4 Ways to Be a Better Worship Pastor This Weekend

Every worship pastor can improve in their leadership.  There's always room to grow, do better, or serve more effectively.  Here's 4 ways to be a better worship pastor this weekend:

Pray
Pray for your people.  Take time to walk through your auditorium and pray for the people that will be filling the seats on Sunday.  Pray that they will experience the presence of God as you worship and hear the word.  Pray over your musicians, singers, and tech staff.  Ask God to meet them as they prepare for weekend ministry.  Pray that God would bless their families and give them favor in their workplaces.  Pray for your pastor-that God would fill them with his Spirit as they prepare and write their message for the weekend.  Ask God to speak to you and lead you as you lead the people in worship.  The work you do is so important. Don't neglect the true source of power for your life and ministry because you have a lot to do. 

Prepare
Do you know why you're singing the songs you're singing?  Have you spent time getting the truth of the songs into your heart? Seek God for something specific that he might want to share in your worship sets.  Take time to think/pray through your transitions.  What verse could you share?  What exactly would you feel like God is leading you to say?  Being Spirit-led and being unprepared are not the same thing.  Take time and seek God before you step on stage. 

Practice
The worship pastor should be the one that knows the music the most.  It's frustrating for everyone if the worship pastor or worship leader is unprepared musically.  Sit down and run through the songs before you get to rehearsal.  What creative elements could you bring to the songs you're singing this week?  Memorize the music so you can listen and direct without having to focus so much on playing/singing the right chords and words yourself.  It might sound weird, but the more prepared you are, the easier it will be to be spontaneous in your worship.  It takes a lot of work beforehand to be spontaneous.  When you and your team know where to go musically, you can begin to think about expanding creativity within your songs.   

Be Present
Worship pastors have a lot of things to think about on any given Sunday.  But let's not forget the main reason we're there-to shepherd God's people.  It's tempting to check out, hit the green room, and browse on your phone between services, or disconnect during the message.  Resist the urge to disconnect from your people, and get out there and greet them. Pray with them.  Hear their stories.  Show support for your pastor by sitting in the auditorium and listening to the message.  Your greatest ministry of the weekend might just be something you say to someone while you're not on the stage

Let's remember that what we do is much more than notes, chords, and lyrics.  We're in the business of life-change, of leading people to declare the truth of God's word in their lives, to look past their current reality to God's greater reality for their lives.  It's our honor and privilege to be filled with the Spirit, on our game, and ready to do whatever God may ask us to do.  Let's not neglect the "ordinary" moments of tuning our hearts each week to hear what God would say. Let's prepare the soil of our own hearts to be able to lead effectively. 

Your Worship Service is Too Boring. Here's why...

As worship leaders, we need to guard against falling into a stale, predictable pattern in our worship leading. Reading the gospels, it's clear that Jesus' ministry was anything but predictable!

But we can easily do things over and over again, just because "that's the way we've always done it."

On the flip side, there can be times where too much unpredictability can lead to confusion and chaos, which is counter-productive as well (1 Corin 14).

Our goal is to "do what we see the Father doing" (John 5:19), and speak words of life and love to those around us-to lead others to the cross, and perhaps share something fresh that God has done in our lives, to model what it looks like to worship Jesus, and be moved by His presence and power.

As worship leaders, we're called to serve, not to be served. So pray, seek the Lord, and bring something fresh to your congregation this Sunday!

4 Reasons Auditions Will Help You Build A Better Worship Team

Do you audition the people that are involved in your worship ministry? It will help you serve your people more effectively, and can save you some trouble down the road.

Here are the reasons why I encourage every worship pastor/leader to hold auditions for new members of their worship teams:

1. Personal Contact
Taking 20 minutes to meet with potential worship team members provides an opportunity for you to talk with them, and find out who they are, how they want to be involved, and what they ultimately want to do in your ministry. People want to know that you care for them. Providing a time to talk together helps you to show that you care about their spiritual growth.

