The Accidental Worship Leader

LET ME TELL YOU A STORY

I had a friend, who we’ll call Phil. He was a theatre major who began to feel God calling him to full time ministry.  You would think that Phil would start or join a drama ministry or maybe with his degree he could work as a christian educator. Prehaps God was calling him to work in a “missional way” in secular entertainment, or since he was good on stage in front of an audience maybe he was supposed to be a pastor. But the ministry position that he was offered was facilities, God was calling this theatre major to be a church janitor.

The problem was that he didn’t know what he was doing. He could use a vacuum and he knew how to change a light bulb, but beyond that he wasn’t the handiest of men. Now he was in charge of the facilities and maintenance needs of an entire church. What was he supposed to do now?

THE ACCIDENTAL WORSHIP LEADER

I’ve met a lot of worship leaders over the years who are like my friend Phil. They didn’t want to be the worship leader per say. Unlike Phil they have some talent or experience in their ministry area because they are musical where Phil wasn’t that handy. But leading worship is different than playing your guitar at home or playing keys in a band in high school. Someone found out these folks were musical in a church that had no or few musicians and they were servant hearted enough to take the role even though it wasn’t a natural fit for them.

WHAT SHOULD BE EXPECTED OF THE PHIL’S?

The reality is that the folks at Phil’s church didn’t really expect more than the floors to be vacuumed, the lights to have fresh bulbs, and the bathrooms to not smell.

No one is expecting complicated orchestral arrangements or pro level music from you either. If you’re a worship leader like Phil, who want to serve Jesus and this is the need your church has then God bless you. I’m serious. You are awesome. Please don’t ever feel pressure to do more than you can. Who is more honoring to Jesus? The worship leader with two pennies worth of talent who plays, sings, and leads the church with all their heart? Or the worship leader who is overflowing with talent but “wings it” a lot and is more concerned with musical arrangements than passion? (Mark 12:41-44)

DOING THE BEST WITH WHAT YOU HAVE

Luke 16:10 tells us to be faithful with the little things. When Phil was asked to take over facilities at his church, the first thing he did was go to Home Depot (B&Q if you’re in the UK) and bought a “How To” Home Improvement manual for basic fixes (church kitchen sink leaking, etc) then he went and found the church tool box and got some money from the treasurer to get a few tools that had gone missing over the years (everyone needs a good screw driver).

Leading worship isn’t that different. You can get a How To Manual. First and foremost is the Bible. There are so many opinions and schools of thought about what worship is or isn’t and if you’d just look at the scripture you would find many of them to be wrong.  After the bible, there are many good blogs and podcasts for worship leaders. I hope this one is helpful. Two resources that I enjoy (and who come from tribes different than mine) are WorshipMatters.com and WorshipLeaderOnline.com. Worship matters is the site for Bob Kauflin who’s from a more reformed tradition, but has great insights and is my go-to guy on issues relating to the piano. Worship leader online is run by some very friendly sound Australian’s who lean to the Pentecostal side of things but have great thoughts on very practical aspects of leading worship, I don’t really read their blog but I listen to their podcast often.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR A “PHIL”?

So you’ve found yourself the worship leader of your church, now what?

1. Stay faithful

2. Be submissive, to the Lord, and to the leadership He has established in your church.

3. Be diligent, you can always get better.

4. Be realistic in your expectations and the expectations you allow others to have of you.

5. Be ready for the change to come.

I’m gonna camp on point 5 because I think it’s over looked. Change will come, it is inevitable. The question is what you will do with that change. What happened to my friend Phil? Maybe he was just holding the facilities ministry until the Lord raised up a better person for the role, and then Phil was freed to go forward in his callings with a great time of lessons in service.  Or maybe, just maybe, Phil discovered that he was handier than he thought, and God had put him in a place he would never have placed himself because God knew better than Phil did what his skills and abilities where.

Both outcomes are more than likely.

If you’re a place holder, then be faithful, build a culture that’s flexible for when the change comes, and when the next guy does come, then support the new worship leader and the changes that he or she will bring.

But what if you’re not the place holder? You may not have even realized that was a possibility yet? But if it’s the case, be open as The Holy Spirit trains you and grows you as a leader, administrator, musician and worshiper. It could be that God has placed you in a role that’s a poor fit for you because it’s an excellent fit for the woman or man God is making you to be.

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7 thoughts on “The Accidental Worship Leader

  1. A cool topic for worship ministry. I would add to point 5 that Phil (worship leader Phil) is supposed to work on change. He should be part of raising up someone to take his place. In a way, working himself out of a job. The place-holder’s main job is discipleship of that next guy. I say this because I believe a lot of Calvary pastors in smaller churches are faithful to serve through music (because everyone at Calvary plays guitar), but not working on the next person, who already does go to the church, but just needs discipleship.

  2. Riley,

    Great point. I left that out because I think a lot of guys in that position are not the leaders who should be doing that. That’s one of the reasons that this person isn’t their for the long term because leadership isn’t really God’s gifting in their life.

    1. True. If it’s a guy (who’s not the lead pastor) who’s leading the music temporarily, and especially if he’s not a mature pastor or elder, then trying to disciple could be a mistake. But either way, the pastor should be working on filling that role with a true mature elder/deacon to lead music ministry, not unlike the qualifications in Acts 6. I think having that as a goal is really important, and I’m not sure that everyone does have that as their goal.

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  5. Steve Kerekes

    In October 2004 I found myself in exactly this situation….the leader job landed on me for an evening worship service our church “allowed” to start. 🙂 I learned this about God: 1) with an open heart He will use us where we are, whether we think we are usable or not 2) while He is using us He is preparing us for something else to come later 3) He will probably teach us more (and possibly use us more effectively) in our failures than in our successes….God’s view of success is 180 degrees different than ours.

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