The Most Important Trait Of Effective Worship Leaders

Hey readers,

I’m always excited to welcome and introduce a new guest blogger to the family. Today I’d like to introduce singer, songwriter and worship leader Tracey Ray. In this article Tracey will talk about the importance of intentional worship. Take it away Tracey!- Ron

I don’t go skating often, but when I do, I rent a pair of skates that countless others have worn before me. The result: the skates never fit well because they are not my own. They’ve been worn out by countless others before me.

Because I’m not practiced at skating I feel awkward, and stumble and fall a lot. As I hug the wall of the rink, I look very much like an insect that has made an unfortunate connection with the windshield of a vehicle traveling at high speeds. I shimmy around the wall until I feel brave enough to let go, and venture slightly closer to the center of the rink. It’s obvious to everyone around me that I do not routinely roller skate.

Let me introduce you to another group you will see at the skating rink. These people know exactly what they came there to do. They don’t hug the wall, or in any way hesitate. They don’t need coaxing or convincing: they go for it! Straight to the center! These are the people that brought their own skates with them.

I want so much to be like them; to be free and have the fun they are having. So I observe them, and it’s not too long before I begin to let go of the wall, and try to follow what I am seeing.

We should be like those practiced skaters when it comes to worship service: boldly venturing straight into the center of God’s presence without hesitation; without being coaxed; without wearing someone else’s worn out skates. Bring your own skates! Bring your worship with you to praise and worship service. Bring the worship with you that you’ve been engaging in all week in your home; in your car; at your work place! Help someone tear themselves away from the wall so they too can learn what you have learned: how to be in the center of God’s presence.

As worship leaders, we should influence and inspire those around us to do what we are doing, and go where we are going. And this doesn’t just apply to the congregation. I’ve seen fathers and mothers skating alongside their little one: holding their hand and gently leading away from the wall. Without this encouragement and reassurance, their child would probably get discouraged and want to take off their skates and never go back the rink again. Not only are we leading a congregation to the center of God’s Presence, we should be investing in and training up the next generation worship leaders.

But let’s not neglect our own preparation time. Those skillful skaters would lose their proficiency if they ceased to put on their skates. We need to put on the garments of praise in our private time. It is vital to have our own consistent and intimate time with God. How can we teach others to value the Presence of God if we find ourselves hugging the wall: too unpracticed to make it to the center of the rink?

In John 15:5 Jesus tells us, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” In order to be effective worship leaders, we must remain in the Presence of God or we will fail!! We need to position ourselves in the center of God’s presence before we position ourselves on center stage.

I’m Tracey Ray, a singer, musician and songwriter. I am a lead vocalist for a worship team in North Carolina. It is my desire to encourage and uplift God’s people through the gifts and talents He has entrusted to me.
tigerjunction@yahoo.com

The One Thing You Must Do Right Before Every Song

If you’ve read more than a few of my articles you may be starting to figure out that a great deal of what I talk about here isn’t really directly related to skill, technique, lessons, practicing or anything related to them.

In fact even in articles where I do talk about those things there’s an underlying theme or message. The message is one of mindset. Attitude. Changing-or “renewing”, as the bible calls it- the way you think about things.

I think challenging, elevating, overcoming-even arresting- our own thoughts is the single most important thing any of us can seek to master.

Let’s face it, music ministries and those who serve in them are one of the devil’s favorite targets. After all, he wages war against us in our minds. Think of how easily we’re distracted or thrown off by negative emotions and feelings, all born from negative thoughts.

On any given Sunday, right up until the moment we’re about to minister in song, there must be a hundred different thoughts running through our minds that easily distract us and hinder our ability to really focus on the message we’re about to deliver.

That’s all the devil has to do and he’s won. So it really doesn’t matter what it is, and it doesn’t have to be that big of a thing.

It could be the fact that you don’t like the song we’re about to sing. Or something someone said in the hallway on your way in. Or that driver that cut you off. Or something that happened days ago at rehearsal.

Anything can cause you to be standing on that podium or sitting at that instrument with a sour disposition. One that changes your entire mood and keeps you from being emotionally or spiritually available to the Holy Spirit.

Last Sunday my fiance and I had an argument right before I went to church. A couple of more exchanges happened via text in the parking lot. So I’m walking into the church, taking my place at the keyboard and beginning to play with all this heaviness on me. And guess what? In another few minutes I’d have to get up in front of God, every member of the choir and the entire congregation at my back and direct this song feeling like I was feeling.

