Leadership Lessons (1)

1 Comment » Written on July 19th, 2009     
Filed under: Leadership

I’m feeling my middle age—still young enough to be foolish and certainly old enough to be out of step. So I thought I’d blog about the stuff I think I know—particularly things I learned about leading the arts and worship in the local church. Don’t worry. The series won’t be long; I don’t know much.

I’ve thought of 12 topics, and the working titles are thus:

  1. When the cat’s away
  2.  Everything is your fault
  3. The devil is in the details
  4. You can’t get blood out of a turnip
  5. A prayer for mutual help
  6. Garbage in, garbage out
  7. You get what you pay for
  8. People are down on what they’re not up on
  9. Never ask for volunteers
  10. Grace plus time
  11. Ideas are cheap
  12. Not by Might

 So… here we go. Number 1.

When the cat’s away, the mice will play

That’s code for: The senior pastor or primary preaching personality must be significantly involved in the worship planning and leadership, else trouble will erupt. Or worse, the worship service will ineffective, and not surprising, since rodent leaders are in charge.

I used to feel sorry for pastors who say: I can’t lead the arts team; I can’t mentor or supervise a worship leader; I’m not a musician; I’m no good at creative planning; I’m a pastor, but I’m not a leader… So I would give workshops for these pastors and tell them, “That’s okay. You can hire strategically for arts leadership or have a leader-associate or lay leader oversee this area.” I wish I’d never given that bad advice, I don’t believe it anymore.

It’s the senior  pastor’s job to oversee the themes and topics that are preached on the weekends. It’s also that person’s job to make sure the whole message is coherent and delivered with excellence. That means: music, announcements, visuals on screen, other arts/media and the message all coordinate and neither bore nor confuse the regulars and visitors.

There are different styles of senior involvement; and abdication is not an option. The quality and content of the weekend worship experience depends on the passion and commitment of the senior leader in the church.

Show us a worship leader who effectively leads the arts and worship, and we’ll find, somewhere in the scenery, a senior pastor who is opinionated, invested and involved in the weekend communications. Show us a worship leader who effectively leads without the involvement of the senior pastor, and we’ll find a worship leader who might not last in the position.

(Sidebar: The best worship leaders expect good chemistry with the senior pastor)

Senior pastors. You can do it. Here are two steps you can take this week:

  1. Initiate a forum where you and the main arts leader/s debrief the weekend service. This is the place for discussing what worked well and what you would like to improve.
  2. Initiate a forum/process for mutual consideration of what goes into each service—announcing the theme/texts in advance, sharing ideas for songs, visuals and other art elements, eliminating unworkable ideas, deciding on the order of worship.

Both these activities can take place in one meeting, early each week. These meetings are never short or easy; yet they bring you together with those who have the opportunity to influence (for bad or good) then entire congregation and neighborhood (assuming people bring their friends), every seven days.

Yikes. Better get ‘er done.

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One Response to “Leadership Lessons (1)”

I think the involvement looks different for many cases, but you are right. If the senior pastor is not involved, it can fracture. It is also important for the senior pastor to “get” worship in the arts. Conferences on worship in arts should include a place for senior pastors. I am blessed to have a senior pastor who gets it.

-Steve Houwen
Life House Covenant Church

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