Hello friends! This month we’re talking about something so important, that for me this will be the most important article to date. And for the first time, I’m not only going to infer you act on what we’re talking about, at the end of this column I’m going to ask you to actually take some action that has the potential to transform pretty much everything about the culture of your worship and tech community!
noun: scientific method; plural noun: scientific methods
1. a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.
When applied as a science, psychology studies patterns in human behavior and as noted in definition above, draws conclusions based on tests that can be consistently replicated. While I’m no Ph. D, I’ve spent enough time leading and serving on worship and tech teams to observe the following about the creatives who serve on these teams…
1. We seek and need community
2. We tend to feel things intensely, even if we don’t say them
3. We want to feel known
4. We want to use our gifts alongside others to further the Kingdom
5. We tend to feel frustrated when things aren’t progressing, even if we don’t say it
Chances are that most or all of the above applies to you and/or the people on the teams you lead. What’s interesting is that when I think about the teams that I’ve served on, most of the time the focus has been about worship and not about the care and feeding of the team that creates it.
THE FRUIT AND THE VINE
These articles take days to bring to fruition, and as I’ve been ruminating on this one, I was struck by the vision of the tomato that had fallen away from the tomato plant in my backyard. While the other tomatoes continued to ripen, the lone tomato that fell away not only stopped growing, it has started to decay. How many people have you known in your worship and tech community who fell away from the vine? Who comes to mind when you ask yourself if there is anybody who might be in the process of falling away? Of the people you’ve known who fell away, how many times did you say to yourself, “Didn’t see it coming!”
GOOD GOOD QUESTIONS
We are, in many ways defined by the quality of the questions we ask. As much as worship and tech teams are about communication, in my experience at least, we tend to be really bad when it comes to communication itself. One has to ask, if we can’t communicate well internally, how effective can we truly be about outward facing communication? That, is what I mean by a ‘good good question’!
THE JUSTICE TRAP
My sense for justice has gotten me into all sorts of trouble because I’ve gotten caught up in that sort of trouble in ministry… “They should be doing this, they aren’t caring for people that.” I’ve lived way too much of my life in ministry yapping out about injustice, when the truth is that I was just judging people. Don’t fall into the justice trap – you hurt others and you hurt yourself.
GOOD GOOD ANSWERS
While it is good to ask ourselves questions like, “Why doesn’t my leader see that I need more team time getting to feel known?” Before going to a leader I’d always suggest answering the question for yourself through the lens of mercy and grace. “Maybe they don’t see it because they’re super busy with their family. Maybe I can do something to help!” I can assure you that the quality of the answers to our own questions will dramatically shape the quality of our serving experience.
GREAT GREAT RESOURCE
I’ll echo one of the amazing insights I got from the interview in this issue that I did with Alex Pappas from Hillsong Y&F. For some people, it is so easy to press the pause button and just hang out with Jesus, it is something that comes naturally. One of the things that Steffany Gretzinger from Bethel Worship mentioned in the interview we did a couple of months back was how she would come home from school and spend hours just reading the Bible. Me, I spent hours playing the guitar, which is why I felt convicted and confused at the same time. I want to be the deeply engrossed Christian, but I’m not. I felt a tremendous sense of relief from something Alex said. To paraphrase, we all have different relationships with our earthly fathers, so how can we be expected to have the same kind of relationship with our heavenly Father? Quite simply we can’t.
Truth be told, besides the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, my biggest spiritual influence has been my wife. She grew up under the leadership of Darlene Zschech at Hillsong, and I’ve been so privileged to drink out of that fountain since the day I got saved. My wife is a researcher and as of late she’s been listening to Podcasts from Carey Nieuwhof, and the things that she’s sharing with me are just changing me from the inside out. Sometimes it’s not the message, but the method that gets through. I’m not a reader, never have been, chances are I never will be. I’m not a Podcast dude either. But, when it comes to talking about stuff that my wife has read and listened to, I’m all in, and Carey Nieuwhof and his new book, “Didn’t See It Coming” is rocking my world and will probably rock yours.
