Archives For Leadership

These are posts that give practical advice and insight into the topics that are relevant to worship leaders and musicians. We take a look into the day-to-day challenges and occurrences that many worship leaders face and offer encouragement and insight. Take a look at what we have to say about the technical side of choosing songs and instrumentation as well as defining success and building an effective team. Join in on the conversation and let us know what works best for you!

With any live performance, there’s always the possibility of something unexpected happening. I was reminded of this once again last week during worship. The tracks/click we were using went wacky during the first song. I had no option but to kill the tracks and click. After the tracks went down, the whole band was on edge having to adjust. And of course that led to a mistake. Me, the keyboard player, started a song while still transposed a half step down. I didn’t realize it until the singer came in. That’s the worst feeling in the world – trying to decide between two equally awkward options.

So after the message I decided to restart my iPad and maybe get our tracks back online for the last song. Not today! As soon as the iPad powered off it sent a bone rattling buzz into the mains that wouldn’t stop until I yanked the cable out of the iPad. At this point, I was ready to curl up in the fetal position and go to my happy place or grab the prayer oil and begin casting the demons out of the room.

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I’m sure mine is not the only church with a running joke about staff only having to work one day a week. Worship pastors get to take this to the next level when we say, “And all I have to do is play guitar!”

If only this were true.

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Worship leaders, in general, are artists. Artists, in general, tend to be emotionally invested in their own situation. Emotional investment, in general, results in assumptions which have varying degrees of truthiness.

And we all know what happens when we assume.

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Yes! Okay, that would a pretty boring blog post, so allow me to digress. I’ve been in church pretty much my whole life. Admittedly, my church experience, as with most of us, is limited to a pretty narrow stream. But why is it that most of the time when I worship at church, the band looks like they are either mad, scared or bored?

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There are big differences in starting a band and building a worship team:

A band picks members that all fit together. A worship team picks members to represent the body.
Image is really important in a band. Image is not important on a worship team.
A band is typically the same people all the time. A worship team should be different people a lot of the time.

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We all struggle at times as worship leaders, musicians and techs on the right balance between presentation and performance, humbleness and showiness, reverent yet engaging. There are a hundred words to describe the point where a worship service crosses our proverbial red line. In many ways our creativity is at war with our conscience. To aggravate things, musicians and techs are often called out as being too slick or showy – much more than teachers and preachers are – even though we implement many of the same techniques to communicate with our audiences…

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Our words do matter. And I have a concern with the way that we use a couple of particular words: I don’t want to be called a ‘worship leader’ anymore.

In between working as Worship Arts Director at a church and The City Harmonic becoming a full-time job for me I ran a small marketing company. And if I learned anything at all in that time it’s that our ideas, our habits and our words really do matter. I learned that a lot effort and resources have been spent studying the mind – how we make decisions, what governs some of our instinctual actions, etc…

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Planned or Spontaneous?

Jimi Williams —  February 13, 2014

Whenever I teach about preparing for worship at an event, I inevitably have someone raise their hand and say “I don’t like to plan too much. I’d rather be spontaneous and respond to what the Spirit is doing.” Or I’ve heard people say they won’t use tracks during worship because it limits there spontaneity.

Let’s think this through. There is nothing spiritual or unspiritual about making a plan. In fact, Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.” The Bible is filled with examples of people who made detailed plans to do something important for God. Nehemiah rebuilt the entire wall around Jerusalem. David built the first temple for God. Jesus’ plan was to endure the cross…

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I had a very wise pastor tell me once to never do ministry alone. As worship leaders we need to understand that we can lead a band every week, be surrounded by a team of people, but still operate our ministry as a “lone ranger”. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if you are really building a team…

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Platforms

Jimi Williams —  October 31, 2013

Recently, I’ve heard a lot of talk about platforms and movements. We see it often in the entertainment business, sports and politics. It’s Hollywood stars hanging out with the “right people”. It’s associating with the “right brands”. In politics, a platform can be a public office (Congress), an organization (Rainbow Push Coalition or Tea Party), or a cause. Sometimes a family name can be a platform. Being a Kennedy will open quite a few doors regardless of whether you are a genius or intellectually challenged.

“Leveraging a platform” means using an association with a personality, movement or organization to raise one’s own public persona. Often a platform makes an individual, who is not well known, an industry leader and public figure. We’ve seen this with people like Steve Jobs (Apple) and Yahoo’s Melissa Mayer…

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