There is a massive difference between getting your Sunday morning service done, and getting it done well. As a pastor friend of mine noted, Sunday morning comes relentlessly every week ready or not. So how do you infuse energy and excitement into something that has become a routine? How to you cast vision for greatness for a service that is already, well good. How do you tell people that good, is not good enough?
As a fellow leader I will tell you, it is all on you. If you are not pushing yourself to grow spiritually, as a speaker or as a worship leader you won't and neither will your church. We must also be careful not to mistake doing something a little different (re-naming sermon series and creating a new graphic/video) for growth.
For the sake of argument let's assume you are committed to excellence, but, maybe as a team you are not there yet. Pragmatically, what are you doing to push yourself and your team to actually become better, better than good. If you cannot define that clearly and measure KPIs (key performance indicators) that are helping your people move forward don't kid yourself, nothing is happening.
Spiritually, what is God doing in your life and the life of your team and leadership. What are the KSIs (key spiritual indicators) that are visually showing growth in your church. This point is more important than the one above, because if the relationships in your church are not deep enough to allow you to know what is happening the lives of each other than that is not good enough according to the Bible, and let's be honest, if you can't verbalize what God is doing in your life right now, there is a very good chance it is because you are not letting Him do anything.
Sunday morning matters because it is the rallying point, the celebration for believers. A time to share, inspire, and encourage each other to worship God and grow in Him. A time to repent yet again, accept forgiveness and move forward together. A time to disciple, by living out this process in front of the young in faith and our very own children. Sunday morning matters because it holds the power of gathering in it. Where we as humans are influenced by each other of our own free will. We come to hear, to be taught, to investigate, to find love and acceptance, to meet God!! Sunday morning matters because it is the beachhead for the hard work of being the church every other day. Sunday morning is not the church, oh no, I know that very well, but it really matters.
I could have also called this lemons to lemonade. The hardest part of accomplishing something is accomplishing it. Huh?
Traveling down a path to your goals can often be defined by a set of steps, planned and executed, that lead to the finish line. My experience is that, often, things get derailed and you have to problem solve. The worse case can be that an opportunity is missed, and it evaporates. It is like commercials in the advertising business, if you didn't sell that commercial spot for last night, it's too late.
So what do you do when something just doesn't work out? I think you make banana muffins (from over ripe bananas). Sometimes the best thing to do is completely change course and make yourself useful, perhaps in an unrelated way. Meeting plans get canceled, go home and spend that time with your family. Hit the gym and burn off some frustration. Make lost opportunity found time. You tried, it isn't procrastination to re-boot your mind and soul so you can pick up the plan tomorrow. When we keep on moving we get those other days, those days where we can't believe everything went so right!!
I am leading worship less these days, mostly because I am not traveling or helping other churches as much right now. The interesting thing about it is this: when you lead once a month or so it feels bigger, and the lack of routine actually makes some tasks harder. So how do you get better when you are not doing something regularly. Here are some things I am doing.
I am recording a lot, so I am playing a fair amount. As I try different techniques or sounds or voicings, I am trying to find ways to apply some elements to my next worship set. So just practicing your instrument and trying to push yourself to learn new things to bring to the table.
From a leadership perspective, I am trying to come into rehearsal with a couple of arrangement ideas from which to launch some songs. Whether it be a feel or a custom intro. Although I try to be flexible and let the team have some input, I also try to come in with a plan in case ideas are not easily forthcoming or not quite jiving on the fly. A big part of adding value to the team is always being able to give direction and keep things moving forward.
It might sound tremendously obvious, but pick winning songs. I try to avoid more than one new song, and I try to have the rest flow well, but also be really well liked. As leaders we are there to engage the congregation and lead them in worship, not prove out own artistic genius or make an artistic statement. Doing both those things might have their place in the music business, but not in worship. (PS if you are really that good, hopefully you do the former and the latter just comes out, and you don't even know it)
Prepare for rehearsal logistically. Depending on the support your church gives or the culture of the volunteers, prepare packages for your team. Make sure you are all playing off the same charts, and that people are not using "their" version. Being on the same page means being on the same page….
Know what is going on in the service spiritually and talk about it in rehearsal, at least a little. If the songs are given some sort of spiritual context, it will help then band in their worship journey in the service, which helps you lead as a team.
There are many more things one can do, but perhaps this will help you in the near term if you are looking for some inspiration.
Grassroots implies a birth of something. An opportunity to do it right, to change something for the better, to create something amazing. Moreover, it implies freedom, flexibility, passion, and that's the allure. It is small, and with strong leadership it is actually easier to stay on vision in the early going. There is a focus, and what can hinder it? Money, don't need it. Legal issues, there is no legal entity. Political interference, internal or external, you can walk away.
