Caring for your Team

One of my favorite parts of ministry is the relationships that inevitably are formed. If you are already in ministry you know what I am talking about… if you aren’t yet there you have something to look forward to!

As a Worship Pastor, my role goes FAR beyond what people see on Sunday while I am on stage. I feel a sense of responsibility for those who serve alongside me. I believe that it is very important for all leaders to do all they can to honor and respect those who fall under their leadership. Whether it’s paid staff, paid musicians, or volunteers, we must do all we can to enable servant leadership within our teams. Here are a few quick things I believe we as worship leaders can do to accomplish this task and role.

  • Set your volunteers up for success.

At New Hope Community Church, where I serve, we rely on volunteers for many tasks. On a typical Sunday we will use 8-9 musicians and singers and 6-7 media personnel… and that is just in my area of ministry! I believe a key to maintaining healthy and dependable volunteers teams is the preparation that takes place beforehand. As a leader you must set your people up for success and equip them adequately.

This can include many things and at every church it may look a little different, but ultimately put yourself in their shoes and imagine what you would need in order to succeed in that particular role. For me some of these responsibilities include: scheduling services orders in advance (obviously as much as possible and knowing that flexibility is required), setting a team schedule for planning purposes, creating set schedules and routines to cut down confusion, providing and setting up materials, equipping with training as needed, etc…

If things are not prepared to some extent before our volunteers get to a service or rehearsal then I feel like we have failed them. Spend some time and set them up for success!

  • Challenge them.

Have you ever had a person or circumstance that caused you to have to extend beyond what you knew you could do a rise to a new level? Looking back on that now are you thankful for it?

I’m hoping both of the above answers were yes.

I believe that church ministry and volunteering can be both encouraging and useful in equipping people for life outside of the services on Sundays. There are things that I learned through experience in church ministry and volunteering that still impact me to this day. Sometimes a person just needs to be challenged and pushed in order to reach that “next level.” True high capacity volunteers will rise when you challenge them. When you encourage a person to get deeper into the game, I have found they will embrace the challenge rather than be turned off by it, and it will create more buy-in from your team members, and it will raise the level of expectation and excellence within your church.

Challenge your people and watch them rise to the occasion!

You never know… God might be using you and your area of ministry to prepare them for the next season of their life. That sound engineer might be the next technical director of a growing church, that musician or singer might be the next great songwriter that writes the next set of the hymns of our faith!

  • Pastor your volunteers.

I find it interesting that the word pastor is derived from Latin where it literally means “shepherd” and relates to the Latin verb “pascere” which means, “to lead to pasture, set to grazing, cause to eat.” Shepherds in Biblical times lived amongst their flock. They consistently worked with them and taught them the best way to go. The sheep responded to the voice of their shepherd and trusted that he would not lead them astray. At night a shepherd would gather their flock into a pen or cave and sleep across the entrance in order to protect their sheep from predators that lurked around in the night. Shepherds cared for their sheep, and they demonstrated that caring by being there beside them and tending to their needs.

John 10:11-14 says,

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.

Are we being pastors? Are we being shepherds? If roles were reversed and you were in another person’s shoes would you trust YOUR “sheep” to you?

We have discussed before the difference between a Worship Leader and a Worship Pastor. The title “Worship Leader” seems to emphasize leading a service, the title “Worship Pastor” however is about leading people. There is room for both, and you’ll have to see what direction God takes you. But… I myself desire to be a Worship Pastor, because in many cases I as the Worship Pastor am the main pastoral influence for my team members. They are with me more than they are in the seats of the sanctuary.

The duties of a Worship Pastor can be difficult to figure out because many of our responsibilities often reflect the job of a producer, music director, or a programmer. But good Worship Pastors always tend to find ways to go beyond the logistics to the love they have for people. The starting place is our worship team. If we can’t pastor our own team effectively, we’re not going to be able to pastor our congregation. We need to pastor and disciple our team. The Great Commission has one verb in the imperative or command. Most would say that that verb is the word “go,” but in reality it is “make.” It means that the focus of the Great Commission is on the “making” rather than simply “going.” So the real command is: While you are going, make disciples.

Let me challenge you to take time to get to know your people personally. Not just what they do for you! Pastor your people. Walk through their struggles and their joys with them. It’s about so much more than your individual ministry… it’s about doing life together!

It’s time for us to focus less on our arrangements and more on what our people need. Our role is less about executing flawless music as it is leading people to, and living like Jesus in front of them.

True pastoring takes place up close… on a personal level.

Proverbs 27:23 says,

Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds.

  • Guard them.

How many times have you heard a current or past volunteer say that they are burned out?

It is so important to give people a break – especially volunteers. Our band and production volunteers are expected to prepare for and attend a weekly rehearsal, then a 8am call time on Sunday, and then two worship services. In all, most people put in about 10+ hours per week when they are scheduled and preparing like they should be. We would be crazy if we expected a volunteer to do this consistently and never get weary.

Every person is susceptible to burnout… even if they think they aren’t. While using our abilities each and every week we are constantly giving and giving and pouring out all that we are before our congregations while leading them in worship, and sometimes we just don’t “take in” enough in return. I have found that I have lost my joy in leading worship before without even knowing it! By guarding our people, keeping a watchful eye for burnout, and allowing breaks, we are leaving room for refreshment where our team members can be poured into with nothing to be expected of them in return. I know that I personally am not a never ending well of resources and because of that I shouldn’t expect my team members to be!

Every person and every team is different and I understand that many churches don’t have this type of demand on volunteers for a Sunday service, but I still think it’s important that you give people time off and guard them from burnout.

  • Be an example to them.

I have heard it said that, “We don’t reproduce what we want, but we reproduce who we are.”

Being a leader is not limited to a schedule or place. True leaders step into that role and maintain it until they die. A good leader knows when to lead and when to follow, when to speak and when to listen. We set the standard for those around us. For me, that might mean leading passionately and genuinely from stage. For others, that might mean leading the congregation in response to my leading from stage.

As leaders we must set the standard. We should have the same level of passion “on” and “off” the field! If we are only able to demonstrate leadership when we are in the front then we have missed the point. The leadership demonstrated in the spotlight should be a mere overflow of the leadership and passion for Christ that we demonstrate everyday. The standard should always remain the same.

Our posture is either inviting or distancing people. Whether we like to admit it or not, when we are labeled as “leaders” or as “Christians” people begin to watch us and take notice of even the things we may not be aware of.

In a blog by Autumn Hardman from Hillsong church she says this,

Our body language says more than we think it does. If we have our heads down, solemn faces, rigid bodies, while the worship leader is doing their best to engage and lift the congregation — there is disparity in our message. It’s all of our responsibility to be in unity in leading and encouraging the congregation through whatever position we are serving in.

A true leader leads by example and not just by words.

How are you caring for those you serve alongside?

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