I’ve heard the average tenure of a worship leader is 18-24 months. If this is true, then you probably just started leading at your church or you’re about to move to another ministry. As sad as this is, I’m not going to get into all the reasons for this. Instead, I want to talk a minute about setting priorities when starting a new role at a church.
Unless you are helping with a new church start, you are probably stepping in for someone else who was the former worship leader. Perhaps they left for another ministry, or perhaps they were asked to step down or leave the church. Either way, by default, you are inheriting their successes and failures. You will reap the benefits of all the good things they did, and you will have to repair the damage that they left.
A good place to start your new role is sitting down with the pastoral leadership and having an honest conversation about your predecessor. Were they good with people? Were they good leaders? Were they clear communicators? These are just a few questions to help you gauge the temperature of your team.
The next step after this is critical and where I see many leaders make mistakes. I always give young leaders the same advice I learned from leadership coach and pastor, John Maxwell, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”
It won’t matter how well you sing or play, how great you pick songs, or how cool the stage decor is if they don’t buy into you. They won’t care about your vision for the team or how you’re going to do a recording until they know you care about them and that they can trust you.
Many young leaders feel the need to make big changes too quickly – to put their mark on the ministry. You might feel pressure, “Hey, they are paying me to do this, so I need to show that I’m working.” Listen carefully: even good changes done too quickly will be rejected and cause failure.
Here’s my advice, for the first 3-4 months in your new role: have coffee with everyone on your team. Go to parties. Invite people over. Show people how much you love God and love them. Ask about their families. Do something goofy and laugh at yourself.
Once people know you care and that you’re gonna be around for a while, they will support you. Then, you can slowly start making the changes you want. So put down the hammer, and don’t worry about redesigning your stage for now. Just get to know your people, and let them get to know you.