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How to Be Successful in Your First 90 Days on Church Staff

Joining a church leadership can be exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. Whether you’re joining as a paid staff member or an unpaid, volunteer staff member, there are a few things to keep in mind as you get started in the first 90 days.

1. Don’t Make Drastic Changes90 days
During your first 90 days, it should not be your goal to make huge changes in the ministry you are leading. (i.e. “firing” the entire worship team) Fast changes can impact ministries in negative ways and hurt people unintentionally. Take things slow. Think long-term.

2. Listen to Your Volunteers
A great goal during your first 90 days is to meet every volunteer in your ministry on a one-on-one basis. So much of ministry is about relationships. Make it your priority to build relationships and get to know those already on your team. Listen to their concerns and ideas. If you can take the volunteers out to coffee one-on-one during your first few months, it is an investment worthwhile.

3. Pray for Your Church
This is an obvious one, but in our excitement as we get started in our new role, it’s easy to forget to pray for those you are serving with and ministering to. Ask your volunteers, when you meet with them, how you can pray for them. We can never lose by praying for God’s church and His people.

4. Receive Feedback From Your Pastor (or Supervisor)
If you have the opportunity to receive feedback on your “job performance” on a regular basis from your pastor or supervisor, it will help you have longevity in your role. For example, if you’re a worship leader, it would be extremely beneficial if you and your pastor sat down on a Monday or Tuesday to review the past weekend services. It will ensure that what you are doing lines up with the pastor’s vision and will help you continue to improve.

5. Be a Team Player
Even if you are leading one specific ministry of the church, be willing and available to help in other areas. Churches are looking for team players, not lone rangers.

These are just a few things that will help you be successful in your first 90 days on staff at a church. What other things have you found helpful in your experience? Share in the comments below:

-Mark Logan

Conference Season = Worship Hustling

If you’ve been to any worship conferences in the past 10 years, you’ve seen this scenario: Paul Baloche teaching a packed-out workshop. Workshop is over and…he has a long line of 20+ people waiting to talk to him. Half of them have a CD in their hand.

What is that CD? It’s probably a demo of their music that they want “discovered”. Many worship leaders seem to attend worship conferences with a box of their demo CD’s, with hopes that they will hand one to a well-known worship artist, like Paul, and be contacted by a record label the next week with an offer of a record deal.

Conference Season Worship Hustling.jpg

Is it a sin to take demos to worship conferences? No.

Is it strange to wait in line for 20 minutes so that you can hand your demo to Paul Baloche? Well…maybe.

In the world of “Christian celebrities” that we live in, it is no surprise that many worship leaders these days have the secret (and oftentimes not-so-secret) desire to become a “celebrity worship artist”. They see the itinerant worship leader lifestyle as glamorous. In their church office, after reading an email from a church member complaining about how loud the drums were on Sunday, the worship leader might daydream about being in a professional studio, working on their worship album, with producer, Ed Cash.

Many worship leaders have become hustlers at these worship conferences, so I have a new term for them: worship hustlers. The workshops are great, but these worship hustlers are distracted because they are anxious to get their demo into the hands of the workshop speaker.

Having many friends who are worship artists and music industry leaders that speak at these conferences, I know how often they get approached by worship leaders asking them to check out their music. I personally don’t know anyone who got a record deal (or even a song cut) from doing such a thing. I’m sure there are a few folks out there, but they are few and far between.

So, if you are reading this and you are a worship hustler, I want to challenge you with a few things as you attend a worship conference this Summer/Fall:

1. Make it your primary objective to learn and grow as a worship leader. Make it worth your church’s money (if they are paying for you to attend) and your time. Attend as many sessions and workshops as possible. Take TONS of notes. Glean from those who have been doing it a lot longer than you have.

