Participation in the music culture of local churches in Nigeria is all-encompassing. It takes care of all activities involved in the music-making of each church and also emphasizes the enlistment of choir members, which include the vocalists and instrumentalists. It also engages the determination and selection of the leadership of the music ministry of each church. Furthermore, the commitment and effectiveness of the personnel involved are periodically assessed, after which they are either retained till a given time or replaced by other persons. Actually, the duration that each officer spends in occupying a position is usually vividly spelt out in the Constitution of each choir. However, the aforementioned issues, and recruitment into leadership depend on the guiding rules of the music team, as well as the Pastor and the congregation.
There is no strict rule on the choice of leadership in Nigerian churches, except that, almost every church always emphasizes the essence of regeneration, growth and spiritual maturity. This is expected at least to a reasonable extent, for participation in the team; and more importantly for leadership. Mainly, the commonest officers to be elected include: the Secretary, Treasurer/Financial Secretary, Whip/Disciplinarian, Band leader, Social/Welfare, and Prayer coordinator, among others. But the most paramount is the Leadership which varies from Choirmaster/Choir mistress, Music Director to Music Minister/Pastor or Worship Pastor. The Choirmaster or mistress may not necessarily be equipped professionally, except that many of them are musically talented. The Music Directors for the churches that use the term are usually appointed among church musicians, who did not obtain theological education; rather, who attended secular tertiary institutions and had any form of musical degree. This may be from any College of Education, Polytechnics, University, or Music School. Some churches call Music Pastors or Music/Worship Pastors who are professionally proficient from recognized theological institutions like the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso.
The issue of concern is that the experience that is expected in the place of corporate worship, especially ineffective leadership of church music is not always gotten in churches, where a call is not being extended to music ministers, who are wholistically equipped to handling and giving what it takes in this regard. The theological education that the Seminary provides equips the trainees with that, which effectively prepare them for the administration of the music ministry of the churches, rather than just recruiting persons that are limited to musicianship. The complaint from some Nigerian churches especially Baptist denominations is majorly financial constraint. They complain that the church does not have enough funds to take care of the personnel involved. Therefore, they opt for unskilled, semiskilled or skilled but without theological background. It is recommended that churches look into the criticality of this issue, and resolve on how worship music would be better enhanced, and congregational singing made more encouraging.
Contributed by Victoria O. Ayano.