Warning: This is my opinion, please don’t read this and take it as a Word from God. It’s my opinion and it’s only after leading worship for 8 years, so it’s not like I have decades of experience like some others out there. The main thing to remember is that you have an authority to submit to and a vision to follow. I believe one of the most delicate relationships in the church is between the two most visible, the worship leader and senior pastor. At worship conferences they dedicate entire tracks to this because it is such a problem in most churches. Pastor Joe and I addressed our differences of opinion before UC ever launched (almost all of it was my attitude having to be adjusted), and Chelsea, Joe and I work together in a truly dynamic way every week. I look forward to our Monday meetings together planning and dreaming together. Okay, that was definitely a rabbit, but it was worth addressing before I continue. The point of all that was – stay within your vision and follow your leadership and most things will fall into shape.
I write this to all those dozens of worship leaders who read my blog (not really, but maybe someday one will happen onto my blog).
One of the age-old questions for worship leaders is this:
How do you build your band? Should you launch a church with a full band or start with an acoustic type of set. We started with the full shebang (sp?) the very first week. It was part of the branding that we wanted to establish the very first day. Pulling a band together has not been easy and is not always easy – even in Nashville. Coming from Pine Bluff, Arkansas in a church already established meant that we had a very idealistic view of the people we would have on the team. We wanted to have a team that was solid from day one and was completely dedicated to the vision and to pure worship. That is something that is built – even when you think you have it, you have to continue to build it into your people. We’ve done a large amount of spiritual investment into the people that serve with us. I believe that we had fantastic people with great hearts, but vision is something that’s imparted over time. For most church plants, I encourage you to walk before you run. Take it slow and build, unless God says differently – that’s what He said to us – do the whole thing. It was a challenge, and still is some days, but it was a good decision. I tried to talk Pastor out of it, but I’m glad I was wrong.
Should I pay my musicians? NOOOOO!!!! That’s my opinion. We’re six months into the launch of UC, and none of our musicians (including Chelsea or me) has seen a dime – and I don’t harbor any bitterness about it. I don’t do what I do for pay – neither should your team. Is pay bad, no, but a love of money is the root of all evil. Some day I will receive a financial compensation for what I do, but having my heart established first that this is ministry, not a job – makes all the difference. I’ve heard some say that paying “hired guns” for specific weekends is extremely beneficial – maybe so, but I haven’t been in that situation yet. Let’s put it this way, the key issue is doing what God says, and he’ll make it work. I know that sounds like a good cliche, but when Chel heard local musicians say that we’d never get folks to play without pay, and not be able to get committed folks, she began fasting and praying. Within a week we had an entire team signed up to launch with. Weekend worship is not a gig…if you think of it that way, you should probably take a look at Nadab and Abihu
Should we have unbelievers on the team? I think the worship team is a place that resembles the Levites (as I’ve said many times before). God was incredibly specific about their requirements for these folks – what they ate, what they wore, what they said, what they wrote. While we don’t live under the same physical requirements, I believe that those items are symbolic of God’s expectations of our Spiritual life. I refer to that as “platform evangelism.” I may find a time that I believe that there’s an unbeliever that will know Christ if they serve, but I haven’t seen that yet. I’ve heard of churches starting with paid unbelievers who came to know Christ and served for free, but that’s not my thing.
I’ve got some other stuff on a different topic I want to write about, but this stuff came up through conversations I’m having with another worship leader while reading a book together. Iron sharpening iron…
One more time, the above is my opinion, take it or leave it!