2. Meet other attendees. I am often shocked when I talk to a worship leader who just attended a worship conference with a thousand people in attendance and they came back not having made one connection with another attendee. Don’t be anti-social (or a social media addict glued to your phone every time you’re waiting for a session to start). Get off your phone and introduce yourself to the people next to you.

3. Die to whatever dream you have of becoming the next big worship artist or getting a record deal with Integrity Music, etc. Don’t let your personal dreams distract you from giving your 110% to the ministry God has called you to at your local church. When you’re at the conference, look for ways to serve others, ways to take what you’ve learned back to your church, and ways to become more effective as a worship leader at your church.

4. Leave your demos at home. I believe in networking. I do a ton of that myself. However, if your secret desire to become the next Chris Tomlin is causing you to just use people as stepping stones to achieve your dream, you need to stop it. Don’t take your demo to the conference. Don’t wait in line to give your demo to Paul. Instead, wait in line to tell him how much you appreciate what he shared in his workshop and how his ministry is making an impact in your local church.

Now, I am not saying it is wrong to hand your demo to people at a conference. My point is: don’t let that become your false idol. Pray about it and if you really sense God telling you to go hand Paul your demo, do it.

But, in the meantime, be content and satisfied serving in the local church that God has put you in. When your life is over, God is not going to ask you, “How many people heard your songs on the radio?” “How many people knew your music?”

God has a purpose and a calling on your life. It is possible that your calling is being an itinerant worship artist, but don’t try to force it to happen. Be patient. Wait on The Lord. God wants to use you where you’re planted.

As you attend a worship conference this year, enjoy it. Meet fellow worship leaders who are in the trenches just like you. Keep your phone in your pocket in between sessions and focus on the people that are right there next to you.

-Wisdom Moon
A special thanks to Wisdom Moon, our guest blogger. Wisdom is the Founder of AllAboutWorship.com – a resource that exists to equip, encourage, and inspire worship leaders and songwriters

You Are A Theologian

In spiritual circles, few people are seen as intimidating as often as theologians. Theologians are scholars. Studied. Educated. Cultured. And they wear old-school glasses, vests and wool sweaters as they sit in an aged leather wingback chair in front of a stately, oversized bookcase in a home library with loaded oak bookshelves lining all of the walls, all the way up to the ceiling. (Whew . . . that was a mouthful!) Okay, maybe not all of them, but we like to think they do. The point is, when we hear the word “theologian” often we get an image in our minds that, at least in some way, represents the description above.

So what if I told you that YOU are a theologian?

bible

Well, if you’re a worship leader and/or worship songwriter, you are! Sure, perhaps you aren’t necessarily discovering any brand-spankin’ new theology. But, you are writing and/or choosing worship songs that speak a theological truth. You are communicating theology to your local church. This is why one of the most important things you do as a worship leader is pick out the songs for the weekend setlist.

Sure, key changes, arrangements, transitions, dynamics and flow are all important parts of what we do as worship leaders, but none of those things matter if we aren’t singing truths in our churches. It is widely known that ideas and messages are retained better in our brains when presented in song than by spoken word (a sermon). This is because our brains interact with music differently, thereby establishing a stronger retention of what we heard/sang. Why is this important?

It’s sad to say this, but most people don’t remember the sermon they heard last week or this morning, in some cases. Now sure, these days we have recorded sermons, sermon notes, etc. All of these allow us to go back and go through the messages again. However, overall there is a limited shelf life on the specific messages that are preached every week (hopefully the themes and lessons are learned and continue on!).

With music, however, things stick around a bit longer, including the lyrics of the songs themselves. These lyrics are a biblical message, just like your pastor’s sermon. The only difference is that yours is set to a music, may have some repetition, and may be more like 4 to 5 mini-sermons during a typical worship set. This is a big deal!

Why? Because what you sing in your worship times is going to stick in people’s hearts and minds longer than the sermon does. Therefore, it’s imperative that we sing songs that contain solid theology.

