All Posts in WORSHIP TOOLS

May 15, 2015 - No Comments!

Blocks: No Normal Sundays

blockSERIES

Last week my wife went all out and made a taco meal unlike any she has attempted.  It was incredible.  I was driving to the church building last Sunday morning down the 405 in the Seattle area and reflected on how Sundays are similar in some ways to the meal we shared.

Sundays are like a family dinner.
You gather together with largely the same people in regular rhythm.  You gather to receive.  Those present all chip-in to make sure the meal happens.  Even though you know how to (and should) feed yourself during the day, in the evening you come expectant that you will leave nourished and there will be something special about gathering around the table.

At the same time, Sundays are not like a family dinner. 
You usually don’t conduct an adoption ceremony between dinner and dessert.  You typically don’t turn from a dinner time story to see a baby delivered in the kitchen.  No one wakes from a coma while the condiments are placed back in the fridge.  And yet, this is the reality of the saints gathered.  Miracles happen.  People are born again.  Someone who has been going through the motions for years finally has the light bulb burn bright.  A marriage in the room comes off the cliff and heads towards health.  Someone longing for community meets a group leader and begins a beautiful friendship.  Sometimes it happens during a sermon or a song, but by God’s unmerited grace these things happen.

The fact is, there are no “normal Sundays”. 
This is helpful for those of us that have played a role in ministry on Sundays for a while.  I’ve led over 1,000 services, which means more than 1,000 times I’ve woken up, got dressed, and showed up to a building, often earlier than my body was willing, to prepare a team of musicians to sing some simple songs over and with people of varying types: people I have cried with, people I have never seen before, people that sing every word, and people that stare at me with arms crossed as though they are actively imagining how to murder me in the parking lot.

When you are on a church staff, you hopefully put a bit of planning into the church calendar year.  In these conversations, you hear seemingly harmless phrases like “peak weekends” or “down time” or “low-attendance Sundays” (here’s looking at you Father’s Day) and while I’d be the first in line to say that planning around these patterns is not only okay, but wise, I’d also say they can build a subtle case for Sundays that don’t matter.  That’s simply not the case.

When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.  1 Corinthians 14
Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  Hebrews 10
Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.  Ephesians 5
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2

The bible’s simple but emphasized language for what Sunday’s should look like should apply to every Sunday we put on for the church (read people) that we serve.  In light of the sheer importance of what happens on Sundays, we should readily accept that there are no throw-away weekends.  Whether you greet at the doors, chase tiny unregenerate humans around, or move the sliders on a piece of equipment so that all gathered can hear the gospel clearly, every Sunday matters.

This post is part of a new series I am writing called “Blocks”.  Because I myself am rebuilding a worship ministry here, it seemed an appropriate time to write these ideas out: for my own clarity, for my team’s understanding, and for your consideration. If you’d like help developing your own scorecard, or just want better Sundays, contact me for a free coaching call.

March 02, 2015 - No Comments!

Worship Coaching Slots Now Available

coachingHEADER

I’m excited to announce that I will be expanding my current worship coaching load in 2015.  If you’re a worship leader who wants to grow in organization, communication (on and off stage), or just need practical help to build your worship ministry, this is a great time to sign upSlots are limited.

The coaching experience involves 2 – 3 coaching appointments per month, either face to face, via Skype, or on the phone. In coaching, distance is not an obstacle. The frequency and duration of coaching are customized to your needs. Most of my coaching relationships go at least 6 months and we use quarterly reviews ensure that your investment is producing results.

Contact me for a free coaching session or get more info here.

August 25, 2014 - No Comments!

Worship Ministry Essentials Part 3: Bring Identifcation

After meandering through the corn maze of ropes and suitcases on wheels, you finally approach the counter.

The ticket agent is distracted. You throw your luggage on the scales, waiting for her attention. Anxiously, you check the time, glance at the container of unused bag tags and the pen chained to the counter, then back at the time again.  Finally, she turns and asks the most important question of the day.  No matter what you’ve paid or sacrificed to be standing here now, your response will determine your destiny.

“Can I see your ID?”
Whether your traveling, heading into a warzone, grabbing concert tickets at will-call, or using your credit card to buy a really old new vinyl record, your ID is an essential item that goes with you everywhere.  The same is true for the worship stage.