We all go through it, don’t we? Who knows from one Sunday to the next what it is. Sometimes you’re just frustrated with the whole ministry. I get that too, trust me. But I’ve learned over 30+ years of service in music ministry that if you don’t find some kind of way to deal with those thoughts and emotions, and do it quickly, you could find yourself not only contemplating leaving the music ministry, but leaving the church.

Worse than that though- at least in my opinion- is continuing to come week after week, month after month and year after year, simply doing it all on auto-pilot. Never really feeling anything, never really getting much out of the whole experience.

So in the midst of dealing with all these feelings and more myself, I decided a long time ago to do one thing every time I get up to direct. I decided to make a decision. A decision to praise God in my service. I decided that from now on whenever I get up I’m going to deliberately, right at that moment, make a mental declaration that this is no longer about me, my feelings, my emotions or anything else. It’s about God, and about ministry.

So last Sunday, as I do every time I get up, I made a decision. With 30 faces looking at me with blank expressions, the musicians “not really into it”, nobody really showing any enthusiam, people not clapping…I could go on, but you know, don’t you….I decided to be enthusiastic anyway. I decided to Praise God. I decided to be energetic. Not based on what anyone else was doing or not doing. In fact most Sundays it’s in spite of those things. I decided to put self aside and give God real praise.

And it’s a decision I make every time I get up to direct. I keep talking about directing because that moment when you take your place in front of that choir has to be one of the most challenging and important times to really set your own feelings aside. But it’s just as important whether you’re the director or the 3rd alto from the left. Whether you’re the worship leader or just a team member. The organist or the guy playing triangle.

Every time any of us are about to minister we must make a conscious decision to Praise God and give Him our best effort. To really put self aside and arrest every contrary thought that would be a hindrance to us being completely available to be used by God. Because the fact is, whenever we go to the house of the Lord, what we expect to receive is a direct result of what we decide to do. Praise and worship isn’t something that happens to us, it’s something we do. Deliberately, based on what we want.

William Murphy wrote a song that says “Praise is what I do, when I want to be close to You. I lift my hands in praise. Praise is who I am, I will praise Him while I can. I’ll bless Him at all times.” That passage of lyrics, much like the bible itself, is full of decisions. If you want to be close to God, then make a decision to praise Him. If you want to get more out of the song, make a decision to really focus on the lyrics and connect them to something personal- whether it’s the song you wanted to sing or not. Another quote says simply “if you want to be enthusiastic act enthusiastic”.

We sing an old song that we’ve been singing for many years called My Gratitude, by Walter Hawkins. The song is about being so grateful to God for all He’s done that you want to give Him your best. The vamp really drives it home, repeating the message “My best, nothing less. Want to give You nothing less. You deserve the very best, Lord. Want to give You nothing less”.
We were going over that song at rehearsal one night and I stopped and said “You know I really want to give Him my best. Every time I get up. That’s not just a song, that’s what I really want, and that’s what I try to do.” Now of course everyone is going amen and getting happy and clapping. And every time we sing this song, for over 20 years now, we get happy. But after we’re done and it goes back into rotation there are many, many Sundays we simply fail to give God our best.

So that’s my challenge to you. That’s the one thing you must do right before every song. Make a decision. Every time you’re about to minister in song, make a decision. One that immediately cancels out every negative thought or emotion that would hinder you from Giving God everything He deserves and getting everything you need from that song. Make a decision based on what you want from God, what you want from that song, what you want from service that day.

If you’re thinking to yourself “That’s unrealistic” or “It’s not that easy”, read 2 Corinthians 10:5 for reassurance that this is something you CAN do. Make a decision to Praise. A decision to Worship. A decision to be enthusiastic. It’s one that nobody else can make for you. Nobody can give you a praise. Nobody can make you excited. Nobody can give you passion or enthusiasm. It’s your choice, and you have the power to make it every time you’re about to minister.

The 5 Myths of Worship

The 5 Myths of Worship

When you think of the word worship, what comes to mind? Most of us think of church, but worship is much more than that. As we’re developing the worship cultures in our churches, it’s important that we address the stereotypes of worship. Many believers don’t know what worship looks like because worship isn’t being taught. If worship isn’t being taught, there’s a good chance that it hasn’t been experienced. Here are my thoughts of what worship was before I realized what it is.

