The Joy in the Journey

One of the hardest things I’ve found about ministry is balancing the tension between where we want our churches to be, and where we they currently are.

I’m a firm believer that having clear, strong, and bold visions for our churches is 100% essential if we want to have growing and lasting impact in our communities and cities. But, we can be so focused on where we want to be, that we want to get there too quick and we become bent on seeing instant results NOW… when that happens the joy that can be found in the journey is stolen from us.

It’s easy to fall into this dangerous place – that ugly place where we want results NOW. It becomes an obsession. This obsession breeds discontent. This can be a poison for you, and it can be a poison for your teams.

We start to watch weekly attendance and expect it to grow each week. And when attendance isn’t consistency rising we ask, “What are we missing?” Or, “What are we doing wrong?”

Baptisms, first time decisions for Jesus, giving, team growth, leadership development, or whatever other metrics you use and watch closely… these things can torture your mind when you are obsessed with instant results. I’ve experienced this, and I’ve seen this in leaders that I’ve crossed paths with over the years.

I’ve seen leaders over the years so discontent with the NOW that they have left jobs and abandoned callings because of the discontent that grew inside them.

I heard Rick Warren say this a few years back, 

“God takes 6 hours to grow a mushroom and 60 years to grow an oak tree.”

After 12 years of slugging it out in the trenches of full time ministry, this past year, I finally came to a place where I am experiencing total joy in watching God slowly grow his oak tree – and I am grateful that he has chosen to let me tag along in the journey.

I have learned that faithfulness to our calling leads to health in our churches, and that health leads to growth. The pace and timing of that growth is not my job to worry aboutIt’s God’s job.

Define your metrics, be very aware of trends and growth in your church, but if you let those numbers own your mind, they end up weighing heavy on your soul. Discover the joy in the journey and buckle up for the long haul.

Be faithful to your calling, do your job, and let God do his.

WORSHIP LEADER COACHING

I’ve been in the trenches in the worship and creative arts world for 12+ years and I have a huge passion to coach and help other leaders. In no way do I have it all figured out –  but I love to coach and push others forward in their journey and share some of what I’ve learned over the years.

WHAT? This coaching stream is specifically for worship leaders or worship pastors. It is 8 weeks long and includes 1 to 1 weekly coaching sessions that are 30-45 minutes each. It starts with an intro/assessment where I can get to know more about you, your church, and your ministry. From there I will share as much inspiration and insight as possible – offering you practical takeaways that you can apply to your own ministry context, as well as making time for Q&A.

AREAS OF FOCUS:

  • Personal Creativity
  • How To Be a Better Worship Leader
  • Picking Songs & Crafting Transitions
  • Building a Band & Developing Musicians
  • Leading Effective Rehearsals
  • Delivering and Developing A Solid Vocal
  • 4 Phases of Leadership

INTERESTED? Shoot me an email at jpopowich@redwoodpark.org and I can provide more information.

Simplify to Solidify

There’s a natural pull that I can feel working in a worship & creative arts ministry- it’s been a big challenge for me and I’m guessing you have felt this pull too…

I feel a pull to do more.

There are exciting times when God leads you into new adventures, maybe He has put new opportunities in front of you, maybe you sense Him leading you into more…

But then there’s other times where we take on more just because saying yes is easier than saying no.

More can sometimes become the default mode of operation.

  • More feels better,
  • It feels more productive,
  • More effective,
  • More exciting.

Life naturally drifts to more, not less.

I’ve discovered that doing more stretches me too thin. When I start to do more just for the sake of doing more I start to become less effective.

  • Things become unnecessarily complex.
  • I become overwhelmed and ineffective.
  • Anxiety and stress creeps in.

Do not let more become the default mode you operate in.

Simplicity is the pathway to excellence.

When we simplify what we do, we start to solidify what we do. When we aren’t worried about doing more, the less we do is executed at a much higher level. This leads to better results and in the end our church sees greater impact.

A Worship Pastor’s Biggest Mistake

The biggest mistake I see worship pastors make: It’s All About You.

For many of you, you’re the only full time staff member in the Worship/Creative Arts ministry at your church and as a result things may have drifted to being all about you.

I’m not implying that you’re self-centered. This is different.

Maybe you haven’t intentionally made things all about you – but, things have become all about you because of a lack of intentionality. 

In my first few years on the job it was all about me. I picked the tunes, I planned the sets, I mapped out the transitions, I planned the service flow, I ran rehearsals, and I sang lead vocal almost all of the time.

At first it was fulfilling, challenging, and it felt exciting. I was capable and it was an adrenaline rush to operate at such an intense level all the time.

Then it started to kill me. I was burning out and my passion for the job was fading – the job I initially loved became a burden because of the pressure I put on myself – the pressure was totally unnecessary.

Am I ever glad to be done with that mentality.

These past few years I have strived to create a team-oriented culture. Now I find the most excitement and fulfillment when my fellow team members have the chance to use their gifts and flourish more than I do.

For leaders, letting go of control is tough. But when leaders make it all about them they put a lid on the God-given potential that is stacked inside the rest of their team.

The results:

  • Our overall worship experience is far stronger and our entire church reaps the benefits of this!
  • There’s more variety in what we do; each team member has a different skill set and brings a unique personality that influences what we do.
  • Team members feel more valued; they have a deeper sense of ownership in what we do.
  • Team members are willing to sacrifice more for the ministry because leadership has invested in them.
  • I am personally healthier – more energized and more passionate

Don’t make it all about you. Make it about the team. You will benefit, your team will benefit, and your entire church will be impacted. It’s the way it’s meant to be.

Messy Teams

How much mess are you comfortable with on your ministry team?

One of our biggest values at Redwood Park Church is to create a grace-filled environment. We would rather give 2nd chances than strikeouts. We make room for people to journey and explore instead of jumping on them every time they make a mistake.

Jesus was always surrounded by mess…His closest disciples were messy, risky, sinful people. When you look at Peter, or Matthew… these were risky guys! When Jesus was handed over to the Roman soldiers Peter’s immediate response was to swing a sword and cut a soldier’s ear off, yet, Peter was Jesus’ right hand guy.

Jesus didn’t have a clean, sinless, cookie cutter leadership team… he surrounded himself, led with, ate with, and travelled with sinful, messy, and risky people who didn’t have it all together. And so, trying to follow the example of Jesus, we make room for risky and messy people on our teams.

If someone is journeying forward and moving in a good direction, asking good questions, starting to explore faith and God, I don’t care what mess they have going on in their lives… if they want to serve on my teams I will find a place for them – or make a place for them. Giving risky and messy people an opportunity to serve can be a massive catalyst for spiritual growth.

So if you’re a leader in your church charged with the responsibility of and building and leading teams, pause for a moment look at those you lead. How safe is your team? How safe is your leadership?

Leaders often want to see the mess in people’s lives clear up before they become involved. My experience is, people need to become involved before the mess in their lives clears up.

I’ve seen it over and over again.

Leading messy teams causes the leader many headaches, heartaches, sleepless nights, and tough conversations. I’ve had to walk with some pretty tough stuff tough with team members, but when God grabs hold of someone’s messy life and turns it around there is no greater thing to be a part of.