Across the many parishes and schools that we visit in the course of our work and ministry there seems to be a bit of a recurring theme… More and more communities are struggling to find musicians and singers who are skilled, willing and able to plan and lead music for the Liturgy.
Many who are currently involved in parish music ministry say that their team is ageing and young people are difficult to bring on board. Others say that their congregations (or their priests) are resistant to change. Even our schools are facing the issue of music not being a priority in the syllabus or in terms of funding.
If the current trajectory continues, the question we can’t avoid is: what does the Liturgy look like in our parishes 5 or 10 year from now? Will our churches be empty and silent? Or will we find a away to raise up leaders and bring others on in these vital ministries in the life of the church.
Here are some of the comments from our Facebook community:
“We have a growing music group at our church and already have the younger ones playing on their own on some Sundays. It’s has been hard work though, especially coming from church with lot of elderly parishioners who aren’t always sure about change, but eventually we stuck it out with lots of people staying how lovely some of the more ‘modern’ songs were. We are lucky to have a very supportive priest, and a great musical group leader which helps! But now after being a group for about 17 years, CJM MUSIC is a regular item at our services!!!”
– Helen Kay
“CJM is a real life line for me as my current parish is very traditional, led by organ music. We have set up a small music group, which plays at Mass once a month thanks to our supportive priest…& we are trying to get more young people involved…we are introducing the parish to your music & even music we would consider ‘older’ is unknown to most…always huge differences in music ministry across the country.”
– Jane Kindlen
“I am a musician and play occasionally at Mass, but am also a reader and Eucharistic minister so can’t always do it. I think we as the body of Christ need to go out and not stop behind our closed doors. Perhaps we can have both, the usual Mass and other services and also have some sort of fresh expression of church where we serve the people in our communities, a going out, not just a drawing in. (as in Matthew)”
– Trish Stafford
“I have been given fresh hope for the shape church could be in in 10 years when reading Divine Renovation by Fr James Mallon. […] It’s very interesting how much emphasis he puts on the experience of high quality music ministry as a key reason they’ve seen radical renewal in their parish… I genuinely believe that my parish can become a place of welcome, praise and discipleship (for most people, in that order) in the next 10 years.”
– Ric Slatter
This is an area we will be focusing on more and more in the coming months. We’re committed developing tools, resource and training to meet this growing need, and to hand on our own skills and experience to other. While change is often slow-moving, we remain expectant for what the future will hold. We are, after all, a people of hope, not of fear.