5 Ways to Show Your Team That They Are Valued

Grunge gift

By James Calkins

Feelings are important to us artsy types, and that’s not a bad thing. If it were not this way there would be way more songs about quadratic equations and the beauty of a well-formed tautology. Our society needs songwriters and musicians who feel. A byproduct of this is that our worship teams are full of talented people who feel, and who need to feel they are valued.

Worship leaders should be aware of this fact and have a desire to show our people that we truly value them, but with all of the logistical stuff we are responsible for throughout the week it is all too easy to neglect those people without whom the worship leader would be a one-man-band, literally. Following I offer five actions the worship leader can take to ensure that our team members know they are valued.

1) Take an interest in their lives.
This should go without saying, but it often goes without happening, so it needs to be said. This will come as a shock to someone out there, not you of course, but worship team members are more than just emotionless automatons whose singular purpose is to fill a spot on a worship team. Believe it or not they have lives outside of worship ministry and don’t just pop into existence when needed only to fade into the ether until next time.

Get to know them, personally. What do they do for fun? Everyone has a hobby, right? What are they reading? What do they do for work? Again, these are what scientists refer to as “no-brainers” but we know from the hit television show Friends that sometimes even besties don’t know what a friend does for eight hours every day. So ask them questions about themselves and then – this bit is important – listen to their answers. Get to know them.

2) Hang out with them.
A monthly meet up at Starbucks can do wonders for team morale. If everyone can’t make it that’s okay, just get a few people together and hang out over a cup of Joe. It’s okay to talk shop too. We’re all in worship ministry so we don’t need to purposefully avoid talking about it. This next piece of advice might seem strange, but pray before the meet-up. Get there a few minutes early, sit in your car, and pray that relationships would be strengthened. Avoiding doing the praying with the team helps to ensure we don’t feel like we’re just church acquaintances attending another Bible study together. Think about it, when you meet up with your friends to see a movie or whatever you don’t get in a circle and join hands to pray, heads bowed and eyes closed. Communicate to your team, with purposeful inclusion or exclusion of certain things, that you’re just friends hanging out.

Other ideas include having everyone over for dinner, a game night, or even lunch after church. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination… and budget, and time…

3) Pray for them.
“But how will they know I am praying for them and thus feel valued?” you might ask. Well, I’m glad you asked. In order to know their needs you have to ask them first. Once you have asked someone a few times how you can pray for them they might get the feeling you are praying for them. Be contextual in your inquiries, like, “hey, is your sister still looking for a job? I’ve been praying and waiting for the good news,” or something like that. Try to pray for each of them at least a few times per week. Be genuine when you tell them you’re praying for them by actually doing it.

4) Ask them for song ideas.
If you’re anything like me you have a list as long as a Robertson’s beard of songs you want to introduce, so using someone else’s song ideas might rob you of precious opportunities to display those sparkling gems you’ve been carefully mining, but chances are each of your team members has their own list. So maybe ask them for the top five songs they’d like to see in a set. Odds are that you’ll find a few of their picks on your own list. Sure, they might be down around number 85 or so, but see the cup as half full, buddy!

5) Shower them with gifts.
Not literally, weirdo. That would likely be painful, if not wildly impractical. No, as much as your budget will permit show them you value them by actually purchasing things for them. A gift card for their favorite coffee house is like flat, plastic gold (I should be getting some kind of compensation from Starbucks for how often I mention them). A physical or digital copy of a CD they want is a nice gift for a person who’s in music ministry, however obvious that may seem, which is pretty darn. How about a puppy?

These are my five best ideas to show team members they are valued, but they aren’t the only ideas, but they are the best ideas. What are yours?

James has been leading worship for over a decade now. He has played at venues ranging from coffeehouses to Spirit West Coast, Del Mar, but his heart is in the local church. He writes songs and other words too, and he lives with his wife and two children in Southern California.

blog: http://www.theologetics.blogspot.com
twitter: https://twitter.com/theologetics

When Obedience Costs

Fire wood burning in the furnace

By Kevin West

I love the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It’s a great story to share with kids when explaining God’s might and ability to overcome circumstances. It’s also a great story to remind adults that God will come through in the perfect moment.

There’s a 3rd reason I love this story and I’ve been processing through it today.

