The countdown begins. The crowd in shouts in unison. 3! 2! 1! Cue drum loop. Enter lead guitar riff. And then like that, the room explodes with sound and light. Up go the praises of a thousand voices to Jesus!
“Hello, worship conference.“
I’ve been to many, but I noticed something different about this one. It wasn’t the lighting or the crisp clean audio mix. It wasn’t the wardrobe, song selection or transitions, it was the faces of the band. They were completely lit up.
I mean, they were IN it.
Everyone was sold out to what was happening in that room, completely bought in to their role as leaders. Then I began to wonder, just how do I get my team to lead like this? What can I do to help them see themselves as leaders and influencers of our church’s worship culture? Thus I set out to answer these questions and, over the years of leading worship, I have come up with a short list of ways to affect a team’s worship culture.
1. DEVELOP A MISSION/VISION STATEMENT FOR YOUR WORSHIP MINISTRY
Mission is everything. Too often worship pastors get so caught up in the day to day routine of preparing for the next Sunday that their work becomes humdrum, and the significance of their ministry gets lost. Without mission driving the “why” of what they do, their ministry will quickly fall into a dry routine at best or into dwindling disrepair at worst.
Your people, your team, your partners want to know where they are going. Mission is what helps people think beyond “just another Sunday” to seeing the Sunday gathering as an encounter with the Eternal.
As you develop your mission/vision statement it is critical that you keep it simple and easy to remember. Andy Stanley, author of Making Vision Stick, says, “It is better to have a vision statement that is incomplete and memorable than to have one that is complete and forgettable.” If there is an easier way to say what you mean, then do it.
2. DETERMINE WHAT YOUR VALUES ARE FOR YOUR WORSHIP MINISTRY.
Every worship ministry operates on a set of values, whether they are written down, verbalized, or acted on instinctively. Think about what is important to your ministry. Is it service? Is it excellence? Is it development? These values will play a crucial role in helping you accomplish your mission. Getting these abstract concepts into concrete actions will help you measure whether or not your are on target missionally
3. COMMUNICATE TO YOUR TEAM.
It’s not enough to have done the work of thinking through your vision and values only to have the document lost in the abyss of your Macbook Pro. You have to communicate this to your team. And not just once. ALL THE TIME. Again, Andy Stanley addresses this very point in saying that “Casting a convincing vision once is not enough to make it stick. Twice isn’t enough either. Vision needs to be repeated regularly. To make it stick, you need to find ways to build vision casting into the rhythm of your organization.”
At our church we have 2 annual meetings where all the service teams get together for training and celebration. This is a great time to recast our vision and mission for the worship ministry.
Another time is during practices. Whether you have one team that stays with you or multiple teams that rotate, you can use your practices to cast vision before or after each rehearsal.
There is yet another way, creative communication. That’s anything that you can create to send to your team on a regular basis to cast vision and communicate values. For example, at my church we created through Mail Chimp a quarterly newsletter designed to communicate vision (usually a short letter from me), equip them with skills (through quality articles to read on their own time), expose them to new music (links to some of the latest albums I’m listening to) and to make them laugh with some good old fashioned worship fails on YouTube.
4. CELEBRATE WHEN THEY “GET IT.”
Making vision stick is hard, but it is incredibly rewarding when you watch your team start to “get it.” Celebrate that moment! Draw attention to the win at practice. Point it out in an email. Send an encouraging text message. Give them a gift card. Anything you can do that communicates, “Good job, you get it, keep doing it” will only further advance the mission and vision for your worship culture.
This is only a snapshot of what you can do to help build a worship culture within your team. It is important to remember that a vibrant and enthusiastic worship culture doesn’t just happen. It comes by intentionality. If it’s going to happen, it’ll come from you. So what are you going to do about it?
Aaron Hoskins is the Worship Pastor at Hulen Street Church in Fort Worth, TX: a Christ-follower, husband, father, worship pastor, songwriter, Mac-lover, runner, & lover of all things cheese.