So many people today are busy trying to fit into someone else’s armor. They try to fit in with the kings of our society and try to pass themselves off as someone other than the unique and special person that God made. How do we reach this generation so that they could have the courage David did? If a rock star was offering his clothes, his lifestyle, and his friends to a young person face to face, how many do you think would have the courage to say, “No thanks, that just doesn’t fit me.”
So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off. (1 Samuel 17:38-39 NKJV)
David was confident that he was loved and valued by God just for who he was: a little shepherd boy. He knew that what God had taught him in the fields, God could use to overcome his enemies on the battlefield. I am amazed at this young man who turned down the king’s armor and went off to face a giant. Basically, David was saying, “I don’t need to be something that I am not.”
That story inspires me to see the places in my life where I am trying to be someone else. What messages am I sending by the clothes I wear? The things that I say? The career ambitions I have? What example am I setting by the things I say on stage while leading worship? We need to realize that we don’t have to look like someone else. God made us exactly how we are for a reason.
Maybe we don’t reach as many people as we could because we are trying to teach them to wear the armor WE think they should wear. We mean well, but we may be trying to fit them into our own idea of who they should be. Saul meant well in offering his armor.
Instead, we could tell them that God loves them and created each and every one of us for a special purpose. We could be showing them how to find themselves in the Bible instead of just making them conform. If we could teach each child to honor what God did when creating them, maybe they wouldn’t feel the need to become an “Emo,” a “Goth,” or any other social label that they decide to label themselves with” They might not be looking for confidence through plastic surgery and designer labels. Instead, they could become: themselves and be living in the full potential and identity that God has called them to walk in.
Are you reaching and teaching this next generation to be themselves—a unique person created by God? Or are we trying to teach them to be exactly like us? Reach out and help them to explore who they really are, not just who we want them to be.
You have to Take care of yourself to take care of others
I can remember several times that I have been burned out on leading worship. One of the most prominent times is when I was leading worship at a house of prayer several times each week. I would play on my worship team at my church on Sunday mornings and then lead worship for 2 to 4 hours each week at the local house of prayer. It was great, and I loved it…. for a season.
It didn’t take long though before I began to grow weary from doing this each and every week. I would pour out so much while I was leading worship and I wasn’t allowing myself anytime, or any opportunity to be refilled throughout the week. Who has time for that right? I was leading worship and also working a full-time job!
I feel like there are a lot of other worship leaders that are in this exact same position. You’re leading worship each week and pouring out all that you have for others; however, you are not leaving very much time to take care of yourself, and replenish yourself. The truth is though that if you are burned out, exhausted, and overwhelmed then you can’t be of very much help to others.
So I want to take a moment to talk about a few different ways to prevent burn out and how to come back from burnout if you have already reached that point.
Take time off while you still enjoy what you are doing
This is much easier said than done. When we are passionate about something we find it easy to spend several hours per day doing the very thing we are passionate about; however, we need to make sure to include time where we can rest.
In the world of personal fitness there is a lot of talk about going to the gym and working out; however, the time that you spend resting your muscles in between your workouts is just as important than how much weight you can pick up and put down.
We need to be doing the same thing in our worship leading. We need to incorporate time when we can take a break before we reach the point where we feel that we really need one.
Find a place/way that you can be refueled yourself
Along the same lines as taking a break is that you need to be sure you are being refueled yourself. I can’t even count the number of pastors and worship leaders that I have seen burn out and stop ministry because they reached a point where it was no longer enjoyable. Upon questioning them it very quickly becomes apparent that they were doing everything and constantly pouring into others without having anyone pour into them.
If you are in any sort of leadership, whether in the church or otherwise, you must find a place that you can have someone else pour into you. For me it’s important to not just lead worship, but also spend time in worship when someone else is leading. Being free of the stress of leading gives me an opportunity to just seek God. It’s in these times, and in my quiet times, that God refuels me to be able to lead others in worship.
The real power in what we do as worship leaders starts when we are alone in our worship rooms at our home.
Go Back to your first works.
Okay, so what if you are already burned out. What if you’ve reached a point where you just don’t want to do it anymore. There is still hope for you. First, you need to take time off right now! There is a reason that we find the concept of a sabbatical in the bible. God doesn’t expect us to just go and go and go. We aren’t the energizer bunny… and truthfully that thing eventually has it’s battery replaced.