 Daniel 3:17-18 says,

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we service is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.

I think we often overlook verse 18 where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego say, “Even if he doesn’t.” There was a chance God wouldn’t deliver them in the way they had hoped…and they were prepared for that!

If I were honest with you I’d have to admit that’s hard for me to hear. Of course God would deliver them. I’ve read this story hundreds of times and every time God delivers Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Every time! And yet…does God deliver every time? I don’t know about your life, but God doesn’t deliver in that way for me every time.

Lose your job. Hate your job. Don’t get the job. Messed up marriage. Messed up kids. Messed up parents. Cancer. Infertility. Foreclosure. Can’t pay your bills. Bankruptcy. Friends disappoint. Friends betray.

These are the situations that fit better with my life. How about yours?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in the most difficult position you will ever encounter. Bow your knee or lose your life. They chose to lose their lives, even though they didn’t know without a doubt that God would come through. All they knew for sure was 1) God could deliver them 2) It’s better to obey God and die, than to disobey God and live.

As I thought about this today I had to consider what areas in my life I need to say, “But even if he doesn’t.” Even if he doesn’t deliver me from this circumstance, I will still worship God.

Don’t mistake what I’m saying. God can and does deliver all the time. I believe in praying for His deliverance.

Jesus was a man who walked a perfect life on earth. He followed the will of the Father completely. And yet, the will of the Father led Jesus to death. That is terrible in itself, but it would be tragic if the story ended there. But it doesn’t. Jesus was raised to life, glorified and seated at the right hand of the Father.

Resurrection. What if that’s what God is trying to do in us? What if, like Jesus’ story, God doesn’t deliver in the method we suggest?

What if the point is not deliverance, but resurrection? What if life is about learning how to say, “But even if he doesn’t” (or not my will but yours be done) when we’re trapped in unbearable seasons.

What if within those seasons we learned to raise our voice in worship, obey God’s word and listen to the still small voice?

Kevin West is a creative arts pastor/worship leader in Southern California.  He’s passionate about helping people connect with God, loves his family and really enjoys a good hamburger.  For more of Kevin’s writings or to listen to his music, visit kevinwestmusic.net. You can also follow him on twitter (@kevindwest).

Leading Worship That Exalts Christ

Christo Rei

By Jonathan Martin

As I’ve been thinking through what it means to pursue Christ exalting worship, I’ve found that one of the key things to remember is that Christ is in fact already exalted. Our first aim is to remind ourselves of that reality and realign ourselves with that reality.

As I lead worship it’s been important for me to remember that Christ has been lifted up in three key ways.

1. Jesus was lifted up on the cross
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Jesus is prophesying in this verse, but the prophecy proved true and Jesus was lifted up on the Cross so that all could look at Him, believe in Him, and have eternal life. 

2. Jesus was lifted up from the grave
And I, when I am lifted up form the earth, will draw all people to myself.

Again, Jesus is prophesying about Himself, but the truth is that Jesus has been lifted up from the grave. That’s not just something to remember on Easter. That is something to remember week after week because with that “lifting” there is a promise, “I will draw all people to myself.” Jesus has been lifted, the promise will be fulfilled.

3. Jesus is lifted above all things and all people.
[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation. For by Him all things were created…all things were created through Him and for Him. And he is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead…

Therefore God has highly exalted [Jesus] and bestowed on Him the name that is above all names so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

Jesus is already exalted and lifted up. Colossians shows us that He always has been. But then there is also a sense from Philippians in which, because of Jesus’s obedience and humility at the Cross, He is even more lifted up and given, by God, the name that is above all names. One day every single person will acknowledge this. One day everyone will participate in recognizing Christ’s exaltedness. For many this recognition of the reality will not be worship, it will simply be an admission of what is true.

It is important for me to remember these three things because it helps me know what my role is (and isn’t) every Sunday morning. I want to help my people to see Christ’s exaltedness here and now and worship Him week in and week out.

In light of the fact that Jesus is already exalted, I participate in further exalting Him as a worship leader in two key ways. 

1. By pointing to the already lifted up and exalted state of Jesus.

He has already done all the heavy lifting. My job is to point to Him and what He has done. Week after week, day after day, moment by moment I’m constantly needing to both look to (for myself) and point to (for others) Him. By pointing to Christ’s exaltedness, I exalt Christ.