So how do you harness that passion when the thing takes off and becomes something real, when the product or the cause turns into something which needs to be or can be monetized? I think the best thing to do is highly process and safeguard anything that has ethical or legal implications, and then run the rest of the place like it is grassroots. Keep it creative and playful, passionate and fun, keep the focus on what got you there in the first place. Legal and financial controls keep you on the track, but great grassroots style leadership tries to make that train go as fast as it can!!
I think the most difficult thing in this world, especially this Western world, is to be yourself. Who God made you to be. We get so distracted by the meaningless. Not to trounce on cars or houses or brands, but the reality is, our physical wrappings are meaningless. We desire to dress for success, drive the car that shows success etc., and it takes us away from the things, often simpler, that bring us real joy. Would you paint more if you didn't have to work twice as much to afford that home. Would you sing? Would you hike, play more sports, spend more time with your children instead of buying an iPod or iPhone for them?
Honestly not a bash on any of those things in and of themselves, but if you could be all that you wanted to be today, for God, for your spouse, for your children, would you be doing what you are doing today, living where you are living, or would it look different?
Paul Henderson of the “goal heard round the world fame” introduced David Toycen President and CEO of World Vision this morning at the Burlington prayer breakfast. He humorously remarked of his friend (paraphrased) “I can’t stand this guy, he is everything I wish I could be!” Humble remarks from a man who has helped and impacted so many through his own many years of post hockey ministry.
Comparing is tough. Defining success is very difficult. I think it is so important to stay positive and keep growing, keep moving forward. We all must do our little things, for little things build into a body of good work over time.
Today I go and take credit for the work of a wonderful team of staff and volunteers who make what we do possible everyday. Off to Moncton where tomorrow Speroway has already shipped 400 food boxes and 400 hygiene boxes to be delivered, starting tomorrow, to families in need in the greater Moncton area. I am privileged to be able to lead the team, but we all share in the work.
It has been great to release three songs this year to iTunes. Again, just trying to contribute and express the art within in the hopes that it actually touches someone.
My big encouragement for those who come here and read this blog is to do a little everyday you can. Work with others, lead if you should, follow if you should, learn, grow, use your talents and change the world, for good.
The lead sheet for my new single "I Will Bless The Lord" is available at the website. You can listen to the song and download the lead sheet there.
The process behind this song was great fun. I started wanting the production to be a little bigger, but I ended up really layering in a lot of guitars and some ear candy. I had a great time playing electric guitar on this one as well, the first time I have recorded electric. The acoustic sound I achieved is one of my best to date. I have to chalk that up to experience and research, as I have been searching online for different recording techniques and have found several ways to improve the capture and presentation.
Being a little behind in March has put me behind on this month. I am going to re-evaluate and see if I can't do something simpler this month. My plan had been to do two or three worship songs in a row, and I still want to do that, and deliver April in, well, April!
As always, I appreciate any referrals, re-tweets, re-posts, likes…….
Well, this last month I was a little late, so the March song of the month is now up on iTunes. I Will Bless The Lord is a worship song that I wrote fairly recently. One of the things I am doing to up the happiness factor this year (see my goals for the year) is listening to positive CDs in the car. Whether it be from my success magazine subscription or a sermon series, I am trying to stay away from the news etc, and remain optimistic and positive by putting the positive in.
Years ago I used to listen a lot to a preacher named James MacDonald. There were several series that really impacted me and I had them on CD, so I popped one in the car. It was called Yahweh and was on Psalm 34. The rest is history, as I listened to the sermons on Psalm 34 I began singing a tune to the phrases that were really sticking with me, and now I give you…I Will Bless The Lord.
You have probably heard the saying you are always selling something, at the very least yourself. A steady job, a good community, a lack of a desire to change can all convince you that selling is not necessary. But in this constantly changing world, you need to be selling yourself just to stay status quo, that much moving ahead.
Then there is converting a sale. Actually turning a desired outcome into the outcome itself, over and over. Especially if you are adverse to selling, I think a great way of looking at this is serving. How can you help a colleague, your boss or your friend succeed. Often serving is selling your way into future opportunities.
I am reading Onward by Howard Schultz of Starbucks fame. I am only about a third in, but I am already gripped by much on the journey he has been on the past few years. I think one of the toughest disciplines in life is focus. There are many stories of people and organizations that start with a vision for creating art and value and end up selling out for commerce. Even on this blog you here me touting the value of growth, personal and organizational. Phrases like "not moving forward is moving backward", but one must determine how to move forward and stay on vision. The vision itself might pre-determine growth rates as opposed to Wall Street, and that is how it should be.
It is equally important to develop a vision statement for ourselves that we can use as a litmus test, a way of measuring our adherence to our own personal goals and dreams. For me, I think there is where I am most challenged right now. Like the Starbucks of a few years ago, I am doing many things in a way that looks consistent with my vision and my dreams, but the reality is I need to re-visit that vision statement and re-boot.