After scheduling significant time off you need to think about what you did when you first realized your passion for what you are doing. I bet that the things you did to fuel your passion are not the very things that you are doing right. God tells us that when we burn out that we should go back to our first works. Go back and do the things that you did in the beginning.
So no matter where you find yourself right now. Whether you are going strong or you are barely making it, God wants you to operate at 100% in the area that he has called you. One of the best things that you can do for yourself and for your team is incorporate times of rest and refreshing to prevent everyone from becoming burned out.
What do you have in place to prevent burn out for you and your worship team? Let us know your tips on this topic in the comments below!
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Hello everyone and welcome to this episode of the worshipleading.net podcast. I’m your host Robert Sullivan. And this is the first podcast of 2016.
Now for any of you that have been with the community for any amount of time. You will realize that the podcast is back first of all. And that last we didn’t really do much podcasting.
it’s something I had wanted to do and something I wanted to continue to do but just couldn’t find the time to do it this past year. So going into 2016 I decided just to focus on a couple of things.
I just finished reading a book by Greg McKeown called essentialism. And it’s really just basically talking about what are the things that we focus on in life? Are we focusing on the things that are most important to us. and for me I found that I was focusing on a ton of different things. and not really able to have time for the things that I really wanted to do because I was filling up my life with all these things that were good but the were not great.
so going into 2016 I decided i’m going to start focusing on the essential things and not just saying yes to everything that comes my way.
As part of doing this i’ve also decided that 2016 will be a year of focusing on myself first. and now that sounds really strange to say on a podcast about worship because it may come across as selfish. In reality unless we really take that time and choose to focus on our self and choose to better ourself then we have nothing to pour into somebody else.
I know for 2016 some of the goals that I have are things like more family time, health, and things like that. I have 2 business that i’m running, plus the podcast, and the worshipleading.net website, so all this stuff is fighting for my time. and in order for me to be able to have time to put into those things. i’ve got to make sure that i’m focusing on pouring into myself first. Then I will have the energy to pour into those other things.
Otherwise this year is just going to be a repeat of last year where I want to do all these things but don’t have the time. So in 2016 I’m focusing on myself first.
I posted that on Facebook and some people said that’s selfish. Now they were teasing, but in reality that is the concept that comes to mind when we think of this. We say that we have all these things that need to be done but I’m really trying to only focus on the essential things, and scale back all of the other things that are fighting for my time.
That can be applied to so many areas. It can be applied to our life but also to our worship leading. when we are playing a song as a team, am I going to overplay or maybe hold back and focus on the essential parts so that it makes a great song instead of a good song.
So that’s where I’ve been this past year. I’ve been trying to refocus my life onto the essential things that matter the most.
I mentioned the book essentialism. I recommend that you read it. you can click here to check out the book on amazon. It is an affiliate link so I will get a small kickback for sharing it; however, that’s not why i’m sharing it. I’m sharing it because it is a great book that has impacted my life and I see the benefit for others as well.
Now one of the concepts in the book was the idea of trade off. If you say yes to one thing you are saying no to something else. The thing that you are saying no to might be a good thing. like it may be a church outing or a chance to speak or lead worship, maybe on a Saturday. So if I say yes then I’m saying no to spending that Saturday with my family.
so there is that trade off to everything we say yes to. So I’m trying to focus on the things that make the most impact. It’s really easy whenever you look at it and your saying “I can either spend time with my family or go to a party”. It’s easy to say no to the things you don’t like.
But lets look at it on a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being the best. Now the items ranked 1 or 2 will be easy to say no to; however, it gets difficult when they rank a 8 or a 9. These are things that are good but don’t 100% line up with my goals.
For example. I recently had the opportunity to apply for a new job. For those that don’t know I recently left my corporate IT job to pursue things like this website and other online business opportunities. It’s great but it also gave me a lot more free time. so with that free time I was presented with the option to apply for a position at my church.
Now I love the staff there and would really enjoy being on staff but as I analyzed the position I began to realize that it was about an 8 or 9 on my scale… but not a 10. So although it would be good and it would be fun, I had to say no because it was not a 100%. Which meant that it was a 100% no.
Recently I’ve been reading through the book “Worship Matters“, by Bob Kauflin. Its an amazing book and a great resource for anybody in ministry. In this book it lists some ‘healthy tensions’ that we need to keep in balance within our ministries.
take a look at these and let me know what you think.
