On Excellence...

In ministry we often talk about being people that prioritize excellence. In my context as a worship pastor, that looks like playing the part absolutely correct, or hitting the entrances, exits, and cues with precision. We want to have clean, inspiring spaces that are comfortable and inviting to our people. Our parking and welcome teams should be smiling, inviting, and helpful. Our leaders should be connecting, our stage presentation should be flawless, and our follow up should be consistent.

All of this is good and necessary, but instead of focusing on excellence in the things we DO, we should first focus on excellence in WHO WE ARE.

Here are 4 characteristics of leader with an excellent spirit.

1. A leader with an excellent spirit is HUMBLE/TEACHABLE.
There are few things as frustrating as trying to deal with someone that thinks they know it all. Maintaining a humble, teachable spirit keeps us learning, keeps us seeking, and keeps us improving.

"If anyone thinks they are important when they aren’t, they’re fooling themselves."

"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid."

I am convinced that as leaders, we should maintain the attitude that we can learn something from anyone. be open to criticism, even if it’s not delivered in the best way (See “How To Deal With Negative Criticism”).

2. A leader with an excellent spirit is MOTIVATED TO IMPROVE.
To improve you have to be honest with yourself. Understanding who you are as a leader, your strengths and weaknesses, the way you process information, and your personal rhythm are so important, understanding that God wants to work in you and change you to be more like Him. Don’t internalize the things that God might want to change in you. Saying, “I’m just a late person,” or “I just yell when I get angry,” might be true most of the time, but are not the way that God wants you to interact with the world. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the things that you’ve internalized that He might want to change.

There are many different ways to gain a more accurate understanding of your self. DiSC tests, Meyers-Briggs, Enneagram, and others are all ways to give you a snapshot of your personality and how you process things. Well worth 15-20 minutes to take a test (Check out 16 Personalities for a free Meyers-Briggs personality inventory).

3. A leader with an excellent spirit is INTENTIONAL.
An excellent life takes excellent planning. Do you have a vision for your life and ministry? What do you want to see built into your life and the lives of those around you. Nothing truly great happens by accident.

1 CORINTHIANS 3: 12-15
12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

What are you using to build your life with? God showed us INCREDIBLE intentionality in the construction of both the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple-which were both meant to host the presence of God. Today, the temple is you and I. We should approach our lives with intentionality and vision.

Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it; but that it’s too low and we reach it.
— Michaelangelo

4. A leader with an excellent spirit knows how to PRIORITIZE THE IMPORTANT

A leader with an excellent spirit avoids wasting time on things that don’t matter. There are so many things to do in ministry-reaching our community, building relationships, building our families, and the list could go on and on. Let’s be people that make the most of every moment, which includes knowing how to say “no” when the need arises, remembering that God has called us to live and walk in love towards one another.

1 TIMOTHY 6:20-21 (NLT)
“Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. Some people have wandered from the faith by following such foolishness”

TITUS 2:10 (NIV)
"...in every way...make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

A leader with an excellent spirit will be a person who naturally produces things that are excellent. If we can focus on having an excellent spirit (WHO WE ARE), we will naturally do things that are excellent (WHAT WE DO). On the other hand if we focus on producing excellence without first focusing on who we are internally, we will burn out and become frustrated. Let’s be people that live with an excellent spirit!

Why Rest Matters


God commanded the Israelites to rest by instituting the "sabbath day".  Does that mean anything for us in our day and age?  Why should we rest and what does that look like?  Here are a few thoughts on why rest matters:

1. God commands rest to help us to remember that He is our source.
Exodus 34:21
“Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.

Choosing to intentionally rest is saying to God that we trust Him to provide for us.  It's a declaration that we believe that God will do what He says He will do. In Exodus 8:20 God commands, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God." 

You can think of God's command to rest as a tithe of your time. We're all given 7 days to work, but God says he wants 1 of those days. Just as in the tithing of our finances, where we give God 10%-believing that God will bless us and provide for us, we can give God 1 day of the 7 we have-believing that we'll be able to do and accomplish everything we need to with God's help.  

2. God commands rest to give us space to seek Him and enjoy Him.
Ex 31:13
"And the Lord said to Moses, 'Say to the people of Israel, You shall keep my sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.'”