I’m going to paraphrase one of the things from his soon to be released book that really floored me, and chances are they do the same for you…
Cynics started out as optimists who lost hope. After the last time I got burned to the ground at a church, that became me. Don’t let it become you. God isn’t about the situation, it’s about what He’s wanting you to learn from the situation. He sees the long game and so should we.
As much as that video is funny, at that same time it’s not. Even worse, if we’re really honest, chances are that at some level we’re trying to shape our current team to reflect something that we loved about our church of origin. I’m the last one to argue about the need for best practices, but sometimes we get caught up romancing “The Way We Were” that we miss what God is trying to change and/or bring out in us in this season. Sometimes it’s good to leave the ‘greatest hits’ in the past. Even worse, these things can become an idol of sorts where they take on a significance that is not healthy for you, your leaders, or your team.
WORSHIP PASTOR OR CREATIVE ARTS DIRECTOR?
In my previous role as a Creative Arts Director at an average sized church, caring for the team was as important to me as what happened on Sunday morning. And if you think about it, you have six days to impact peoples’ lives and one day to demonstrate that in worship. A team that is growing and moving forward can hold more fruit. In Pat Barrett’s interview in this issue he talked about his buddy whose peach tree fruited too early and the branches fell off because they couldn’t support the fruit. I personally don’t believe that a team that is off the charts musically and not being fed spiritually is one that is sustainable.
Worship pastors / creative arts directors tend to be hired for either their musical gift or their ability to shepherd people. Most of the time people’s ministry happens through the lens of that gifting. This is why good good answers and not holding on to the things of the past can really transform our serving experience.
LEADERSHIP IS DISCIPLESHIP
Alex Pappas is a total rock star in my book, emphasis on the word total. In his interview, he mentioned releasing the drummer on his team to find and raise up other drummers. Leaders, leaders, leaders – this is for you. The mark of a great leader is not what happens when you’re on the platform. It’s what happens when your gone. It’s the fruit of your labors building up and releasing the people around you. If you aren’t a pastoral leader, find someone to help you do that.
We spend way too much time chastising leaders for their shortcomings, and I believe fall short of holding people accountable for what it means to be a great steward in the art of followship. While we all tend to want what we want, sanctification is about becoming more Christ-like and a key part of that journey for me at least has been dying to myself. And trust me, I have died a thousand deaths – and still counting.
TALK YOUR WALK
Another amazing Nieuwhof-ism that we’ve all heard, but he says really well is that if we actually talked our walk, what comes out of our mouths would be a lot different. There is a gravity that can pull these two into alignment. Finding that is key to happiness.
At the end of the day, one of the things that so many worship and tech peeps crave is community.
CALLS TO ACTION
As I promised at the beginning of this article I was going to offer a few CTAs, so we’re going to start with a few questions…
How committed are you to following your leader? Do your actions demonstrate that you’re a great follower? Would your leader agree with the above?
- Talking Your Walk
Does your talk reflect the reality of your walk? What would you need to change to get them better aligned? Is there someone you can go to for accountability around this?
- Me Church
Do you want your present church to look like church of Christmas past? If so, do you think this is healthy for you, your leader, and your team? If it’s a mixed bag, can you make a list of the things that would be a help?
- Replication & Growth
If you’re a leader, is there someone you can raise up and release to grow the team musically and/or spiritually? If you’re team member, are you willing to go to your leader and ask them what they want you to do to better serve the team on the above fronts?
What are some of the things about your culture that could improve? What are some of the things you can do to make that a reality? Are you willing to do them?
Next issue we’ll be continuing on this theme by addressing community. In the meantime, the last call to action I’d suggested is deciding to grab Carey Nieuwhof’s book “Didn’t See It Coming” which will be available via your favorite bookseller on September 4th.
Visit careynieuwhof.com/didnt-see-it-coming for more details.