THE SUNDAY TEAM - MAKE SOME CHANGES / PASTORS

I wanna' say thanks to those of you who have stuck with the whole Sunday Team series. I hope these posts were a help to worship leaders and pastors alike!

To wrap up the series, I wanna' offer some very practical tips for worship leaders AND pastors. If you've read through the whole series, you might have realized that your ministry needs some work. I encourage you to try some of these steps! We'll kick off with some recommendations for worship leaders.

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JUST LISTEN
Your worship leader likes to talk. It's a person with vision and plans and frustrations. And lots of us process our thoughts verbally. (...and we've probably already talked our family to death.) When you’re with your worship leader, let them talk. It will help.

It strengthens the friendship. Listening while we theorize is huge sign of respect and we’re grateful for it, but we're usually not that good at it. We need a safe space where we can bounce ideas around.

You may learn something. Worship leaders consume a lot information. You listen to a worship leader long enough, you’re going to find out about a world of books and ideas and theories you’ve never heard of. You may not agree, but it'll widen your horizons!

You’ll get ideas. I still believe worship leaders intuitively usually “know” what the congregations is feeling. Letting your worship leader talk might highlight areas of growth or challenge in your church.

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MAKE AN ALLY
Lots of Sundays, it comes down to you and that worship leader. You’re a team - in reality, and in the eyes of the congregation. Foster partnership among the church staff. Work toward having a relationship where you and the worship leader are allies.

Schedule some dreaming. Have lunch, just to dream about the church. Use this to find common ground on what you’re both working on. This will go a long way toward syncing up your ministry approaches.

Reference reference reference. The easiest way to make an ally of your worship leader is to reference something that worship leader has said. It may seem silly, but referencing your worship leader in a meeting or small group will be a serious blessing.

Compliment. It really doesn't matter if your worship leader succeeds or not. After he or she leads, compliment them. It doesn’t have to be huge, but a simple, sincere compliment will allow your worship leader to let down their guard and open up to you.

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LEARN THE LANGUAGE
Find out how worship leaders talk. Find out what worship experts are talking about or books/ideas that are impacting local churches. Don’t be the pastor who forces the worship leader to conform his or her conversations to your personal issues.

Listen to worship music. I still don't understand why pastors hate worship music. It baffles me. Build a playlist in your phone of songs the church is singing. Ask your worship leader to recommend some tunes!

Know what's changing. Most pastors can talk at length about current social movements within the local church, but that stuff happens in church music, too.

Learn a little music. You don’t have to start piano lessons, but know the difference between a ballad and a rock tune. Try and figure out which instruments are most prominent in certain songs and ask. Find your worship leader's influences and then go listen to them.

THE SUNDAY TEAM - MAKE SOME CHANGES / WORSHIP LEADERS

I wanna' say thanks to those of you who have stuck with the whole Sunday Team series. I hope these posts were a help to worship leaders and pastors alike!

To wrap up the series, I wanna' offer some very practical tips for worship leaders AND pastors. If you've read through the whole series, you might have realized that your ministry needs some work. I encourage you to try some of these steps! We'll kick off with some recommendations for worship leaders.

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HANGOUTS ARE IMPORTANT
Maybe it’s a weekly lunch or your families get together for a cookout; maybe it’s going to a movie or catching up one morning over coffee. These aren’t ministry meetings - they’re just times where you and your pastor can be yourselves and get to know each other better. Here are some ways to make hangouts happen.

Be the initiator. You create the hang. Your pastor is very busy and really doesn't need another thing to plan. Take the initiative and look for ways you two can hangout.

Be honest. Many pastors break out in hives when asked to lunch. Why? Because nine times out ten, that lunch means someone is upset and wants to talk. For your hangouts, let your pastor know there's no agenda - it's just a time to catch up.

Be realistic. If you've conflicts with your pastor in the past, the hangout may be a little harder to pull off. Confess you’ve been way too negative and dramatic in the past and you want to do a better job of supporting your leader.

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CHECK IN
Make it a priority to keep in touch with your pastor. A text or email is often the perfect way to make sure you’re up-to-date on what’s going on in the ministry. Don’t be a nuisance, but do be diligent.

Check in WITH the pastor. Try to find out a time during the week where your pastor is the most free to discuss or think through church planning. This isn't a long conversation; just a heads-up communique to make sure you're on the same page.