It's important to realize that when God commands us to rest, it's not an aimless, unplug your brain kind of rest.  While we should make an effort to unplug and disconnect, it's not meant to be a vacation from the cultivation of our relationship with God.  Days of rest should be intentional, deliberate times to rest from our work and remember the goodness of God in our lives.

3. God commands rest so we can remember that he is our Savior.
Duet 5:15
"You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day."

The command of God to rest is a special sign to us that God has chosen us and set us apart.  We can use this day of rest to recharge-physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Our rest should inspire gratitude and thankfulness in our hearts as we reflect on and enjoy the special work of God in our lives and the "joy of [our] salvation." (see Psalm 51:12)

4. Our rest is a gift!
Isa 58:13-24
"If you turn back your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth."

Sometimes we focus on the fact that we have to rest like it’s a negative thing.  In reality, God's command for us to rest is a gift!  Accept the gift of one day of rest a week.  Humble yourself to believe that you need it.  Your wealth, significance and your advancement in life depend far more on God's work than on your work.  (see Psalm 75:6)

Practical Suggestions
1.  Remember that there is a difference between seeking God and ministry.
2.  Talk to your spouse.
3.  Become an expert at time management.
4.  Figure out what recharges you.
5.  Have a “tech-free” day.
6. Remember that promotion comes from the Lord.
7.  In seasons of business, make rest a greater priority.
8.  Use all of your vacation time.
9. Pray

What are some practical ways that you have learned to rest?

Why Worship Matters


We all want to make the most of our time.  I've never met anyone who has said, "You know what, I really just want to waste my time doing things that don't matter."  In our podcast, youtube, online world, it's easy to catch a service, message, or even a message clip and call it good.  So, why does worship matter?  Is attending church even necessary?  Why should we "not neglect our meeting together" (Heb 10:25)?  A few thoughts:

1. Worship takes our focus off of ourselves.
Our "me-focused" existence is challenged when we worship together.  When we take dedicated time to fix our eyes on Jesus, we are reminded that it's all about Him.  When we come into the house of God to worship, we are encouraged to look to Jesus who is the real source of our strength and our hope, taking the pressure of our burdens off of us, and placing it at the foot of the cross. 

2. Worship places us in the context of the family of God.
When we worship with our church family in a service, we are surrounded by the people that make up the church or the "family of God."  We hear the people next to and behind us singing and, for a moment, we are reminded that the church is something that's bigger than us.  We are surrounded by God's people, singing God's praises, and that's a powerful thing. This is something that you can't get from a podcast or worshipping God alone in your room.  The community of faith worshipping together matters.  The story of what God has done in your life has the potential to build the faith of those around you.

3. Worship reminds us of how great God is and builds our faith.
In worship, we sing songs that are uplifting, hear testimonies that inspire our own faith, receive communion which reminds us of Jesus' sacrifice, and we hear the Word of God, which encourages us in our faith.  When we walk through trials and struggles, worship is an experience that reminds us that we're not alone, and that God is able to do "exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ask or imagine," (See Eph 3:20-21) as we live for His glory. 

4. Worship teaches us who God is.
Having a proper understanding of who God is crucial because it is out of this understanding that we process the things that happen in our lives and in our world.  The songs we sing will (hopefully) give us an understanding of God as one who is mighty, powerful, able, and above all and at the same time personal, intimate, and near.  These truths set to melodies that we sing have the potential to transform the trajectory of our lives.  

The benefits of God's people gathering together for worship are so great!  While there are no perfect churches, I am SO thankful that God works through imperfect people to encourage and build faith in my life. 

What are some ways that worship has made an impact in your life?

Characteristics of an Effective Worship Team Member Part 2


Here are a few more qualities of an effective worship team member (Continued from "Characteristics of an Effective Worship Team Member Part 1"). 

Effective worship team members will be expressive, both physically and with words.  Components of effective stage presence on the worship team includes utilizing the space around you to move (i.e. do not be stationary), lifting your hands, clapping, creating movement and energy, smiling, and keeping your eyes open.  Don't be the worship team member that plants their feet and clenches their eyes closed. 

"Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will    praise him again--my Savior and my God!” (Psalm 43:5)

Team Player
We are drawing attention to how good God is, not how good we are.  There is now place for rock star worship team members or those who are simply on the team to show off their skills.  The band, singers, technical crew, ushers, greeters, worship hosts, along with all the other volunteers are working together to create an experience that draws people into the presence of God. 

Strong Communication Skills
There's nothing worse than someone who is on the team but doesn't want to be there.  Personality conflicts and other issues are real and need to be addressed in the correct manner.  Are you a person who can communicate clearly to your leaders?  Or do you hold offenses inside, or worse, vent to those around you?  Work to develop the capacity to be a part of the solution, instead of part of the problem. 

Being on time shows concern and thought for others.  Lateness is not a personality issue, it's a time management problem.  The best worship team members are the ones that show up early so that they're ready to start on time. 

Musically speaking it's best to come to practice with your songs/parts learned, not to learn your parts. Spiritual preparation is also essential to the effectiveness of your ministry.  Pray over the songs, pray over the members of your team, pray that God would use you mightily on stage and off stage. 

Church is not meant to be endured. As we celebrate the new life that God has given us, we should smile, laugh, and enjoy each other.  Schedule time for your team to have fun together.  A team that plays together is more effective. 

I don't believe that God calls a person to a ministry for all time.  In other words, we should be seeking the Lord for His plan for which ministries we should give our time to.  Just because you've served in the worship choir for 20 years doesn't necessarily mean that it's God's plan for you to serve in the worship choir for the next 20 years.  Perhaps it's time to ask God where you will be the most effective, or where He wants to lead you.  

All In
Life and ministry are full of change.  As the Lord speaks to your pastor or worship pastor, it's very likely that change will take place in your church or ministry.  A couple questions to ask as you seek to serve the Lord:
Can you be supportive of your worship pastor?
-Are you supportive of the vision of the church?
-Can you get behind your lead pastor?  (After all, you’re there to serve his vision.)
-Are you supporting the church financially?

I love the church. I love that people come together with their differing personalities and gifts with the goal of reaching our world for Jesus.  In this post and the one before it, we've explored differing qualities of effective worship team members.  This list is definitely not comprehensive, and there are other qualities that you may add.  Let's continue to let Jesus work in our hearts and in our lives to make us more effective for His glory! 

Characteristics of an Effective Worship Team Member Part 1



Here's a quick list of what makes an effective worship team member. 

There's not a lot of room in the worship ministry for those who aren't there to serve. Don't think more highly of yourself than you ought (see Romans 12:3).  You are a part of a serving team. 

Romans 12:3 (AMP)
For by the grace [of God] given to me I say to everyone of you not to think more highly of himself [and of his importance and ability] than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has apportioned to each a degree of faith [and a purpose designed for service].

An unteachable person is difficult to work with and creates disunity.  How do you take direction?  Are you working to consistently improve or are you coasting on your talent?

A team that is consistent in encouraging and lifting each other is unstoppable.  A culture of encouragement is irresistible and life-giving.  There's not place in the worship ministry for those who can't be kind. 

Phil 2:4 (NLT)
Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

Are you available to your church and worship leader? Do you respond to Planning Center requests in a timely manner (hello, somebody!)?  Are you available when it’s not a glamorous job?
Would you do this if no one knew it was you?

Leadership Ability
On the worship team, every member is a worship leader, from the ones with the microphones, to the band members, to the worship team members that aren't scheduled.  Each person on the team leads worship in one way or another.  A leader recognizes that his or her leadership is not limited to the stage.  

1 Cor 10:23
"You say, "I am allowed to do anything"--but not everything is good for you. You say, "I am allowed to do anything"--but not everything is beneficial.

Care for Physical Appearance
Sloppiness in dress and appearance can be distracting for audience members.  Know and abide by worship team dress codes without pushing the limits of what is appropriate for musicians and singers that might be lifting their hands, or standing on a raised platform.  I want the audience focusing on Jesus, not your belly button. 

Passion for Jesus
Worship team members must be passionate about their relationship with Jesus.  I look for those who are worshippers when they are not on the platform.  If there's a difference in the intensity of your worship when you're not on the stage versus when you are on the stage, this may be an indication of a misalignment of values, or a performance mindset.  Do you only worship on the platform, or do you lead the congregation from your seat?