– Transcendent and Immanent
– Head and Heart
– Internal and External
– Vertical and Horizontal
– Planned and Spontaneous
– Rooted and Relevant
– Skilled and Authentic
– For the Church and for Unbelievers
– Event and Everyday
What are some things that you do to keep these things in balance?
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Stop sabotaging your worship ministry
This post could be applied to any area of your life as this does not just relate to worship leaders, and this is something that I deal with myself. It’s the issue of self doubt. We’ve all been there. We all face moments in our lives where we are asked to step up and do something that is not comfortable for us. It is in these moments that we really grow as individuals.
The thing that can hinder us all from walking in our true potential and being all that God has called us to be is the self doubt that many of us face every day. As worship leaders we must stop sabotaging our worship ministry by telling ourselves that we are not equipped to do the very things that God has equipped and called us to do!
As I’m writing this I’m reminded of all the times when I have doubted myself and my abilities. I remember when I was 17 years old. I had only been leading worship for about one year, and that wasn’t even in a church setting. I had been leading at a homeless outreach of my church. I saw myself as a poor musician and vocalist so I never even tried to be on the worship team at church. I believed that nobody would want to hear me lead worship when there were plenty of other more talented people around who could do the job.
So during this time my pastor approached me and asked me if I would be willing to lead worship at the Men’s retreat that they were planning. I was honored to be asked to do this but I was very nervous. I remember having a conversation with him about it and asked him why he wanted me to do it when there are so many others who could do the job. I will never forget what he told me.
He said “sure there are many people who could come and play the guitar and sing; however, there is nobody that can do it the way you do and that is what we are wanting.” He even went on to jokingly say that if I could get homeless people, who were just there for a meal and tolerated my music, to worship then it should be easy for me to get passionate men to engage in worship.
There was of course way more to this conversation but I don’t want to bore you with all of the details; however, essentially he was telling me that I was more than I thought I was. He could see something in me at that time that I couldn’t even see in myself. This is the reason that I highly encourage everyone to have mentors and spiritual authority in their lives because when you submit yourself to someone else then they can pull things out of you that you cant see within yourself. But thats another blog post entirely.
I could recount several more stories where I felt inadequate, then after pushing forward I realized it was a growing opportunity. I could also recount stories where I let the fear and self doubt win; however, I’m not trying to write a novel here. So I just want to highlight a few of the things that I have realized over the years about this issue of self doubt.
You are good enough even if you stumble.
If God waited for us to be perfect then there would be nobody in ministry, yet I can’t even count the number of times that I have seen worship leaders stop leading worship because they don’t have their lives together as they believe that they should.
Now there is something to be said about wanting to be a positive influence to those whom you are leading but even they know that you stumble and fall short sometimes. One of the biggest lies that the devils tells us is that because we stumble sometimes then we are no longer qualified to be in a place of authority within the church.
When I look at all of the people in the bible I don’t see people who were perfect. I see messed up murders and adulterers. I see people who have issues. Yet somehow these are the very people that God chooses to use. We can’t let what we think is wrong with us prevent us from worshipping what is right with God.
In reality it’s more about the heart. Are you just stumbling? or are you going out and purposefully repeating the same sin over and over? Are you seeking help with it or are you hiding the sin in your life from those in authority. If you are desiring to walk uprightly and occasionally stumbling then don’t let the devil tell you that you are inadequate and not able to lead worship.
As a leader of a team I would much rather know where my teammates are struggling so that I can help them. The issue occurs when someone is choosing to live in sin and hiding it from everyone else. That’s when you should step down from leading worship.
You can operate in excellence without being prideful.
We should strive to be excellent in our skills and talents. God has given us these talents to use and he has called us to be good stewards of those talents. So we learn and practice our skill and craft, and then use these skills and talents to lead other people into worship. What would it say about somebody as a worship leader if they barely know how to play their instrument?
Let’s look at it from the business world. Lets say I’m a carpenter, after all we want to be like Jesus right? If I am a carpenter then I’m spending time learning how to make things. I may make a beautiful table or cabinet set, or whatever. If i’m skilled in my craft then people really value the things that I have made. My tables may go for a lot of money because of the skill that I have in woodworking.
