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Category Archives: Church Leadership

What To Wear…What To Wear?

NV Christmas

So, worship leaders – do you have a dress code for your team? It seems like a minor issue, but it sometimes can become a surprisingly big deal. Style of dress is a form of personal expression, and some people get irate when they are not allowed to express themselves in their preferred fashion (pun intended).

What it comes down to, though, is that a worship team’s purpose is not as a forum for personal expression. The very nature of personal expression is to say, in effect, “Look at me. See how I want the world to view me. See the subculture I wish to identify with.” If the style of dress – be it too formal, or too casual, or too flashy, or too risqué, or too whatever – draws attention to itself, rather than to worshipping God, it’s a miss. In the same way that an 80’s metal guitar solo doesn’t fit in a Tomlin song, a hawaiian shirt or backwards baseball cap might not fit in a suburban church setting largely populated by professional people who live, eat and breathe business casual.

It’s not that we want everyone to be part of the same club…it’s that we don’t want the style of dress to scream “Look at me – and look at what club I’m in!!!”

 

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Flexibility Is The Key To Ministry

“Flexibility Is The Key To Ministry!”

I forget where I first heard that quote. It’s easy to remember, but hard to live out. I’m a very busy guy, and my life can spin rapidly out of control when things do not go as planned (which seems to happen from time to time). However, I’ve learned to plan as best I can – which in our services means to the minute – but then to go with the flow. I’ve learned the hard way that it doesn’t pay to freak out. You just end up adding to the problem, nd have a bigger mess to clean up later.

We recently hosted a concert by Hillsong Young & Free. An awesome team of worshipers from the other side of the earth. They led a great night of worship – however, it was one of those nights where the technology did not want to cooperate. When it came time for them to go on, a bunch of their rented gear went down. A couple of their team very expertly stalled – at the same time, my production team kicked into overdrive, helping to get them up and running. In a church our size, many shows end up being a collaboration between the the artists, their crew and our team – this was one of them. The concert ended up being great, and our team helped to save the day. Not just because they are skilled (which they are), but because they were willing to do whatever needed doing to make things work – not for themselves, or even the artists, but for the people that were there to worship.

I have a great team. They are skilled. They are dedicated. And they are flexible…

Hillsong Y&F 2014

 
 

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Hard Decisions

(Note: This post was written, for the most part, about 6 months ago – thought it was time to finish it up…)

I had to do something very difficult yesterday. We had an idea for a service that would really stretch us as a team. The whole team worked on it, but two of the guys in particular put in a ton of hours to make it happen. As we got to our Thursday run-through (two days before our Saturday service), it became clear that things just were not progressing in a way that I felt was going to give us dependable results for the weekend.

There was really no doubt in my mind that the correct thing to do was to go with our backup plan, and adjust the service, cutting that particular element. So I did. However, I still thought about it long and hard. I really value my team. God has blessed me with a really good group of folks to work with, and I wanted their work to be rewarded by being able to see their ideas come to life…

It’s still going to be a great service (after-the-fact-note: it was), but I wish it could have gone as planned and let the idea come to life. We’ll bring it back someday and try again…

 

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Communication vs. Manipulation

Any time that you deal with people, things get messy…

There really is a fine line between communication and manipulation – actually, a very blurry fine line, if that’s even possible. In fulfilling our job to lead worship (to really help people engage in worship), there are two primary schools of thought. Let me use their extreme examples to highlight the difference. One is the “I’m worshipping God privately here, and everyone can watch me doing that, and that that will inspire them to do the same, because I’m so worshipful.” The other is the “I’m a worship cheerleader, hey I can’t hear you, you’re not singing loud enough, hey, I’m talking to you, person in the 5th row!”

I don’t have the perfect answer. I’ve headed too far in both of those directions at various times over the years, but my gut feeling is that there really needs to be a balance. It’s kind of a representation of the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, if you will – a call to worship God above all, and a call to care for those around us. It also is a call to be a part of a community. I really am kind of distressed how attached to our gadgets we are, and how alone we can be, even in the midst of a crowd… Worship in community – praising God, encouraging each other – is better than that. It’s good for our, souls, and is just – well – right.