These are a few characteristics to help you evaluate your own heart and involvement in your worship team context.  Additional qualities will be addressed in another post.


No Distractions

Our goal as worship leaders and worship teams is to eliminate distractions and point our congregations to focus their attentions and affections on Jesus.  We welcome the presence of God as we play and sing praise to Him, and invite the people in our churches to worship him, too. 

There are a number of things in our gatherings that can distract people from worshiping Jesus.  3 of these areas include:

1. Wrong Notes:  Every worship musician who's ever played in front of anyone ever knows that wrong notes are inevitable.  A vocal 'crack', a missed position, or brain fog can and does happen to us all.  While these missed notes are often forgotten a few seconds after they're played (unless they're live streamed or recorded), they have the potential to distract the people worshiping along with you.  Work to eliminate wrong notes.  Memorize the music until you can play it with your eyes closed. Don't rely on the confidence monitors, but instead ask your singers to memorize the lyrics.  Do your best to eliminate the distraction of wrong notes. 

2. Technical Issues:  the tech teams in your church have some of the most important, yet overlooked jobs.  Without these vital volunteers, there's not lights, sound, or lyrics or images on the screen.  If you've ever had the misfortune of having a projector go out during or right before a service, you've experienced first hand the power of the tech team.    Wrong words on the screen, bad mixes, missed lighting cues, or audio feedback can grab the attention of those in the audience and take away from the impact of what is being presented.

3. On Stage Presentation: As a worship leader, there will be times where you will want to address the people in the audience.  An encouraging word, an exhortation to worship, or at least a couple lines welcoming people to church can be positive interactions, or they can have the opposite effect.  If you need to address the congregation, prepare ahead of time the words and thoughts you want to communicate.  In other words, don't "wing it."  Ask Jesus to direct you as you prepare and pray.  Sometimes the few words you speak have more of an impact than all the songs you sing. 

Let's be leaders that allow the Spirit of God to move in our services.  By eliminating distractions and working to present the best version of our worship sets, our services carry the potential to see lives changed.  Of course, God is gracious and can move through even the sloppiest of presentations, but as far as it depends on us, let's do our best to offer life givingservices and experiences.   

3 Reasons to Attend a Night of Worship and Prayer

Evangel Worship is hosting a "Night of Worship and Prayer" on Friday, March 4, at 7PM.  These nights are powerful and set the pace for our church.  Maybe you're on the fence about attending a worship night event.  Here are 3 reasons why you should attend a night of worship:

1.  Extended time to worship, listen, and respond.
In a "normal" weekly worship gathering at Evangel, we have a very unique problem.  With the service times being what they are, and the multiple services coming back to back, we don't get a lot of time to spend extended moments in worship.  The worship in our services is refreshing and powerful, but sometimes I wish there was a little more space to breathe, let the Holy Spirit speak, and respond.  That's exactly the reason we have the Night of Worship and Prayer-to seek the face of the Lord, to listen to what He's speaking to us, and let His Spirit direct our steps.

2.   Intentional, set apart time to seek God. 
Proverbs 8:17 says "...those who diligently seek me will find me. "
Sometimes, you just have to spend intentional, focused time worshiping and praying-to refocus your mind and heart on the things that really matter, to gain a clearer perspective, or to hear a word from God that can literally change your life

3.  Time to pray for our community, our church, and our loved ones.
2 Chronicles 7:14 says "...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

If there's ever been a time to seek the Lord on behalf of our community, our church, and our loved ones, it's now!  When we gather to worship and pray we lift up the name of Jesus over every situation, concern, relationship, and issue that we face.  We ask Jesus to do the impossible in our lives and families, we spend time praying for healing and restoration, we declare the victory of Jesus over our community, and our lives, and above it all we exalt the name of Jesus. 

Our Nights of Worship and Prayer are some of the most uniquely powerful nights of ministry as we take a little more time, linger a little longer, rest in His presence a bit more, and declare His victory over our lives.  Please make plans to attend our next Night of Worship and Prayer on Friday, March 4, at 7PM at Evangel.