Continuing in our series about the most important facets of worship ministry, this time around we’ll look at why gospel identity is important for all believers, but especially essential for those in worship ministry.

WHY IDENTITY MATTERS
Jesus repeatedly point out that who we are must precede what we do.  We get into dangerous territory when “what” comes before “who”.  Keller addresses the difficulty of doing ministry without a clear picture of identity:

“At one level we believe the gospel that we are saved by grace not works, but at a deeper level we don’t believe it much at all. We are still trying to create our own righteousness through spiritual performance, albeit one that is sanctioned by our call to ministry.” 

You can’t do what God has called you to, without a clear understanding of who he has called you to be.  Paul Tripp adds this:

“I will either get my identity vertically, from who I am in Christ, or I will shop for it horizontally in the situations, experiences, and relationships of my daily life. This is true of everyone, but I am convinced that pastors are particularly tempted to seek their identity horizontally.” 
So before we jump in, lets briefly define gospel identity:

Gospel identity is the recognition in the believer that they have been created by God, participated in the Adam’s rebellion in nature and action, atoned for by Christ when he died in their place for their sins, and now belong forever in God’s family, both during current sanctification and in the future in God’s perfect heaven.

 

WHO YOU ARE (AND WHO YOU ARE NOT)
Worship leaders have several fake IDs they can reach for.  We can try to emulate our mentors or heroes in the worship world.  We can try to be what we think the people we’re leading want us to be.  We can try to play the role of mediator, carrying the weight of connecting the congregation to their Maker.

Knowing your gospel identity will put guardrails between you and the deadly cliffs of being anything outside of what God has asked of you.  Rather than entertaining God’s apathetic sheep like a rockstar, you can pastor them through tough Sundays because you are a shepherd.  When you don’t see yourself as the God-man standing between creator and creation, you can lead your people faithfully as a worship leader rather than a worship mediator.
Additionally, if you don’t expect to be impressive or perfect, then feedback from your staff or volunteers won’t be crushing, because they aren’t shattering the fragile glass ornament of your ego.  Instead those remarks are received as constructive and useful for consideration in our growth.
AN EASY AND ESSENTIAL CHALLENGE 

Knowing and believing that you are forgiven and under God’s grace will drastically change how you lead on stage. You’ll be free to express gratitude, brokenness, and joy on stage because you aren’t captive to the opinions of others. You can rest knowing that God’s work moves on despite your imperfect execution or that moment you forgot the lyrics to verse two.

Jesus repeatedly points out that who we are must precede what we do. So then, who are we? We’re broken people that God delights in using.  We are treasured sons and daughters in His family. We are servants to the highest king to have ever taken a throne.
There’s certainly a lot more to be said on this topic, but for the sake of brevity remember: we can’t lead others in worship very effectively if we don’t first know who we are.  Knowing our identity gives us reason to sing ourselves and the boldness to ask others to do the same.
No matter how long you have led worship (and I would argue the longer you’ve led the more likely you are to err on this issue), I’d challenge you to do something simple.  Next Sunday, just before you take the stage, check your ID.  In those last moments while people are finding their seats or the pastor on stage is making announcements, whisper to God, “I am yours, and I belong to you”.  Remember who Christ is and who you are too.

August 08, 2014 - No Comments!

Worship Ministry Essentials – Part 3: Bring your ID

After meandering through the corn maze of ropes and suitcases on wheels, you finally approach the counter.  

The ticket agent is distracted. You throw your luggage on the scales, waiting for her attention. Anxiously, you check the time, glance at the container of unused bag tags and the pen chained to the counter, then back at the time again.  Finally, she turns and asks the most important question of the day.  No matter what you’ve paid or sacrificed to be standing here now, your response will determine your destiny.

“Can I see your ID?”

Whether your traveling, heading into a warzone, grabbing concert tickets at will-call, or using your credit card to buy a really old new vinyl record, your ID is an essential item that goes with you everywhere.  The same is true for the worship stage.

Continuing in our series about the most important facets of worship ministry, this time around we’ll look at why gospel identity is important for all believers, but especially essential for those in worship ministry.