Check in FOR the pastor.
Sometimes, the check-in is more beneficial to your pastor than it is for you. Worship leaders with particularly obsessive or detail-oriented pastors will bless their bosses by checking-in. If this is your situation, make a point to contact your pastor a couple times each week as an update on what you're doing and planning. It will make your pastor's life a lot easier!

Check in TO BUILD UP the pastor.
Ever get one of those random texts that say “You’re awesome!” or “I believe in you!”? They feel great, don’t they? Your pastor doesn’t get many of those. We ought to be sending one of those to our leaders every single week. A simple “you can do it” will work wonders in a stressed out pastor’s life.

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BE GOOD AT YOUR JOB
Your pastor is also your boss. And as a rule, bosses doesn’t enjoy cleaning up after their employees. If you’re a relational wreck or seriously disorganized, that stuff will come back to your pastor and will hurt your relationship. You can ensure a lot more peace if your work is done with excellence.

Handle conflicts. If you’re bad at counseling, get better at it. If you’ve got two bandmates that want to kill each other, get in there. There’s nothing wrong for calling in help when you need it, but too many worship leaders pull the ripcord when things get too tough. And that usually means the conflict ends up on the pastors desk.

Have an answer. Read about worship leading. Think about it. Plan it. Theorize on it. Spend time getting wise about what you're doing because sooner or later, you’ll get pushback on something and if you don’t have a good answer for it, you’re gonna take a hit. Engaging your mind about your ministry is sure-fire way to be good at what you do.

Take on hard things. Most pastors don't like the status quo. They like growth. They like challenge. They like success. If you want to good at your job, take on (or even) create projects that require you to raise the bar for yourself.

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BE IN THEIR CORNER
Supporters come and go, and there's not a pastor alive with a 100% satisfaction rating. Leaders needs people in their corner who will back up the hard choices and run defense when needed. Your pastor needs you to be a personal friend and a passionate fighter. Don’t back down when people badmouth the leadership. Back 'em up.

Push people toward hard conversations. People complain about the pastor to you because it’s safer that way. When they’re complaining to you, they can say whatever they want and avoid meeting the pastor face-to-face. To be in your pastor’s corner, encourage people to take their concerns to the source. Make sure they know that you have faith that the pastor can help them understand the issue better.

Repeat what matters. When your pastor says something that’s important to you, say it out loud. Affirm right then for the both of you. If it's resonating with you, it'll probably resonate with the congregation too, so make a point of letting your pastor know!

Reaffirm your leader. On a regular basis (I'd recommend once-a-month) tell your pastor that you support the ministry and that you're invested in what the church is doing. It will be be a constant source of encouragement for your pastor.

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SAY YES MORE THAN YOU SAY NO
You’re not going to agree with everything your pastor does. Nonetheless, be a positive co-minister and make sure you’re FOR more than you’re AGAINST. For what it's worth, if you're saying "no" constantly at your church, you might be in the wrong place.

Learn to know the difference. There’s a big difference between being asked to do something you don’t like and something that runs contrary to scripture. If your pastor is asking you to do something that doesn’t line up with God’s Word, grab your Bible and fight for clarity. However, if your pastor asks you to do something that’s not your favorite thing, DO IT ANYWAY. 

Know how to fight fair. Should you hit a big issue that must be battled out, learn to argue without letting your emotions take over. Believe it or not, your pastor almost always wants the same growth and health that you want. You just disagree on how to get there.

Be obvious in your support. Find ways to constantly say these words to your pastor:   “You’re my pastor. I support you. I'll follow your lead.” Your pastor will never get over needing that sort of encouragement. If you can’t say it in good faith, maybe it's time to move to another spot.

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The series ends next week with a final encouragement for pastors who want to improve their relationships as well!

DIG THIS (A RECOMMENDS POST...)

Looked back through my bookmarks and found some stuff that my worship leader pals might dig. And just to make it more fun, comment below with your recommendations. If something has been working in your church, share the wealth!

I get linked to "why aren't people singing" posts all the time and to be honest, I find most of them pretty awful. But this video from Graham Kendrick is a thoughtful, encouraging reminder of the responsibilities and challenges worship leaders face when leading people. Graham's been doing this a long time and offers some solid wisdom in this short video.

Of course, after watching the video above, I got sucked in and found myself following Graham Kendrick clips down the YouTube wormhole. He and I don't line up perfectly on theology (like the filing-of-the-Holy-Spirit he references) but as a guy who writes hymns, I think this song is solid through and through. And he's right, we need more songs that express the surprising mystery of all God is. I had never heard it before but thought it was about the most hymn-like "modern" song I've heard in awhile.