We basically have three options with the songs we sing at  church:

1. Lyrics that present false, inaccurate theology.
2. Lyrics that aren’t false, but are theologically weak and don’t really say anything.
3. Lyrics that present a solid biblical truth with rich theology.

PLEASE stay away from songs in category one. As for category two, there is nothing wrong with this category necessarily, but there are too many songs that fit this mold.

I challenge you to shoot for the third category of songs. Pick songs that are not only correct, but really drive home messages that your congregation needs to hear. One helpful way that I’ve found to pick more songs in category three is not just listening to the song on the CD (with the fancy production), but taking the time to sit down and read the lyrics without the music.

This is no easy task, but it’s vital! You are a theologian. A musical theologian. Don’t take that responsibility lightly. Invest the time into being intentional about the words that your congregation sings each week.

-Mark Logan

Worship Leader, Are You for the Church?

“Generation after generation stands in awe of Your work;

each one tells stories of Your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:4 (The Message)

Worship leaders generally struggle with the style of worship. Choice of music. Expectations of the congregation. There is, however, an unhealthy reliance on these ideas.  I recently heard a woman say that we focus too much on whether or not the church fits our needs. But the true question is: are we for the church?

generations

As a worship leader, it is often difficult to find songs that fit the style of worship, or the congregation sitting in the pews. There are cases in which a dying or struggling church needs a change, but if that is not the case, here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  1. What generation(s) participate(s) in your congregation?

  2. What song choice would fit all of these generations?

It is difficult to handle the multi-generational aspect of church. While it is biblical, there is such a thing as casting too wide of a net, which risks the quality of the music.

Some tips:

  1. Use one band/ leader; two at the most. There could also be a choir and an ensemble, but it could be a good idea to present these every now and then. This way, the multi-generation aspect is still revered, but doesn’t seem forced.

  2. Hymns: hymns are respected by all generations (even college students).

  3. The book of Revelation tells us that we will use old and new songs (Rev.15:2-3; 5:9). You should use songs that are fast-paced, but easy to sing along with. You can introduce the fast songs during special music or over the speakers as people are entering/leaving the sanctuary. Also, use songs that are reflective and high quality (Hillsong, Bethel, Jesus Culture, etc).

  4. Slowly introduce new songs, so the congregation (especially older generations) can grow comfortable with the song choice.

  5. Read the congregation. Look into their eyes! – We shouldn’t rely on the music aspect of worship too heavily, but the ability to read the congregation makes for a worship leader who is doing their job.

  6. Model authentic, transparent worship. I have found that this can knock down barriers that may come with a difficulty to connect with the music. It brings everyone together, fixing their eyes on Jesus rather than each other (or even the worship leader).

A worship leader’s job is to direct the congregation to the Almighty Savior. They are our flock, too. The question is not how can the congregation fit my needs. The question is: am I serving the congregation, or serving myself?

Kelly Puckett

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Rock Concert Lighting in Church

These days, if you pay attention to forums or blogs, or anything similar, having to do with modern worship tech, you’ve heard a lot about advancements in lighting tech.  This stuff is cool.  Very cool, actually, when done correctly.  Can lights.  Spotlights.  Laser lights.  All kinds of lights.  We, as the modern church, are quite lucky to have such cool rigging and lighting available to us, as well as awesome technology with which to control all these wonderful lights.  It’d be a shame to not utilize this for our worship services.  BUT . . . we have to be careful.

concert lights

Many point out the trend in many churches that appear to indicate a movement towards “rock concert” more than “church service.”  Now, this is NOT meant to turn into a debate or opinion piece on styles of worship, denominational practices, or even “seeker-friendly” churches.  What I am more specifically looking at here is this: Where is the attention drawn?  Are there distractions?

You see, we can overdo anything.  We can overdo singing.  We can overdo pushing for the offering.  We can overdo being “dramatic” in our preaching.  We can overdo instrumentation (seriously, who needs 7 different guitars on stage during a worship set?).  And yes, we can overdo lighting.

