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Posted on Oct 13, 2011 in Leadership

Lead Now, or be led

I’ll be the first to admit, leading is hard. And when you have to always be leading, it’s hard to always lead. You know what I mean. Sometimes it would be nice to just let it be, but we’re leaders.

As you may (or may not) know, I’ve recently moved into a new leadership position. I’m in a position that hasn’t had a full-time person leading for quite some time. There were some part-timers doing parts of my role, but mostly maintaining what had been done, to no fault of their own. (Having just come out of a part-time role, I fully understand you can’t always be moving forward.)

What I’m experiencing is, in many ways, the various aspects of worship ministry have been drifting. That’s what happens when you have volunteer leaders over a part of the ministry, but no one over the whole. And, metaliterally (yes I just made that word up) I’m finding myself doing the splits.

However, that said, I’m extremely excited about the future of Worship Arts at the Vancouver First Church of God. But that doesn’t mean things are going to be easy.

I’ve found myself in some situations where I have to remind myself of this truth. Lead now or be led. I believe God has called me to this specific role at this specific church. And since I believe that, I also believe he wants me to be the leader of this ministry, otherwise He wouldn’t have brought me. I also believe that God has you in your role.

If my premise is true, that God has placed us in our roles, then we are the ones to lead. We can’t let the loudest voices lead, simply because they are loud and domineering. Loud doesn’t equal Lead.

Here’s the thing about all this. Every time we let someone lead us because their personality is stronger than our own we become the followers not the leaders. Hear me clearly, we are the leaders. That doesn’t mean we don’t have leaders on our teams whom we are training and empowering to lead, but that doesn’t mean we never lead. God has put us in our roles because He has a plan he want US to put in place.

Leadership is not personality. We cannot allow those with dominant personalities to lead because of their personality. They may be dominant, but they may also be dumb.

People need leaders, humble leaders. Since God has placed us in this role, we must lead.

If you’ve allowed yourself to be led for quite some time, but you must begin making choices and charting a path of leadership. It will be difficult, trust me I know. But you will be much happier down the road if you do it now. If you don’t, at some point down the road you will find yourself in a ministry that you don’t recognize. That’s because it isn’t your ministry anymore.

So, feel empowered. God has you where you are for a reason. He has created you and the church you serve. He has put you together for this time. So lead.

Lead now or be led.

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Posted on Jul 8, 2011 in Creativity, Leadership, Worship Ministry

Put Your Dreams to the Test or at least dream a little

I just finished up another book from Dr. John Maxwell. If you’ve followed me for long, you know I’m a fan of his, and have read and recommended many of his books to you. This book was great on a few different levels so I wanted to take just a minute to share my thoughts with you in case you hadn’t heard about it. (Or in case you had heard about it, but weren’t sure it was for you.)

First, it’s not just a how-to book on achieving your dreams, it is so much more. He doesn’t say this in the book, but it’s really a book about how to lead yourself and the people around you to your dreams.

Second, it does give you some very useful ideas to help you zero in on your dream, figure out if you really believe in it, and to get you on the journey.

Third, he doesn’t tell you to blindly pursue your dream. A lot of times, it seems, people will just tell you to go after your dreams, regardless. Even if the dream isn’t good for you, or the people around you, or if you don’t have the resources of anything else required, they tell you to go for it. He doesn’t do that with this book.

But the real reason I wanted to write this post wasn’t to talk about the book, I wanted to remind us all that we are the “dreamers of dreams”. When it comes to the worship life of the body of Christ we are a part of, we are the ones that have to dream. God has put us in a leadership role for a reason, because He has a dream for the body you are a part of, and He wants to use you to accomplish that dream.

So often, it’s so easy to get into a rut. To just go with what works, and never try new things. To do what we know instead of dreaming up a new way to do what’s always been done. My charge to us is to get out of that rut. Let’s stop spinning plates and start dreaming dreams. Let’s stop this nonsense of keeping things going, and get things moving forward. Let’s stop doing the things that worked a few years ago and find the things that will work a few years from now.

The church has at it’s disposal the greatest source of creativity known to Man – the inspiration of a creator. Let’s allow Him to speak to us and give us the inspiration for what’s coming next.

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Posted on May 24, 2011 in Leadership

Lessons in Leadership from Boston Rob

Since Kevin and I talk about Survivor from time to time, I wanted to share two lessons I learned from Boston Rob this season on Survivor:

1.) Most people would rather be led than lead.

I was so frustrated with most of the people on Survivor this season. Especially those on Boston Rob’s team. I can’t understand why no one would stand up and try to take the narcissistic leadership belt from him. Rob would tell people what they were doing, and everyone would just do it. I just didn’t get it. If people were going to be basing their votes on who played the game the best, and Rob was the only one playing the game, wouldn’t he win?

2.) It’s easy to use people instead of lead people.

