Stop Being So Pastoral?

From Ruth Wilkinson (via her husband Paul), a sad story about church leadership gone awry:

The next Sunday, I was scheduled to lead worship. I chose songs that were familiar and simple, songs that spoke only of who God is and always had been and avoided “I will worship you” and “Thank you” types of lyrics.

On the platform, in my allotted one minute of speech, I said that a terrible thing had happened last week. That a lot of us were still hurting and questioning and angry. That it can be difficult to sing praises at a time like this, out of our woundedness. But that God was still God and though we don’t understand, we can trust him.

And we sang.

The next day, I got an email. From the (P)astor. Telling me off.

Apparently I had crossed a line. I’d been “too pastoral”.

As I told Paul, I’d like say that I can’t believe this story, but sadly I have no trouble at all believing it. Read Ruth’s whole story here.

Don’t Be The Babysitter

Kade Young on mentoring your younger musicians:

Having teenagers on the worship team has its ups and downs. The best part is their raw passion – they are excited about everything. However, this burning passion doesn’t always translate into a discipline to prepare.

He shares the story of a young guitarist who joined the team, which you should read here – it’s a short read with good lessons for worship leaders. One of the big takeaways here is that you can’t be the babysitter for your team – you have let them take responsibility for themselves. Good stuff.

The Pastor’s On The Worship Team?

It’s probably not something you want to do every week, but Philip Nation explains why it’s good for the pastor to help out on the worship team every once in a while:

On the most recent Sunday night, my church came together for a Night of Worship. We sang mostly older hymns; some arranged to contemporary styles. It was a time of great joy, a few tears, and the sweet community of the saints who love our Savior. In joking with our worship pastor Aaron Loy about when “my solo” would be in the service, he suggested that I join the small group of worship leaders on the platform.

I jumped at the opportunity…

Pastors, let me encourage you to join me in finding ways to join your worship leader on platform from time to time. Here’s why.

Philip shares four benefits for the pastor in getting up on the platform with the worship team on occasion. Read the whole thing here. Good stuff.

Pastors, Worship Leaders, And BFFs

Paul Wilkinson on one of the most important relationships in every church – the one between the pastor and the worship leader:

I came across the article in the spring of 2007 in Worship Leader magazine, never realizing how it was about to change my life. They interviewed a number of worship leaders in the U.S. — magazines like WL are usually unaware that anything exists outside the U.S. — on the subject of their relationship with their senior pastor.

Many mentioned the need for friendship, the need to be doing things together outside the office. As someone who was involved in a weekly worship activity that resulted in a senior pastor relationship which was entirely “task related,” I suddenly figured out why I had the nagging feeling that something was missing.

Paul shares how, for him, this realization led to the end of one ministry and the start of another. Read the whole story here.

I’ll throw in that when I’ve had a great friendship with my pastor, I’ve done my best work in worship ministry.

Dealing With Criticism

If you’ve been leading worship for any length of time, you know that there will never be a shortage of people with complaints. Chris Denning shares some tips on dealing with criticism as a worship leader:

No one like to be told they’re wrong or they suck. When most people think of critique and criticism, they think that they are being reprimanded or slammed. It is, however, something MUCH different.

Anything that has to do with art, including music, literature, dance, anything really, is subject to both critique and criticism. This includes leading worship. I believe that most Worship Leaders haven’t been coached on how to identify, handle, or even process critiques and criticism.

I want to take a few minutes to provide a framework for understanding critiques and criticism as well as some helpful tips for how to handle them as a worship leader.

His best piece of advice is about anonymous complaints: ignore them.

Read his whole post here. Good advice.

Six Ways To Serve Your Pastor Better

The relationship between the pastor and the worship leader is one of the most important ones in the local church, but it can also be a strained one sometimes. The pastor doesn’t always get where the worship leader is coming from, and vice versa.

But as the worship leader, it’s your job to submit to the pastor. That’s not always easy, but Chris Denning has some tips to help:

No matter your position on the staff team, your goal for your relationship with your Pastor should be to serve the well. We see support for this in Bible where church leaders are shown to be worthy of honor (1 Tim 5:17) and that obedience and submission to them is good (Hebrews 13:17). Assuming that your Pastor is leading in a way that honors God, serving your Pastor is paramount to your ability to serve God in your role.