WHY IDENTITY MATTERS
Jesus repeatedly point out that who we are must precede what we do.  We get into dangerous territory when “what” comes before “who”
.  Keller addresses the difficulty of doing ministry without a clear picture of identity: 
“At one level we believe the gospel that we are saved by grace not works, but at a deeper level we don’t believe it much at all. We are still trying to create our own righteousness through spiritual performance, albeit one that is sanctioned by our call to ministry.”
 

You can’t do what God has called you to, without a clear understanding of who he has called you to be.  Paul Tripp adds this:


“I will either get my identity vertically, from who I am in Christ, or I will shop for it horizontally in the situations, experiences, and relationships of my daily life. This is true of everyone, but I am convinced that pastors are particularly tempted to seek their identity horizontally.” 
 
So before we jump in, lets briefly define gospel identity:

Gospel identity is the recognition in the believer that they have been created by God, participated in the Adam’s rebellion in nature and action, atoned for by Christ when he died in their place for their sins, and now belong forever in God’s family, both during current sanctification and in the future in God’s perfect heaven.

WHO YOU ARE (AND WHO YOU ARE NOT)
Worship leaders have several fake IDs they can reach for.  We can try to emulate our mentors or heroes in the worship world.  We can try to be what we think the people we’re leading want us to be.  We can try to play the role of mediator, carrying the weight of connecting the congregation to their Maker.  

Knowing your gospel identity will put guardrails between you and the deadly cliffs of being anything outside of what God has asked of you.  Rather than entertaining God’s apathetic sheep like a rockstar, you can pastor them through tough Sundays because you are a shepherd.  When you don’t see yourself as the God-man standing between creator and creation, you can lead your people faithfully as a worship leader rather than a worship mediator. 
Additionally, if you don’t expect to be impressive or perfect, then feedback from your staff or volunteers won’t be crushing, because they aren’t shattering the fragile glass ornament of your ego.  Instead those remarks are received as constructive and useful for consideration in our growth.


AN EASY AND ESSENTIAL CHALLENGE 
Knowing and believing that you are forgiven and under God’s grace will drastically change how you lead on stage. You’ll be free to express gratitude, brokenness, and joy on stage because you aren’t captive to the opinions of others. You can rest knowing that God’s work moves on despite your imperfect execution or that moment you forgot the lyrics to verse two.  

Jesus repeatedly points out that who we are must precede what we do. So then, who are we? We’re broken people that God delights in using.  We are treasured sons and daughters in His family. We are servants to the highest king to have ever taken a throne. 


There’s certainly a lot more to be said on this topic, but for the sake of brevity remember: we can’t lead others in worship very effectively if we don’t first know who we are.  Knowing our identity gives us reason to sing ourselves and the boldness to ask others to do the same.  

No matter how long you have led worship (and I would argue the longer you’ve led the more likely you are to err on this issue), I’d challenge you to do something simple.  Next Sunday, just before you take the stage, check your ID.  In those last moments while people are finding their seats or the pastor on stage is making announcements, whisper to God, “I am yours, and I belong to you”.  Remember who Christ is and who you are too.

July 25, 2014 - No Comments!

Worship Ministry Essentials Part 2: DNA

Any healthy forest has trees of different sizes.

Seedlings from decades past eventually grow tall and help the legacy of the forest live on by dispersing seeds of their own. If the distribution of new life stops, the forest has begun to die.

Strategies, methods, beliefs, and target audience make up a local church’s culture or DNA. Shelves of leadership books address the importance of having the right DNA in your organization. Worship ministry is no different.

DNA can encompass the “why” and the “how” of ministry. Some how-DNA will change with time such as music styles or methods. Other why-DNA will remain constant such as the centrality of Jesus (Galatians 1:6–9). Even though how-DNA may change, it’s still essential to define and defend what you want it to be now.

Replicators, Not Receivers

The worship stage is an essential platform for communicating DNA to the church, so teach those on stage to be replicators (think big trees) of your DNA, not just receivers of it (seedlings). Replicators are those who don’t just get the task done, but explain the vision behind what’s happening adding leadership momentum and coverage. Replicators lead their sphere of influence in seeing the greatness of Christ by doing what God has called your church to do.

