Want to make killer charts? Here's how...
Today’s interview is with Mike Harland of LifeWay Worship. We discuss the crucial topic of discontentment. It’s a slippery slope that will lead to the ruin of both your ministry and your family.
PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3
So if you haven’t read parts 1 and 2 of this series, you’ll want to do that to have context for this post. We’re talking about what it takes to be a healthy team member. And we’re looking at it from the perspective of the different ways they should be engaging.
Up to this point, we’ve looked at ways team members engage with others: God, leaders, other team members, the congregation they’re leading, and their overall connection with your church.
The final two of the seven ways to engage are NOT about engaging with people. But they’re crucial areas team members need to connect, commit and engage.
Today’s main training comes from our Director of Coaching, Jerimae Yoder. Besides being a full-time worship leader, Jerimae is an accomplished coach. He gives us some amazing insight on how to deal with tough situations that, frankly, would be easy for us blow up and make worse.
PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3
So if you haven’t read part 1, you’ll definitely want to jump over there and read that first.
So first, your team members need to be engaged with God. They don’t need to be spiritual giants, and they definitely don’t need to be perfect, but they do need to be in process. That is, they’re actively pursuing a relationship with Jesus.
And then your team members need to be engaging with you, the leader. There’s a respect and a healthy submission that needs to take place. Also, we talked about how you as a leader need to invite and embrace healthy, ideological conflict.
We’re going to have differences and issues with each other. So let’s talk about them openly and in a healthy way.
And not only do your team members need to engage with you in a healthy way, but they also need to engage with each other. And that’s the third way team members needs to engage:
PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3
Do you have some worship team members who are…
Uncommitted to your worship ministry?
Unprepared with their music?
Unspiritual—that is, they just don’t seem to deep?
Unconcerned for other team members?
Unconnected with your church?
Unreceptive to your leadership?
Unavailable when you need them?
Unresponsive to your scheduling requests?
Un-on-time…all the time?
Now, you might have one or two team members who fall in every category. (They’re called “complete-slackers-that-my-predecessor-invited-on-the-team-and-now-I-can’t-get-rid-of-them.”)
But likely, you have a lot of team members who display a just few these unhealthy traits. But even the presence of a couple of those unhealthy traits makes them a less-than-productive team member. And putting a few of them together makes for an unhealthy team.
Dear Awesome Worship Leader,
Thanks for your interest in our new online course, 10 Steps To Dismantle Your Worship Team Before You Move on To A Larger Church That Pays More.
Below is a description of each of the ten training modules. We believe this coaching course will benefit you as you work to demoralize your team at ___________ Church (insert whatever trendy metaphor your church has chosen to be known by).
In this session, you’ll learn to say spiritual-sounding things like, "You know, Jesus died on the cross for you. Don’t you think you can practice a little for him?”
It’s a powerful motivation, and it helps people embrace that wonderful theology of salvation-by-works.
There aren't too many words in the English language that rival this word for brevity, and few rival it in power.
No can be heart-crushing, but also life-liberating. It can save you from immense pain, or start you down a path of destruction.
It all depends on what you’re saying no to.
As a leader of a worship ministry, it’s a word you have to get comfortable with.
Every few months, I hear this from a worship team member:
“Omigosh—we’re doing this song again!?” Yes. Yes, we are.
I have to regularly remind my team (and myself) of this truth: When we start getting sick of a song, that’s just about the time the congregation is catching on. Between personal practice, rehearsals, soundchecks and multiple services, we sing and play these songs 10 - 20x more often than the average Joe or Jane in our congregations.
So that puts us in a predicament: We can continually introduce new songs to keep things fresh for us on the worship team. Or, we can stick with the same rotation of songs week after week and month after month (year after year), so the congregation knows them well.
Does this sound familiar?
Several of your team members show up to rehearsal unprepared.
So what happens to that rehearsal? Most of the time is spent figuring the basics of the song—the form, the individual parts, starts and stops, who’s playing, and so on.
So then, during your Sunday morning warm-up and soundcheck, you’re still working out certain parts of the song. AND you have yet to have a full run-through of all of the songs, let alone practice any of the transitions between the tunes.
So you muddle through the first service. And then, finally, in your second service, things start clicking and feeling a little bit better.
