In my short two years of being a Worship Pastor I have stumbled upon quite a few mistakes. Some were learned very graciously, while others seemed to be only learned through heartache & experience. My goal for this blog is to encourage those starting out in ministry and/or those on the track to full-time ministry.
Lesson #1-People Matter!
I started my full-time ministry journey as a Tech Director (my other passion!). From the time I was 12, I ran sound, setup all sorts of systems, etc. in the church. At the time I was hired, there was already someone in the Worship Pastor position, so naturally, I was brought on as part of that team to add structure and constancy to it. My first day on the job, I was running sound for practice when the sound volunteer came in. I then proceeded to explain to him that I needed to truly get a feel for this particular sound system, bands, etc, and that for the next couple months or so the volunteers would become the “A-2” or assistant engineer. He then responded with “so what am I even doing here?”. Being the caring, considerate, ministry minded person that I was, I responded with “I’m really not sure”. WOW! Really? That’s all I could say to this faithful volunteer that was here before I was even on the radar of this ministry? Classic programs over people comment! This guy all but left the ministry that day! If it was not for the heart of the Worship Pastor at the time, we would have never heard from this guy again!
Since this time, God has shaped my heart into truly caring, loving, and encouraging volunteers. While we never settle for any less than giving our “best” to God, we also never put excellence over people. This my friends HAS TO BE a “both and” scenario to be successful in Worship ministry!
Lesson #2-Authenticity Matters!
Coming straight from college as a music major, my first priority (even in the tech position) was EXCELLENCE! Yes I had a relationship with God, but it was nowhere near the depth it needed to be for full-time ministry. At every turn, I was pushing for the best equipment, musicians, practice times, etc. We would certainly pray before practice, meetings, etc. (but really because that is what we were supposed to do). After fighting what seemed to be an uphill battle, I finally opened my heart to God and asked Him to simply “fill me up” with his spirit, strength, wisdom, etc. I knew in my head that “you can never lead someone spiritually where you have not been yourself”, but I guess I just thought of it as some sort of spiritual guide rather than an absolute truth. Since this time, I have had a weekly time of personal “Sanctuary” every week where I get alone with God and ask for His spirit to be present in my life both privately and corporately. I cannot tell you how He has revealed his character, love, comfort, etc. through me (tech directing, naturally tactic, me) to others. Corporate Worship has seemed to continue to become richer in both intimacy and response. I KNOW THIS IS ALL DUE TO SPENDING TIME IN THE WORD & PRAYER, AND BEING DESPERATE FOR JESUS IN MY LIFE!
Lesson #3-You’re Presence Matters!
This lesson was actually learned this past week as I stepped out during a video that was brought by one of our guest speakers. This guy was from India and was sharing about persecution of Christians in his country. I knew he was talking about some of these things before I left, but I had no idea that he was going to show a very graphic persecution video after his message. I came in during the prayer (you know, because that’s how we do), put on my guitar, got my mic ready etc. I then proceeded to lead “Send me Out” by Steve Fee. Not only was the mood of the song totally wrong (real happy & fast) after this video, but it literally has the line “I wanna give my life away for your kingdom’s sake” in the verse. To make matters worse, I was then still peppy during my offering talk and light-heartedly thanked the missionary for all that he does in his country for the gospel. I received blank, non-responsive stares from everyone in the room and I had no idea why. After first service, one of the guitar players pulled me aside and said “that didn’t feel right”, did you even see that video? At was then that I knew we had to do something for second service. I felt the tension during the song, but just thought they didn’t connect with the song. We changed the song to “Our God”, which sent out a whole different message about “if our God is for us, than who could ever stop us”. Much more fitting than the previous. The point here is BE A PART OF THE REST OF THE SERVICE, NOT JUST THE WORSHIP TIME!
4-Your’e Relationship with the Lead (Senior) Pastor Matters!
Whether it is connecting the dots for a service, planning sermon series, or simply having the same ministry “heartbeat”, the relationship between the Worship Pastor and the Lead Pastor has to be awesome! This for me was one of those “extra good” lessons I learned. What I mean by that is our services, programming, themes were OK before this was true of the Worship ministry. However, now communicating regularly with the Lead Pastor, it seems to be more excellent than ever. By having the series’ planned six months out, we are able to stay on top of the creative process with videos, graphics, skits, songs, etc. By having our weekly programming meetings, we are able to truly hear the “heartbeat” of the upcoming message for that week and formulate our thoughts, transitions, etc to compliment it. And lastly, (most importantly) we are able to stay in sync with the overall vision, mission, & “movement” of the Worship culture. This relationship is priceless, and a MUST for having meaningful weekend Worship gatherings!
Lesson #5-Making Disciples Matters (but it starts at home!)
The missions statement at Eastridge is “We exist to make disciples who Love God, Love People, & Reach the World”. For the past two years, we have put almost all efforts towards discipleship. We had extensive weekly discussions on who we were discipling, how to disciple them, and how to teach them to do the same. While it took me nearly six months to form these discipleship relationships, it has proved to be the most effective use of my ministry time. On the contrary, I slowly felt myself being pulled away from my family. Obviously like any other initiative, discipleship came with a cost. I found myself spending most of my time, emotional energy, and spiritual focus on these men I was discipling. While it was beneficial to them, it weighed on my family life. I would come home exhausted from the day, and have zero emotional or even physical energy left. THIS WAS NOT ACCEPTABLE. I then realized 2 things: 1) I needed to set discipleship boundaries & 2)I need to not spend another second of energy discipling anyone, unless I was first discipling (and spiritually leading) my family. DISCIPLESHIP STARTS AT HOME!
I hope you can learn from “my lessons” in ministry, without having to experience them first hand! The life of a minister is both the most fulfilling, and one of the hardest things on the planet. There has to be a balance of time, energy, focus, & heart to go around. If we ever miss the mark, it is usually because one of these areas are out of balance.
How about you…have you experienced some of these same “lessons” in ministry?
How can I pray for you in your current ministry journey?