Worship Matters Book Insights – Part 4

8:37 pm Think About It, Worship Matters book

This is a summary of the fourth part in Bob Kauflin’s book called Worship Matters.  Part 1 of the book gives practical insights into the life of a worship leader.  Part 2 gives a helpful focus as to what is the goal of our worship leading.  Part 3 reveals 9 healthy tensions we face in church worship.  Now, Part 4 describes how important it is to have good relationships in worship ministry:  Right relationships with the church (the people you see every week in your congregation), with your team (musicians, technicians, ushers, etc.), and with your pastor (or pastors if you have more than one pastor you work with).

Always People
It is very important to keep in mind at all times that people are most important!  God is all about relationships.  Because of His deep love for us, God sent His Son to die for people, to heal relationships, and draw us all closer to Him.  Relationships are messy and there are so many variables which make it hard to have a “cookie cutter” answer in solving problems.  “But I know this,” says Bob, “the church doesn’t need leaders who love to lead people in worship but don’t love the people they’re serving.”  It’s not just selecting the right songs that pleases God, but God is more interested in how we treat others.  Take stock of your relationships.  Who are you regularly coming in contact with?  Do you value these relationships?  As leaders, we must realize we can’t do ministry alone.  For one thing, sin is deceptive and we all need a degree of accountability and transparency with each other.  Sometimes we develop “blind spots” that only others can see.  Confront problem issues instead of avoiding them.  Plus, we need the contribution of others.  To be a one-man-band is ridiculous and will lead to arrogance and burn out.  Allow others to use their gifts and exercise a huge amount of appreciation as you relate to them.  A relevant prayer of Paul applies to us:

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another,  in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6).

Your Church
The feedback we get from the congregation isn’t always glowing.  Sometimes there are very good comments of critique and other comments are just whining or destructive.  Instead of writing them off, we should care for them and serve them.  This takes more time, thought and energy…and it takes God!  We need God to intervene and guide us through some of these relationships.  Make prayer a priority!  Pray for the church as your planning the service or practicing the songs.  Prayer will humble you.  Prayer will open your eyes to God’s purpose.  Prayer cultivates care for others and gets your eyes off yourself.  There will be those who love you and those who don’t so be ready for both encouragement and correction.  Receiving compliments may be awkward, but learn to graciously receive them.  Thank the person for taking the time to encourage you.  Express gratefulness for the opportunity to serve.  Draw attention to the contribution of others.  Also, internally and intentionally transfer the glory to God.  Receiving criticism is not easy, but God wants us to be open to it.  “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1).  Pray for correction.  Expect correction.  Be proactive.  Thank people who correct you. Thank God for correction.  There are other leadership challenges when it comes to the church like handling song suggestions, teaching new songs, and leading through changes.  Each church has unique challenges when it comes to change.  It would help to make sure the leaders are in agreement, regularly teach the church what biblical worship is, lead theologically, and lead humbly but confidently.  Remember that God sees people as treasures and precious in His sight.

Your Team
No two worship teams are exactly alike.  They may play the same instruments as another church, but musicians are a rather varied lot with different backgrounds, experiences, strengths and weaknesses.  Here are five categories that will help you and your team create a way of relating that honors God.