And as you walk off the platform after the second service music set, one of your players inevitably says, "Gosh, it’d be nice to play that set one more time; it was really starting to come together."
Besides your sudden urge to punch that player in the forehead, what’s the problem with that picture?
Several ago I had an epiphany of sorts. I thought, "What would happen if my team (including me) showed up to rehearsal with their songs actually learned?" (I know, profound, right?)
Not long before that, I had inherited a worship team that had gone a year without a main leader. It had deteriorated to pitifully low expectations: "Please just show up sometime Sunday morning."
After a while, I succeeded in raising expectations about rehearsal (like, let’s actually have one). We even got to the point where people were showing up. But it was still a hot mess.
Enter the epiphany (of sorts).
So I set out on a crusade to get my team to prepare BEFORE rehearsal. I’ve chronicled that in more detail in other places, so I won’t go into it deeply here. But I will tell you one of my tactics:
I differentiated between practice and rehearsal.
In fact, I even came up with a mantra to help us with this:
Leslie Jordan talks about the new All Sons & Daughters album, Poets & Saints. It was birthed by trek across Europe exploring historical figures whose lives and work still influence us today.
And by the way, it's an incredible album. You can read a review of it here.
On September 2, All Sons and Daughters will release their fourth album, Poets and Saints. This special record is a journey into the lives and stories of Christ-followers that God used to wake up the world: like C. S. Lewis, John Newton, Saint Therese, Saint Francis, George MacDonald, and others.
They joined up with their pastor, author and speaker Jamie George, and traveled to Europe with a film crew to create an interactive worship experience inspired by ten famous Christian’s lives.
In this interview with Andrew Marcus, we talk about his new album, Constant, the journey to get there, and a whole bunch of other stuff. (Like, how to blame Paul Baloche when a song flops.)
HOUSEFIRES III releases later this week on August 12. Here's Dusty Wallace's take on it:
Just like their bio states, the overall feel is “underproduced,” but that by no means infers a lack of musicality or tightness amongst the band.
The beauty of this album for use in the church is the fact that musically, it is both accessible to the congregation and attainable to the worship team.
The sonic structure is warm and welcoming. There are no crazy diva-vocal-fills or dudes singing in a mezzo-soprano range. HOUSEFIRES demonstrates that their mission is to engage in moments with God, not to create some over-produced experience with lasers or fog machines.
This year is the first year that I have been a worship leader for over half of my life. Each life experience has taught me a lot, on and off stage, and as I think about all of the leaders God is raising up in the next generation, I have three words of advice I would give to the former me if I could.
Maybe you’re familiar with the tension of the squeaky wheels versus the quiet wheels. (The squeaky ones get the grease—that is, most of the attention)
I define the tension like this: the quiet wheels are your key, reliable volunteers. They show up on time and don’t get offended very often. They help your weekend services happen, and they don’t need a ton of acknowledgment of their awesomeness.
The squeaky wheels, however, often have last minute interruptions to their serving schedule, don’t get along with some of the other teammates, and often want to have conversations about negative things they see in the ranks.
What would you like to change about your worship team?
- Maybe they don't practice enough.
- Or they stare at the music stands the whole time.
- Are there attitude issues you're dealing with?
- Maybe you need more musicians.
- Or you need the ones you have to step up their game a little.
- Or maybe it's not your team that needs the most work, but your congregation—if you could only get them to sing and engage more.
Here's the thing, leading your church and worship team through change would be super easy...
Giving voice to where your congregation is really at...
Being an Ohio native, many summers in my childhood included at least one trip to Cedar Point, the theme park in Sandusky on Lake Erie.
I remember when I wasn't quite tall enough to ride the "big kid" rides. Of course, when you're just shy of that threshold height, there's going to be a few tears when you see your older sibling hopping in line for a ride that you just missed the cut for.
In those moments, everything is HUGE. Walking up to the college kid in the bright polo holding the measuring stick, the measuring stick seems huge. Everyone in line towers over you. Dwarfing them all in the distance, the first monstrous drop of the roller coaster hill.
You ever feel like your audio engineer has no idea what you’re talking about? Chances are, your audio engineer feels the same about you from time to time. That happens a lot when we mix-up definitions of often-used audio terms. It’s pretty inconceivable. (Yes…I had to make the Princess Bride joke. You’re welcome.)