1.Worship is music, particularly slow music.
I’ve thought this for most of my walk with God! When we understand that worship is a lifestyle, we recognize music as a way in which we worship (Psalm 28:7).

2. Worship is a gesture (lifted hands, running, shouting, etc.).
Worship is more than an emotional response. Worship is a posture; posture is defined as “the attitude a person or group has toward something or someone”. As we endure different circumstances, we develop a confidence in God because of his history of deliverance. The more we walk with Him, the better we know and trust Him (Psalm 103).
Worship requires a gift (“I have nothing to offer God”). If God blessed us by the types of gifts we gave, many of us would be out of luck! Worship requires a sacrifice and that sacrifice is us! God created us, His gift, to worship Him (Psalm 141:2)!

3. Only “good people” can worship God.
God is not pleased by our works. He’s drawn to the hearts of His children. Those who are willing to be used by God are lead by their “yes” to God, yielding to the Holy Spirit and obeying the Word (Ephesians 2:8-9).

4.Worship is an event on Sunday.
Can you imagine going to the same place and doing the same thing over and over again? As exciting as the church service is when you first visit or become a member, eventually the excitement wears off. If you’ve felt like this, then your focus was in the wrong place. Worship isn’t about a program. Worship is an encounter with God that grows into a fruitful relationship. The Bible states that God rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). The more we seek God, the more we experience new characteristics of God’s nature.

5. I have to feel good/be happy to worship.
Worship is not about emotion, but about personal choice. Choose to worship God in your pain because you know who He is; if He is your Savior, then you know that your pain isn’t permanent. We serve a High Priest in Jesus Christ who has experienced humanity, so He knows about worship and suffering (Heb. 4:15).
I challenge you to write down your thoughts of worship and allow God to reveal His thoughts through the Word. Your seek of true worship will allow you to experience God on a deeper level.

Sonja R. Jones is a wife, mother, educator, author, and a Virtual Worship Pastor. Her assignment is to spiritually cover music ministry leaders, help churches develop and retain music ministry leaders, and equip and send music ministry leaders to churches. Connect with her online at www.sonjarjones.com

Music Ministry 101: Music Ministry Administration

Merriam Webster’s definition of administer is to manage the operation of something.

Ministers of Music, how are you managing or operating your ministry?

In many situations, pastors quickly hire musicians based on musical skill alone and assume that they will adjust to the administrative responsibilities or don’t believe that the administrative tasks aren’t important enough for development and training. You can’t be an effective leader and lack the ability to manage your responsibility. It hinders the church to have Ministers of Music who are really musicians that are inappropriately titled because they don’t have the gifts of administration, leadership or service (loving people).

So, what does music ministry administration look like? I’ve organized these tasks into two areas, internal and external ministry affairs. If I’ve left anything out, feel free to add in the comments section of this post.

Internal ministry affairs (responsibilities within your church)

Rehearsal-Connect with the bus ministry for choir members who need transportation. Prepare songs for your choir/worship team and chord charts for musicians.
Announcements to congregation and choir-Write announcements using appropriate grammar and spelling. Give announcements early enough for ministry members to prepare.

Service planning-Communicate with your church secretary about congregational songs to include in the church program and provide the hymn/song. Communicate with the media ministry about announcements and lyric slides.

Uniforms- To avoid discord in your ministry, use robes or colors that don’t have varieties of shades. Collaboration with other ministries in the church-Be willing to suggest appropriate songs and keys to the youth leader about songs children can sing for Christmas and Easter skits. Leadership meeting with other church leadership (deacons, pastor, auxiliary heads)-Learn from your elders and be willing to share words of wisdom as well.

Budget-Communicate with church trustees about budget updates. For financial transparency and integrity, keep a duplicate budget book for the music ministry.
Fundraising-There must be a “why” to your fundraising. Plan your ministry needs before you begin selling items.
Management of equipment-Have a working knowledge of how your instruments operate. Develop a relationship with instrument vendors and sound technicians.

External ministry affairs 

Professional development- A workshop is not a rehearsal with a guest choir director; that’s a rehearsal. What can you provide your ministry members besides new songs to learn? Read a worship book together and study. Invite a clinician to discuss vocal techniques or a ENT (ear, nose, throat) physician to talk about throat care. As a music ministry leader, you need separate development for yourself. Don’t be afraid to include this in the ministry budget.

Outreach (How can your choir minister outside of the 4 walls of the church?)