The other thing I noticed that happened this year (as has happened many times in the past) is that it’s easier to use people to accomplish your goal than to lead them to accomplish the best goal. All Rob did was figured out how to get people to do what he wanted and got them to do it. That’s not leadership, that’s manipulation.

Leadership is more work. It’s harder. Much, much harder. There is an aspect of leadership that is sacrificial, sometimes you have to do what’s best for the team, even if it’s not what’s best for you or what you want. People follow that kind of leadership. People eventually sniff out the narcissist and move on. Sure Rob could get people to do what he wanted for 39 days when they were tired and hungry, could he get them to do so for years when they’re not in the same condition? Possibly. Not likely.

So, I would just encourage you to evaluate the way you are doing leadership. Are you leading people or are you simply manipulating people? Sure it can be fun to get people to do what you want them to do. But leading people, caring for people, shepherding people is rewarding. Manipulation is something insecure people do, leadership is for the secure. Manipulation is selfish, leadership is selfless.

Leadership is a higher goal, are you aiming for it?

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Posted on Mar 17, 2011 in Leadership, Worship Ministry Catalyst

Leading a Band Rehearsal

We don’t have that much time. If you’re one of the lucky ones you have a mid-week rehearsal, then you’ve got two rehearsals to get 5, 6, 7 or more songs ready for a bunch of people to hear. And they’re not just going to hear them, they have to be good enough that they don’t distract people from worship. If you’re not that lucky, you have one rehearsal – maybe on the morning of your service – to get everything ready.

How do we do it?

First, use tools that help your people prepare ahead of time.

If you listen to our podcast, you’ve heard me rave about Planning Center Online (& here). Give your team members as many different resources as you can come up with. The more tools you give them, the better the chance they will use one of them. Even better, there’s a chance they will use more than one. And if they use more than one, they’ll be better prepared. If you don’t use planning center, then get your team members charts as early as possible, get them recordings if you can – or links to recordings.

One great resource is YouTube. There are a lot of YouTube videos that actually show the different band members how to play their part of the song. There are other great ways & ideas to help people be prepared – too many to talk about here. (Feel free to comment below with what you do!) The idea is, do as much as you can.

Second – Give them the big picture.

Let them hear the whole song if you have a recording. Of course this brings up a philosophical dilemma for some of us. You know who you are. Some of you like using a recording of how someone else has done the song isn’t musical or creative. If you’re not one of those, play them the recording – more than once. I play the recording a time or two, and then usually play the intro again to get everyone started.

If you are one of “those” – talk them through the song. Make sure your chart has as much detail as possible, and that they have the chart in front of them. Then talk them through the song. Tell them where they’re in & where they’re out. Give them rhythms & syncopations.

But don’t talk too long.  The more you talk, the less time the band will have to play. And the more they’re playing, the more they’ll be familiar with the songs. The more reps they get in, the better off they & you will be. They’ll be more confident and make fewer mistakes. That’s why it’s important to put as much information on the chart as you can. It will save you explanation time, and get you to playing music quicker.

Then play through the whole song as a band. Don’t stop to fix stuff yet. Just get through the song. You’ll want to stop and fix the problems, but don’t. Pay attention to the problems and where they were so you can come back & fix them, but don’t stop to fix them yet. If you have a train wreck, stop, tell everyone where you are and get going again. Once you’ve gotten through the song, then you can start to woodshed.

Three – Woodshed.

Now it’s time to focus on the problem spots. Work the Introduction to the song, work through the verse, then work the chorus, the bridge & outro. If someone has a question, let them ask it. Ask for questions here. Do as much as you can to put everyone at ease.

But don’t spend too much time. If you’re doing 5 songs, and you have a two hour rehearsal, you have about 12-15 minutes max to spend on each song. You’ll want to leave yourself time to run through everything at the end, pray, etc.

Four – Work your transitions.

If you’re transitioning straight from one song to the next, you’ll want to have some kind of musical transition to get from the end of one song to the beginning of the next. You don’t want to have to stop & start each time you move to a new song. You want to move between songs as smoothly as possible. When you stop, you might as well be saying “Hey – we just finished a song, and we’re about to start the next one – but we need a minute to change this or that. Okay we’re ready to start….” Because if you don’t, they’re thinking it.

Five – Put it all together.

Run through the whole set, in order, with all your transitions. Don’t stop to fix things. You won’t be able to stop during your service, so if you can do it without stopping now, you’ll do it better in the service. Make sure your tech crew are running through everything as well – not off getting coffee or something.

A few additional notes on leading a rehearsal.

Don’t waste time. Do your best to have everything read before hand. If you can’t have everything ready, hurry. Don’t walk, run.

Be decisive. Listen to your team, especially their creative input (they need to know that you hear them when they make a suggestion – they’re putting themselves out there & we need to honor that) but, you are the one in charge. You have to decide, and you have to decide quick. You’ve had more time with the music/songs. You’re probably more familiar with them than they will be for a long time. You know how the song should feel, so you should be able to decide quickly.

