Try (Tri) Leadership, Part 1
Try (Tri) Leadership
Developing a Workable Model
for Co-Leadership In Worship, Part 1
for Co-Leadership In Worship, Part 1
Co-leaders. Co-managers. Co-captains. You might as well just lead with a Co-mmittee. Anytime you have multiple people in cooperative leadership, you riskâ€¦
â€¦the buck doesnâ€™t stop here.
â€¦thatâ€™s not MY job.
â€¦sides being chosen among team members.
â€¦take-over by the dominant personality
â€¦resentment (at best) and subversion (at worst) by the less dominant personality.
Thatâ€™s the behavior of regular church-going people. Add the element of â€śmusician-egoâ€ť to the co-leader mix and things get ugly. Real ugly.
Hereâ€™s one alternative. Hire someone who has the musical ability to carry the band. The spiritual depth and â€śup frontâ€ť skills to lead a congregation in worship. Theological and musical training coupled with the creativity to plan and execute biblically sound, yet emotionally-charged worship experiences. The interpersonal skills to develop, encourage, and exhort a team to musical excellence and relational health. The administrative skills to coordinate schedules, services, and special events. Oh, and a gifted songwriter. If you canâ€™t afford to hire him or her, just recruit that person as a volunteer from your congregation. And while youâ€™re at it, find the deca-millionaire philanthropist sitting in the pew who will single-handedly fund your upcoming building project (and who, incidentally, can play a mean shortstop for your church league softball team).
Another alternative is appoint to leadership someone is truly gifted at one area â€“ probably erring on the side of spiritual depth â€“ and let her or him lead the team. The song selection will be doctrinally solid. The worship will be thoroughly God-centered. The leader will set an example in her pursuit of God that others on the team can follow. But the musicality of the team doesnâ€™t seem to improve. The flow of the service doesnâ€™t, well, flow. And Sunday morning phone calls to find last minute substitutions happen about every Sunday morning.
OK, so go with the musically gifted, but spiritually shallow, guitarist with a good voice: things could get better on the outside, but will crumble from within.
Smaller churches look to larger churches for what a worship leader should look like. The problem is, the larger churches have the budgets to not only hire talent and experience, but give them the administrative and musical resources they need. The smaller and mid-sized church worship leader (volunteer, part-time or full-time) is frustrated by trying to live up to those standards.
Co-leadership of the worship ministry can be an effective solution. But a few caveats before we look at some ideas that might work:
1. Without too many exceptions, there needs to be one leader overseeing the ministry. In smaller ministries, that might be the senior pastor or an elder. This leader needs to recognize that they are to give some vision and direction to the ministry, but also learn to keep their hands out of the details for which others are better equipped (e.g. song selection, service flow, musical direction, etc.).
2. Each person needs to understand and accept their role in the ministry. This requires honest conversations and clearly defined job descriptions.
3. Like ANY model, these models WONâ€™T work for ANY ministry. â€śMinistry modelsâ€ť are simply tools to jump start the process of determining the best structure and strategy for your ministry. It comes down assessing the talents and gifting of your leader(s) and your team, then developing a realistic structure that works for your situation.
Our default definition for a â€śworship leaderâ€ť unfortunately resembles the superhero we described a few paragraphs ago. The problem is, â€śsheâ€ť doesnâ€™t exist. (And â€śheâ€ť certainly doesnâ€™t, either.) And if he or she did, we couldnâ€™t afford him or her, nor stand to be around either of them.
So letâ€™s narrow our definitions, beginning with â€śworship leader.â€ť
The worship leaderâ€™s primary responsibility is to lead the congregation in corporate worship. This will include music and possibly prayer, scripture, and segues. Her role is connecting with people and shepherding them to a place where they can enter Godâ€™s presence.
Who qualifies for that?
The best vocalist? How about the guy who plays acoustic guitar and can sing at the same time? Thatâ€™s the call for you and your leadership to determine. Consider these qualities when choosing this person:
Maturity of Heart â€“ does he/she love Jesus more than music, ministry, being â€śthe leader,â€ť etc.? Or, if they struggle with this, is it something they are working on under a godly mentor?
Stage Presence and â€śUp-Frontâ€ť Leadership - Does this person have a natural rapport with the congregation? Can they engage in worship without leaving behind the congregation?
The two extremes of a worship leaderâ€™s stage presence look like this:
No regard for congregation...this worship leader is completely immersed in his own worshipâ€”eyes closed, arms raised, improv singing over the melody, adding additional choruses, tags, (even songs), unaware if people are following at all. The â€śworship with complete abandonâ€ť approach isnâ€™t a bad thing for a vocal team member â€“ but the main worship leader needs to have some connection with the other worshipers in the room.Focused entirely too much on congregation...this person is a â€śSong Leader.â€ť They are constantly scanning the congregation, saying things like, â€śsing out!â€ť and â€śletâ€™s REALLY worship the Lordâ€ť, and might even use their arms to make conducting-like motions. Shoot this person on sight.
An Ability to Sing â€“ donâ€™t presume that your worship leader needs to have the vocal chops that would get them on American Idol or one of the revolving spots in the Gaither Vocal Band.
Personally, Iâ€™ve wanted so bad to be that vocalist who could soar and captivate, or at least have that distinct rock star voice. But I basically can sing on key (most of the time) and have mediocre range. In all honesty, Iâ€™ve got the kind of voice that people find acceptable because Iâ€™m playing a guitar. If I were to try out as a vocalist in a very large church, I doubt Iâ€™d make the cut.
Often an average singer with a great â€ślead worshiperâ€ť stage presence will make a better worship leader than a phenomenal vocalist who doesnâ€™t have a worshipful presence.
So, what if youâ€™ve got a good vocalist with a dynamic presence that draws people to worship God, but she canâ€™t lead the band out of a paper bag?. Thatâ€™s OK. This is where the lead musician comes in.
(Continued in Part 2)
July 17, 2010Tweet
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