This doesn’t have to require singing! Think of unique ways to bless your community. There are international music ministries who are looking for financial support to equip musicians for world-wide ministry. GTM ministries (Gospel Through Music) is one I personally support.

Ok, so I’ve given you all of these wonderful tasks, now how will you get these things done? Well, we’ve all met members of our congregations who love the choir and wished they could participate but “can’t sing.” These are great people to ask for help; it’s a great way to activate the gifts in your church.

Remember that no man is an island. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in areas where you lack knowledge. God is pleased when we share our experiences with one another. Be intentional in serving God with excellence!

To listen to this topic on the Worship Builders Podcast, click below:
Episode 38: Music Ministry 101-Music Ministry Administration

Sonja R. Jones is a wife, mother, educator, author, and a Virtual Worship Pastor. Her assignment is to spiritually cover music ministry leaders, help churches develop and retain music ministry leaders, and equip and send music ministry leaders to churches. Connect with her online at www.sonjarjones.com

Music Ministry 101: The Structure of Music Ministry Leadership

If you are new the music ministry leadership, you may not know what your role is or what it entails.

The structure of a church’s music ministry will be based on a few factors:
1. Tradition- What’s already been established in the church.
2. Team Capacity- The qualifications of the current music ministry leadership.
3. Resources- How much money is allocated to the music ministry.

Here are the different roles of music ministry that I’m familiar with. Feel free to add other roles in the comment section:

1. The Minister of Music (MOM)– aka Worship Pastor is the head of the entire music ministry department (which includes all performing arts ministries- all choirs, dance/mime ministry, and musicians). This person should be qualified to teach choir parts, write chords/charts for musicians, and provide counsel to all ministries under his/her supervision. The MOM should also be qualified to handle administrative tasks, which include accepting/declining/scheduling ministry opportunities, establishing rules and procedures, and resolving conflicts. The MOM reports directly to the pastor.

2. The Music Director(MD) is over the musicians and reports to the MOM. The MD normally works with or is over the sound dept. Additional duties of the MD will be at the discretion of the MOM.

3. The Choir Director is in charge of leading the choir during Sunday service. This person will be 2nd to the MOM in teaching parts (if qualified to do so). Any additional tasks are at the discretion of the MOM.

4. The Worship Leader- The Worship leader is responsible for leading the congregation in singing, normally at the beginning of service. It’s common for the worship leader to have a dual responsibility in another music ministry leadership role.

5. The Section Leader– The section leader is normally the strongest singer in a section. If the MOM needs someone to sing a part for others in a section, this would be that person. The section leader would be the next person to teach parts if the MOM or choir director is unavailable. In most music ministries, the section leaders assist the worship leader in leading congregational singing (aka the worship team).

6. Music Ministry Officers– The music ministry officers assist the MOM in administrative tasks and maintaining order within the ministry. If conflicts arise in the ministry, the officers would settle issues before escalating them to the pastor. These offices include choir president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and parliamentarian. These positions are still active in some churches but are phasing out in most churches.

If positions 2-6 aren’t available, all responsibilities fall on the MOM. If a MOM isn’t assigned, then these taks will be delegated amongst the other leadership positions. I’ve never seen all roles active in one church; however, it is possible. Most churches will only have a MOM and that person is in charge of everything; at best, you may have a MOM and choir director.

In part 2 of Music Ministry 101, I will discuss the administrative tasks of the music ministry. These tasks are small but daunting and one person shouldn’t have to do all of the work. Delegation is key to an effective music ministry.

If you would like to hear this topic on the Worship Builders Podcast, click here:
Episode 37: Music Ministry 101-The Structure of Music Ministry Leadership

Sonja R. Jones is a wife, mother, educator, author, and a Virtual Worship Pastor. Her assignment is to spiritually cover music ministry leaders, help churches develop and retain music ministry leaders, and equip and send music ministry leaders to churches. Connect with her online at www.sonjarjones.com

4 Ways To Bridge The Spiritual Gap Between Your Music Ministry And Your Pastor

Today I’d like to welcome a guest blogger to The Music Ministry Coach.com . His name is Cavell Samuels. Cavell brings many years of experience working in music ministry to the table and I hope to have him as a regular contributor. In this blog post Cavell will be sharing with us 4 steps that will help us close that spiritual gap that sometimes exists between the music department and the Shepard of the house. Please make Cavell feel welcome by offering your comments. Also, be sure to visit Cavell’s website, which you can find in his bio at the bottom of the article. Take it away Cavell!
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This article is a new direction that Kingdom First will be branching off into, as this also deals with the administrative function of churches and  music ministries. The direction I am referring to is the relationship between pastors and musicians. We begin to take steps toward eliminating the gap between pastors musicians, and ministers of music which exists.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 states “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not easily broken.” When the lines of communication, or the cords are broken between the pastor, musicians and ministers of music, this has the potential to cause chaos in a church or ministry and destroy relationships. This is why we that serve in these areas must make all efforts to eliminate all gaps!

