“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. Luke 15:4-5 NKJV
Hi! “I’m Helen*. I’m from Kaiser Valley!” she greets me every week. Helen (not her real name) is perky, funny, and she now lives in
the Alzheimer’s ward at the nursing home I visit. Helen has an amazing memory for the verses of all the hymns. For most of her life, Helen attended church,sang in the choir, gave her offerings and like so many others she never once receives a visit from her pastor.
Being a pastor isn’t an easy job. Most people don’t understand the pressures, the demands and the temptations that we face every week. But pastors are also shepherds and as shepherds we are called to help to take care of sheep. Some sheep pay their tithes faithfully, dress nicely and shake our hands to tell us they loved the message. But some sheep lose their way. In this parable Jesus is talking about a lost sheep just like my friend Helen from Kaiser Valley. She is a sheep who has wandered off a little too far. One day she looked around and the rest of the flock was gone! There were no familiar landmarks. She cannot find anyone to help her find her way home. What all the Helens and Bobs and Alices and Marys need are shepherds who will come looking for them. Do not take this message as just another guilt trip, but rather as a gentle encouragement to remember how joyful it is when Jesus finds any one of us. Remember that the business of finding lost sheep is a great joy for both the shepherd and the sheep!
The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him. Exodus 15:2
Never underestimate the power of music. No matter how plain (or just plain off key!) there is a force that flows just below the surface of the notes. A melody is a lot like one of the stones in David’s sling in the Bible story. Goliath had a serious size advantage over the puny teen-aged David. In spite of Goliath’s awesome armor and weaponry, the power of one smooth stone guided by God’s hand was able to penetrate his defenses. Music can be an armament for good if we ask God to guide it to ears that long to hear from Him.
I discovered the simple power of music from two dear shut-in friends, William and his wife Joaquina. For about two years I visited them every Wednesday afternoon and came to affectionately call them “Mom and Dad”. William began to slowly lose the use of his arms, then his legs and he became confined to his bed and recliner. William loved to hear the hymns especially the lively ones. But William didn’t only listen to music. He found that he could still whistle a tune so one of his pass-times was to whistle to his parakeets whose cage sat in the corner of the living room. Whenever William whistled the parakeets chirped loudly. Near the end of William’s life his family filmed a brief video of his two parakeets hopping on his chest while William whistled a song. In the battle of his life William still used the smallest melody to fight.
For those, who like myself, have chosen to do nursing home ministry, I would encourage you to prioritize music. Music’s purpose is often unrecognized and its value underestimated but in its proper place it has the power to touch the hearts and minds of people as nothing else. Whether you are an accomplished musician or an amateur. Simply share the songs of the church and God’s message will take wings and fly!
Excerpt from Music Matters in Nursing Home Ministry:
Music Matters in Nursing Home Ministry
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God 2 Corinthians 5:20
We as worship leaders shouldn’t be putting on an act and when we do God has a faithful way of reminding us that we are missing His best. However there is also the idea that we are not just singing in a room all by ourselves. We are called as ambassadors to present the Gospel through music in the most appealing way. Whether you are a worship leader at a nursing home or at the biggest mega-church on the planet, the heart of the message is the same. God is longing for people who will come and worship in both spirit and in truth.
This second part in this series focuses us on our presentation. Because the message matters and because people are of infinite value to Jesus we are called to do our best to present it to them in the most effective way we can. Be blessed as you listen and be blessed as you minister to others with the songs that God has given you!
What I share in these next 3-4 posts I have shared before yet the needs and our opportunities to meet them are always new. Music matters in ministry because it is the language of heaven. Music can go where no one can go to unlock the memories of Alzheimer’s patients, calm nerves for Parkinson’s sufferers and bring a smile to those locked in depression.
I do not claim to have all or even most of the answers in effectively using music, but what I have tried works. These simple ideas can work in your ministry too. You have everything you need if you are willing to begin to bring healing to hearts and blessing to lives through music ministry. Here is session one from our music matters seminar-
For more information you can find the book Music Matters in Nursing Home Ministry on Amazon in ebook or soft cover or at smashwords in multiple e-reader formats.