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.

Programming Lights – Earn The Cue

Depending on the size of your church and your budget you will have more or less lighting to work with than others. Regardless of your lighting rig – the type of instruments and the amount of gear you have is not as important as HOW you use it.

There’s lots to be said about different lighting approaches and programming looks and cues for worship. I want to tackle just a small piece of the pie.

Sometimes lighting operators churches program their worship lighting like a kid who just opened his first Nerf gun on Christmas morning – blasting stuff all over the room and everybody else is just hoping the chaos will be over soon.

Christmas is next week and the efforts we put into our environments have the ability to take every service element you have planned to the next level. So here’s the principle that shapes how we program lights:

The moment must earn the cue.

Quality lighting enhances and supports the message that is being communicated from stage. Adding light to a great moment on stage can make it even greater. Good lighting has a way of stirring up emotion in people.

If your band flows through peaks and valleys well and navigates dynamics well then adding tactful light cues that build alongside your band can bring your music experience to a whole new level.

BUT, lighting should never be used to compensate for a flat moment on stage.

Sometimes the tendency is to use lighting almost like a life preserver to rescue a weak moment on the stage. I would argue that adding unnecessary light cues to these moments only makes things worse and only distracts people further.

Let the moment on stage earn the light cue. If the moment is big and dynamic, pair it with dynamic lighting looks and cues and you’ve got yourself a beautiful combo right there.

Know the moment and just simply give the moment what it needs. Lighting never makes up for a lack of musical dynamics. 

For you this might mean:
– multiple cues per song as the band builds ebbs and flows through different dynamics
– 1 unique lighting look for each song. Pick 1 colour scheme and create 1 nice look
– 1 static lighting look for the entire worship set. Pick from all the lighting tools you have at your disposal and create 1 look that most identifies with the overall feel of the experience.

God is always honoured in our intentionality and our pursuit of excellence.

Merry Christmas!