2. Skill Assessment
Each person has unique skills and abilities that can be used for the glory of God. Everyone has a desire to be used and included in the work God is doing at your church. However, that doesn't mean that each person wanting to be involved in your worship ministry is equipped to do so.

I met with a very kind, shy lady who's hearts desire was to sing a vocal solo. We met, and she confided in me that she was deathly afraid to sing in front of people! It was true, and she couldn't even sing in front of me for the audition without tearing up. While this lady had a heart to minister in music, it was obvious that she was better gifted to serve in another area. Now, we could have worked and worked to get this lady to the place where she may have been ready to sing a solo, but it would have taken much work, time, and tears! An audition will give you an opportunity to place people where their natural gifting will be used effectively. Serving people means directing them to ministries where they can succeed.

3. Ego-alert
The very act of auditioning for anything is a humbling experience. We do our best to make the audition experience as un-intimidating as possible. However, it can be a bit scary. I think that this is good, because it provides an opportunity to see where a person's heart and attitude is at. Talking for a few minutes can give you a good idea why someone is really there. Statements like "I'm a really good singer", "All my family and friends say that I'm really good", or "I know I'm better than most of the people on your team" are immediate red flags and should be carefully considered when thinking of adding people to your team.

4. Team Unity
Each person that you add to your team adds a new dynamic musically, spiritually, and emotionally. If you know your team, you'll know what type of personalities you have, and how they respond to each other. Team unity is so important in worship, and thinking/praying through each potential new member can save you some trouble down the road. Don't just add someone because they have the "chops" to play with your team. Think "how will this person flow with me and my current team?"

Auditions should be an important part of your team building. As a worship pastor or leader, your job is to serve your people first. An audition process is a great tool to help you serve and lead.

Why You Should Memorize Your Music

I can almost hear you groaning through the computer screen.  "Memorize my music?  You must be crazy?  What do you think, that I have nothing but time to sit around and learn worship songs? I'm not a professional musician.  Why would ever want to memorize my music?"

All good questions, and I'm glad you asked...er,...that I asked, for you.  Well, whoever asked, just give me a chance to explain before you rage-close this page and never return.

1.  Memorizing music improves our skills:  When you memorize your music, you're learning about it. What chords go together, what chords don't.  Get enough songs in your head, and you'll start making connections about key signatures, which chords typically follow each other, and their function within a song. Once you have feel for key signatures, and which chords occur in different keys, you'll be in much better shape if your worship leader throws a song in last minute. 

2. Memorizing music helps us play better together: Knowing your music allows you to really listen to what the other worship team members are playing.  Instead of burying your head in your stand, notice the different parts and adjust your own part, if need be.  You will begin playing together as a team, instead of a bunch of individuals trying to hit the right notes.

3.  Memorizing music makes the stage look cleaner: There's nothing worse than a cluttered, stand filled stage.  Get rid of the stands, and give yourself an opportunity to see how the songs are connecting (or not connecting) with your audience. 

4.  Memorizing music gets the songs into our hearts: Memorize a worship song, and you can "take it with you" anywhere you go.  Close your eyes and focus on what the words mean to you, how they connect with your own experience.  Tune your heart to hear what the Holy Spirit would say to you as you sing a song from your heart to Him.  When you have to focus on what chords come next, or wonder what the next lyric might be, it's difficult to hear anything else. 

Memorizing your music is an easy way to improve your skills, as a musician and as a leader.  Once you get started, you'll find that it's really not as difficult as you think.  Maybe you could start with memorizing one or two songs per set. 

Remember, it's about improving our ability to worship, and to lead in worship.  Start slow, and believe in yourself.  You can do it!  (I'm cheering for you, really!)

 

3 Reasons Skill Is Important for Worship Teams

Skill is important when desiring to lead others in worship.

What Skill Helps Us Do:
1. Skill Helps us Fix Our Attention on Jesus
If I'm not having to be totally focused on what chords/notes I'm singing or playing, my mind is freed up to focus on Jesus, the reason I'm worshiping in the first place. We focus on developing skill so we can focus more on God in worship.
Remember: the goal of practicing is not to do something until you get it right. In other words, do something until you can’t get it wrong.
Lack of skill leads to confusion, distraction, and irritation.