We need to communicate God’s love to each other, to support each other, and to help each other walk away from our pain, temptations, weaknesses and hardships (even our boredom). This takes worship leaders who will look us in the eye and show God’s love, all while actually showing love back to God. Not put on a show (i.e.. manipulate), even though everything in our culture pushes us in that direction. Not close off the world, because that locks out the very people God wants us to show His love to. It’s not easy to get it right. In fact, it’s impossible to do without God. But we all need real worship leading – and leaders – desperately.

Raised Hands

 
 

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Treat Your Soundpeople Right

Treat your sound people right! Here’s one quick tip to help that to happen – have one person communicate from the platform/stage to the soundboard. At our campus, it’s the worship leader. If someone needs something, they relay that need to the worship leader (who filters the ask to see if it really is a need and not a “diva-type” request). The worship leader then relays the ask to the sound person (respectfully), and the situation is worked on until it’s done. This helps to make sure that there aren’t multiple requests coming from the stage at once, and that issues are resolved before moving forward. Here’s a link to an article which will help the worship leaders among us to walk in the shoes of our soundpeople – I don’t agree with everything here, but there’s a lot of truth.   (click here)

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Dumb Things I’ve Done

At the first big church that I served at, we had what we thought was a great idea… “Let’s ask our people to review our services,” we said to ourselves. “It’ll help us to know what’s impacting them in a positive way and what’s not working as well.” It looked great on paper. So we actually did put it on paper. We created a two-sided sheet asking folks to rate every element of the service, from the arrival in the parking lot through the child check-in procedure through the worship music through the message. In detail. “Rate each of these 1-5,” we said, and provided plenty of space for extra comments. Then we choose random people each week and handed them out, 10 or so per service.
The problem? We were unintentionally asking people to change from what they were – people engaging with our services – into something far, far less valuable (especially for them) – people judging our services. Instead of thinking “Could this incredible Hope possibly be true?,” they started thinking “Was that delivered well?” Instead of being floored by person after person expressing their love for God through baptism, they started thinking “Was the lighting on the baptism tank good?” That’s a major biff on my part, and the sad thing is, I find myself being tempted to do it (in various ways) again and again….

 

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Be Our Guest (on the road edition)

I recently returned from a much needed vacation – ahhhh… However, I did sneak a little work-related stuff in on the way to and from the beach. My family and I were able to attend 4 different churches to get the feel for what they were all about (and to possibly borrow ideas). All were big (over 2000) and all utilized a contemporary worship, style, video, etc…

One thing that really stuck out and struck me was how big of a deal first impressions are. I’ll choose two of the different churches to explain…

In church number one, my family and I arrived early. We gravitated towards the info center, which was in the process of being readied with coffee, etc… We walked round the campus to check it out, and headed back as people started rolling in. When we got back to the info counter, there was a couple talking to the lone volunteer. There were no materials to check out, just a couple of laptops set up with what I’m assuming was the church’s website. The first couple left, the volunteer gave us a quick “How are you doing?” and then walked over to chat with another volunteer that had arrived, ignoring us completely (which was pretty aggravating considering that we were the only ones there and were clearly waiting to talk to someone). The coffee was apparently for them, and neither talked to us again. The service was getting ready to start, so we headed into the very large auditorium, being greeted very halfheartedly by the folks handing out worship programs.

In church number two, we saw clear signage (several signs, in fact) asking us to put our flashers on if we were first time guests for prime parking. We then walked to a tent that had been set up in front of the church for guests. We were warmly greeted by multiple people in clearly marked t-shirts. We were then given a welcome packet including a DVD of a special message by the senior pastor, as well as a t-shirt. One of those volunteers then personally took us inside, showed us around and bought us each a drink at the church’s coffeeshop. After spending more than 10 minutes with us, he headed back to the tent to greet other guests. As we moved around the lobby area and campus, we were warmly greeted multiple times (without it being too pushy). After the service, our host was waiting for us outside of the auditorium to connect and ask if we needed anything else (again, in a very natural and non-pushy way).
Two churches (both in the same city, actually) – I’d go back to one of them…

 
 

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