I like to think that in my 30 years I have gained a little bit of knowledge. Some about ministry, some about life as a ‘grown-up,’ some as a musician, and some other useless facts usually about random bands or Ohio State football. But to be honest, most of those things that I have learned have been from first choosing the wrong way to do it. So please read and learn from my errors so you don’t have to make the same mistake!
- I thought I was the worship leader.
You Are Not The Worship Leader.
Yes, that may shock you, but you aren’t. Your pastor is. He is the one who has been called to lead that ministry you are a part of. He has a vision for this church, and he pushes for this church. In a worship service setting you are his right hand (or left depending on which is dominant). You work with him and for him to accomplish what the overall vision is. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t have a vision for your team/ministry, but you better make sure that that vision falls underneath the overall vision that has been set out by your pastor. If it doesn’t, either change your vision to line up, or leave. It is very simple, if you go about trying to push for things that do not necessarily add into your pastors’ vision, it just looks like you are trying to usurp authority and stir up controversy. Even if you think you are doing it with a right heart it will appear that you are not loyal to your pastor and that is the last thing you will want. Talk directly to your pastor and tell him where you are coming from and see where the disconnect is, and go from there.
- I thought I was a pretty big deal.
Be a Janitor, Not a Diva.
I was in a setup tear-down environment for almost 8 years now, and before that I got to travel with a worship band, which meant lots of set up and tearing down. We all serve in different environments and have different responsibilities, but please keep this in mind, out of a 45 hour work week, you on the stage, leading worship, adds up to 1.35% of that time (this is 3 hours of you leading worship which for almost all of us is pretty generous in less you are leading over 8 services a week, God bless you if that is you). What I am saying is, you make a big impact from stage, but you have much more time to make an impact off stage. For me that translates into some easy things when it comes to a Sunday morning- set your own stuff up, tear your stuff down, carry your gear, help others carry their gear, run cords, wrap cords, be cordial to your sound/tech team, be early, etc. Be a servant leader, don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that you are above it, cause you aren’t. This also helps you recruit and maintain the right volunteers because if you lead them in a way of servant leadership, they will want to serve, not perform.
- I had thin skin.
To the Designer/Videographer/Creative Arts Role person: ‘Stop being so sensy.’
I am pretty sure that you cannot be a worship leader without being a little bit of an artist. I mean that in a sense that you are participating in a foundationally ‘creative arts’ role. Because of the artistry involved, you take ownership of the things that you create. I don’t just mean the art forms we all know (graphics, videos, set design…) but also things like a set/worship flow, or lighting. All this to say, that when those things are questioned, critiqued or even shot down we (well the artist in us) almost take it personally, because that was our ‘art’ something that we created! Advice, just stop being so sensitive, in fact, welcome input and advice, it will help your end product more than hurt it (as long as there is no Papyrus font involved). By hearing out other members of your team, you can create an end product that has greater mass appeal. This sometimes takes more work to make an end product cohesive and excellent, but hey, you crave a challenge cause your an artist right?
- My artistic worldview was almost exclusively dictated by my closed environment.
Make Some Friends (outside of church).
I work in and for a church. Because of that I have found that I don’t meet a lot of people that do not know Jesus. I spend my time in an office and workplace that is working to spread the gospel, so it is a lot different than a ‘regular’ office or workplace. I have to set my mind to do that and make a third place outside of the office that becomes my domain for a while. A place I can learn people’s names and become (at least) acquaintances. I typically have two ulterior motives in mind when doing this, first to share my faith, and second to get an outside perspective. When you are in the Christian world or ‘bubble’ you tend to just work within that sphere. The trouble with that is that you end up creating media that is good in comparison to other Christian media, and once it pops through that bubble and into the world it often ends up being very mediocre or just flat out bad. So work hard to find people that are writers, designers, videographers, any sort of art related field and show them your stuff (and ask to see theirs!). Go into that situation expecting to get ripped, open your ears, and don’t be hurt. Not only will this be fruitful to you and the art you are making; you are also making paths to share the gospel with someone through your gifting and talents, the way that God made you to.
Cody Davenport, a native of Northeast Ohio, has always had a passion for music. He attended Liberty University and has been in ministry for over 10 years. He is a husband to LaRae and father of two (Harper and Titus). After Liberty, Cody served at Northstar Church in Blacksburg, Virginia as the Worship Pastor and recently moved to Sarasota, FL where he serves as the Worship Arts Pastor at Lakewood Ranch Baptist Church. www.codydavenport.com