We should have that same desire in our skills and talents as worship leaders. We should be striving to be the best at what we do. Not because we want to be known as the best but because God deserves the best. So if God deserves the best then why are we only giving him mediocrity and saying that we are doing this so we don’t become prideful. It’s a false dichotomy.
Throughout the Bible we see people giving God the best of what they have. We need to get over ourselves and give God the best that we have as well. I actually believe that not understanding and striving to operate in excellence in our gifting is more prideful than striving to become excellence. Because we are saying that us appearing as “humble” is more important than striving to give God all that we are capable of giving him.
We as worship leaders need to understand that God has given us an anointing and a platform from which we can make him known. We have to understand that some of that falls on us. Sure God could give someone the ability to play guitar and lead worship overnight but I don’t see that happening do you? So let’s get over ourselves and stop saying things like”oh it was all God” when someone gives us a compliment.
We know that God had something to do with it but he choose to use us and our many years to learning our craft to achieve his purpose. If it was really all God then my singing would sound much better than it does. God chooses to use us and we need to understand that and then make choices that can help us grow in our skill and ability so that we can better serve him with our talents.
Overcome self doubt by preparing
So what’s the solution if we find ourselves constantly doubting ourselves when we step up to lead worship? The answer is prepare, prepare, prepare. I remember going through a phase when I first started leading worship where I constantly thought I wasn’t good enough so to counteract that I would plan every little detail of how I wanted the service to go. I even planned out exactly what I would say, if I were going to say anything, in between songs.
Eventually I got to a place where I would push myself to let go of some of the preparation. I would say “okay this week I’m not going to plan what I’m going to say between these 2 certain songs”. Then I would just ad-lib that part. What that did was allow me the comfort of having a plan but also push myself to be able to adapt to the situation. Now I can go into a worship set with no preparation at all and usually manage to pull it off fairly well, with an occasional hiccup and a bad that is mad at me for not preparing anything… but that’s entirely another rant.
Stop comparing yourself to other worship leaders
God has equipped each of us with our own talents and anointing. I remember hearing Jason Upton once speaking about this topic and he was saying something along these lines. If you don’t like the way I lead worship then that’s fine, don’t lead worship like I do; and, if you like the way I lead worship then that’s fine… but don’t lead worship the way I do.
His point was that each of us have a unique gifting that we are called to talk in. Your worship expression will look different than my worship expression and if I’m comparing myself with you to determine if Im a good worship leader or not then I’m comparing apples to oranges.
The only thing that we can compare is how effective are we today vs how effective we were yesterday. have we grown in our place of authority as a leader from where we were last year? Now i’m not saying “is God moving the same way last year as he is now” because that can open a whole new can of worms. I’m simply saying that we are the only ones that God has equipped the way he did and so we can only compare ourselves with ourselves.
Understand that the few who complain do not represent the majority
We see this in any church. We see this online in forums. We see this in our workplaces. There are always a select few people who don’t like the way things are going. There are always people who are afraid of change and sometimes these people are vocal about this. Study after study has proven though that these people are a minority.
One of the biggest breakthroughs that I had when I started leading worship was coming to the realization that the one or two vocal people, who didn’t like they way I do things, do not represent the majority of everyone there.
We can’t allow this vocal minority to cause us to doubt ourselves or doubt what God has called us to do.
Just Do It! Even if you are scared.
As I mentioned before, I have struggled with self doubt in the past and I can remember the many times that I even cancelled an event because of these feelings of self doubt. I would allow the nervousness and fear that came up inside of me to dominate me in the moment and lead me to believe that I wasn’t good enough to do this. Now there have also been many times that I just told those feelings no and did it anyways. To my surprise every time that I decided to do it anyways God showed up and did something amazing.
If you are scared or afraid then that is a good thing. It means that you are putting yourself out there and stepping out of your comfort zone to pursue what God is calling you to do. If you don’t get anything else out of this whole blog post then please get this… if you are scared do it anyways.
Don’t let fear hold you back from accomplishing all that God has called you to do. When I think back to those few times that I cancelled events because I was too scared or nervous all I can think about is “what if I went through with it” and “was there someone there that God wanted to minister to through my worship”? These are big what if questions that I will never know the answer to because I allowed fear to hold me back.
Just because you failed in the past doesn’t mean you will fail again.
I’m already being very transparent in this post so I’ll continue that here. I still struggle with this, especially in the area of entrepreneurship. I’ve started blogs in the past. I’ve started podcasts in the past. I’ve even started businesses in the past and some of these have failed.
