“There are only 52 Sundays in a year. You have 52 opportunities with the people God has entrusted you to lead per year. And with vacations and other things, it’s going to be even less than that. So there are no throwaways.” – Israel Houghton
I once had a worship team member who felt that it was an imposition to practice. “When I’m off work, that’s family time – I can wing my way through the music” was the feeling, more or less. I said that was fine – we weren’t telling anybody that they had to do anything. But not as a member of the worship team. We have no problem setting parameters for what is expected of people who chose to serve on the worship team. We are serious about doing our best for God and the people that He has entrusted us to serve.
A couple of quotes by Ben Patterson nail down why:
QUOTE #1: “A good metaphor for the true freedom of disciplined Christian worship can be found in the dancer’s art. Nothing looks more free and spontaneous than a great dancer performing. But beneath all that freedom and spontaneity are years of drills, repetition, sweat, strain, and more drills.”
QUOTE #2: Sunday morning worship is to the rest of our lives what cultivation is to a garden. We weed, prune, water, and feed to the end that the garden may be beautiful – spontaneous gardens are not; disciplined gardens are.”
Tomorrow, I will be welcoming two new staff members to my teams (woo hoo, Andrea and Adam)! It’s very exciting – we have been growing as a church, and need extra help! In some ways, it’s like a family adopting new children – two important things need to happen as the team changes to adapt to it’s new structure:
1. The new team members have to be helped to understand the current team dynamics. This is especially true in our case, because we’re not bringing them in to “fix” anything. The newbies are going to want to show what they can do, but the leader needs to channel that energy and enthusiasm towards appropriate projects.
2. The “old” team needs to understand that things will be different now in some ways. Each staff hire brings a different set of skills to the table. God has created each person to be an individual, and the leader needs to figure out how those individual skills can best be utilized to help the church as a whole.
Whenever we do a baby dedication, we ask the parents of the various little ones to send in photos in advance. This creates a great “Awwww Factor” in the service! But it actually goes a lot further that that. You see, we’re a big church. We have a lot of things that we can offer to people by our size – a great Children’s program, a great Youth program, lots of outreach opportunities, well-organized continuing ed. possibilities, etc… But it can also be easy for people to feel lost in the crowd unless we’re intentional about shrinking the bigness down a bit. That’s why we use photos in situations like this – to make it more like family. We also record the stories of people before they are baptized so that we can share their lives (as well as their baptism). We have name tag machines so that we can call each other by name. And we are very, very intentional about helping people to become part of life groups. Because, while the “Awwww Factor” is cute, it’s gone in a few seconds – being known can help to point someone’s life towards change that can last forever!
We are starting to utilize TVs on a more regular basis in our services. They are especially useful during the messages in our case – we have a couple of multi-site campuses, and any images that we show need to be on something besides our side screens. We use the same feed for the side screens as we do for our regional campuses, and if we were to use a photo or a graph, for example, that’s all that the congregation at those sites would see until we cut back to the live shot. Forty-five seconds of looking at a picture (rather than seeing the preacher interact with the picture) is an eternity. Another plus – it’s a lot easier for the preaching pastor to point out details with any images, graphs, Scripture verses, etc… if they’re right at hand.
We’re also going to try an experiment in our youth building by building a video wall – I’ll let you know how it goes – should be up soon!
We’re just getting ready to open our 2nd multi-site campus – however, it will be our first in a shared facility (we’re opening in a school as we prepare to build a permanent facility). Here’s a video that shows roughly what it’ll be like!
Kindness, gentleness and compassion are Christ-like qualities – not signs of weakness. People WILL take advantage of you if you are nice – but that’s part of what it means to be in the world, but not of it, as the saying goes. We DO welcome people in our services. We have a “turn and greet” section. We have greeters. Our Lead Pastor goes through the crowd/congregation as they enter, and greets them. The world often considers niceness weak – but I’ve heard criticisms from the church, as well…
If I seem a little touchy, it’s because I recently read an article by someone who said that they stopped doing a turn and greet in their service because it wasn’t deep enough. I admire the desire for deep relationships behind that thinking, but not the action. You don’t hold back friendliness because it’s not deep love (yet). You don’t hold back compassion because it’s not a 100% surrender of everything you have. You don’t refuse to interact with someone if the relationship is not perfect.
You meet them where they are, flaws and all, and enter into relationship at the level that they’re comfortable with. And then it has the potential, with God’s help, to grow from there. Sometimes, just saying “Hi” is the beginning of something good…