  1. Establishing Your Team – The Bible doesn’t define what a worship team should look like.   It depends on your church’s size, your pastor’s vision, your gifts, how much time you have, your church’s schedule, and who’s available.  You can be a super close group or not, depending on the structure that best fits your present goals and resources.  You may want to include your sound technicians and other media.  Think through the different roles you have as worship leader such as overseer (spiritually), music director, and coordinator (even if you assign others to do these tasks).  Create standards for you team to spell out responsibilities and expectations.  Worship isn’t a gig.  It’s the overflow of a life devoted to the glory of Jesus Christ.  Also, clarity the level of commitment.  This may vary per person as some may have children or serve with other ministries.
  2. Encouraging Your Team – Cultivate a culture of gratefulness through things like gifts, thank you cards, random appreciative conversations, or a Christmas party.  Provide environments where people intentionally encourage evidences of grace they see in others rather than self-righteously criticizing their weaknesses.  Pray for each other one on one and as a group.  you can even do things together that are non-musical like miniature golf or going to see a movie.  Celebrate those who do extra things like organizing music, practicing extra hard, coming early to rehearsal, etc.  Giving thanks goes a long way.
  3. Equipping Your Team – Create a culture of growth.  Provide training for your team.  This lets them know you value them and are willing to invest in their character and skill development.  Provide an avenue for theological growth.  They do hear the Word preached every week, but we can help them understand worship better.  There are great books that can be used to learn more about God’s holiness, His grace, His greatness, etc.  Provide an avenue for musical growth.  Encourage the “chart” readers to learn more about music theory.  Help vocalists understand more about singing harmony.  You can suggest private lessons, watch a training video together, or attend a conference on music or worship.  Committing a portion of rehearsals to training will help build this culture of growth.
  4. Evaluating Your Team – One of the best ways to motivate your team to continued growth is to offer consistent and thoughtful evaluation.  Assessing your group’s progress in different areas will also help develop a culture of humility.    We need to start with ourselves and ask questions like, “How did I do leading this morning?” “Are there any ways I can run rehearsals more effectively?” “Was I clear?”  Take time to evaluate each musical presentation.  Listen to others during the presentation and let them know what you heard (or saw) afterwards.  It is good to evaluate character.  If you care about your team, hold them accountable to pursue godly character and help them grow.  Evaluate their gifting and skills.  Help them fit in where they can thrive.
  5. Enjoying Your Team – As you lead your team, try to create a culture of joy.  Seeking to enjoy each other makes the challenging times more bearable.  Experience the fruit of God’s grace together and watch him work through us to glorify the Savior.  Leading a team isn’t always joyful.  Rehearsals can get tense or boring.   We can lose people to church plants, season-of-life changes, job transfers, or even sin.  So appreciate those you have.  You may not have the biggest and best worship team in your city, but have fun with who you have and “let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Your Pastor
Pastors come in all shapes and sizes with different likes/dislikes, music tastes, and managerial styles.  However, the pastor and worship leader are a very important duo.  Pastor’s are gifts from God to teach and equip the church.  It’s our responsibility to support our pastor and not set our own agenda.  Serve your pastor.  You can do your job better by knowing your pastors priorities.  He probably doesn’t know music like you do, but serve him joyfully and humbly.  Listen to your pastor.  This may take time to understand what he means.  Sometimes you need to define words.  Pastors and worship leaders don’t always speak the same language, especially when it comes to music. What he calls “simple” you may call “dull.”  His “frantic” could be your “jubilant.”  “Wordy” to him means “thoughtful” to you.  When he says start with something “upbeat” to get people “going,” may seem to you like he doesn’t care about truth and wants to musically manipulate the congregation.  But, maybe you pick too many slow songs and the people are nodding off.  Communicate well and often.  Initiate creativity.  Use whatever freedom you have to be creative and offer meaningful ideas to enhance each service.  Ask for input from your pastor and implement it as often as you can.  Let your pastor assist you in your spiritual growth.  What can you do when you disagree?  First, make sure you’ve rightly identified the issues.  Beware of selfish ambition.  Second, exhaust every avenue of resolution.  Pray and talk things out.  Third, stay or move on in faith.  Take time to grow, learning more about technical issues, spiritual issues, people issues.  The last chapter of the book addresses the pastors role in supporting the worship of the church and the worship leader.  Bob gives good suggestions:

  • Pastors should recognize their own role in leading worship.
  • Pastors should know what to look for in a worship leader (humility, godly character, love for good theology, leadership gifting, and musical skill).
  • Pastors should equip and encourage their worship leaders.
  • Pastors should be faithful to plan and evaluate.
  • Pastors should resolve conflicts biblically.
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