It comes to a point where when I’m faced with another opportunity to step out and do something that I have to look back at my advice from #6 in the article. I may be scared to step out and do it again because I failed in the past but I can’t let that fear hold me back.
Just because you tried something in the past that didn’t work doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever do it again. Take those things that failed in the past and learn from them. Then apply those things that you learned for the next time so that you don’t repeat the same thing over and over again.
The Worst That could happen very rarely ever happens
This is the truth! When we think of stepping out and trying something new or taking on a new task our minds often default to extremes. We think of the best possible outcome and the worst possible outcome. The truth is though that the worst possible outcomes don’t usually ever happen because there are so many other outcomes in between those two that could play out.
I once again think about my journey with entrepreneurship. When stepping out to start a new business or venture my mind often says “what if you fail and you lose everything. Your family will be on the street with no food and no house.” While I guess that is a possibility I’m confident that it won’t happen because there are other outcomes that my mind doesn’t immediately think about. For example… if my business is failing then I could just get another regular job…. I’ve had to do that in the past and I’m willing to do it again if it’s ever needed.
It’s the same thing in worship leading. Often times our minds jump to the worst possible scenario which never ends up being what really happens. For example my church recently invited a hip hop group to come and minister at both of our Sunday services. One of our services is a very traditional style service.
So the whole week leading up to that sunday my mind was thinking that the congregation was going to hate it and there would be several emails about how out of line it was… but that Sunday came and as I looked at the congregation it looked as though they were enjoying it. Many were clapping and moving to the music. So I say all of that to say this. Try new things and understand that the worst case scenario rarely happens.
I hope that this post helps you as you go out and try new things in your times of worship. God has called you to be great in the area that he has you. It’s time that we as worship leaders stop doubting ourselves and understand that through Christ we can do all things. So I leave you with this….
God has called you and equipped you to be effective in your ministry just the way you are. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop doubting the call of God on your life. It’s time to operate in the anointing that God has placed on your life and be all that God has called you to be.
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Training the Next Generation of Worship Leaders
Our task as worship leaders is to help other people enter into worship. This goes beyond our times on a on Sunday mornings. This even goes beyond playing music. As worship leaders we should be teaching others how to enter into worship on their own, even when we are not there. Even more importantly than this task is that we live out the great commission which calls us to make disciples. We can be great musicians and great singers. We can even have a great team; however, once we are gone then that means nothing.
We need to make sure that we are spending time investing into the lives of those who will be coming up after us. I don’t know if you have noticed it or not; but, our worship music and styles seem to change a lot over the years. Whether you like it or not in a few years the style will change again and someone younger than you will probably move into a worship leader position within your church, maybe even your position.
Many times older worship leaders become cynical and upset because someone is coming in who is way less experienced than they are, and they feel like they are just taking over their jobs and positions within the church. Many even begin to feel insignificant; however, I believe that as we grow in our worship leadership we eventually find ourselves transitioning into mentor-ship role.
I think back to the time when I was first starting off in my worship leading. There are a few people that I can point to who really influenced me and mentored me in my worship leading. These people had the heard of a teacher. I could tell that it was their desire to see me grow. They could see the potential in my life and they took the time to invest in that. Without these mentors in my life there are many times that I would have probably stopped pursuing my passion for leading others in worship.
So I look at my life and the life of other worship leaders, and I think about how we are doing in discipling the next generation of worshipers. So I’ve created just a few observations and tips for training the next generation in worship.
We are still called to disciple
Younger people really want to be a part of worship
We can learn from them just like they can learn from us
As you go out and think about your church and your worship team, are there any people that come to mind that you can be mentoring and discipling. Be praying that God would bring someone to you that you can invest in. Someone that you can mentor, because in reality you will grow just as much as they will.
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I want to take a moment and talk about rotating your worship teams. There are many good reasons to do this and I wanted to take a moment to talk about those. It may not always be possible to rotate teams if you are in a very small church and don’t have very many musicians; however, there are sometimes more musicians than there are opportunities.
I’ve seen churches that have 5 guitar players on the stage and 2 drummers on a single Sunday (with 2 full drum kits). I don’t want to even imagine the headache that it creates trying to lead that rehearsal.