Vision leaks (every 30 days according to some leadership gurus) so rain vision continually. People forget the why of your ministry long before they forget how to meet the expectations. Without why-DNA, leaders are left with the imperative to obey but without the truth that empowers obedience (2 Peter 1:3). This is dangerous to the soul and the ministry.

“Fresh vision rooted in the gospel helps minimize attrition and collapses.”

If you don’t create and manage your church’s DNA, you’ll waste valuable energy redirecting and repairing rather than progressing.

Replicating the Right DNA

1. Decide which hills you will die on.

What doctrines and philosophies are non-negotiable? Don’t drench your worship volunteers with different vision each week. Land on the core things you want them to live and breathe. Be careful of assessing participation in some areas but not others (e.g. valuing a band member’s musical abilities while overlooking a lack of a servant-like heart).

2. Start at the front door.

Make sure volunteers understand what’s important to you from the very start.
Whether you have a formal audition process or not, make sure everyone in the forest you oversee knows the DNA. Anyone putting roots down needs to be briefed with a chance to ask questions.

3. Create touch-points that make sense.

Establish a system of touch-points (meetings, hang-outs, videos, emails, blogs, etc.) between you and key leaders at regular intervals where you intentionally include DNA conversations (see worksheet below). Every system has a shelf life, so ask trusted leaders when a system needs patching, and when it needs an overhaul. Keller’s article on how communication is affected by church size is pertinent here.

4. Assess current leaders.

If you hear someone say something on stage or in a conversation that doesn’t reflect your DNA, pull them aside privately and help them understand why what they said may lead to confusion. Ask them to repeat back the “why-DNA” and “how-DNA” in their own words.

5. Call the fire department before the forest burns down.

Many people won’t confess that they have lost sight of the vision or that they are wrestling with sin until something explodes because of a lack of understanding of the gospel (Proverbs 28:13). Frequently invite everyone in the forest you oversee to say something when smoke appears, and teach them what smoke looks like (loss of traction in victory over sin, burnout, and relational breakdowns).

6. Don’t make DNA a weapon.

Your church’s DNA is likely a mix of biblical mandates, opinions, and specific callings for your church body. Don’t encourage (explicitly or implicitly) the bashing of other camps that do things differently. Good things are happening that aren’t your things, and that’s ok.

7. Be a replicator yourself.

If your leaders don’t understand their role or can’t articulate why you do things the way you do them then you haven’t done your job. Pray for God’s leading in establishing your church’s DNA. Invite the Spirit to lead changes to methods when needed. Work hard at equipping and caring for the whole forest, new seedlings and established trees alike.

Download the Resource

This is a downloadable PDF that includes an outline for leading a meeting or conversation covering DNA issues and a worksheet for developing your ability to connect how-DNA to why-DNA. Customize the resources to fit your context and address the DNA elements most important to your ministry.

July 15, 2014 - No Comments!

For Every Worship Leader…

I watched this when it first took a lap around the internet, and today I realized that every worship leader I know would be reminded that we should speak with clarity and conviction when leading God’s people.  This is why all our worship leaders are asked to write out spoken transitions in advance.

May 20, 2014 - No Comments!

Worship Ministry Essentials – Part 2: DNA

Any healthy forest has trees of different sizes.

Seedlings from decades past eventually grow tall and help the legacy of the forest live on by dispersing seeds of their own. If the distribution of new life stops, the forest has begun to die.

Strategies, methods, beliefs, and target audience make up a local church’s culture or DNA. Shelves of leadership books address the importance of having the right DNA in your organization. Worship ministry is no different.

DNA can encompass the “why” and the “how” of ministry. Some how-DNA will change with time such as music styles or methods. Other why-DNA will remain constant such as the centrality of Jesus (Galatians 1:6–9). Even though how-DNA may change, it’s still essential to define and defend what you want it to be now.

 

Replicators, Not Receivers

The worship stage is an essential platform for communicating DNA to the church, so teach those on stage to be replicators (think big trees) of your DNA, not just receivers of it (seedlings). Replicators are those who don’t just get the task done, but explain the vision behind what’s happening adding leadership momentum and coverage. Replicators lead their sphere of influence in seeing the greatness of Christ by doing what God has called your church to do.

