Friday, October 23, 2009

Worship Leader Tip #2

Know your people. (Part 1 - the congregation)

This seems way too simple to even be a tip, but the truth is that many leaders will miss out on how they can best lead their congregations simply because they don't take the time to get to know them. We've all heard the saying that "people don't care what you know until they know how much you care", but it really holds true. Taking the time before or after services to engage in conversations with the people we serve is critical to their trusting our leadership.

This can be especially evident if there is a generational gap between the leader and a majority or core of the congregation. With the movement toward more contemporary styles in music, many churches are hiring younger people to help lead their congregations in worship. What this means is that there is often a gap between the leader and the core of who he/she is trying to help worship God.

It is all the more critical for this leader to intentionally and regularly connect with trusted advisors in the age group/generation that they serve. Scheduling a weekly lunch with a few people and asking tough questions like: What do you think about song selection? How is the volume? Are you able to sing the songs? Any theological concerns? Note: This does not mean that if you are trying to change the target age of your congregation that every preference of the older generation should be catered to, but these concerns certainly should be considered. Creating unnecessary division is just plain foolish.

A theme that I'll hit on quite a bit in these posts is asking a question that my brother, Jason Miller, brought up: "What is helpful?" If we're trying to facilitate a connection between God and our people, we need to first fall on our knees and ask God, "what for this service, season, event, etc will most help our people worship?" Then, truly, asking trusted people what they find helpful in worship can help us grow our churches in thriving worship communities.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Worship Leader Tip #1

I've thought a bit about what it means to help others worship God. I'm gonna try to throw a few ideas out there to see if they might be helpful to other people who are "in the trenches".

Worship Leader Tip #1

This is critical for people who are leading. A lack of authenticity is something that can smelled a mile away. A mistake that many young worship leaders make is that they find a particular person that they admire and then begin to emulate their style. Emulation is not bad in and of itself, but when it starts to eat away at the nature of the individual, becoming a sort of costume or mask, this is not good.

I started off "back in the day" highly admiring the leadership and skills of Tommy Walker, who was and is an influential leader in the worship music field. I bought all of Tommy's CDs. I got the DVDs. I went to concerts. I even got the headset microphone that is his trademark. (I even left it on once while I was in the restroom... but that's another story!) Besides his hair, since I have very little, I was a kind of mini-me of Tommy. I kinda lost my own voice in all of that.

As I've matured, I've found that pulling ideas from various artists/leaders across the spectrum of music has helped me form more of my own sound. Do I still borrow/rework/recycle ideas? You bet! But now the emphasis is much more on what is helpful for the people I lead and not so much about me finding my identity. Reminding myself with verses like Ephesians 2:10 "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do." This has helped me realize that God made me uniquely for the tasks He calls me to.

When people see the "real deal" on the stage, someone who is comfortable in their own skin, there is something contagious about them. Shakespeare said in Hamlet: "This above all: to thine own self be true." Great wisdom. Living out of a God-honoring, authentic self, is the best way for all of us who lead others to show them Jesus. Hope this helps.