These people want to serve the church in worship! That’s great! But what if there is no more room on the stage? Well to overcome this problem many churches have started rotating worship teams so that they can utilize everyone who is wanting to be a part of it.
I’ve played in both types of settings. I’ve been on the team that has more people than it needs, where we all play every single week. I’ve also been on the team that rotates every week. There are pros and cons to each of the options; however, I seem to prefer the rotating worship team method in the traditional church setting.
Here are 3 key reason why I believe rotating your worship teams is a better option.
1) Builds skill playing with different musicians
When you play with different musicians each week it causes you to play with people who have different styles and skill levels. You learn more when you place yourself in situations that challenge you. If you are only playing with the same people every week then you grow accustomed to playing only one style; however, if you switch it up then you get experience with different styles.
Some churches choose to take the rotating model but not swap around musicians. For example. The same guitarist, pianist, and drummer play together every other week. This can also work well because then you do grow tight as a band; however, I prefer to swap musicians as well just so that I’m playing with others to help me grow in my craft.
2) Prevents Burn out
This is the biggest reason that I promote rotating worship teams. As worship leaders we need to make sure that we are not causing our musicians to burn out because they are playing every week, and playing for special occasions. By rotating teams it allows them the chance to simply engage in worship and refuel in a corporate worship settings.
There have been many times that I have been on the edge of burnout with worship leading and music. For a while I was leading 2 services every Sunday morning. I was leading Sunday night. I was leading a Tuesday night small group. I was leading a Wednesday night service. Then we had worship practice on Thursday evening. All of this while working a full time job as well because I was volunteer worship leader. I was worn out!
I no longer let it get to this point where I’m so overwhelmed. Rotating worship teams helped with this a lot! Now I still lead worship every week in some capacity;however, I’m not always the one singing every song. I also don’t plan traveling worship ministry every week. If I have several events one week then I’ll take the next week off just to refuel.
I could, and probably will, post an entire article on preventing burn out; however, I just wanted to point out here that rotating worship teams is a very good way to prevent your musicians from burning out and getting weary in their worship leading.
3) Different Teams, Different Styles
I mentioned earlier the different styles that different musicians have. We see these same style differences with worship teams and singers. Some of your singers may work better with certain piano players or guitarists because they are familiar. Also some musicians play certain things better.
By alternating your teams based on stylistic difference you are giving your congregation a change to engage in worship with different styles and expressions of worship.
Now these are just a few of the reasons that I could come up with, off the top of my head, as to why I promote rotating your worship teams.
Please leave a comment below and let me know how you handle this. Do you rotate the worship teams at your church? Do you keep the same band and just rotate singers? Let us know in the comments below.
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I remember when I was first starting out leading worship. I always wanted to do every song the exact way that I heard it. I tried my mimic their playing style. I tried to mimic their voice. Sometimes I even tried to mimic their stage movements. Now copying their style and vocal inflections can be a way to improve your skill and ability, if you are using it for that; however, I was using it because I didn’t think that I was good enough when I played in my natural voice and ability. I wasn’t being authentic in my worship leading.
You will never find someone walking in a great anointing who is simply copying what someone else is doing, Even if they are copying Jesus. Copying Jesus is good; however, God didn’t anoint you the same way he anointed Jesus. You can copy everything Jesus did and still not be walking in what God has call you to do. It’s about knowing God and following his voice. Trying to be anything else is just being fake.
God equips each of us uniquely and the way you lead worship is different than the way I do.
We see an example of this in the life of David. He prepares to go face this giant (Goliath) and Saul is helping him get ready by giving him some armor. In Saul’s mind anytime a warrior goes into battle they wear the armor. They have worn this armor for many years, so to not wear it may seem crazy; however, David tries the armor and realizes it doesn’t fit him. Because David spent years with God in the fields fighting lions, wolves, and other predators, he knows how God equipped him for battle.
So when David is faced with this situation he is able to stand up and say that this armor is great for Saul; however, he was equipped differently. David was equipped with a slingshot and stones. Saul was equipped with armor and sword.
I use this example a lot when I’m talking about the common worship style wars that are taking place in many churches because in reality that whole argument is just a matter of preference. They both accomplish the same task. We as worship leaders need to come to realize that we are not equipped just like others. So our worship is going to look different. It will sound different. It will feel different. It will be different.