Vision leaks (every 30 days according to some leadership gurus) so rain vision continually. People forget the why of your ministry long before they forget how to meet the expectations. Without why-DNA, leaders are left with the imperative to obey but without the truth that empowers obedience (2 Peter 1:3). This is dangerous to the soul and the ministry.

“Fresh vision rooted in the gospel helps minimize attrition and collapses.”

If you don’t create and manage your church’s DNA, you’ll waste valuable energy redirecting and repairing rather than progressing. 

 

Replicating the Right DNA

1. Decide which hills you will die on.

What doctrines and philosophies are non-negotiable? Don’t drench your worship volunteers with different vision each week. Land on the core things you want them to live and breathe. Be careful of assessing participation in some areas but not others (e.g. valuing a band member’s musical abilities while overlooking a lack of a servant-like heart).

2. Start at the front door.

Make sure volunteers understand what’s important to you from the very start.

Whether you have a formal audition process or not, make sure everyone in the forest you oversee knows the DNA. Anyone putting roots down needs to be briefed with a chance to ask questions.


3. Create touch-points that make sense.

Establish a system of touch-points (meetings, hang-outs, videos, emails, blogs, etc.) between you and key leaders at regular intervals where you intentionally include DNA conversations (see worksheet below). Every system has a shelf life, so ask trusted leaders when a system needs patching, and when it needs an overhaul. Keller’s article on how communication is affected by church size is pertinent here.


4. Assess current leaders.

If you hear someone say something on stage or in a conversation that doesn’t reflect your DNA, pull them aside privately and help them understand why what they said may lead to confusion. Ask them to repeat back the “why-DNA” and “how-DNA” in their own words.


5. Call the fire department before the forest burns down.

Many people won’t confess that they have lost sight of the vision or that they are wrestling with sin until something explodes because of a lack of understanding of the gospel (Proverbs 28:13). Frequently invite everyone in the forest you oversee to say something when smoke appears, and teach them what smoke looks like (loss of traction in victory over sin, burnout, and relational breakdowns).


6. Don’t make DNA a weapon.

Your church’s DNA is likely a mix of biblical mandates, opinions, and specific callings for your church body. Don’t encourage (explicitly or implicitly) the bashing of other camps that do things differently. Good things are happening that aren’t your things, and that’s ok.


7. Be a replicator yourself.

If your leaders don’t understand their role or can’t articulate why you do things the way you do them then you haven’t done your job. Pray for God’s leading in establishing your church’s DNA. Invite the Spirit to lead changes to methods when needed. Work hard at equipping and caring for the whole forest, new seedlings and established trees alike.

Download the Resource

This is a downloadable PDF that includes an outline for leading a meeting or conversation covering DNA issues and a worksheet for developing your ability to connect how-DNA to why-DNA. Customize the resources to fit your context and address the DNA elements most important to your ministry.

May 17, 2014 - No Comments!

Worship Auditions

Every college student knows it.

Some professors are all about the test. Others prepare you for real life. The problem with “teaching to test” is it inaccurately assesses the skills or critical thinking required in the real world. This is why some students exit their programs of study with high marks, but not much to offer their employer or even church. Great educational programs combine academic study with real-world application. 

Music auditions in the local church face similar challenges. The audition process should test for what will be expected in practices, worship gatherings, and the musician’s relationships with other volunteers. Many churches don’t have a regular audition process at all, and others just search for a recipe of what’s popular on the Christian scene.  Before you can hold an audition, you have to find the musicians in your midst that might sign up to serve.  

 

How Do You Attract and Audition Musicians?

Artists are like ants. Ants send out scouts to scope out new territory and report back their findings. If you squash the scouts or have nothing for them to sink their teeth into, they move on. Identify and create opportunities in your church for musicians. If your church has no platform for artists to grow, create, and contribute, then don’t expect them to stick around. Music is not the purpose of the church, but it can be immeasurably effective in communicating the message that is the purpose of the church, as evidenced by both the word of God and church history.

It’s essential to appoint someone who can be leader and liaison to musicians in your community. When selecting a leader over musicians, pick someone who understands the gospel, artistry, and the specific calling of your local church. Musicians should be held to the same standards as other leaders, but know they typically have their own culture—including language, behaviors, motivators, strengths, and weaknesses.

“Worship is more than music, thus auditions should cover more than musicianship.”