At a rock concert, the lighting is meant to be part of the show. It’s meant to make you think the band is even more cool than you already think they are.  And THAT is the distinction.  In a worship service, what is your lighting scheme doing?  Is it drawing attention to the band?  Is it simply adding a “cool factor?”  Or is it intentional, with the purpose of bringing these worship songs and lyrics even more to life?  Do the lights help to draw people’s attention to Christ even more?  Using our sense of sight is a powerful thing, and can absolutely impact the atmosphere of worship.

As an example, let’s look at “Nothing But the Blood.”  This song is timeless, and powerful, and true.  It stands perfectly well on its own.  I can remember two specific times when we sang this hymn at conferences with very sophisticated lighting schemes.

One place had rapidly moving laser lights, big washes, and bright spots in random locations.  It was very, very cool.  And it was very, very distracting.  Even with my eyes closed, I could see the lights darting to and fro through my eyelids.  At a different conference, there were no dancing laser lights (at least not during this song).  All there was, primarily, was a massive wash of red lights all over the stage.  A sea of red.  And during this song about the blood of Jesus shed for our sins, seeing this wash of red visually enhanced this time of worship.  Not only was I singing about the blood, but I was visualizing the blood of Christ washing over everything.  It was very simple, but it was extremely impactful.

This is what I am talking about.  Laser lights are not a bad thing.  And they can be used very effectively in worship.  The key is this – what is your light “show” accomplishing?  Is it just something cool to add into your church’s “What to Expect” section of your website?  Or are you intentionally utilizing (and not utilizing, when appropriate) this technology to enhance the atmosphere of worship in your church?  Are you using it to make the messages of our praise even more real to your congregation?  In the end, are you using lights to point to The Light?

-Mark Logan

Don’t Share Your Vision

We all know how important vision is. Without a clear vision your church will lose focus and keep from growing. Without a clear vision in your personal life, you won’t know what direction you’re headed and you will lack focus.

However, there is one factor that most of us may not consider when it comes to vision.

vision

I heard about a recent research that showed that many of us actually get the same psychological satisfaction from just telling a bunch of people about our vision as when we actually accomplish the vision. Sometimes people end up not accomplishing their vision or goal because they already got that psychological satisfaction just from telling a lot of people about it.

A great example is when we tell the whole world on Facebook that we’re on a new diet that we read about in the new bestseller book. We get excited and at the same time, by telling all our Facebook friends about it, we get the same psychological satisfaction of losing weight on the diet, without actually losing the weight. This can be counterproductive in accomplishing goals and visions in our life.

In a world where people share anything and everything on social media, my challenge to you is this: be careful how much you share. When it comes to your vision, be wise about whom you share it with.

It’s great to get excited about your vision or goals, whether it’s losing 20 pounds, reading 100 books this year, or whatever it may be. But, in your enthusiasm, know who you should share it with. Have a few trusted people in your life that you share your dreams with.

I’ve had times in my life where I was really excited about my vision…BIG, God-sized dreams and goals! I shared it with EVERYBODY without much thought about whom I should share it with, and quickly faced opposition, negativity, and animosity from some individuals.

Share your vision! But, know who you should share with. Have people around you that know you well, that will come alongside you and help you accomplish your vision.

For more insights on this topic, check out Michael Hyatt’s Podcast episode: The Relationship Between Vision and Productivity.

I’d love to hear from you! Do you agree or disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.

-Mark Logan

What Came First – The Worship or the Heart of Worship?

wooden heart

We have likely all seen many short quips on the web relating to how our attitude or view of God impacts the way we worship.  We have also likely seen other sayings that suggest that how we worship actually builds up and impacts how we view God.  These two viewpoints are both innocent enough in their desire to encourage believers in worship.

