Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Worship Boss, Organizer or Leader?

There’s a fine line for a worship leader to walk between being a ‘worship boss’ on one extreme or a ‘worship organizer’ on the other.  Are you a worship leader, worship organizer or a worship boss?

Worship Leader

Leaders lead the willing. They can sometimes convince the unwilling to submit, grow or learn but when they can’t they learn to repel such mindsets.  Leaders learn how to meet people where they are as opposed to meeting people where THEY are. As a result, leaders learn to ‘feed the hungry’ by teaching the teachable, equipping the child-like to mature, and leading those who are willing to submit. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Leaders learn to do the same. Proud people never grow because pride never admits to weakness or any sort of lack.

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1 (NIV)

Leaders always try to speak the truth in love.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15

Worship Organizer

The Worship organizer is someone who merely plans the music, makes sure the appropriate worship team members are scheduled and organizes rehearsals. The worship organizer does the ‘backbone’ work of a worship leader but stops short of anything that risks making anyone uncomfortable.

Hospices make people comfortable because they’ve generally lost hope for their patients. Hospitals, while valuing comfort, will sacrifice it for long-term healing. Worship Organizers would make great Hospice workers but lousy doctors.

Sometimes worship team members don’t want their leader to be anything more than a worship organizer. This is because they want to serve on the worship team only on their own terms. They don’t want to admit that they might have room for growth. They are closed to learning, unteachable and therefore unreachable.

The same things that hold these people back musically, hold these people back spiritually. The worship leader who gently and lovingly challenges these folks, is not simply teaching musical concepts, they are teaching spiritual truths.

When it comes to musical skill, IF a team is full of members who have professional-level, ‘top shelf’ skills, the worship leader can THEN sit back and lead more like a worship organizer. But IF your church is like most, and has untrained volunteers, it will need a worship leader to bridge the gaps between mediocrity and excellence IF it values the worship music as an essential element for growing kingdom communities.

Sometimes a worship leader is instead a worship organizer because they lack the musical skills to correct or even discern the musical gaps. If you are in that boat, find a mentor, a teacher, workshop, conferences and training. The growth has to begin with you before it can flow outward to your team in your ministry.

Worship Boss

The worship boss, goes to the other extreme of the worship organizer. This person lacks the sensitivity and soft people skills necessary to direct people without being crass. A savvy worship leader is always guarding themselves against the danger of being a worship boss.

A worship boss corrects people publicly instead of privately (when possible). A worship boss calls individuals out instead of attempting to preserve anonymity. An example might be if the bass player is dropping the ball on the bridge of a song, the worship boss will specifically correct that bass player in front of everyone, while the worship leader will say something like, “we’re a little lost on that bridge, let’s rehearse it again.” The worship boss will directly address the rushing drummer in front of everyone, while the worship leader will say something like, “WE are rushing, let’s try it again….” The worship boss will say, “Sally, you’re flat on that verse”, while the worship leader will say, “we’re a little pitchy, let’s try it again….”

WHO are you offending?

Even worship leaders will offend people.
“Woe to you when everyone speaks good of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.“ (NIV) Luke 6:26
It is better to suffer for good than to suffer for doing evil
                “For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” (NIV) I Peter 3:17

It is impossible to please everyone. So the question is not whether you will offend someone but WHO will you offend and WHY are you offending them. IF offending people is inevitable, make sure you offend people for being a worship leader, not a worship organizer or especially a worship boss.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Fire Starter - Leading a Worship Ministry With A Vision

Proverbs 29:18 says “Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint; But he that keepeth the law, happy is he”.

I have sometimes served churches where the leadership did not communicate a clear vision. I found myself at risk when I asked for one to be communicated. Unfortunately, the lack of a vision DID explain the stagnation or dying at these churches.

As worship leaders, it is also important for us to communicate vision. Your vision may look different but I thought it might be helpful for me to at least communicate my vision and values as a fire starter. I derive these values from the Word and from reason coupled with experience.

I'll add comments/explanations below each item:

Communicate the counter-cultural message of Christ in a culturally relevant way.

I've never had a church disagree with this in wording but I've served plenty who violated this by their actions, being so in-reach focused and enabling that they lost sight of the bigger picture.

What is the counter-cultural message? Well examples would be doubting yourself (the essence of humility) and having faith in God and His work in you instead of simply believing in yourself. Other counter-cultural messages would be valuing ‘other-esteem’ (Phil 2:3) over self-esteem (or as the best way to acquire self-esteem).

How would those values be communicated in a culturally relevant way? Well, musically, they might be better communicated in modern music styles (since that is what the world listens to) vs in classical music or hymns. This is not to condemn those styles nor is it to suggest that we should soley style our worship music for non-believers…

Worship is the purpose of man and is defined in Rom 12:1-2.

This expression can include music, especially for corporate worship, but worship should never be reduced to it. Biblical worship is 24/7. It is not to be limited by church services.

The Worship music is a picture of Rom 12:1-2 worship.

It symbolizes the 24/7 worship model. What we do with worship music when the church gathers is really just one way of expressing worship corporately. Love, for God and each other, is the chief way we worship Him. Everything else should be an outworking from love. I Corinthians 13:1 says that without such love we are nothing but clanging cymbals.

Give God our first fruits.

Related to the 24/7 worship model expressed in the previous point, we should worship like Abel & not like Cain. This means that musically we DO care about excellence, not for purposes of putting on a show but to paint the picture of giving God our entire life (again back to Rom 12:1-2).

We ARE performing but God is our only audience.

Again, this helps put the previous point on “first fruits” into perspective because oftentimes people confuse excellence with showing off, showmanship or putting on a concert.

The Little Drummer Boy played his best for Him.

Attitude produces altitude/aptitude.

This is where I start to get practical. I care more about my worship team's willingness to grow then I care about their current abilities (beyond core competency).

I'd rather lead a team of beginners who are hungry for growth than proud virtuosos or obstinate, stuck in their ways musicians at any level. This is not merely a preference but a picture of the attitude we are to have spiritually and not just musically.

People don’t care how you know until they know how much you care

As a leader, build relationships and love people. Leadership is not a right, it is earned. Love provides the merit. Until Godly loving relationships are established, you’ll never have any long lasting influence to lead.

Meet people where THEY are, not where YOU are

If you treat others as if they are you, that will only work for people like you. But what about leading people who are significantly different than you? For instance, I prefer text messages if you’re simply wanting to tell me you’re going to be late or something else informative. But with others, I know I can’t text them because they don’t do text. The same goes for different personality types.

So what is YOUR worship leading vision?