2. I acknowledge, resonate with, delight and participate in the fact that He is already exalted.

I let the revelation of Christ’s exaltedness lead to elation in Christ’s exaltedness…which leads to Him being exalted in my heart and on my lips. Since we are talking about worship, the hope is that this full revelation of Christ’s exaltedness will also mean that He becomes more exalted in my life as a whole. Becoming a living sacrifice, striving to see Jesus Lord as over my life, and surrendering in obedience is evidence of Christ being exalted in my heart.

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

You see it in? Your love is BETTER. It is a fact. His love is elevated and exalted above life itself. Or maybe better said, His love is life itself. His love is greater than any other idea of what life is or could be. When I start to resonate with the beauty of this truth, I participate and further exalt Christ because my lips start praising.

I believe Lewis gives some further great insight into why this exaltation falls from our lips in light of glorious revelation.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment… – C. S. Lewis in Reflections on the Psalms

The final step of my job is to provide week after week opportunities for my people to complete their enjoyment in Christ’s exaltedness. It’s so unifying to be able to complete our enjoyment in Christ together.

In order to pursue Christ exalting worship, I believe that it is key that we start with the realization that Christ is already exalted. The more we as leaders can remember that, point to that, and encourage ourselves and others to resonate with this truth, the more we are going to see our churches participate in exalting Christ with both their lips and their lives week after week.

Jonathan Taylor Martin is the worship leader at Fellowship Raleigh. He and his wife, Emily, have also been heavily involved in traveling music ministry for the past 5 years and have released 2 orginal EPs within the last year. Championing the phrase, “Word in Worship,” Jonathan and Emily are songwriters and worship leaders that are passionate about creatively expressing the truth found in the Word of God.

Find out more: jonathanandemilymartin.com
twitter: @jontaymartin


Are Bad Singers Better Worshipers?

sound wave

By Kim Snyder

I’m going to share a secret with you: I’m uncomfortable singing in the church.

Don’t get me wrong; I love singing in the church.

But between my inbred-midwestern-Nazarene-born fear of the fine line between ‘swaying for God’ and ‘ungodly swaying’ and that time when my well meaning brand new husband told me I sing so loud in the congregation that it makes other people uncomfortable, I have to admit I have a really hard time just freely worshipping when I’m elbow to elbow in the seats.

God knows I have an issue.

So I imagine He must have chuckled to Himself that Sunday as I was ‘self monitoring’ my volume and trying not to move enough to inadvertently touch the stranger next to me.

THIS is worship

We had moved and were settling in to a new church. Some of the songs or arrangements were new to me, and Lord knows the only thing worse than being heard when you sing something right is singing something wrong, so I was….well, ok. I’m just going to come out with it: I was lip syncing.

It was nice. It was peaceful. Then band transitioned into a hymn.

Without warning a booming, shrill, angry sounding male voice blew past the back of my head. My husband reacted before he caught himself. I hoped the man hadn’t seen our surprise.The voice knew every word. Not many notes, but every word. And he sang them each with the gusto of an Irish drinking song at final call.

The problem with worship singers (like me)
Between my work in Christian radio for K-Love & Air1, as a worship leader, guest vocalist and workshop speaker I’ve had the opportunity to worship in a good number of churches and talk candidly with a whole bunch of singers who serve in worship.

We all take very seriously our job to remove distractions so other people can worship in song. That’s why we learn the words, memorize the notes, try to stay awake through rehearsals at hours no self respecting singer should even be awake yet and train to increase our vocal skill.

But many of us are distracted too: distracted by not sounding ‘good enough’, not being loud enough or being too loud, and not sounding as good as the singer next to us.

Put us in a room of other singers who know (or think) we can sing (can you say ‘worship conference’?) and we are even more tempted by the distraction of our perceived imperfections and what the singers next to us think.

What we’re afraid to tell worship leading singers:

 It’s ok if you can’t hold a tune in a bucket

God does say to make a joyful noise

It doesn’t matter what you have as long as you give it to God

These are the things we tell non-singers in the church all the time. But what would happen if we said them as often to our worship teams, leaders and choirs? Would everything actually become noise?

Is singing worship really so different than cover songs?

