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!
Am I the only one? Sometimes a crowd will be moved magically by a phrase in a speech, a hook in a song, and the vibe in the room which all may work to enraptures the majority. I’m perhaps alone at times. I see other things that might not be quite as flattering.There are several reasons for this, perhaps. When you have been a speaker, a worship leader, and one who produces events on a regular basis, the magic of losing yourself in the crowd wanes. The behind-the-scenes life dodges hazards and dulls the senses. Or, does it? Some of us simply live as observants to a different layer of activity. Leaders see things others may not.
Here are the TOP 10 BLOG POSTS of 2013. With 2013 mostly behind us, I thought I would summarize for the many newer readers of this site the most on-site read and most shared items on social networks. Here are the top posts in their order of popularity with a brief description.
Thanksgiving Day, the time when anxiety levels spike due to clogged freeways, high expectations, and relational overload. And, it is the memory cataloging season to catch up with people you do not often spend enough time with–your immediate and extended families. We can easily get sidetracked with the downsides even while we attempt to be thankful for all the benefits afforded us in this life. When we do this inventory together, it makes us more capable as people to worship. There is power in gratitude. Praise takes effort, but it can change your life. What will we choose this Thanksgiving holiday?
Greg Johnson of On Being Human has been busy lately. Besides his band, Greg and his bandmates work on movie and TV soundtracks, produce artists (even people like me), and have been known to cover a video game tune or two. Murrieta, California has few as talented and creative when it comes to the professional music field.
Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. – Jesus, Matthew 10:39 (NIV)
I have thought for many years that playing “not to lose” was the game. Then, after being a leader in several very tough situations, I acquired an idea that is less trusted–playing to win. A team must play to win, right? Yes. That is the goal. But as even more time has passed and life lived, I found from Jesus an even more rare thing in ministry leadership these days that is counter-intuitive yet powerful. It’s playing to lose.
A friend of mine led a youth ministry that I was very familiar with. His youth group began to grow, but that success seamed to cause more trouble that you would think. Why? While he was fulfilling his church’s clearly stated goal to expand and reach kids whose families did not attend church, the existing kids and their parents began to complain about the changes. The once popular youth pastor fell out of favor of the base. He was playing to win. Or, so he thought. Surely, the inwardly focused families were playing not to lose. He is no longer a youth pastor in that ministry.