There are just so many amazing technology advances today to aid the average church musician. You can get the original multitrack stems from the best recordings of modern worship music and do everything from rehearse with them, sweeten a live set with them, or fill an empty band spot with them. I applaud all of these and actually currently employ them in worship settings. However, how we lead our modern worship musician requires us to ask a couple questions. Are we dumbing-down our ability to lead by relying too much on tech and not enough on musical skill? Are we using musicians to fill a slot in a machine rather than inspiring them to create?
Intergenerational worship is something we all say we value in the local church. But, it is not easy to display in real life. My daughter, Emilie, has led worship with me since she was about 13. Now, with her college work, songwriting, boyfriend and day job it is quite a treat to co-lead with her whenever I can. Ministry, whether as a paid "church worker" or volunteer lay person is a family business. Or, at least I think it should be. Our faith should be passed on not just in word but in deed.
All Sons & Daughters song "Great Are You Lord" is now a Dad & Daughter song as you will see on this recording. How are you living out intergenerational ministry?
No matter the size of your church or worship team, you will have administrative tasks that require diligence. In my book, The Six Hats of the Worship Leader, I make the argument that the job of being a worship leader is beyond being in front of people as you lead them in music. You all know this. However, how do you deal with the details and still remain an artist? This where the hat of the administrator must either be worn, shared, or given away. It is the task who requires hidden work, yet visible results. Imagine if no one shows up for rehearsal. No one gets the calls or emails you make, but the consequences are obvious to all.
The biggest advice here is that administration is all about priorities. One does not get more organized by having a clean desk. We are successful when the right things are performed at the right time. Here are 5 tips to help you solve the dilemma of details for the worship leader.
A while ago I wrote a song and put it in a drawer and forgot about it. One day it dawned on me that this song was in the voice of a woman. I had the picture of tapestry, of an artist weaving a single thread that makes its mark by how it is thread through the fabric of history. Providence is like this thread. We cannot see the whole picture, but the grand design and fabric might make sense if seen. Often, we will not see on this side of heaven the entire piece of art. However, we can still be connected to the mystery and have security in the fact that there is a plan and that the plan is working both in our personal favor and in the favor or humankind. The good news is that Jesus, the crucified man on the cross unveiled with his act the mystery. God wore and wears our human skin. He loves us, that much. Love wins!
In the news recently, Michael Gungor made some remarks that caused a backlash and disparaging of his character and even his intent. He said that Adam and Eve were not literal people we all came from, and basically that to think so is like believing in Santa Claus. Yes, I strongly do not agree with that part of what he claims. Even some scientists appear to disagree with him when you consider genetic studies that propose a “Mitochondrial Eve” existed–albeit not one they would claim is the Eve of Genesis. Yes, Gungor’s tone admittedly was defensive. But, why would Gungor not be defensive? Are we able to even talk about our differences without that being the case?
Yes, you know you hate to love these top-five or top-ten lists. One fact I state clearly before I teach leaders and worship leaders is that I have made many mistakes over many years of leading music and worship. The list I below comes from such real-world experience. I know the ideas may not be news to many of you. But, having the basics articulated for both yourself as the leader and your team greatly improves your game. Also, teams need to have unity. Unity must be intentional, not randomly executed.
Here are five simple tips will massively produce better results if attended and followed. Why am I so sure? Well, did you not read in the above paragraphs about my many mess-ups? My pain is your gain!
I have some questions for you my friends and readers out there. The reason I have been blogging for so long–almost 9 years now–is the dialog with real people. I have prepared sermons, found places to visit and changed my thinking because of the encounters I have had with you. This topic is for us "creatives" out there.
In ministry leadership at times you must make a clear choice. Will I be influential or will I be popular? When both are possible–which is a rare occasion of fortune–you have a windfall of capital to leverage. However, popularity and the power that comes from it is acquired by the minutia of the direction of the wind, and is as fickle as the latest fad. Influence, on the other hand, is based on time and the reputation that results. To maintain popularity requires a crisis management at every threat. To maintain influence simply means you keep a steady hand.
I thought I would do a short list of lessons learned the hard way from the many years I have been a worship leader. As I often say in classes I teach, my hope is that the pain I endured from my experiences lightens yours with wisdom. So, here are some FAIL moments as a worship leader we all need to look out for and hope never happen.
As a church communications director, I have learned over the years that people respond to stories better than information. As a speaker, I know this is true. In fact, the Bible is almost three-fourths narrative. Jesus used stories as his teaching, almost exclusively. Why is it then that we look at announcements as just announcements? My proposition is that announcements are invitations to join in the larger story of God's work in our church and the world. Are we thinking too small of our announcements in worship?
There are times when we can feel invisible. People pass us by and we are but furniture–our words ambient noise masked by the busy cacophony of our own industry. In my work, I have produced, led, and created experiences for crowds of thousands. I have done this since I was young. Being in front of people would rattle me, but that feeling wore off long ago. The grandeur of even a well-produced church Easter celebration where people are in wonder can be deafened by the inoculation of years of such effort. It is not cynicism where belief sours. It is being lost. It is feeling unseen.
When I looked down at Elias, his newborn body molded to my arm, I couldn’t help but question his life. He wasn’t the story I planned for. He wasn’t what I dreamed of or even wanted. I cried and felt an overwhelming amount of guilt as these thoughts saturated my mind.
The day I found out my son had Down syndrome, was the day I became a different person. I questioned God. I was angry with God.
I am excited to announce that my new e-book The Six Hats of the Worship Leader is published! On Amazon.com, the book is a Best Seller in Christian Leadership and is available for download. Any church leader who influences worship will gain insight and help in taking their weekend services to the next level. You can wear a hat, share a hat, or give a hat away. Here's a short video trailer for the book:
I want to tell you a little story about what God does when you invest in people. Truly, when we believe in someone and give them courage to take a step it seems that step leads to more than we initially imagine. My life would not be the same if it were not for my parents, mentors, friends and others who encouraged me along the way.
Today my friend and creative mentor Randy Elrod published his memoirs, A Renaissance Redneck in a Mega-Church Pulpit during one of my favorite annual events, the Re:Create Conference in Franklin, Tennessee. This book is a very compelling and honest look at a creative leader's journey. You may not be able to agree with all of what is said in this book, but not reading it as a leader in the church would be a mistake!