This is more an observance than recommendation, but I have been excited of late to see how many churches are using Bandcamp to distribute their music. (Example A, Example B) That's not to say these folks aren't also using other platforms, but I think Bandcamp somehow has retained an "indie" sensibility that folks respond to. Seriously have considered using Bandcamp only for any future releases.  I also like the fact that you can listen to the whole song for free AND buy it from the same source.

I have a tense relationship with motion backgrounds. I don't think they've run their course, but moving backgrounds on church screens have just become expected among churches. But, if chosen wisely, I think they can add some color and vibrance to sanctuaries that are utilitarian to the point of invisibility. Last year, I started a subscription to churchmotiongraphics and I've been consistently impressed. We don't use everything they provide, but for $10 a month, it's providing tastefully done, glitch-free backgrounds that fit our space. I also love that all of the motions are also included as stills. (In fact, some of them look better as stills!)

I love Micahel Farren's songwriting. He has a unique gift to write modern, accessible songs that still prioritize reverence and poetry. Caught this song a few weeks ago and am trying to find a place to work into our sets as soon as possible. And yes, I'll admit it sounds like a hymn and that's probably why I like it so much. (HYMNBOY strikes again!) I think the "oh oh" bridge is a fad that's almost run its course. Regardless, a beautiful song that sings great.

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My feelings on mega-church "live" albums/videos notwithstanding, the Church Songs album from Vertical Church is quite good. The songwriters and arrangers on this album do have a knack for crafting singable songs, specifically choruses and bridges. In fact, of all the big church music releases, I think Vertical Church is the best when it comes to congregationally-singable songs. (North Point's a very close second, btw.) I don't think every song is doable, simply based on post-production value, but the ones that hit, really do HIT.

 

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Okay, your turn. What else out there is good?

FRIDAY SONG

Technically finished "Shield" back in the fall, but after a couple of demos and letting some friends hear it, I decided to tweak the melody. Don't know when I'll lead it yet, but wanted to at least get something down on tape to make sure I could remember it!

[Recorded in one-take, no click or overdubs. Meaning....ROUGH!]


THE SUNDAY TEAM - WORSHIP LEADER, KNOW YOURSELF, PART 5

I feel so sorry for my first praise team.

I was in my early-20s. I had been playing and singing since junior high and leading worship on Sunday seemed like the next logical step. My music pastor asked me to start leading, so I showed up to rehearsal, plugged in my guitar, and started singing my guts out.

All by myself.

I looked around at my team (drums, piano and bass, at the time) and was met with stares. They were great musicians, they had charts - why weren't they jumping in?

"Everybody okay?" I said.

They nodded and then one of them was brave enough to ask a question: "What's the order of the songs?"
I told them, and after a minute of shuffling charts, another player piped up.
"When do you want the drums to come in?"

I answered that one, too. And then another question. And then another. Slowly, it became clear to me: I had just jumped on stage and start blasting away. I hadn't told them anything about the plan. Because I didn't have one.

I was used to getting up there and just "feeling it" and here were these very kind, patient people who had no clue how to help me. It was a hard lesson - one that I'm still learning to this day, in fact.

I'm a messy guy. I'm clumsy and forgetful and I can't find my keys most mornings. But I'm also creative and funny and pretty good with a guitar and a microphone. As I began to lead that team that year, I started to realize that the blend of chaos and creativity might be connected.

I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush. I don't think worship leaders are all the same. I'm I sure there are some worship leaders who are naturally gifted at administration.

I’ve yet to actually meet any, but...

See, most of us would rather wing it than make a spreadsheet. And I think it's that ability to be spontaneous and present that makes us so good at what we do.

But when you’re in charge of people, you have to realize that not all of them are like you. Some of them can't just roll-with-the-punches. As a leader, you've got to grow and lead well, and that means being organized. That freaks a lot of us out, because we're not naturally gifted in that way. But here's the good news about organization.

IT WORKS FOR EVERYONE.

Think about it. Your Type-A, hyper-organized, analytical team members are going to love it. They're going to feel prepared and relaxed and maybe just a little bit special that you're thinking about their needs....and your crazy, spontaneous players are too flighty to even notice you changed anything.

Don't believe me? Give it a shot. Make one or two changes this week to add some organization to your set list or rehearsal. Then see how your team responds. Even if they don't say anything to you, they'll play better and have more fun doing it.