For over a decade our church struggled to find someone we could rely on to lead our congregation in worship week after week. We had some help on and off, but no one who was able to stay consistent over the long term.
Then he blessed us with two great leaders in a row. First with Travis Martin, then with Ami Garcia. Because of them, we’ve had dedicated, teachable and talented worship leadership for several years now. Thank you Travis for laying such a great foundation. Thank you Ami for what you’ve built on that foundation. Our church is better because of you.
If your church has someone who is willing to lead your congregation in worship consistently, humbly and reliably, you need to take time to thank them on a regular basis.
Actually, don’t just thank them. Encourage them. Support them. And run interference for them.
This also applies to youth workers, children’s ministers, seniors leaders, and others. But I’m focusing on worship leaders today for one simple reason.
There is no ministry in our churches under more attack today than our worship departments and their leaders. Often with so-called “friendly fire”.
Yes, at times they are part of the problem. But, more often than not, they’re the unfairly-accused victim.
As pastors, we know what it’s like to work hard, only to have every decision second-guessed, to have every sermon dissected, and to get little to no acknowledgment for our hard work.
Well, we’re not alone. Our worship leaders face the same problems. Sometimes worse. And sometimes their pastors are adding to this pressure instead of helping to relieve it.
I regularly hear comments from other pastors, such as “so much for reaching the neighborhood, we need to get the worship team saved first!” Comments like that may get a laugh in a group of pastors, but if you’re a worship leader, they get old fast.
Defying the Stereotypes
When I’m a part of conversations among worship leaders, the attitudes I hear are extremely humble and Godly.
As an example, here’s a portion of a comment that was posted a couple days ago on the Small Church/Big Worship Facebook page.
…My husband and I know we are called to small churches… In July we were called to a church that started in 1865. It had no music for several months when we started… The average attendance at that time was 5 – 10. And the minister died suddenly. We started with our contemporary style, me on keys and my husband on guitar. We now have 2 additional people in the group and now yesterday……. 25 members in church. It is a wonderful loving church. The folks are graceful and gracious. GOD is so good all the time. Just wanted to share!!! I am thankful. – Peggy Spicer (Quoted with her permission)
Yes, I know there are some divas on and in charge of worship teams. But not all of them are like that. In fact, just like most pastors aren’t guilty of the attitudes we’re often accused of, most worship leaders don’t fit the diva stereotypes, either.
I’ve met more worship leaders suffering under overbearing and under-appreciative pastors than pastors dealing with self-serving worship leaders.
Here’s how it often goes.
The worship leader gets the following contradictory complaints from congregation members
- There are too many news songs!
- There are too many old songs!
- The music is too loud!
- The music isn’t loud enough!
- The lyrics are too simplistic and repetitive!
- The lyrics are to complicated to keep up with!
…and that’s sometimes about the same service! What are they supposed to do about that?!
Then they hear from their lead pastor who, instead of clarifying things for them, gives them messages that are just as negative, muddled and conflicting as what they hear from congregation members.
I think it’s because lead pastors are feeling the same pressure from the same people. But instead of acting as a buffer between the congregation and the worship leader, too many of us overreact and amplify the noise. We’re turning up the heat instead of calming things down.
That happened in the church I currently pastor. About 18 months before I came, the church had a split over worship styles. When I dug just a little deeper I discovered that the issue had been more about delayed decision-making and mixed messages from the lead pastor than it was about the music.
What worship leaders want and need is a clear, consistent vision and a strong support system. They should know their pastor is with them, not against them.
The True Attitude of Real Worship Leaders
Recently, I watched a conversation stream unfold on a worship leadership Facebook page. It started with an expression of frustration over a bad Sunday morning experience. The frustrated worship leader wondered out loud if it was worth continuing to be a worship leader, given all the conflict from every corner. The comments that followed were some of the most encouraging I’ve ever read online – and far more encouraging and Christ-like than the comments I usually read on similar sites for lead pastors.
Fellow worship leaders rallied around their discouraged friend. They offered help, prayer and advice. And they all expressed a passion for worship and for the church that was anything but the self-centered stereotype of the “look at me, I’m a rock star” attitude I keep hearing about, but seldom actually see.
I was humbled by their generosity of spirit, grateful for their humility and ashamed at how badly many of my fellow pastors have treated our partners in ministry.
With that in mind, here are 7 reasons why you should thank your worship leader today – and regularly:
1. If your church is small, be grateful you have a worship leader – most don’t
Most small churches have no one they can rely on to lead in worship. If you have a worship leader who is reliable, humble and competent – wow! You’ve hit the jackpot!
2. Your attitude will make them better at what they do
So much of leading in worship is about approaching it with the right heart. When you feel appreciated, you preach and minister better. Worship leaders are the same.
3. Gratefulness will save you a lot of money, time and hassle
One of the complaints I hear from pastors is how much worship leaders expect to be paid, when “back in my day, people used to lead in worship for free.” But the worship leaders I meet don’t expect to be paid much – or at all. They just don’t want to be driven like unappreciated slaves. Work with them and their schedules with a grateful heart. More often than not, they’ll step up to that in ways that will surprise you.
5. The decisions they have to make are very difficult
Whether it’s not having enough musicians or singers, to interpersonal conflicts, to people who think they have talent, but don’t, there may be no one in your church, aside from the pastor, who faces as many levels of conflict as your worship leader.
4. Their “Thank Tank” is probably as empty as yours
Fill them up. A word of thanks from their lead pastor is worth more than you know.
6. Gratefulness is contagious – and so is bitterness
Whether-or-not we like to admit it, worship has a strong emotional component. And those emotions, positive or negative, get passed along. A worship leader who feels appreciated will help foster an attitude of gratefulness to the rest of the church. But a leader who feels neglected and unsupported will not be able to hide their frustration and bitterness from others.
7. It’s just the right thing to do
You can toss points 1-6 out if you want. This alone is reason enough to do it.
So what do you think? What can you do to support your worship leader today?
We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
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