I had a young worship pastor stop me at a Building 429 show and ask me a very simple question. He said…. i know you don’t have a lot of time, but I’d love to hear your insight into worship and how you lead at your church. What is your best advice to a young worship leader. This is what I told him in a span of about 5 minutes before I had to be ushered to the bus to go to the next show.
Some would say excellence at any cost… I disagree…. because sometimes your pursuit of excellence costs you the ability to have a worship team/community. You know what I mean right. You have to have all A level players, so you have the same 5 players every Sunday and if any one of them ever bails on you, you’re in big trouble. Been there done that. Some churches remedy that by paying people, which works in some cases. I happen to lean away from that, and here’s why. The desire of any church is to be a place of refuge and development for tomorrow’s young artists. If you never allow younger and less experienced players to jump in, you eventually discourage them, or send them packing to another church. If, and I do mean if, a few of them eventually become great players on their own, they grow up with an entitlement complex. When they finally do get asked to play on the team, they want a paycheck right….. and let’s be honest it’s not fair to not pay them if they’ve worked their tail off to get to where they are and you’ve been paying the other big dogs the whole time. Not cool.
Others would say, and I’ve heard this one a ton too:”If someone has the desire to sing a song or play an instrument, then they should be given that opportunity”… or “We need to make sure that everyone feels welcome and is allowed to worship the Lord with their gift.” and “who are YOU to tell them that they can’t?” I always get a chuckle out of this one and say “Well…….I’m the worship pastor, in charge of protecting and leading the congregation to the throne of Jesus. That’s who I am and that’s why I’m saying NO!” The truth is that if these people want to worship the Lord with their gift, then they won’t have a problem doing an audition for the person that God has put in authority over worship for their church. Also, if their heart’s desire to worship Jesus, then whether they are on the stage or not doesn’t matter…. because it’s not about them right??
Often times in life you find that short term goals are at odds with the long term goals of any job or assignment you may be given. Long term you want your worshipping arts program to flourish. You want 50-60 people in the team so that you have a broad base of extremely talented servant hearted leaders that are available for any given Sunday. If that is what you desire then you WILL HAVE TO SUFFER a bit in the short term. The problem is that very few people have the ability to think long term. All they see is “THIS SUNDAY HAS TO BE GREAT”. I think that a bit of compromise here is where you end up winning.
This is how you do it:
With a constant challenge coming from you, you will fill your team with people who are becoming great. Here’s my best way of helping you understand this:
People say that a true friend is someone who accepts you for you who are….. ( let me let out a sigh, as the sweetness of that rainbow colored statement melts my heart) now I’ll scream: NO THEY ARE NOT. A true friend knows who you could be in Christ and challenges your character constantly to become that person.
Likewise a great leader doesn’t accept your average effort. They know what you could be and drive you to be more than who you are.
This is the mentality that we have a Grace Community Church… we’re not perfect, far from it…. but we have grown our worship team from 10 to 60 in a matter of 2 years employing this strategy and on any given Sunday God is going to show up. Whether “Jason from Building429” is there or not doesn’t matter…. why??? Because I don’t sing every song, I let other singers sing. I don’t play every guitar part, I let other younger players do it. Because we saw a 16 year old drummer who could barely play on click challenged him…you wouldn’t believe how good that 18 year old is is now (wait till he’s 22). Because we saw a young acoustic player who had been playing for a year and thought… that guy is working HARD, let’s challenge him….. yeah he’s becoming one of our strongest electric guitar players. That has become a magnetic part of what we’re doing. Every week we have new people showing up who want to join the team. Every one gets auditioned, and some don’t make it. But when we see something special we pounce on it, because it’s not so much about today…. imagine what our worship program is going to look like in 5 years. When these kiddos are all fluent in the Nashville Numbers system, playing on click track in my studio every Thursday for rehearsal and every Sunday at Church. After they’ve been a part of recording several records. These guys are going to be KILLERS. They will be good enough to go on the road with any signed band, and it will all be because we were willing to suffer in the short term while challenging those who are weaker to become better than they were.
Jason I agree with the continuiing to hone your abilities or God given talents that you are to use and in my opinion are actually to improve on to the Glory of God. I have been fortunate to have wonderful praise and worship leaders to mentor and challenge me and it really does make a difference. I was thinking about the part where you talked about being prepared for worship with whatever talent you have been given, whether it is a vocalist or musician or lighting or sound. I am an older musician but Love to worship through music and especially drums. I am always self aware of not trying to think or act like “just because I am older I deserve to play”. Instead I was challenged by a seminar to use click track, focus on rhythm patterns and always practice. All I can say is what a difference it made in passion and desire to play and help the team. I try to encourage our younger youth players now to begin click playing and practice fundamentals, which to me makes plaiying/worshiping more natural and walking closer to God even as we lead. You have always been an inspiration along with Giles Blankenship and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You gave made a not so young , non professional drummer to constantly challenge himself to want to be at the feet of Jesus praising using and improving on the gift that God gave me. Your brother in Christ Randy
Hey Randy… thanks for commenting brotha… sure miss you guys in Fayetteville, and I’m proud to know that somehow I helped move you along… even though I didn’t have a clue what I was doing back then…. come to think of it.. I really don’t now either?!