Saturday, October 20, 2012

Priorities for the Worship Leader

As people who care about following God and serving others, and as artists who envision doing great things with the skills we've been given, we are probably inundated with "good things" to do. We rarely find ourselves dealing with boredom, but we are often frustrated and tired. We are tempted to try and do everything, and we find ourselves doing everything halfway, rather than a few exceptional things.

However, in some situations, this might be the best thing. For the Church Planter, and the Church Plant Worship Leader, there is an importance in consistency. There is an old sports metaphor, to "answer the bell," which means to get back up and back into the fray each time you are called. When you are a Church Planter, you aren't necessarily working in just one direction, and most of us would be bored out of our minds working in just one direction.

So we keep answering the bell. This is a given.

However, as Worship Leaders, we have to make priorities out of that which improves our craft. We must embrace that which improves us as musicians, but also that which improves us as worshippers. These are the two equally important priorities of a worship leader; we can't have one without the other, and we can't have one at the expense of the other.

All of this to say, you need to be able to do everything, but do the important things well, and have a list of "negotiables". These are things you want to do, can do, and plan to do, but are willing to give up if they interfere with your primary focus, or if you just don't have the energy to do them. As a worship and youth leader at my church, that list includes "child-centric" events, like little kid birthdays and children's events. This also includes para-church ministry opportunities, recording time, and songwriting.

Ultimately, figuring out your priorities will allow you to accomplish a lot more with a little less stress. At least, so I've heard.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


If you are a church plant worship leader, and a full fledged adult, you probably don't have much time for anything. You also most likely have a vision; a purpose in life that, if fulfilled, would lead to you dying of exhaustion. I don't know that I can say anything to remedy this. This is merely empathy. This is one tired soul saying to another...

I know.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Have you ever had a plan backfire on you?

Recently, I decided to try and get in touch with other worship leaders who had decided to devote their lives to the 43,000 people in our little commuter town. I had recently been doing all that I could to feel less isolated, including gathering with other worship leaders one of the bigger towns. I thought it would be a great idea to see who else is devoted to leading worship in my little city.

Well, upon further review, there are about five churches in town begging for worship leaders, a couple of others with leaders who live up in Phoenix or Chandler, and one with a worship leader who didn't know she was the worship leader until my message was referred to her.  In other words, it is not an illusion. I am pretty darn isolated.

Anyone else know what this is like? Anyone looking for a church to lead worship at? I know a few now :-/.

Also, 5 points if you can name the ball with the face on it in the movie depicted above.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


So I've been working on my electric guitar skills, and I've gotten to the point where I can do some of the simple "Hillsong" solos (think Hosanna and Freedom Is Here). As I've begun incorporating these new things in the services, I wonder sometimes how my congregation will react. I would love to be like Lincoln Brewster, that ridiculously talented guitarist and worship leader who is convinced that solos can be a part of worship. But...

I just wonder if there is a point where I will get serious pushback. So far I've gone from Acoustic Guitar to Full Band (bass, drums) to Electric Guitar... and am now at basic solos and distortion. Part of the adventure of creating a new worship experience is figuring out the worship style of your congregation. How has this gone for the rest of you worship leaders? Sensitivity is a must, I know... and that's never been my strong suit.

Ahh, sweet adventure!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's Been A While

Time is the most valuable resource.

If you have enough time, you can do the work. You can create and repair and contemplate, all of the things you need for success. You can rest. You can relate with your family, your God, and your friends.

Without time, all of the money and talent in the world won't do you a bit of good. You are created with a certain capacity for "doing", and once you begin to reach and exceed that capacity...

I found myself in this situation. I was ineffective or undereffective in almost every facet of my life. I sat before a mentor, and was told that burnout was inevitable if I didn't start quitting things. I hate quitting, but I have precious little respect for those who burn out and quit on their churches. I had to begin prioritizing, finding what God had called me to and leaving behind what he hadn't. It was tough.

But now I'm here. I am better, partially because of life in general slowing down just a little bit, but mostly because I've realized my limits. I realized that making the most of your time isn't about doing more stuff. Whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well.

Have any of you had fights with the clock lately?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


They say that you can only be truly excellent at 1 or 2 things. To be excellent in anything takes time, practice, and dedication, which are three finite resources. In ministry, there is no doubt that the work we do deserves, and demands, excellence.

There is a problem, though, for part-timers and bi-vocational ministers. We are called to do everything as unto the Lord, and to work as if it were for Him. Already, this puts us behind the 8 ball. If we are to strive to excel in our work, what is our second thing? It can be worship leading, but that entails a couple of things. Will we work to be great at Sunday Mornings, or foster great relationships on our teams?

And what if we are doing other things? What if we are going to grad school, or leading youth as well? What do we leave behind? What do we strive for?

I wish I could be two people, so I could be excellent at four things. Already, that sentence shows how excellent I am at math...

Darn, that is a fifth thing. Now I need to be a third person.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

You're Not Alone

There is something amazing that happens when we realize that we aren't alone. This is the reason for this blog's existence; that there is a real enemy, who wants to wear us down, and convince us that we are alone. Worship leading can feel like this, with the intense vulnerability that comes when you sing in front of a congregation (whether it be 30 or 3000). What you are doing is intensely personal, and therefore you are critiqued with an emotion and ferocity that others can't really understand.

Eventually, you are going to be hit so hard that you fall. You are going to be told something that you just can't move past, or be treated in a way that you can't reconcile with any semblance of what you imagine "Church" to be. It is in these moments that we need someone who can pick us back up.

But how do we find these people? How do we foster these relationships and this accountability? I talked last time about not being a "Lone Ranger" type of leader. Now I want to give you some practical ways to gain such relationships.

1. Seek them out: We have to humble ourselves in this, and make ourselves vulnerable to rejection. Not everyone wants accountability or a shared experience. Not everyone views you as someone worthy to share experiences with. Still, we must press on, and seek out wise counsel by asking to be mentored, and asking to be held accountable, and asking how you could serve others in this same capacity. It doesn't just happen in the world of worship leading. We need to make it happen.

2. Recognize them: We most likely have built-in accountability and encouragement in our lives through the relationships we are currently in. We need to foster that. My wife and my pastor are two such people, who have been encouraging and supportive. I am blessed with two great people, and you likely are as well. I also have some pretty good friends, although I will fully admit I've let some relationships falter. You need to keep up these relationships, because friendships don't naturally outlast time and distance except for special situations.

3. Pray for and with them: This is an intensely personal aspect of a relationship, that will lead to the type of spiritual unity that allows great accountability and mentor relationships to develop. What we do is beyond mere notes and lyrics. It is a spiritual interaction with the Creator, in which we lead others to the throne room. We need peer relationships and mentorships that operate at a higher level, because we are talking about interactions with the Eternal.

This is what has worked for me. I hope it helps!