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International Principles and Guidelines for Gospel Arts Groups

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International Principles and Guidelines for Gospel Arts Groups


Bands and Songster Brigades, Y.P. Bands and Singing Companies have been in existence for a very long time. Orders and Regulations sometimes referred to as Regulations and Guidelines have already been produced for many of them at territorial level.

These Principles and Guidelines for Gospel Arts Groups contain the essence of what those documents spell out in greater detail.

It is noted that some documents include brief reference to "Other Music Organizations", "Other groups" etc. but also that these groups tend to be of a more informal nature, and in some cases may exist for a relatively short time, since some have been formed for a specific ministry within the corps, or as an outreach initiative.

The function of this document is to outline basic principles which will facilitate all Gospel Arts groups to draw up customized documents of their own. It is hoped that they will be particularly helpful to groups which lead sung worship, gospel choirs, drama, mime or sacred dance groups, which may presently be operating without any guidelines. Customized guidelines should be drawn up in consultation with corps officer(s), to enable groups to determine the parameters within which they will function.

It is recognized that some territories/commands may already have their own guidelines for all Gospel Arts Groups. This document does not over-ride them, but, rather, provides a frame of reference for groups in territories/commands for which there are not presently any guidelines in existence.

Mission Statement

The group, in consultation with the corps officer(s) and corps council or worship committee should draw up a statement of why it exists, in the context of the mission of the corps, and of the Salvation Army as a whole.

Romans 12:1 makes it very clear that worship is about the whole of life. In addition, there are sound biblical bases for the use of a wide variety of art forms as a response to God, offered in corporate worship, and to communicate the gospel clearly and effectively. It would be wise for consideration to be given to these when considering the reason for which a particular group exists.

The group should seek God's guidance by asking such questions as: What does God have in mind for this group? What is our vision? What do we value? What are our goals? What will help or hinder the achievement of those goals?

The end product needs to be a short memorable statement of the group's purpose.

Once the mission of the group is established it will be easier to consider what factors need to be taken into consideration in drawing up guidelines specific to the operation of that group. These may include some of the following:

The name of the group

This should accurately represent the mission and ministry of the group. "Worship" is not always a helpful word to include in the name, since there may be several groups in the corps which also exist to enhance worship. Consider the possibility of using the word "Alternative" rather than "Worship" or "Contemporary".


Leadership of the group is provided under the supervision of the corps officers.

Qualifications for the leaders should include such things as: spiritual integrity, leadership ability, management and organizational skills, knowledge of the art form and the ability to teach.

It is advisable to draw up brief ministry descriptions for those responsible for different aspects of the leadership of the group, including the spiritual wellbeing of the members and for money management.

Criteria for membership

Involvement in a gospel arts group can be the means of pre-Christians coming to faith, through the words and music used, and through close relationship with members who are already believers and are using their talents and spiritual gifts for the glory of God, the building up of the Body of Christ, and for outreach and evangelism.

If the group is to be open to participation by pre-Christians, it is recommended that a time frame be established within which participation can take place before it is necessary for a participant to either make a profession of faith or withdraw from the group.

Any pre-Christians who participate should be given a clear explanation of the reason that the group exits; of expectations with regard to such things as behaviour, dress code, responsibilities to other members of the group, and participation in those aspects of the life of the group that are designed to enhance the spiritual growth of the individual members.


Establish rehearsal times, and expectations with regard to attendance and punctuality. Decide the proportion of time to be spent in preparing for participation in corporate worship, improvement in skills relating to the art form of the group, and the spiritual growth of the members. Ideally, an equal amount of time should be given to each.

Origination of material

God can speak clearly to a given congregation through material created by its gospel arts groups, such as dramas, songs.

Criteria need to be established by which the material can be tested by people qualified to check new material for such things as theological accuracy, grammar and harmony before it is used in public.


The group should ensure that performance, reproduction and use of word/music do not infringe national or international law on copyright. The use of reproduced material should be covered by the appropriate licence.

The General's Representatives for the Development of Worship and Evangelism through Music and Other Creative Arts are available to provide advice and recommended resources to those territories wishing to provide more specific principles and guidelines for their Gospel Arts Groups

Issued December 2004

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