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Posted on Jul 30, 2013 in Worship Ministry | 7 comments

Square Peg in a Round Hole: The Problem with Sermon-Centric Planning

Square Peg in a Round Hole: The Problem with Sermon-Centric Planning

I haven’t conducted a survey but, if I had to wager, I’d say the second most common method of planning a worship song set is to theme it around the sermon. It seems to be most commonly recommended. Why second and not first? Because #1 must surely be reserved for chaos. Haphazard. No plan at all. I’d like to submit that #1 is regrettable and #2 has shortcomings. When I started out, I was taught to plan my song set around the sermon (and that was what preachers expected, too)…so the first half of my worship ministry career felt like I was trying to fit that square peg into the round hole… Sure some messages were easy enough: “Neil, I’m going to be speaking on God’s faithfulness this week.” Ok, yeah, I can plan about 3 sets around that off the top of my head.  Other weeks, not so much: “Neil, I’m going to be talking about marriage…how the woman’s brain is like spaghetti and the man’s is like a waffle.”...

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Posted on Jul 25, 2013 in Leadership, Worship Ministry | 0 comments

6 Essential Worship Ministry Prayers for You and Your Team

6 Essential Worship Ministry Prayers for You and Your Team

One day I caught myself typing an email to my worship ministry members that essentially said: Be sure to take time to pray for our worship ministry and church. As I typed those words I thought, “What, specifically, am I asking them to pray?” That was the ah-ha! moment when I realized the all-to-frequent gap in the ministry world’s obsessive prescribing of prayer: We fail to include instructions. Imagine receiving an Rx from your local pharmacy–something you’ve never taken with some name you can’t pronounce–and you’re unable to find any instructions on how much to take, how often…nothing. You call the pharmacist and ask but he just says, “Yep, that’s good stuff, be sure to use it and it’ll clear you right up!” “But….” *click* That’s all. So on that day, I set out to amend my ways and give my team some specific direction on what to pray. As it turned out, the person it benefited the most was me. Now I was finally clear on some things...

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Posted on Jul 20, 2013 in Worship Ministry | 2 comments

Saints & Sinners: Who’s Qualified to Participate in Worship Ministry?

Saints & Sinners: Who’s Qualified to Participate in Worship Ministry?

I don’t recall any of the experts advocating for including non-believers in a worship ministry. I’ve read and heard quite a bit about why worship leaders shouldn’t. Some say God couldn’t, wouldn’t bless or “anoint” a ministry that was harboring sinfulness at all, much less someone who doesn’t even profess Christ as Lord! The most common argument–and soundest line of reasoning–goes something like this: How can we expect someone who doesn’t worship God to lead someone else to worship Him? I actually see a lot of wisdom in both of these arguments. I agree and, yet, I can still imagine a scenario in which I would include a non-believer in my worship ministry! Ok, that’s confusing so let me try and explain my “saints and sinners” philosophy. First of all, I distinguish between vocalists and instrumentalists. There’s a significant difference and here’s why: No one in the seats on Sunday morning will be holding drumsticks or standing at a keyboard or strumming a guitar…hopefully they WILL be singing from...

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Posted on Jul 13, 2013 in Resources, Tools | 2 comments

6 Blogs Worship Leaders Should Keep on Speed Dial

6 Blogs Worship Leaders Should Keep on Speed Dial

Googling for “worship blogs” is about how I would imagine deep sea fishing to be…there’s a WHOLE lot of ocean and you never know what might show up on the end of your pole! Blogs can be an incredible source of ideas and inspiration: two things a worship leader can never have too much of. But finding ones that are worth your time can be a bit daunting.  Here are 6 blogs you might want to check out: Blog #1: Michael Hyatt – Intentional Leadership Perhaps it may seem odd that my #1 blog for worship leaders has nothing (directly) to do with worship. But this is probably the classiest blog I’ve ever encountered and it’s mostly about leadership & productivity. Hyatt offers insights on everything from managing your time to delegating tasks to becoming more disciplined to avoiding the pitfalls of weak leadership, etc. If you sign up for an email subscription, you get a quality e-book, too!   #2: David Santistevan From what I’ve found, this is...

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Posted on Jul 5, 2013 in Resources, Worship Ministry | 2 comments

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Why You Need a Process for Incorporating New Talent

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Why You Need a Process for Incorporating New Talent

”Dear Neil, I’ve decided to move in a new direction and find a different church to play at.” Potentially painful words to a blue collar worship leader’s ears. Perhaps, you felt you’d found that “missing piece” for your band: the drummer, the bass player, the keyboardist, the top-notch vocalist. But now they’ve fallen through the cracks…and sometimes it can be ugly. Several years back, I worked with my worship ministry leadership core to develop a process for integrating new musicians into our ranks (I’ll attach our 3-month plan as a free resource at the end of this post). People don’t expect a “process” from smaller ministries like ours and, to be honest, I sometimes feel a little awkward handing out hoops for people to jump through. Plus, each time I receive a note like the opening line of this post (happened this week), I stop and wonder if we should have the process at all. In those times, I remind myself that 1) this process was the result of...

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