Talk to any experienced worship leader and you'll eventually discover that they're quite good at analysis - they think about worship every single day. They're constantly running scenarios in their head about song choices and stage setup and sound problems in the sanctuary, etc. Good worship leaders are good thinkers, and the best of them make a point to spend some time in a year-end-review before January gets here.
If this isn't a regular practice for you, let me encourage you to give it a shot. Below, you'll find some tips on how to "think" about this year and an example of some of my own year-end-review thoughts.
For many of us, goals are a part of the budgeting process. Last year, you may have come up with some things you wanted to accomplish in 2016. If you're like me, however, sometimes you look up in December and think, "Oh, yeah, I had some goals for this year, I think. Now, where did I put that list?" But once I find my list, it's good for me to look at how we did for the year. [Many times, I find that the goals have often morphed and adapted to church life over the past 12 months, which is always worth thinking through.]
EXAMPLE: For the past few years, I've had a goal of training up worship leaders - primarily the people in our congregation with some worship leading experience but who need more training and platform time. Earlier in the year, I was talking to my pastor about this goal because I couldn't get it done. But he encouraged me to think a little more broadly - instead of thinking about JUST platform singing/playing, why not try to mobilize our people in other ways, liking leading band devotionals, working with our tech team, organizing outside church worship opportunities, etc. It was a good tweak to my rather nebulous goal and I've already been trying to find LOTS of ways my folks can get more total worship leading experience. That's a goal that didn't get met AND adapted over the year.
ONE THING / EITHER WAY
I don't think year-end reviews have to necessarily focus on every single aspect of your ministry. In fact, it's probably impossible to go through all the stuff you got roped into this past year, right? You don't even remember some of the stuff you've done! That's why it's good to think on ONE THING - in other words, what's one thing that was a huge hit this year? What's something that was an absolute, undeniable WIN in your ministry. Once you come up with that, then think through the other side; what's ONE THING that was an absolute failure this year?
EXAMPLE: My good "one thing" would have to be new songs. I added three new original tunes this year and all of them were strongly received. That's a little rare for my church, so I'm counting that as a win. My "one thing" that failed would probably be the Verses worship nights. I've long believed that those events need to be community focused and we just could not folks in the community to show up this year.
This is, by far, the toughest one to work through. This part of reviewing your year means thinking through any bridges you've burned this year and how you can mend them. But I'm not talking about church. I mean repairing bridges AT HOME. See, worship leading is an odd profession. To the outside world, it probably seems predictable and steady but to your spouse and children, they know the truth. The job is weird and the hours are completely unpredictable. This means that there are times in the past year where you've had to bail on the family last minute. Or you've had to stay way later at work than you expected. Whatever the case, it's possible that the job may have impacted your home life in a negative way. Reviewing your year should focus on what you can do in the next 12 months to make your home life better and more stable.
EXAMPLE: This past year, I was really bad about scheduling. I would regularly setup lunches or co-writes or planning meetings and completely neglect to A) consult our family calendar to make sure I had the margin to do these things and B) make sure those events on my calendar showed up on everybody else's. This led to confusion and frustration with my wife, especially. Now, that's not a burned bridge, per se, but it is a place where I want to improve. In fact, I've doubled my efforts in December to make sure the pace of our lives stays in sync.
Do you do a review of your year?
Is it something you do personally or does your church create a way to do this as a staff?
Give it a try! It's a great practice and it will definitely make you stronger and better in the new year!