It is a good thing to encourage believers in worship.  And, it’s good to come up with new ways of doing this, including witty quips via Twitter (or any other social media platform or communication method.).  However, It’s worth noting that these two thoughts do, in fact, offer conflicting views as to the relationship of the nature of our worship and our view of God.  So, which is it?  Which came first?  The chicken or the egg?  Or, in this case, the worship, or the heart of worship?

Short answer:  Both!  Not the answer you were expecting?  Well, it’s all I’ve got for ya.  But allow me to explain why I have come to this conclusion . . .

To worship God is to recognize, honor and proclaim who He is.  First of all, let’s acknowledge that “worship” means a whole bunch of things, not just singing corporate worship songs in church.  However, for the purposes of this article, when I refer to “worship” I am referring to singing songs in a corporate worship setting.  Cool?  Cool.

Ok, so worship is about God.  That is the first and most important key.  It isn’t about us.  It isn’t about the church.  It isn’t about the worship band or the worship leader.  Worship, at its core, is always about God.  So, how do we worship if we don’t know God?  My theory is that you can’t.  Not abundantly and passionately, at least.

Another way to put this is this:  Do you believe the words you are singing?  If so, then does your worship show that?  It’s hard for me to sing about how great our God is with any real meaning if I think my God is small and weak.  But knowing how great He truly is – that changes everything.  I can’t simply mumble the words to these songs.  I have to proclaim them!

In this way, how I view God absolutely impacts how I worship.  I fully believe that I was a lost sinner, doomed to destruction apart from Christ.  I believe I was saved, not by any works that I had done or any merit I had earned, by purely by the grace of God through Jesus Christ.  I know this in my core.  I believe this with everything within me.  And I am grateful.  I am swimming in oceans of grace and mercy, and because of this, I can’t help but praise my God with all I have.  Think of it this way:  If your mom or dad gave you an awesome present as a kid, did you just mumble “thanks” and act as though nothing ever happened?  No!  You were likely excited!  You were likely thrilled!  And you were likely grateful, perhaps even running and throwing your arms around your mom or dad.

Well, was that gift any more potent or cool or awesome than what God has done for us?  Isn’t His gift of salvation way, way, way more incredible than a bike, doll or video game?  Then why do we so often approach worship with such indifference?  It’s not about false flair and hyped up fake enthusiasm.  It’s about believing the words we’re singing, and letting that impact how we worship.

On the flip side, the songs we sing absolutely can and do influence how we view our Lord.  It has been said by many that worship leaders and worship songwriters are some of the primary theologians of today, and I cannot disagree.  Nothing sticks in the heart and mind quite like music, and through that medium we are communicating truths about who God is.

This is why we, as worship leaders and songwriters, need to be so careful in the songs we write and the songs we choose to bring before our churches.  We need to ensure that what we’re singing in our churches are communicating Biblical truth as to who God is.  And when we do this prayerfully, led by the Spirit, we can see people’s views of Jesus change in dramatic ways.  Is someone in your church going through a hard time and perhaps doubting who God is in their life?  Singing a song about God’s faithfulness and goodness can boost their faith.

Sure, it may not hit the first time, but singing Biblical songs about and to God on a regular basis can and will encourage those who need it.  It’s not about the guitar riff or the drum beat, and it’s not even about how good the lead vocalist is (or isn’t).  It’s about the truth we’re proclaiming.  If it is indeed Biblical truth, then the Spirit can and will use it to build up His church.

So, we’ve now seen the “circle of life,” so to speak, that is the relationship of worship and our heart of worship – our view of God.  Let’s keep the short Twitter buzzwords and catchphrases coming, but let’s not exclusively limit how worship impacts us and our view of God, and how our view of God is reflected in our worship.  Instead, recognize the relationship, be thankful for it, and proceed with prayerful consideration as we continue to lead God’s people to the throne.

-Mark Logan

People Scheduling Made Easy

Does your drummer ever show up late (or not show up at all) on Sunday morning because he says he didn’t know he was scheduled?