There are the 3 steps I teach every professional/gigging singers I work with:

1) You build your skills (ongoing personal training)

2) Then you fit those skills to a specific purpose (rehearsals for a show)

3) Finally, when you hit the stage you stop thinking about you (show time)

Why the last one?

The goal of a great singer/performer is to grow a fan base to start or build a career. Thinking about how good you are (or aren’t) might get you through a gig but thinking about your audience turns attenders into fans.

But if our brain is forced to choose between thinking of ourselves and thinking about our audience, it will inevitably choose ‘me’.

When a singer has taken the personal prep and group rehearsal steps seriously, the quality of what they studied and what learned will kick in (aka, they’ll become good), leaving the brain free to focus on the audience instead.

By verse two of that hymn God was reminding me that the same is true for worship. But many of us (guilty) forget step 3. (By the way, how do you get a ‘joyful NOISE’? Forget steps 1 & 2)

To refuse to be distracted by anything is to have the ability to give our full attention to our audience of One.

This IS worship

When the hymn finished we were directed to “shake a hand next to ya”.

Thinking about how wonderfully un-distracted this man’s worship had been I turned around to put a face to the voice behind me. “I really enjoyed your fervent worship,” I said.

It must have emboldened him. At the closing hymn, he sang twice as loud. And twice as badly.

I smiled.

And joined in.


Kim Snyder is a certified vocal coach, conference speaker and director of The Voice Club. She has worked as a worship leader, vocal director, jingle and live singer and indie label artist, as well as leading main stage worship at major Christian music festivals and opening for SonicFlood and Superchick. Find more articles like this: TheVoiceClub.com


The Worship Leader Conundrum

Plastic Chairs

By Ryan L. Zimmer

I’ve been convicted. I constantly tell my congregation that worship isn’t just singing and that it goes beyond just Sunday morning. But now I’m caught in a conundrum. If I’m their worship pastor, how am I pastoring them throughout the week to be worshippers?

Most of us have heard the statistics. If there’s 168 hours in a week, and you spend two of those hours at church on a Sunday morning “worshipping,” does that really make you a worshipper? I’m in agreeance that it doesn’t. But then my job becomes very minuscule in the bigger picture of life.

For me, it’s easy to fall into my own little bubble and believe that my twenty-minute set on a Sunday morning can open heaven’s doors and outpour God’s spirit upon people to change their lives. I’m not saying that’s not possible or hasn’t happened, but I’d be severely limiting myself, and what I can do, as a worship leader if I took that approach.

I often think to myself what a worship leader really is. Can someone be a worship leader and not be a musician? Christian culture has pigeonholed worship leaders in the church as music leaders; the guitarist or pianist with spikey hair and raspy voice (Guilty of all three) who, musically, is not a distraction. Don’t get me wrong; this is certainly an approach I take on a Sunday morning. I want my congregation to connect with God in an intimate level. Removing all distractions for them to do that is part of my job. Yes, PART of my job.

I believe a much larger part of my job, however, is multiplying myself as a personal worship leader. I’m a worship leader for City Church on Sunday mornings, but during the week I’m a worship leader to my wife, my boss, my co-workers and potentially anyone who I come into contact with. Worship is our response to God for who He is. Which means, a worship leader’s job during the week is to bring people in contact with Him. I cannot make people worship, just as I can’t make someone eat if they’re starving. But I can put a meal in front of them. Once that is done, my job as a worship leader has been accomplished.

So in multiplying myself as a worship leader, I see my areas of influence. Now, before I go any further, you should know how highly I hold my worship team around me. Whether it’s volunteers or paid musicians, each of these people are well respected and held to a high regard. They are also my greatest area of influence. If I am pouring myself into them as worship leaders (Don’t fool yourself, even if you “just” play guitar, you’re on a platform and people are watching you), then my circle of influence just got larger. When, then, they become personal worship leaders themselves, my congregation just grew.

I’m beyond blessed to be able to have a job as a worship pastor. Sometimes I feel undeserving of it considering during the week I don’t feel like the greatest worship leader. But if you want to be a great worship leader, start with your smallest circles and work outward. Jesus’ congregation started with twelve.


Ryan L. Zimmer, Worship Arts Pastor, City Church, Minneapolis, MN