However, I have been thinking about how thankful I am for the people that serve in the worship ministry and how to better serve them well and help them flourish. I have written about the parable of the talents and how they can apply to talent management but I wanted to take a slightly different twist. The phrase “well done, good and faithful servant” in Matthew 25 has always been a motivating desire for me. I want to know that I have intentionally used the time, talent and resources that I have been given in a way that makes my Savior proud.
I live close to St. Louis and in my house we are Cardinals fans. This has been a relatively recent development over the years and as baseball season has come and gone I have seen quite a few parallels that can be applied to leading a worship ministry.
It seems to me like there are 6 distinct phases that a player could possibly go through in their career:
When I decided to go into worship ministry there were a lot of reasons swirling around. However, leading worship at funerals was no where even on my radar. In this past year though I have had to face the reality of what it means to worship in the face of death. I personally have lost two grandparents, one of which was my spiritual hero. Additionally I have lead worship for two funerals of our church family.
Before I illustrate some of the truths I learned about how to both worship and lead others in worship in these difficult times I’d like to set the stage a little.
This past I week I had the chance to be part of the congregation while one of our teams lead worship without me on stage. (It’s one of the great joys of leadership when you get to watch the team you have trained and cared for lead with as much excellence and power as if you were on stage with them.) I had been standing in the back row worshipping until it was time for me to come forward to do the communion meditation and prayer when I got to the front row it hit me. The church was singing out LOUDLY! There are few things on earth that I love more than to hear the church sing.
Backing up a bit, I was having a conversation with an elder at another church recently and he mentioned that he has noticed a growing trend of people standing and watching the band and vocalists during worship instead of singing along. He then asked me if I thought that was okay? I told him it was not only NOT okay, but that there were some simple ways to make it easier to help and encourage them to do so with joy.
I’m gonna tell you something that you probably already know but most people won’t actually say out loud: we say and do a lot of things under the disguise of ministry that are really motivated by PRIDE and ENVY.
Shocking I know! It’s hard to believe but if we peel back the self-righteousness, the pointing and accusing and even what seems to be an effort to just point out the truth is really either a reflection of our feeling of inadequacy or an inflated sense of self.
Have you heard these phrases?
Imagine walking into the church building for rehearsal, plugging in your instrument and flying through the next 1 1/2 to 2 hours having a blast playing with a great sounding band that worships passionately.
This scene is IMPOSSIBLE to accomplish without EVERY individual on the platform coming personally prepared and having effectively practiced on their own before rehearsal. (Note: even one person not coming prepared dramatically affects the entire team)
Worship practice preparation is essential if you want to enjoy your time together, play well as an individual and a group as well as help serve your congregation with joy and without distraction.
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase that “Practice is Personal” meaning that learning a song and preparing it on your own time is what is expected before people come to rehearsal. That is something that I’ve always felt was essential to helping make a rehearsal go smoothly and therefore Sunday more likely to be distraction free and more fun and meaningful for everyone involved.
For years I made this part of our expectations for being part of the team and told new members about it. Over time I found that telling people it was their responsibility to come prepared only had a nominal effect until one day I had a “lightbulb” moment (cue Despicable Me).
I had told people they needed to practice on their own personal time but never explained what preparing to practice exactly that meant, looked like or how to do it.
They’re listening. I know sometimes we wonder how much of what we say from stage is sinking in but they’re catching much more than we might think.
Scary isn’t it. More often than not, the things we say from stage can have as much power as the songs we lead. Actually, when thoughtful spoken words combine with our music the impact is multiplied.
Once I realized that I needed to work on my communication, I began paying attention to other worship leaders to see what I could learn. Here’s some of tips for speaking in worship and pitfalls that I’ve come across in the past couple of years.
So you’ve taken that new job and you’re trying to figure out how to make some much needed transitions without causing yourself or your church unnecessary “bloodshed”.
I’ve been talking to some worship minister friends of mine who are either in this phase of ministry or about to experience it. During these conversations I’ve found myself telling the story of my very first worship mentor and decided to share it with the hopes that it can be helpful even to those of us in established ministries dealing with constantly changing worship styles.