So how do we find out what our difference is? Well just like with David it takes a long time where we spend time alone with God. David spent time in the field. We spend time with God in our secret places so that when we go to lead worship we can stand in confidence and operate in the anointing that God has placed on our lives.
Lead from where you are. Don’t try to put on a face or a front. People can see it’s not real.
When we lead worship we should be leading from where we are. If we are in the middle of some intense struggles, then playing joyous songs the whole time isn’t being very authentic. We want to be real in our worship. God wants to hear your heart! God wants to hear the heart of the congregation. If your congregation is in a time of rejoicing because of some things going on then it’s our job to have our corporate worship reflect that.
I say this sometimes but I really want to put in a disclaimer here. There are times that the Bible tells us to “call things that are not as though they are”. so just because you are an emotional musician doesn’t mean that you should be playing melancholy songs for several months straight. Be flexible and pay attention to when God maybe instructing you to decree something that will move you out of the season that you are currently in.
Be real with your team too.
They know your shortcomings as a musician. Allow them to help you in areas you are not yet developed. Many times it can be hard to show people our weakness. The truth is though that your team can see many of your weakness whether you tell them about it or not. You are not in the by yourself. There is a reason that you have a team; and it’s not just so that they can support you musically on Sunday mornings.
some of the healthiest worship teams that I have seen are very deeply connected in relationship other days of the week as well as on Sundays. Plus if you really want to be unified when you are leading worship then be real with each other. Get to know what everyone is going through. Get involved in their lives and let them into your life!
Do what you sing… if the song talks about dancing, dance… shouting… shout…
I’m reminded here of a song by Charlie Hall called “marvelous Light”. There is a place in the bridge of that song where it says “I life my hands and spin around”. I always find it interesting that nobody is lifting their hands and spinning around. If you are telling God that you are doing something then why are you not doing it? I’ll spare you my rant here about how we often tell God things in songs that we don’t do or believe; however, I’ll save that for another post entirely.
The truth of the matter though is that if we are wanting the congreation to respond by doing what they are singing then we need to do it as well. So if we are singing about Dancing before God then why don’t we dance instead of just saying idle words? If you are not going to dance when you sing about dancing before God. Then don’t sing about dancing before God. Let’s not make our worship a lie.
Live a worship lifestyle so that you are authentic in calling others to worship lifestyles
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To Pay or Not To Pay
Should worship team musicians be paid or unpaid?
This is an age old debate in churches. Should the musicians be paid or unpaid? Or should certain people be paid and other volunteer? Well let’s talk about that for a moment.
I have served on many worship teams throughout the years and have actually been paid for very few of them. I found that many churches do not pay their musicians for standard services; however, they are more willing to pay for special events like camps or conferences. So what is the difference? If I’m leading worship every Sunday morning how does that differ from when I’m leading worship at the men’s retreat for the same group of people? Why am I paid for one but expected to volunteer for the others?
Should I consider my time and talents purely as service unto the lord and not expect any payment for it? If so then is this what the pastor is doing as well? As I’m writing this article I’m realizing that I have more questions about this issue than I do comments so this will probably end up as an article where I am simply trying to come to an understanding for myself.
So here are a few areas that I think can be impacted by a musician being paid or not paid, as well as some questions brought up by readers about the issue. I don’t have the answers to all of these so feel free to post your ideas in the comments below.
Making it a priority.
As much as some people may want to disagree, I have seen time and time again that when people are paid for what they do then they put a priority on it. I can’t count the number of times that musicians have had to cancel because their job required them to be somewhere else when we needed them for a service. Now there are plenty of people who may say that is a heart issue for that individual person; however, when the decision has to be made of whether or not to go lead worship for no pay on a Wednesday evening service, or finish the work project so that you can get paid and have food on the table that week: Then the decision is less black and white than people would like for it to be.
Authority of the worship leader.
Working as a manager in corporate America it’s common for me to see money used as leverage by managers. If a manager wants an employee to perform better then they may talk to the individual and use money as a motivator to receive the behavior that they desire. This doesn’t work in a volunteer staff environment. If someone is constantly showing up late you can’t doc their pay. I have talked to many worship leaders who have problems deciding how to correct issues with their worship teams when they feel they have no authority since everyone is just a volunteer.
