What do you do all week long? If you are a worship leader, and minister through music on Sunday, what do you do the rest of the week? Certainly you work Wednesday night and Thursday, when the choir and band come in to rehearse. And yes, there is some prep time for charts, stage setup and connecting with people to make sure everyone shows up and is doing well. But really, is that a 40-hour workweek?
For those of you worship leaders who are wincing or boiling mad about now, let me assure you I am on your side and do believe you are busy. I lead a team of gifted worship leaders and I know both their hearts and their actions. They live worship and they minister well to those in the church and outside. That takes time and space, especially because people who work with us are real, and have needs.
So, why would people think worship leaders do not work enough? Is it because worship leaders have not spoken the language of tangible results, have not appropriated time for creativity in a way that is palatable and have not been willing to really value what they create? Those are hard questions. Let’s try to answer them because if we don’t, worship leaders may be seen as hourly workers with their apparent benefit barely outweighing their cost.
Let me lay out a couple of areas I think we (including me) need to work on:
Tangible results in the hour and beyond
Have you ever thought about outcomes for your ministry like volunteers who are energized and growing, feedback through surveys, special elements or a special outreach evening? I know that you may not like “metrics” but that is not the issue. The issue is: Are you willing to speak a language that is understood by those at your church? For people who are left-brained, that means something quantifiable. Not so that you get glory, but so that you get feedback and those around you can say, “We are close (or not) to accomplishing what we want to in worship with the gifts God has given us.”
Additionally, the value of a worship ministry comes not just from Sunday, but from working in light of the fact that the church is called to equip the saints for the week. If we view “the hour” of worship as our sole output, we will be underemployed. We need to build worship ministries that send God’s people out with something to help them during the week. That outcome may in some sense be as important as the “hour” and, that outcome will take creativity and innovation.
Bottom line: don’t be afraid of measuring outcomes both in the service and during the week. It is either that or continuing to measure the second hand on the clock.
Innovation, value and self-sustaining ministry
Creative thinking time is nice but it means nothing if we do not innovate and end up with something tangible. We must build worship aids our congregation can take with them. They could be CDs, booklets, spoken-word audio podcasts, books, or videos. They could be preparatory tools for next weekend’s worship or additional information as a follow up to last weekend’s worship posted on a blog site. They could be special creative elements in the service. Again, if you do not naturally do this, you need someone around you who can lead the process from your creative idea to the shelf.
Your tangible worship aids have value. Most parishioners want to have something to take with them to help on the road ahead. And get this, they can pay for it. It may be $1 or $5 but people spend money all the time trying to get help for what ails them. Which is better: a Starbuck’s latte each week for $4 or a quality worship aid? Take that $4, a congregation of 200, half who are interested, and a worship ministry can be reimbursed $20,000 per year for projects.
Bottom line: make sure your creative ideas become real and don’t devalue them.
So, can I encourage you to think about it? Learn to speak the language of the people and innovate ways to make worship aids that have value for your people and maybe even some things that have value for the world at large.
Randy Schlichting is director of shepherding at Perimeter Church in Atlanta. He is author of book, Minority Rules and he writes often for worshipwell.blogspot.com.