Psalms are almost too many to number and that it’s not just happy and joyful songs that fill the book, but often songs sung as a sacrifice of praise in deep and troubling times. Bryant said often offering that sacrifice of praise, being willing to be obedient to give thanks in every circumstance, can take the focus off of self and put it onto Christ—something that he said can calm and soothe a troubled soul.
The music minister also pointed to Zephaniah 3:17 and said it serves as a word picture of God singing over his people to calm and comfort them as would a father with his child.
“[There’s] a passage in Hebrews [that says] Christ himself is with us in worship,” Bryant continued. “Music and worship matter to God. Knowing that God’s presence is there with us—that brings about everything and anything anybody could ever need—physically, spiritually, emotionally.
Bryant said music employs the body in the physical act of singing or playing, the mind in the act of thinking about the words and the heart and soul in the act of offering the innermost part of a human being to God in worship. It connects every aspect of a person to what Scripture calls the two greatest commandments—loving the Lord with all one’s heart, mind, soul and strength and loving people as one’s self.
“Everything comes out of that—heart, mind soul and strength—-sing praise with your heart and your mind,” Bryant said. “Sing with all your strength.”
Bryant said involvement in the local church plays a crucial role in facilitating the ministry of music—not only in encouragement and unity among believers but in evangelism to unbelievers as well.
“If what you’re experiencing in there is healing you and your mind and your heart, you want to share that, so we go and we take Christ to them as quickly as we can and as soon as we are able, and immediately if at all possible, bring them into that church so that they can experience that,” Bryant said. “They can’t get that anywhere else. You can’t get that on a car radio. You can’t get that at home on your own. You can only get that corporately. Now there are people who are shut in and are physically unable to do so and people in other parts of the globe and underground and what have you, but you can find other believers, and other believers can come to you and you can experience that corporate worship together.”
Bryant said he would tell members of his church that if they have a problem for which they need to seek help, they should do that, but also said he continues to see, time after time, the true and effective ministry of music.
“It is very important and brings about healing and can touch us in a way that nothing else can,” Bryant said. “And it’s not because of the music or the musician. It’s because of the creator.”