Community is something we all long for. We long to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, to love and to be loved, to give to others, and to receive that greatest of gifts – friendship. So what does this have to do with leading worship? An often overlooked area of worship leadership is providing an environment of community for our teams. The church is a spiritual community. Our ministry is not just to God, but also to one another as well. There is an added complexity to worship ministry as we are required to work together and at the same time to achieve a common goal – leading our church families to worship God. We are much like a sports team, all playing our positions to move the ball down the field, so to speak. We do different things, but we must do them together. Relational awareness and a deep sense of togetherness make our times of working together much more enjoyable as. When we work together in loving community we preach the Good News of Jesus Christ: “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35)
Building this atmosphere of loving community must begin with the leader. What can a worship pastor do to intentionally build community? The first thing we must do is model living in community ourselves. Here are some suggestions as you seek to shepherd your team into a loving community:
1) Relationships must be a priority. Before community can be a core value for our team, it must be a core value of our own life. This is something that will trickle down and as it does, it will teach. For many musicians, this can be a challenge as they may be much more task oriented. It can feel like a “waste of time” to take precious time away from rehearsing and “doing” to simply be with people for a moment. Some simple ways to do this are to go to lunch, go hang out at Starbucks after rehearsal, to remember birthdays and to show interest in your team as individuals.
2) Be aware that there is no substitute for spending time together. It is not “efficient” for sure, and spending time together will take precious hours from your day. It will take time you do not have. It might take a while, but I encourage you to just keep hanging in there and loving your team, inviting them into your life and taking the time to walk into theirs. Host a songwriting night and play together for fun. Invite a family on your team over for dinner or to watch a ballgame. Invite them to celebrate with you for birthdays. The opportunities are endless but there really is no substitute for spending time with one another.
3) We must take the time to intentionally get to know our teams. Where have they come from? What are their dreams? What are silly things about them? What are their strengths? Weaknesses? What about their families? What is their story? Get to know their personalities and how to best communicate with them. Take the time to get to know their families and to love them as well. Know their names and a little about what is happening in their lives. Know where your team members work and what they do all day long. Know their sorrows and their pain as well as the highlights of their lives. See and celebrate them as individuals. Love them for who they are, not just for what they do to serve.
4) The role of “worship leader” is a spiritual role of pastoral leadership. We must be just as concerned about the spiritual growth of our team members as we are about their ability to learn new music and perform well. We must be willing to encourage, challenge and teach them as they grow in Christ and as worshipers. We can’t do this without knowing them, without spending time together and without caring about them as individuals. We cannot do this without taking time to build relationships.
5) Encourage your team. If they feel appreciated and loved they are more likely to open up to one another, so take the time to say thank you, to send a note once in a while to acknowledge how they are serving, to pat them on the back and to keep before them the awesome reality that what they are doing has eternal significance. Brag on them publicly and to their families. Say thank you in front of others. Make sure that they know that they matter.
6) Building spiritual community requires that leaders pray for their teams. Our teams need to know we pray for them specifically, by name. They also need to SEE and HEAR us pray for them. This can open the door for them to begin to pray for one another.
7) This would seem to go without saying, but be there for your team. You are their pastor. Care for them. When they are in difficulty, offer help. When they have a tragedy, stay by their side. Assure them that you are praying for them through it all. Walk with them through the difficult realities of life in order to build relationships that weather the changes and storms of all of life’s seasons. Our team members need to know we care.
I hope you’ll take some time to implement some of these as you lead your team this week. We are building relationships that are truly eternally significant! If you’re looking for some creative ideas for specific ways to help your group develop deeper relationships with one another, I’ll be covering that in my next article. So stay tuned for “Part 2”!
Now, go call one of your musicians and invite them over for the game on Saturday, offer childcare so they can go out on a date with their spouse, or offer to treat them to a cup of java at Starbucks. Spend some time this week getting to know your team. You’ll be glad you did.