Have your current music-types watch for places in your community where musicians gather and participate with them. Ask the lead pastor to talk about the specific music needs on stage in services, and ask people in your congregation to spread the word and suggest to your leaders anyone they know who might fit the bill. Frequently, there are godly and gifted musicians in the room that won’t beat your door down for a tryout. 

 

What Are the Qualifying Marks of a Person on Your Stage Leading Worship?

Intentionally create tests for those joining the worship ministry that simulate their ability to do what current members do, on and off stage. Here are some key questions that your audition process should address:

  • Are they worshipers of Jesus off-stage? (1 John 5:2)
  • Can they learn a whole set of music in the time period allowed?
  • Do they know how to play with other musicians?
  • What is the time commitment? 6 months? A year?
  • Do they have a history of serving and giving?
  • Are they involved in community? (Known by others, confessing sin, etc.)
  • How do they respond to authority in their life? (Hebrews 13:17)

If you have a formal music education, don’t make the audition so tough that qualified folks will get dissuaded from serving in their area of gifting. Most volunteers don’t need to know about atonality, serialism, or a Hungarian minor scale, so stick to what is pertinent. That said, teach your volunteers music theory basics that help them serve your church better.

Sometimes leaders avoid hard questions because they fear losing a volunteer. Folks in smaller churches often say bigger churches are afforded “luxuries” in sifting through myriads of musicians. As discussed in this post, deciding between heart and talent in a volunteer is a mistake regardless of church size. Worship is more than music, thus auditions should cover more than musicianship.

 

Who Makes the Final Decisions?

Whether you have a worship leader reporting to a staff pastor or a worship pastor on staff, make sure the one overseeing the ministry is involved with auditions. Determining the specifics of assessing musicianship and spiritual maturity is ultimately their responsibility.

When establishing policies and procedures, invite input from your lead pastor and elders on what they desire to see in your musicians. Whether you use open or private auditions (described in detail in the downloadable resources), always use panel feedback. Pick a panel that understands what music works now and what could work in your context. This provides a balanced perspective and makes it harder for the auditioner to feel wounded by a specific person. Make sure band or team leaders affected by the auditions are present for feedback too.

Lastly, auditions can be an incredibly effective litmus test of idolatry. Be available to address and shepherd those that discover idols in their own hearts during the audition process. If you build a comprehensive audition process for worship volunteers, you’ll improve your ability to call in the godly and gifted that God has brought you to serve his people.

Download the Resource

May 13, 2014 - No Comments!

Bands vs. Teams

Throughout our Acts 29 church network, worship ministries are typically driven by one of two models: the band model and the team model.

In the band model, a group of musicians work together consistently. Your “A” band has the same people playing together whenever they are scheduled.

In the team model, a single worship leader works with various musicians based on scheduling, and may lead an large number of permutations of drummers, bassists, pianists, etc.

 
Below are simply generalized observations from both our ministry experience, those we’ve coached, and those we have learned from in both models.  We’ve used each model for at least 10+ years so we’ve seen how things work in the short run and the longer benefits.  It should be noted that we currently have churches using each model.  Other factors in your context may affect how applicable this list is for you.

Band Model – Pros



1.  Stylistic diversity.


If the same leader is leading different teams, there isn’t going to be much difference stylistically, because the leader will bring one genre, background, personal preference, etc.  My iTunes library looks very different than the other band leader’s libraries.


2.  Equip more leaders.


Every band needs a leader, so the band model offers opportunity for leaders to step up and run their own band.  If one guy is leading every weekend there isn’t a consistent place for the up-and-coming leaders to get reps.


3.  Increased volunteer ownership.


We’ve seen greater buy-in and creativity in the band model.  Band volunteers are more likely to write songs and work on new arrangements for the congregation. 



 

4.  Helpful for multi-site.


We assign bands to a specific church, and in general, they are expected to do life there.  That said, we want each church raising up their own musicians.  It is worth noting that when a church starts out, the team model is typically the only practical option until a critical mass of musicians are found and equipped.



 

5.  More volunteers get to participate.


The band model means more people will participate in a typical multi-service church.  One band can cover the morning gatherings and one band can cover the evening gatherings. A team leader would have to run multiple practices to accomplish this.  Additionally, this breadth becomes hugely helpful in a multi-site church.



