The decisions you make for your worship ministry as either a worship leader or pastor need to be connected to a focused mission, period. Why? Because there are about four hundred and twelve different missions that you could choose from and narrowing your focus on your decision will keep you from confusion and overwhelm as a leader. This decision may also lead you to some of the best ministry work that you will create with each coming year.
Many of the ministry workers that I meet each month are struggling to find that one mission—translated, the “right” mission. Well, I’ve got news for you that will either frustrate you or free you up. Apart from the command of Jesus to “go and make disciples of every nation,” the “right” mission doesn’t exist, only the one that you and your ministry colleagues will choose.
So, then, how do we choose that focused mission and how do we put it into practice? Here are three practical ways to connect worship with mission.
Align with the Vision of the House
If you currently serve in any leadership role within your worship ministry, aligning yourself with the vision of the house is the first place to begin. It is also the first place to poke and take a look at if you find yourself frustrated in your role. Ask yourself if you are aligned with the main vision of the church where you serve or are employed.
The vision of the house is a phrase that I created to put some new language to the use of the traditional terms of mission, vision, and values. What is your church trying to accomplish? What is written on the walls in the building where you worship to communicate what the church community is all about? It is imperative that you know this as a leader within your church community. If you are unaware of what the main vision of the house is, you could be making decisions and setting a course for your ministry year that is more connected to who you are as a person than what is best for the greater good of the community of people whom you serve.
In my work with organizations who are moving from a monoculture to multicultural, this conversation continues to come up, particularly from worship leaders who would like to see their churches more ethnically diverse in its people and more expressively diverse in its worship sound. Worship leaders will often ask me something like, “How do I get my senior leadership to see the vision for multicultural ministry?” My reaction usually is, “You can’t.” The reason this is so hard or even nearly impossible in some communities is because that the worship leader’s desire is not in alignment with the vision of the house. For example, if the vision of the house for a particular church involved “bringing others to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through relevant teaching,” your desire in your role as worship leader to start singing in Spanish or praying in Korean in your English-speaking services may not go over so well. Why? Because it may not be aligned with the vision of the house. If the vision of the house was “to bring an ethnically diverse group of people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through relevant teaching,” well then you may have a fighting chance, because in that scenario it would make sense to begin singing in Spanish. Similarly, if you are ready to empower a fleet of powerful female worship leaders, but your church holds a limiting view on women and their role in leadership, you will be out of alignment. You will be frustrated. You will wonder why you can’t get anywhere with your mission in the ministry. It all has to do with alignment. Align yourself and your ministry with the vision of the house and this will bring you a sense of peace as you connect worship to mission.
Create, Don’t Copy
Many of us in the Church are participating in identity theft. We are stealing the identities of worship ministries from other churches and from worship leaders in the Christian music industry. Don’t believe me? Imagine you and I taking a field trip around the country, visiting many cities and towns in the USA, and deciding to visit three different churches all on the same street. My guess is that we could go to all three of those churches and hear the same four songs during worship (the “hot” ones—whatever that means), experience the same general program: songs, announcements, offering, pre-message video, fifty-minute lecture or sermon, and a short dismissal prayer. There is a good chance that there will be some sort of small worship team who keep their eyes closed during the whole worship set and a preacher who is either in a suit, a pair of khakis, or a leather jacket. I am pointing this out to make you giggle a little, but isn’t it true? How were our churches stamped with this same identity? Where did it come from? Who started it?
Create, don’t copy. Write your own songs. Develop your own children’s curriculum. Create a new way to connect and disciple your student ministry. Involve the people sixty-five and older. Intentionally include people with disabilities on your platform. If you want to connect worship and mission, be on a mission to create instead of copy. Anything that comes from the Christian business industry will only give you a small idea of what is possible within our local churches. The industry is not connected to your local church’s mission, you are. Decide today what your mission will be and then take your permission back and get to creating new things that will rise out of your local community. Let’s stop stealing identities.
Study Your Mission Each Week
Once you have aligned your mission with that of the vision of the house and then decide what needs to be created as a result of that alignment, then schedule some time on your calendar each week to study and get familiar with that mission. Make it a priority each week—if only for twenty minutes—to attempt to master as many aspects of that mission as possible. What can you learn about your mission? What books or podcasts are available to fill you with a focus around that mission? What needs to be communicated to your ministry to help them focus on that mission? Make connecting worship with mission a weekly focus.
It is possible to spend months attempting to nail down the perfect mission. We might spend so much time trying to find the “right” one that we may end up doing nothing at all. Pick one. Pick what is good, true, noble, trustworthy, and beautiful and do that. Then, filter all of your worship decisions around that beautiful mission.