Make sure everyone can hear you. You need to be able to “direct” people, and to direct them they need to be able to hear you.When you’re in the woodshedding phase – you need to stop quickly. If you can’t be heard, you won’t stop quick enough.

Of course there’s more that could be said, but this is long enough already. Feel free to leave your tips in the comments section below.

 

Photo by: http://denispepin.com

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Posted on Mar 15, 2011 in Leadership, Volunteers

Worst Case Scenario vs. Best Case Scenario

As the news around us is filled with horror stories pouring out of Japan, I’m finding it harder and harder to pay attention.

Not because I don’t care. I do.

It’s because the bent of the news. All of it. It’s all focused on all the bad stuff that’s happening. One of the top 5 most powerful earthquakes in hundreds of years. Towns have been lost because of the Tsunami. Nuclear reactors are melting down & blowing up. People are getting exposed to radiation. Families are looking for loved ones, and thousands upon thousands have died.

I am not trying to diminish the severity of what has happened and what is still happening. But, there is a lesson we can learn.

When we always broadcast the Worst Case Scenario, people stop listening.

People’s lives are hard. Everyone has something going on in their life that make living life a challenge. We are all surrounded, each day, with challenges that we have to overcome. We have mole hills that people around us are turning into mountains.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing, if right now, amongst the mountains of tragedy we were to hear a heart-warming story. I don’t know what it might be – perhaps a reunion of a family with a lost member. Maybe the nuclear plant isn’t going to meltdown. Or perhaps…..

My point is, if there’s a small lesson we can learn, half a world away – maybe one lesson is that we can be more positive. When there is so much bad going on around us, Japan – The Middle East – Gas Prices, what our people need from us is hope. So he’s my plea to you – be a Best Case Scenario person. Do whatever you can to give people hope.

Who knows, if we give people hope, maybe we too will find hope as well.

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Posted on Aug 16, 2010 in Creativity, Leadership

Why Sermons? If Jesus came today would he preach?

I know that I’m walking a tight-rope with this post, but it’s something I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about (as with worship services in general). (This post is only meant to invoke thought, not bash sermons.)

I know the history.

I know that Jesus taught.

I know that Peter and Paul and others preached.

But why sermons? Why the passive listening? Do we actually learn from sermons anymore? Are that many people’s lives being changed through the power of sermons?

Or could it be, that they were powerful for a time and that time is coming to an end? Could it be that sermons were powerful through the reformation and with revivalists, but that now they’re just what you do at church and no one is willing to bring up the topic of change?

We’ve seen change in other part of the worship service. Music has changed with the times. Some churches have changed the way we take offering, others the way we take communion. Some churches have changed the venue in which we meet and others the venue through which we see the sermon, but how many have changed the sermon?

Sure some have made some changes. A video here. A drama there. A costume here. A song there. But, for the most part and for the majority of the weeks out of the year, the format stays the same.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily have some other idea for teaching/preaching/sermons (by the way, what’s the point of sermons – to teach?). And I’m not just trying to get more time for the worship guys (though I most certainly wouldn’t be opposed to that). It just seems that, for the most part, with all the change the church has been through the biggest piece of the puzzle remains unchanged. And as culture changes faster than I can type the word change, shouldn’t the biggest portion of our services also be thought through just as carefully as every other slice of the pie?

(Now, I just want to go eat my last piece of birthday apple pie. Maybe pie is the answer….)

If Jesus were to have chosen now to come and show us the way the truth and the life, do you think he’ be preaching sermons? As for me, I don’t know. Jesus’ messages are timeless, transcend all human teaching ability and will never be replaced other than by Jesus himself. But in the time in which Jesus came, that’s what people did. Rabbi’s of the day didn’t have to fight for people’s attention because what else was there? Hanging out with tax collectors?

I just wonder what means of communication Jesus would choose to use in this day and age. Sure it’s kind of a hypothetical question, but from where I sit, it’s a question we need to ask. We may never agree on an answer. We may fail in our attempts to communicate more effectively. But then again, we may become more effective at reaching people for Christ. People who have already heard sermons and found no reason to continue listening.

Let me ask you this, how many people’s lives are being changed (I’m talking real change, not Sunday change) as a result of the sermons that are being preached at your church? If the answer to that question is many, then maybe you don’t need to change anything. Maybe you do. If the answer to that question is few, then maybe you need to change something. Then again, maybe it’s the worship guy’s spiky hair that needs to be changed.

Regardless, in our quest to reach a many people for Christ, let us not leave any stone unturned. The stones you turn may bare the most fertile ground.

And all it needs is a seed.

Just one.

(Chime in! If you have input on this topic, leave your comment below. If you think I’m totally off base, feel free to let me know that you think so! If you have an idea of what sermons should look like today, or what Jesus would do, let us all know!!!)

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