 

6.  Protects leaders.


Most worship leaders aren’t wired or designed to lead every Sunday for the long haul.  Most can do it for a season, but not sustain passion and quality over a long period of time.  Bands help break that up into a good rhythm of leading from stage and “leading” from the floor.



 

7.  Deeper relationships between volunteers.


Because folks are playing together more often, they will naturally have deeper relationships (and more conflict that leads to sanctification and depth in their relationships).  The band members at our church do life together outside of practice, in part because of the consistency in working together.

 

8.  Congregational fit.  


Because bands are assigned to a church and particular services, you gain the ability to match bands (think style and flavor) with the services who will be best served by that band’s style and abilities.  Think about who is in the room at each of your services.  Would this band work for the families in the morning services or the college students in the evening? 

Team Model – Pros



 

1.  Scheduling the ministry is simpler.


Replacing an individual (assuming you have multiple musicians for each position) is easier than swapping out an entire band when schedule conflicts arise.  Teams tend to last longer because they don’t unravel when a member moves or steps down from worship ministry.



 

2.  Less entitlement.

Because they have less of a sense of “my ministry, my band, or my spot” team volunteers don’t push back as much when change is needed because they are used to a rotating cast of co-musicians.   
Note:  This has been problematic with the band model, primarily because people resist breaking off deeper relationships.  While this to be expected, it’s important that whatever model you use, the win is defined by what is best for the church, not just the musicians on stage.

 

3.  Quality control/consistency is easier to achieve.


The quality (or lack thereof) on Sundays will be more consistent since the same man or woman is leading.  In the band model, quality can fluctuate greatly depending on which band leader is leading.





4.  Great if you have limited leaders.

You can’t have a band or team without a qualified leader.  Never try to build a band/team before you have a trusted, tested, godly leader to own, lead, and shepherd that band/team.
  If your church has one leader that can carry the room on Sundays, use teams to staff different weekends.

 

5.  Easier to recruit individual musicians/vocalists.


We’ve found that the “band model” subtly communicates to the musician not yet involved, that you don’t need any more volunteers.  This of course is never true.  This effect can be minimized by actively recruiting in gatherings.

 

6.  Congregational familiarity.


Typically those using the team model will end up with fewer leaders doing the heavy lifting, which means it’s easier for the congregation to feel connected to the worship leader(s).  If you rotate a different leader or band each week, you can create an atmosphere of constantly auditioning the worshippers on stage with the congregation adjusting and playing judge.

 

Discipleship considerations.


Team leaders will typically invest their time discipling the musicians that rotate through their teams.  Band leaders will focus on their band.  A worship pastor overseeing multiple bands or teams will need to strategically think through who they invest in.  Remember, every leader has a saturation point on how many real disciples they can have. 

We hope this summary is helpful in deciding whether the band or team model will serve your ministry best.  Leave other benefits or disadvantages you have experienced below in the comments.

October 20, 2009 - 2 comments

Thoughts on Giving

Giving has been a hot topic since people rubbed their first 2 pieces of silver together, and the conversation continues today. People pick churches based on whether or not they talk about money or take an offering. People leave churches when they do talk about money. If that person is you, I’ll wait here while you go cut out all the places the Bible mentions money. See you in a couple of hours.

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the subject, however one thing is clear: Financial giving is a worship issue.

Calling yourself a Christian means you are identifying yourself as a worshipper of Christ. Many people qualify their Christianity by saying something like, “I like Jesus in theory,” “I was raised in a Christian home,” or “I’ve been to church a few times,” but none of these things makes a Christian. Faith and trust in the only Son of God makes a Christian. One of the best barometers for what someone really believes about Christ is whether or not they give financially. You can argue in circles, but monetary sacrifice is truly a great measuring stick for spiritual maturity and true obedience to God.

So, I’d like to cover some common questions on giving.

How much should I give? I’ve heard 10% thrown around before…
In the Old Testament, God specifically said that believers should give a tenth because it represented the most important portion of what they owned. The message was clear: God gets your best, not what’s left. The specifics of 10% have not carried on into the New Testament, but the principle certainly does.

