Maybe It's Not ALL the Worship Leader's Fault

I read this over a year ago and it still stirs my soul each time I come back to it. 

“Boredom is so extreme in our day that people feel they are dying. Boredom makes people feel as if their central nervous system is winding down and shutting off. People will pay any amount of money to relieve boredom for the same reason that they will pay any amount of money for a pacemaker. 
People want singing that excites and develops, special music that impresses, sermons that warm the heart, testimonies that make them cry and miracles that make their skin tingle. 
Worship as entertainment, defined as the ritual excitement of the central nervous system to temporarily relieve boredom, is a shortcut to the believer’s soul-deep satisfaction of serving God through vertically oriented worship. Entertainment is passive is an effect wrought upon the participant by the “worship leaders.” Worship is active and requires effort expended by a thankful congregation of believers on behalf of a holy and merciful God, initiated and led by the Holy Spirit. 
If we entertain people, our church will grow. If we lead in worship, our church may shrink until it is composed of a group of people who want to worship. Then the church has a chance to grow based on the precedent of worship. The church that worships will have many visitors who never come back, and few who cannot stay away” (The Art of Pastoring by David Hansen).

I am more and more convinced that our issues aren't hymns or choruses, new songs or old song, the amount of songs, the volume of songs, etc when it come to worship. We have a leadership issue.

 Photo by  Niklas Hamann  on  Unsplash

Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash

That leadership issue starts with pastors, not the worship leaders. 

I am saddened and bothered by the blog posts out there about why no one sings anymore or worship leaders just want to be rock stars or this is how worship is supposed to be  (this list could go on). 

I'm just as bothered by the fact that most worship leaders are trained by Youtube watching highly produced events in arenas believing that is the ultimate achievement of worship leader success. 

Our culture highlights the stage and pays little to no attention to the prayer closet or the practice room. 

No one looks at the house and thinks about the foundation. 

So after a number of conversations with my pastor and his encouragement that I start sharing some of my thoughts, I, with fear and trembling, begin this road of making some of my thoughts public. 

I make no promises about post frequency. I am not out to build a platform. To be honest I have never had a problem saying this stuff in a conversation with someone but I avoided writing blogs and social media because that is a world of drama (especially with Christians) that I just didn't want to deal with. 

What I really hope to do is not just be another voice to state the problems but help generate some conversations that hopefully points to possible solutions. 

Competition Doesn't Always Bring Out the Best

Kirby Smart.jpg

I love sports. I am a big UGA fan. One of Kirby Smarts' constant messages from day 1 is that he is looking to build competition at every position on the football team. "Competition makes everyone better. Competition makes the team better."

But is that always true?

You can use competition to your advantage on a football team, because everyone is hopefully locked-in on the same target. Unfortunately in business and especially in the church, competition is not going to bring out the best in everyone. We know that teamwork makes the dream work, but before you can live that out you have to check your heart. You have to change your mentality. 

If I work and live with a "win/lose" posture then I will see limited breakthrough, if any, in my life. 

What I mean by "win/lose" is the mentality that believes if I win then you must lose. This is not me advocating for participation ribbons for everyone. There are times and situations where a "win/lose" mentality is necessary. Instead I'm advocating that this mentality cannot be the primary posture of our lives. 

I heard a story of a manager wanting his sales team to work together for sales but the incentive he offered to the salesperson who sold the most product was a receives a big bonus. Working together might be the best thing for the company but there was no incentive for collaboration. 

Let me bring this is to the ministry world where I work. 

A common attitude is "my ministry must succeed so that I can receive more budget money or so that I can hold enough power to get my ideas realized".

I know pastors who are so locked into their personal vision and passion that it becomes the organization's vision and leaves little room for anyone else to pursue their God-dreams within the body.

Churches will constantly make comparison statements about how they do things vs how other churches do things (I see this as a major issue in the new "contemporary" churches). 

Do you want something closer to home?

How about this win/lose mentality in our marriages? Simply stated, if both of you aren't winning, then both of you are losing.

So what should change?

What we need is collaboration. Not just a collaboration that involves working together. We must have a "win/win" mentality. A mentality that wants both sides to win or else it isn't going to happen. You must truly have a win/win mentality and not just an attitude. 

That is why one of our cultural values as a creative arts family at CUMC is that we will choose relationship over rivalry. As we write new songs and create content to help our church love God better, we will choose to collaborate rather than compete. If I'm not willing to share my best thoughts because I'm worried that I won't receive enough of the credit, then not only does the department suffer but so do the people of God who are missing out on what God might want to say because people can't get over themselves. 

Our vision and driving force has to be about ONE NAME and that name can't be our name. We must be about the name of JESUS. 

What is your mentality? Who are the people that you can come alongside and help them win? Do you approach life with a "win/lose" mentality? You can't have a win/win mentality without trust and strong relationships with the people in your life.

For me this is another example of the difference from the stage and the table. The stage sets you up for win/lose because there is some relationship but it can't be a deep knowing of each other. Rather the table involves relationship, communication. The table is where trust is built. Where there is deep trust, there will be a win/win mentality. 

As a leader, how are you encouraging and fostering a collaborative atmosphere? 

Warning: About to BRAG about the most amazing staff...

I cannot begin to tell you the joy and privilege it is to work with the people I work with. Working in the ministry world, you get to see behind the curtain in a number of places and I promise you CUMC, the staff here is the real deal. There is a genuine desire to see the Kingdom of God advance more than just our personal kingdoms. I cannot say enough good stuff about our senior pastor Jody, but his attitude and heart has infected this staff in the best way possible. Thanks to an amazing team for letting me journey with you. 


These principles come from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I've been working through these principles over the last couple of months.