Originally Publish in WL Magazine
We celebrated Easter across America with virtual choirs, online chat rooms, and streaming sermons. The speed at which our worship teams pivoted whiplashed us into territory only once thought theoretical or unproven. But we had to do it. And, we all get the picture that our worship teamwork and ministry process will never be the same again.
Our worship teams need to be shepherded, especially during this season. Beyond content creation, we need connection. There are a lot of innovative and practical pointers for putting online services together. What I hope to do here is address how we care for each other, equip our teams, and build community during a historically disruptive event. How do we stay connected and even grow?
Cast a vision for today and the future.
Help your team accept that “normal’ will likely never return. We must find a way to paint a picture of how God is using us at this moment and how this will extend to our mission going forward. Putting services online—even if you have done so before—now has greater importance today, as well as in the future.
- Reinforcing value | Inspire: God is using your team today and will in the future—even if it looks different.
Over communicate until it exhausts you.
None of us realized how taxing online team Zoom meetings would be. Many of us have small children at home … and multiple distractions. As leaders, our own emotions about being in a pandemic may overcome us. It is this compounded and collective grief—a cocktail of fast change and danger—that lies underneath the surface for us all. Don’t give up. Don’t lose heart. But communicate.
- Reinforcing value | Inform: We are all in this together, and keeping your people in the loop makes them feel a part of the team.
Talk about what people feel, not just the task at hand.
We want efficient interactions, but we may be missing an opportunity for empathy. Communication, as we mentioned, itself takes work. Listening requires even greater effort. Knowing your people better will help them work better. How are your people feeling? Are they praying for each other? What team members have physical needs for us to rally around?
- Reinforcing value | Inquire: People matter more than what they do for us, and we need to help them know this.
Create opportunities for connection and activity.
Some people on your team may have hats or roles that at the moment are put on the shelf. For instance, although not impossible, the complexity of incorporating a choir individually from their homes or corporately with social distancing is likely to leave many vocalists out of service. What role can these volunteers play to stay a part of the community of worship leaders? How can we invite people who are less connected to a small group to engage? Collaborate with your team as they may come up with the best ideas.
- Reinforcing value | Include: A community is a family where everyone is a hero, even those in support roles.
Plan for the future while admitting to uncertainty.
While we live in uncertainty about timing as to what will happen in a month, let alone six months, we can still move people forward. Try a Zoom night for prayer or gather people to learn about worship, teaching them scriptural insights as well as team-building. Investing in your team will help them see you value them. And it will remind everyone that our work continues.
- Reinforcing value | Instruct: Shepherding people includes teaching them.
We are all called as leaders to equip. Your team, no matter what hat each person wears, will appreciate you wearing the hat of shepherd right now. While our polish and talent still matter, what will last beyond the other side of this pandemic is how we treat and love our worship team.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.Eph 4:11-13, NIV
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Rich Kirkpatrick, a writer and leadership consultant based in Long Beach, CA, authored The Six Hats of the Worship Leader and leads worship with A Beautiful Liturgy. You can find him at rkblog.com