If you are reading this post, the first question that comes to mind probably is where do I start in the addressing or preventing of this from taking place? I will provide a few tips to aid and assist in firstly, having this conversation, if the problem exists, and two, to place some parameters in place in an attempt to prevent this from taking place. We , as musicians, pastors, and ministers of music cannot afford to have division in our services, division in our ministries, and division in our churches!

1. Have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ

Why are you putting this as a part of this article? I thought that all who are musicians, pastors and ministers of music are already saved? Contrary to popular belief, this is not always the case. I have ran into many musicians, ministers of music and even some pastors who do not have a relationship with the Lord. I John 2:17 declares : “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

The will of the Lord is found in His Word! His Word declares in Romans 10:9-10-“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Acts 4:12 puts it like this: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

I could give many other scriptures, but the bottom line is ALL that serve in ANY area of and in ministry should have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the #1 prerequisite, even above talent. Total commitment to Christ is essential for service to the Lord! If you are not serving the Lord, you are serving yourself! The key to relationship with the Lord is for you to be in second place, not the Lord! Relationship with the Lord involves placing Him first!

2. Proper, Biblical Conversation

Psalm 19:14 says“Let the words of my mouth and words of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” This is not just a thing pastors and preachers pray before teaching or preaching, but something that we should live by. On many occasions people do not have a problem with what was said, but have a problem with how things are said! We, as units (musicians, ministers of music, and pastors) that are working in our churches must keep in mind that we are to talk to one another in a civil and appropriate manner. I have learned through many years of experience that talking to people the right way goes a long way in building strong relationships. Asking the Lord to frame our words, speech and presentation works wonders. So we must always keep this in mind and ask the Lord to frame our words when dealing with others.

3. Fellowship, fellowship, fellowship

This is key in eliminating the gap between pastors, musicians and ministers of music. Many times you can learn many things just by being in the same room and being connected with others. I would recommend for fellowships to take place outside of the church or ministry. For those of you who are on salary at your respective church or ministry, this is fellowship outside of work. Psalm 133:1 states “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Fellowship fosters friendship and friendship foster unity! It is extremely vital for musicians, ministers of music and pastors to be united! Our worship services depend on this unity, our families depend on this unity, and our communities at large depend on this unity! Regular fellowship is essential for great relationships between the musicians, pastors and ministers of music.

4. Prayer

Luke 18:1 states “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men aught always to pray, and not faint.” Prayer is key in our respective walks with the Lord, and is no different in our functions as musicians, ministers of music and pastors. There is an old saying that states the family that prays together stays together. This is true for us in our service as musicians, ministers of music and pastors. Prayer with each other is key and should take place often. Prayer should always take place before any meeting, rehearsal sessions, and before any services you may be participating in.

Personally, I can tell the difference in my playing when I pray, verses when I do not pray. Prayer is essential in breaking down and spiritual walls, breaking down anything going on in the spiritual realm, and essential in our hearing from the Lord regarding the flow and direction of our lives and our worship services.

Keep in mind prayer is a dialogue (The Lord speaking to us and our speaking to the Lord) and not a monologue (Just us speaking). When we are praying, we must allow time for listening in our prayer time. If we are to be ready at all times, we should pray at all times. This will help in our service to the Lord!

Again, these are just a few tips to aid and assist in the eliminating of the gap which may be evident with musicians, ministers of music and pastors. In these days and times, we cannot afford for any gaps to take place in our ministries and in our churches! Our churches and ministries need for us to be strong! The only way we are going to be strong and eliminate any gaps is only through the Lord’s help!

 

Bio PicCavell Samuels is a man of integrity, honesty and hard work, who has the passion and desire to see things done in the spirit of excellence, and a defender of absolute truth. Cavell’s main desire is that the will of the Lord be done in all areas of his life, and in the lives of others. Visit Cavell’s website at KingdomFirstConsulting.com