If your church has a worship team, most likely there is someone in charge of scheduling and managing that team. Whether you have 5 people on the team or 50, having the right tool to coordinate and keep track of everyone’s schedules is a big task. WorshipPlanning.com is here to help!

With WorshipPlanning.com you can easily schedule your volunteers, not only for your worship team, but for any ministry in your church. And, we’ve made it super easy, so you can spend less time scheduling and more time investing in people. You can schedule individuals one at a time, or an entire team with a single click-and-drag.

Once scheduled, people are notified via email or text message, and are asked to respond to the “assignment”. This system ensures that YOU KNOW everybody knows what is expected of them. We also have video tutorials, so you can easily train others if/when you need to delegate the scheduling responsibility.

We are here to answer any questions you have about WorshipPlanning.com, so don’t hesitate to contact us! As far as what to do if your drummer comes late to soundcheck again this week…well, let’s save that for another post!

Your Visitor’s First 7 Minutes

I’ve heard about a recent study that showed that most visitors decide within the first 7 minutes of their initial visit, whether or not they will come back to your church. That’s starting from when they drive into your parking lot. If you’ve ever visited another church before, you can probably relate.

This is pretty significant. So, how you can use this information? In the next few weeks, try an experiment. Go to a worship service at your church with the point-of-view of the 1st time visitor. Better yet, convince someone you know who hasn’t been to your church to do it for you. Maybe give them a questionnaire to fill out.

As you drive into the parking lot what do you see? Does the parking lot look crowded? Unkept? Or even unsafe?

Are there any parking lot volunteers to help guide you? How far did you have to walk from your car to get to the church building?

When you get to the building is there anyone greeting you with a smile? Or, are the greeters too busy having a conversation amongst themselves? Or even worse, is there no one at the door?

Once you’re inside what do you see? What do you smell?

I recently heard that there are companies overseas that blow the smell of fresh, new cash into their vents and it actually increases the workers’ productivity. I am certainly not recommending blowing the smell of cash through the vents of your church, but we often dismiss the importance of smell. Yet, it is such a powerful sense that all of us have.

There are so many more questions we can pose. But, for the sake of keeping this from becoming a book, I would like to end with this thought:

When is the last time you got together as the church leadership team to discuss the first time visitor’s experience?

It is a valuable investment of our time and resources to do all that we can to make the first time visitor feel at home. Whether they are non-Christians or Christians looking for a new church home, God is giving your church the opportunity to reach out to them. And, we are called to be good stewards of that opportunity.

-article by guest blogger, Wisdom Moon
Wisdom is the Founder of AllAboutWorship.com

Are You Too Satisfied?

In church ministry it is normal to have ups and downs. You may go through a seaon where the attendance is low, giving is even lower, and there are a lot of people going through crisis.

Sometimes you go through a season of celebration where you’re seeing a lot of new visitors, families growing, God blessing your finances, and every week you’re seeing people come to Christ. There is a lot of excitement in the air and it just seems like the Lord’s hand is on everything.

Hosea 13:4-5 say, “But I have been the Lord your God ever since you came out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me. I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of burning heat.”

Verse 6 goes on to say, “When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.”

Often it is easy to call on God and fully depend on Him when your ministry is going through challenging times. Sometimes you just have no other choice BUT to cry out to God and put your trust in Him. However, as verse 6 talks about, when God blesses us and we have plenty, and we are satisfied, it is easy to fall into the trap of becoming proud and forgetting about God.

Not that God is not being preached at your church or that you’re not singing songs to God, but that in your heart, you’ve become satisfied and don’t feel that desperate need for Him. You get too busy doing the work of God that you neglect the presence of God. You start trusting in your church’s resources, rather than God’s hand.

Whatever season we may be in, in our personal lives and in ministry, in the high’s and the low’s, let us never become proud and forget God. May we always cling to God like He is the only One that matters, because He truly is.

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