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Interview: Worship Pastor Andy Lee

Andy Lee is a worship pastor and blogger (I’ve linked to several of his articles) in New Jersey. Recently, Andy talked to Worship Links about choosing the right songs for worship, managing a team on and off the stage, and silencing your cell phone.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for us. It’s truly appreciated! The first question is an easy one. Tell us a little bit about yourself in five sentences.

I am a Star Wars loving Worship Pastor out here in beautiful northern NJ. People might say that I’m a bit of a film buff because of the quantity of movies I tend to watch. I also love doing voice impressions and my dream job would be voice acting. But in the church, one of my biggest passions is raising up new worship teams and leaders. Training and mentoring them is a big part of what I do and I love seeing the next generation grow and step up.

How did you get started in worship ministry?

It was a right time, right place kind of situation. In high school I just happened to be learning to play guitar as our youth praise team was recruiting new members. Shortly after, the youth pastor asked me to lead worship on Sundays. As more windows of opportunities opened, I quickly found myself wanting to learn and grow, expanding my knowledge and experience of worship and worship leading. Before the rise of the internet, I relied a lot on firsthand experience and mentors who have taught me much of what I know. It’s so awesome that today, no matter where you’re at in worship ministry, you can find someone out there that you can learn from and relate to.

What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?

As I prepare, I usually have a good idea of how the service could start and finish based on several factors such as how the Spirit leads and also practical reasons (where our church is at right now, songs we plan on introducing, etc.). But a basic process could be sparked from the sermon topic for that Sunday/month, specific songs that stood out to me throughout the week, or maybe something revelatory/insightful from a verse or two from my time in the Word. These elements mold some song selections into shape and since I consider the worship set to be a bit of a “journey”, I do my best to understand and be open to how everyone is “traveling” during that particular set from start to finish.

Desert Island Worship Mix: You’re trapped on a desert island, and for reasons too ridiculous to explain, you can only have one CD with five worship songs on it. What are they?

  • Yours Is The Kingdom (Hillsong Church)
  • Let It Be Known (Worship Central)
  • Your Name (Paul Baloche)
  • My Life (Steve Fee)
  • Let It Be Jesus (Christy Nockels)

What have you found are some of your greatest challenges in managing a worship team? How do you handle the balance between being a musician and being a manager?

When overseeing a worship team, it’s sometimes difficult exemplifying a worshipful lifestyle when you’re not necessarily leading worship with them every week. Teaching on worship both on and off the stage is especially a challenge if you aren’t invested enough into their lives both on and off the stage. Much of what we do can be seen on the stage by the average churchgoer, but what happens behind the scenes? While it’s important to be a great musician that plays with and directs the team, there needs to be a balance of the heart as well. So a big part, I feel, of what I do as a worship pastor is being able to relate to our teams musically and spiritually as well.

What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?

Recently I’ve been emphasizing John 4:23-24 with my teams. This goes back to having the right balance in our worship. Having a “super-spiritual” time of worship with our hearts but without true content in what we’re saying/singing would be hollow. Having a thought-provoking and “scholarly” time of worship with our minds without the emotional meaning would also be hollow. Our worship of God ought to be felt from our hearts but also believed in our minds. After all, Jesus said to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”.

If you could give one piece of advice to up and coming worship leaders, what would it be? Conversely, what’s some advice you wish you’d received earlier on?

To the up and coming worship leaders, reach out to others who can help mold you into a better leader. Don’t let arrogance be a blind spot in your leadership. We can always learn something new that will benefit our worship ministries. If I could go back and do it again, I’d be networking left and right earlier on to see what’s out there. Don’t be boxed in by what you think is your church’s “style”. Find where you belong as a musician and as a worship leader. With all the different styles today, you’re bound to find one where you fit in the best.

What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?

Not that it isn’t already, but I think worship in the church will be so diverse, covering all sorts of styles: from musical genres, to presentation approaches, to even the multimedia we use to present our creativity to God. With the constant evolution of technology, I don’t think it’ll be surprising to see more and more implementation of smart devices whether it’s as the music team or as the preacher. But no matter the expression of our worship, I hope and pray that we don’t depend on these outlets but remember the heart of our worship underneath it all.

Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?

Ever since she’s been involved with North Point Ministries, Lauren Daigle’s been blipping like crazy on my radar! Her soulful voice amplifies the powerful words she sings. Love her debut album “How Can It Be”!

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?

I think we’ve all forgotten to silence our phones at church… at least once or twice! And the one time I didn’t silence my phone, of course it rings during a set. It probably would have been okay if it rang during a song but being the timely situation it was, it rang during an in-between! Needless to say, that was a transition I learned a lot from.

Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?

Thank you! People can read some of my posts on my band website and also on The Church Collective or find me on Twitter and Instagram.

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