For today, Paul tells us that we should give “in keeping with our income.”
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 1 Cor 16:2

This makes sense. If you are a poor college student eating Ramen and ravaging your friends’ couches for laundry quarters, then giving will look different than for the lawyer sitting next to you in a church service. Also, notice in this verse that when the giving happens, it happens before any other expenses, it happens consistently, and it happens with everyone. If you are a poor college student and you are not giving, you’re sinning. If you are a doctor with a 6 figure income, and giving $20 a month to ease your conscience…you’re sinning. If that is you, you need to address the idol in your heart and turn from that idol to restore money’s rightful place in your life as a tool for the Kingdom.

Will God treat me differently if I give?
God blesses those that give. To be clear, you can never purchase favor from God, nor can you buy a miracle. You couldn’t pay God back if you robbed Oprah, Donald Trump, and that IKEA guy. God does not and will never owe you or I anything. However, as a loving Father that owns every atom in the universe, it’s understandable that He will entrust more to those that hold nothing back from His direction. He may bless the giver in a wide variety of ways; a deeper understanding of His love, an opportunity to bless someone in need, an unexpected check…but the reward will always be Kingdom-oriented.

… remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38

I give because I have to. God’s happy, right?
God cares a lot more about the heart behind giving than the amount and so do good pastors. If you give financially because you feel obligated to do so, you’ve already missed the point. If you give because a sermon or church leader made you feel guilty, keep your cash. Then ask yourself if your bank statement looks any different than the atheist on the bus, in the next cubicle, or across the lecture hall. Giving because you want to bless others and be used by God is what God is after.

One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. Proverbs 11:24

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Cor 9:7

I serve at church so I don’t have to give, right?
Wrong. That’s like telling your wife that she should calm down about you cheating because you only bought your mistress expensive gifts but went to the movies with your wife. Our time and our treasure belong to God, and the sooner we realize that all we have is His, the sooner we can use those things rather than be owned by them.

Hasn’t the universal church abused money? (i.e. Tele-evangelists?)
This question is popular. My response will not be.

In the book of Mark, we see Jesus watching the temple attendees throwing in their financial offerings. It is safe to assume that the temple was corrupt at some level and that those who were giving had no guarantee that it was being used in a godly fashion.

Here’s the problem. Jesus doesn’t address that. He points out an old lady giving out of her poverty and says that her fraction of a penny is worth more in the kingdom than the hundred dollar bills falling from the rich folks shiny bill clips.

Does God care how your money is spent when you give? Absolutely. I believe there will be terrifying consequences for church leaders that squander offerings. But your job as a church-goer is to trust that God will oversee that process. I am proud to serve on a staff where money is handled wisely, and with the Kingdom at the forefront of our monetary decisions. If you can’t trust your leaders with your cash, you certainly shouldn’t trust them with your soul. Ask questions. Find out how your church spends. But don’t let fear serve as an excuse to walk in sin against a God who gave you everything you’ve ever touched.

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

Final Thought: Financial giving reflects the rest of our Christian walk.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1

Picture this: You buy your friend a Porsche (stay with me). You deliver it to him with the pink slip taped on the windshield. Your friend can’t believe it. The next day you go out together for a spin around the block. As he takes a corner at high speeds, you notice a pack of Trident in the console and ask for a piece of gum. Your friend replies, “Sorry man, things are tight.”

It’s hard to think about what Christ has done for us and not respond in gratitude. But many of us don’t consider it. We don’t consider the price paid for us. We don’t remember the death that gave us life. We don’t recall the memory of an innocent man beaten bloody for our mistakes. That same Jesus is asking His bride, the church, to cling to Him and abandon their empty trophies and trinkets. Jesus gave Himself as the ultimate model of giving, and we are to ask what God would have us give.

The simple fact is that Jesus has designed the local church to be a center of mission in their community, fueled and resourced by the people who call that church home. I often hear that people desperately want to make a difference. There is no more powerful force than a Spirit-led community of faith.

Christians are marked by their worship and giving is a worship issue. If you think you can hide behind your church attendance, low income, family history, selfishness, or other lame excuses, know that God sees past it. You look like a 3 year-old playing hide-and-seek behind your own hand. God is not fooled, and He passionately wants your heart.

He invites you to use what you have to play a part in His reconciliation of men and women to their Maker.