Here are six terms (grouped in sets) that we get crisscrossed:
How does this song go again?
Do you hate that question during rehearsal as much as I do?
You planned the setlist three weeks ago. You uploaded the charts and mp3s to the worship planning app. You wrote out the band and vocal notes outlining who plays what where. And you’ve said time and again, “Show up prepared for rehearsal.”
And then at rehearsal someone asks: “How does this song go again?”
He might not ask it audibly, but he doesn’t need to. The look in his eyes as he fright-reads the chart tells it all: he didn’t practice.
One of the most important leadership lessons I learned a while back is this: culture trumps everything. The culture of your worship team determines their behavior. I realized I had a culture that didn’t value preparation. So, I set out to change it.
When Sunday is always coming, it can be easy to get tunnel vision.
A lot of churches have systems in place to make sure their staff worship leaders get time off to rest and refocus. However, I would venture to say that most churches don't. Here are some practical tips and activities to give you that much-needed breather.
Sometimes, it is nearly impossible to go to another church for a night of worship or even to a show at a bar when you're a worship leader without mentally breaking down every little piece of it.
That floor tom sounds like junk.
I can tell that lady is lip-syncing.
That worship leader has better hair than me.
You NEED to find some artistic/musical performance that will at least make it difficult for you to put on your "expert" goggles.
In part one, we talked about what habits are and why they matter (good and bad) to your team. You'll want to read part one if you haven't already.
Let's dive into the step-by-step process for leading your team towards healthy habits.
Too often we have an idea that some bad habit needs to change, but we don’t take the time to articulate exactly WHAT that change looks like, HOW we’re going to get there, and WHY it matters that we change.
The HOW and WHY are crucial. Too many leaders stop at the WHAT—they tell people what the vision is, and then expect them to get on board.
But people are so much more willing to go along with change if they understand why they need to make the change and how it’s going to come about. So make sure that BEFORE you go public to your team, you’re crystal clear on the What, the How, and the Why.
That word for the longest time had only a negative connotation for me. I’m not naturally wired to crave routine, focus on details, or have any discernible self-discipline whatsoever.
Whether I was being chewed out by my mom for my “habit” of leaving the kitchen cupboard doors open after looking for a snack or chiding myself for not having better study habits in college (the last minute and I were very, very well acquainted), all my habits seemed bad.
I don’t know if there is a single, more irritating critique to a worship leader or audio engineer than the “too loud” comment.
It’s just too loud.
Why does it have to be so loud?
It hurts my ears!
Do you think God can’t hear us or something?
Now, here’s the problem with loud complaints. There is no universal standard for loud.
Let me give you a personal example…
Fact: 100% of leaders mess up.
Even the most seasoned, exemplary influencer still says and does things that fall short of perfect.
As a Christ-quoting leader in ministry, I don’t take my trip-ups lightly; in fact, I tend to feel embarrassed, discouraged, and down on myself when I realize I haven’t been practicing what I preach in some area. But I’m learning that messing up can actually give me helpful feedback and spur my leadership skills.
So, since we’re all in this boat together, let’s talk about how we can make the most of our failures.* Here are three tips for turning our common failures into catalysts for growth:
Note: I posted a shorter version of this to a couple of Facebook groups I run and found it struck a nerve. So I thought I’d expand on this topic here in the blog. Enjoy it or hate it. And please comment either way.
Several years ago, I was between churches and offered to do some “pulpit fill” in some churches brave (or desperate) enough to hire an out-of-work worship leader to preach.
At one church I preached at, they just had a guitarist, drum machine, and six to eight vocalists.
From the pick-up note of the first song to the final rubato whole note of the last song, every singer sang every...single...one...of...those...notes.
And it was not a short set.
After I finished preaching and was driving home, I thought about why that musical worship experience made me want to curl up in the fetal position under the pew with my hands over my ears.
Let’s face it, worship leaders, it’s our Super Bowl. Easter Sunday is THE "big game" for many of us.
But with so much preparation and so many moving parts, sometimes you can feel more like the tackling dummy than the starting quarterback.
So as we count down the last three and a half weeks before Easter, let me give you seven ways to get through this season with at least a smidgeon of your sanity remaining.
In today's episode, we talk about what worship leaders can do better as they lead their vocalists.