Seeing it as a job vs an opportunity
One thing that we have to keep in mind though, as worship leaders, is that we are providing the musicians an opportunity to serve with their music. Our worship teams are an outlet where they can use their skills and talents to serve the Lord. This is so much more than a job and often times when the musicians are paid you do get better attendance by the musicians but at the risk of them only doing so out of the commitment to money.
How much time is the person required to put into the position of being on the worship team? I know some churches that only require them to show up a little early on Sunday morning to practice for about an hour. There are also church that require them to practice for hours during the week to have the song memorized and be completely prepared before the practice time that week. In the two church examples here, the first church has volunteer staff and the second church pays their musicians.
If your musicians are not paid staff members of the church then there is a 99% chance that they have an outside job. Now we do see examples of this in the bible with Paul and his tent making business where he had a business so that he could support himself and not be a burden on the churches. So how well can your musicians balance their outside jobs? This kind of goes back to point number one where their job may be their main priority since it provides their income.
Who else is paid?
I’ll leave aside the fact that the pastor is paid… but who else in the church is paid? Is the Children’s minister, Youth Pastor, etc paid? If so then the worship leader should probably be paid as well. Many churches set it up so that the worship leader is paid, and is on full time staff. The rest of the team is usually on a volunteer basis.
What if there is a choir?
So if you want all of your musicians to be paid what if there is a choir? Can your church afford to pay each Choir member? And should Choir members be paid? If not then where is the line drawn for which “instruments” are important enough to be paid and which ones are not?
My church can’t afford to pay me but I can’t afford the time commitment to lead.
This is a question from one of our readers. It is a question that I hear quite a bit actually. It really goes back to number 1 on this list again. What is a priority in your life? I recently had to go through a time where I looked at everything I was commit to do. Then I figured out which of those things were the most important. I liked doing them all, but I was over committed so I couldn’t do any of them well. So to this question I would say this: Figure out which things in your life you place the most priority and then adjust the rest of the things accordingly. You may have to cut out some things that you like doing to create space for things that you love doing.
Combining Job Roles to make it “feasible” to pay a worship leader.
Many churches have decided to combine job roles so that they can afford to hire someone to do it and make it “feasible” for them. I urge churches to be careful when doing this because there have been times I have served as “worship leader, youth pastor, media director, and general assignment guy” all at the same time with one very small salary. In many cases this is just a recipe for burn out. This approach may be okay for a while; however, if it not sustainable long term.
What events will we be paid for and what events should we do for free?
Many churches have volunteer musicians for the regular services and consider this as a way for the musicians to be able to serve using their talents. The churches will then often pay the musicians for special events or conferences that are outside of the normal activities in which they volunteer.
My church does things like providing breakfast, paying for conferences, and helping supply instruments. Should we still pay our musicians?
I think it depends on several factors. Can the church afford it? What time commitments are you requiring of the musicians? Overall I personally would say that churches who supply breakfast on Sunday, pay for conferences, and “supply instruments” are already doing a lot for their musicians. I have friends who play at a church with this type of setup and they are just as loyal, if not more so, than some of the musicians that are paid for being on a team. It really all comes down to the musicians feeling valued and it sounds like this is a great way to do that. Now if the church can afford it them giving the musicians a financial blessing from time to time would not hurt anything for sure.
Can’t afford to pay the whole team. Should we pay some and not others?
Many churches are in this situation where they cannot afford to pay the whole team. Even paying $25 per week would add up to $7k to $10k for many smaller churches, so many churches choose to pay the worship leader that is responsible for organizing everything and then the rest are volunteers.
I’m a Christian musician and I need a job. Should I feel bad about searching for a church that pays musicians?
I have done this myself actually. I was out of a job and thought “I have been leading worship for a few years why not find a church that is hiring”. So I got a job at that church and it didn’t last very long. In this type of situation it is easy to swayed by the amount of money that a church is offering for your talents. Most likely you have not had time to really check out the church and get to know the leadership. So you don’t know if you have the same values or the same theological foundations. So those are some things that you need to pay attention to when looking for a job as a worship leader.
As you can see paying musicians or not paying musicians have several pros and cons. In reality it all comes down to making the musicians feel valued. You don’t have to pay someone to make them feel valued though. Sometimes it can simply be thanking them and giving them recognition for all that they do. Maybe providing breakfast like of the examples did. There are several ways to make people feel valued and money is only one of those ways.
So how does your church handle it’s worship team? Are your musicians paid? Are the Un-Paid? How is that working out for you? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
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