Worship Leaders have an especially important role in serving our Pastors because we work so closely in helping them in one of their main tasks of leading the Church on a weekly basis. Knowing how we can specifically serve our Pastors well will not only help us to be more effective, but will also make our jobs even more enjoyable.

Chris lists six things you can do to make the pastor/worship leader team as effective as it can be. Check it out here.

Attracting High-Quality Volunteers

We’re often tempted to lower the bar in an effort to attract more volunteers, but Kade Young explains why we may need to hold church volunteers to a higher standard than we normally do:

In church, when a volunteer underperforms, we often write it off saying something like, “Well, it’s not like they are paid staff…they are just volunteers.” I have been in many leadership meetings where this is the ‘cop out’ to the problem at hand. After all, it is an easy statement to agree with.

But, before we take the easy way out, let’s think about what is really being said here. You could easily replace the phrase ‘they are just volunteers’ with ‘they are just serving God’… brings a new perspective, doesn’t it?

The main problem with this type of thinking is that when you expect less, you get less. You are effectively inspiring volunteers to be lazy when serving God. In other words, you are teaching that you should only give your best effort when a paycheck is to follow.

So, how do we inspire and attract the best volunteers?

He goes on to list four ways that your worship ministry can attract high-quality, high-performing volunteers. Check it out here.

But We’ve Always Done It That Way!

Kevin Kruse tells about a time that changing music hit someone in his congregation pretty hard:

… on this particular Sunday, the song was close enough but different enough where it became very difficult for this gentleman to accept. His memory of the hymn had been tainted by what he felt was a drastic change to a hymn that he dearly loved. And this… this was another reminder to me that change can be hard.

I think we all understand that change is difficult, and I’m sure each of us have dealt with change on some level or another. But in that moment, I realized I had a role and a responsibility as a Worship Pastor to help navigate the path of change for this gentleman. Because let’s be honest: as Worship Pastors there’s a good deal of change that takes place all the time.

Kevin shares three ways to help your congregation navigate change in an ever-changing environment. Definitely worth checking out. Read the whole thing here.

Open Critics And Closed Critics

Greg Jones on taking criticism as a worship leader (from the different types of critics):

One essential thing I’ve learned to do with my critic is to determine if they are open or closed. I can quickly determine if a person is open simply by asking them WHY they hold their position. Open people use reason to support their positions. If a person is open, then they are the easiest to work with. Simply ask them their reasoning, give them your reasoning and both of you can see whose reasons ‘weigh’ more.

If the critic can’t give a reason, maybe when pressed you find them simply regurgitating their original criticism, then that critic is closed. Closed people draw conclusions often because of their own psychology, not because of reality. In this case, I will simply thank them for expressing their ‘concern’, make sure they know I love them and walk away. I may even have to inform them that we will have to agree to disagree but in that case, I will have to resist telling them why. You may have to employ ambiguity here. Fortunately, this can be easy to do because closed people don’t tend to go deep, they are often presumptuous. Therefore, you can say something ambiguous without betraying your integrity. One general example might be, “I’ll look into it.” This is honest, as you’ll see below, but it doesn’t plumb the depths.

Greg also shares a story that provides a perfect example of why so many complaints aren’t what they seem on the surface. Check it out here.

Eleven Worship Team Values

Aaron Ivey describes his worship team manifesto:

There are no short cuts or simple formulas for fostering environments where teams flourish. Over the years I’ve had a change in perspective from building worship teams to developing “worshipping” teams. To build a worship team usually means finding some skilled musicians and artists, then trying to get them to work well together and get along, but building a worshipping team is altogether different! It requires more than just assembling a group of people doing individual tasks and getting something accomplished. Instead, it’s a tribe of worshippers that love the church, love people, and just happen to use their gifts to bring glory to God.

“Manifesto” is a great word that simply refers to a public declaration of values and aims and motives. In fostering an environment where a healthy and vibrant worshipping team exists, we’ve created our own manifesto. These are the things we are publicly declaring as our values and aims as a worshipping team.

He shares eleven core values that most worship teams could and should embrace. This one was especially great:

We choose relationship over rivalry and we choose camaraderie over comparison.

Simply put, we do together what no single one of us could do alone. Instead of comparing we will cheer each other on and we will fight jealousy and envy by celebrating each other’s gifting.

“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)

Check out the whole list here.