“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” Matthew 1:23 (NRSV)
As worship team members, we often deal with technology daily, from texts inviting us to serve, tracks that fill our in-ear monitors and gear from guitar pedals to keyboards. For months, people on the other side of screens viewed your digital audio, lighting and cameras online. Some churches still live a disembodied life, unable to meet in person. So, for the worship team, the team feels less real. Virtual ministry exacts a price.
It is tiring to sing or lead to a camera, not only for you but for the teams that support you. And your team behind the cameras and audio consoles have it even worse, easily forgotten and invisible. They may enjoy being behind the scenes, but no one likes being unseen as a person. As a second pandemic Christmas approaches, our teams need to know we are with them more than ever.
Advent and Christmas celebrate the coming of Christ as a baby—a baby parents sang to, held in their arms and fed. The scandal of Christmas is that “God is with us” and that was meant physically. So, Christmas isn’t just about nice thoughts and feelings, it’s about how the Creator embodied his creations, being housed in it. In fact, Charles Wesley, in his hymn “Glory be to God on High,” says it this way.
“See the eternal Son of God
A mortal Son of Man,
Now dwelling in an earthly clod
Whom Heaven cannot contain!”
While we refine our online mix, we might also consider the power of being housed in an “earthly clod” like Jesus is. Here’s the thought: If Jesus came to be with us, how can we be with our teams during this season? Our effort to get past the tech and screens may be the key to reaching out. Here are three ideas to practice being with your team this season.
Handwrite thank you notes. If the Apostle Paul could pastor with handwritten notes, so can we. Yes, texts are fine, but your physical presence pressing a pen to a postcard makes a statement. “I am with you.” Christmas cards are a perfect excuse not to send your family photo and typed letter. But use them to pray over and give courage to your team. Make it about them, not you.
Surprise your team with a visit and drop off cookies. This will be a fun thing to take time away from the office to hand-deliver that note with a treat. Don’t buy the cookies. Bake them. Again, you want to send the message that your team matters beyond their acceptance of a Planning Center invite.
Phone your team members to pray with them. Yes, do the thing we hate. Call people. If you can lead in front of a camera, on a platform in front of hundreds, then why should it be out of character to speak over the phone to people who serve with you as worship leaders, musicians or tech operators? Let your team hear your voice bless them speak their name in prayer.
These three ideas will encourage your team, but I’m going to let you in on a secret. You will be blessed beyond your imagination by being generous with your presence—especially to those that you lead. As you empty your thanksgiving, God will refill you with his presence. After all, this season is all about the good news of Emmanuel. God is with us!
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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