2. Skill Helps Us Serve the Church
God gives us gifts so that we can “serve one another” (1 Peter 4:10)
How do we serve one another in worship ministry:
-By leading clearly.
-By using arrangements that aren’t distracting.
-By possessing a calm, joyful countenance that expresses the hope that we’re singing about. “Those who look to Him are radiant.” (Psalm 34:5)
If we don’t have to think about the notes or parts, we’ll be free to look to the One we’re worshiping, and our faces will show it-and that helps people experience the presence of God.

3. Skill Multiplies Serving Opportunities
The more skill you possess, the more opportunities will be open to you.

So much of worship leading is preparation-spiritual, musical, and practical. Remember, if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail!

5 Reasons to Get Better At What You Do

Skill is important in worship leading. Here are 5 things to remember about skill in worship:

1. Skill is a Gift From God, For His Glory
I Corinthians 4:7 says, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”

The talents and abilities we have are gifts from God, to be used for his glory, not our own.

“All gifts from God are intended to direct our attention to God and create fresh affection for God.” C. J. Mahaney

2. Skill Must Be Developed
1 Chronicles 25:7 tells us that those who ministered at the tabernacle were those “who were trained in singing to the Lord, all who were skillful”.

If you don’t want to develop your gift, don’t practice.  Most people that you admire in music, art, sports, business, whatever, had to train,  practice, and learn for many, many years to get to where they are. 

3. Skill Doesn’t Make Worship More Acceptable before God
We need to realize our place before God, and understand that what we need most is God's undeserved grace to work on our hearts and lives.

1 Peter 2:5 says,  "You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

God is not impressed with our technical ability to play or sing. What impresses God is "a broken and contrite heart” (PS 51:17) that understands that we are weak and puts our faith in Christ, who saved and redeemed us.

4. Skill Should Be Evaluated by Others
If you really want to grow in skill, invite feedback from those around you. Remember, your family is supposed to tell you that you're great, even if you're not (thanks, mom)...so invite feedback from those who will give you an honest opinion, and not just an encouraging one.

5. Skill Makes Your Leading Less Distracting
How many times have you been in a worship service and heard a "clunker"-a note that's sung out of tune, a chord that wasn't played in the right measure, a drummer that loses the beat.  All of a sudden, your attention is not on the one you're worshiping, but on what you're hearing. 

Our worship leading should point people to the One we're worshiping. A missed note, a fumbled lead line, or an out of tune alto (sorry, altos) will take the eyes of your congregation off of Christ and on to you.  Skillful playing or singing, combined with the proper attitude will bring glory to God, and help your people focus on Him.  (Ask me about the time I put my capo on a half-step too low. Let's just say that when the band kicked in, nobody was thinking about Jesus...)

Our goal is to help people experience God’s presence. Be skillful, encourage skillful playing, and work on your own skills for God's glory!

Don't Set The Bar Too Low

Skill is essential for worship leaders, and worship teams. Our job as worship leaders is to serve our congregations, leading them to worship God, and to help people experience the presence of God.

Skill is not the not the most important element in worship leading, but it is discussed in God’s word:
-When Moses had to find men to oversee the construction of the tabernacle, he didn’t pass around a sign-up list. He chose craftsmen whom God had gifted with “skill and intelligence” (Ex 36:1)
-When David looked for a Levite to lead singing, he picked Kenaniah “because he was skillful at it” (1 Chron 15:22).
-Under divine inspiration, David wrote that musicians are to “play skillfully on the strings” (Psalm 33:3).
-David himself, as king over the people, “guided them with his skillful hand” (Psalm 78:72).
-Paul referred to himself as “a skilled master builder” (1 Cor 3:10).
(References from "Worship Matters" by Bob Kauflin)

Let's set the standard of excellence high in our ministries, and do our best to lead others into the presence of God!