Gig and/or Ministry

I was alerted to a discussion point among church musicians, namely the appropriateness of referring to a job or an engagement for hire as a “gig.”

I have used this term in reference to church music. I cannot recall ever speaking to a bishop and using that term. Non-Catholics, especially other musicians, definitely yes. If I’m talking informally with another musician, we might describe our experiences, genres, venues, and so on. It has never struck me particularly disrespectful to God or to the Church to refer to my duties as a music director as my “gig.” But I think some church musicians would disagree.

The Oxford online dictionary gives definition number 2 of the word:

noun, Plural gigs


  • 1A live performance by a musician or group playing popular or jazz music.

    Example sentences
    1. 1.1 A job, especially one that is temporary or that has an uncertain future.
      ‘working on the sea and spotting whales seemed like a great gig’

Maybe some of us can relate to 1. 1.1 and that “uncertain future” bit. Changes in pastors, facebook spies, things like that.

“Ministry” can be another vocabulary tripping point. Some years back, there was an attempt in some quarters to roll back the term “ministry” as it had been applied to those not in Holy Orders. I don’t get the fuss on that either.

Ministry is assessed not by the person’s ecclesiastical status or even their abilities and gifts, but by the measure of Christ’s fruitfulness in the person’s service to others. I’ve known people who were ordained and whose work was less that of ministry and more of something else. I’ve also known lay people who never sought nor embraced the term “minister,” but their life’s witness was such a concrete example of divinely-infused service that those who came into contact with them, believers and not, could give convincing witness of a Christ-encounter.

Respect, for a job, a person, the Church, is best given by one’s actions. Not necessarily by one’s words.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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