Notes from Lee McDerment’s session on Worship Leadership at Unleash 2010.
Worship leadership begins with worship lifestyle.
- If you don’t tithe, you’re not a worship leader.
- First, you must be transformed by Jesus; your mind must be renewed.
- Your intimacy with God is the most vital part of your ministry. It is the best work you will do every day.
- Leadership – of any sort – is as simple as listening to Jesus and doing what He says.
- Get in the place where you can hear from God clearly so that you can avoid trusting wisdom, common sense, etc. and trust JESUS.
- Be honest with God so that you can be honest on stage.
- Your calling is simple: to be with Jesus. It is not to strum a guitar or sing in a microphone – those are steps of obedience.
- “I’m called to be a worship leader” – can get things sideways. The simple calling is to be with Jesus.
- As a worship leader here (or at PCC), we never walk in the door alone – we carry our band, our pastor, the staff, JESUS. We are connected, in context, to a whole host of other people. Being a worship leader in a community means you live in a fishbowl. It is accountability and support but also a heavy load at times. You are living as light in a dark world. You never walk in the door alone. You must live authentically in every place in life.
First calling as a ministry to people is to minister to the pastor (NewSpring’s DNA).
- Greatest opportunity for a church split is between worship leader and pastor. Support is essential for unity.
- The worship leader has the best perspective for understanding a bit of the burden of the senior pastor’s burden.
Minister to the people beyond the songs.
- Your accessibility and availability offstage really affects your impact as a worship leader – empowers your authority onstage.
- Serving people is always more powerful than a song. We are MINISTERS.
- You cannot make yourself too small – honor the mandate to consider others better than yourself and Jesus will lift you up. Serve, serve, serve. God will count you faithful. Philippians 2.3-4
- Leadership responsibilities in the Bible apply to worship leaders.
- Your talent can take you places your character cannot sustain you.
- Be skillful in playing. God has given you a gift. Play it in His presence.
- Know your Bible so you don’t mess somebody up. If you’re going to say something, it needs to be true and accurate.
- It takes 40 hours to read through the Bible out loud.
- Romans 11.34. You didn’t start your ministry. God began it, He will sustain it and He will finish it.
- It is better for worship leaders to operate from godliness rather than giftedness.
- Writing music should be part of the worship leader’s job. Seek a new song. Go before God and let the song inside of you come out. Write with your friends.
- “You won’t be judged on one song, but you will be held accountable for your entire body of work.”
Responsibilities of NewSpring worship leaders:
- Worship leadership on Sundays is the most important part of the job for NewSpring worship leaders.
- Pastor to musicians – they are vital.
- Pray that God will send you band members more talented than you. Seek them out.
- Disciple church members and ALSO leaders at other churches.
Excellence at NewSpring:
- Priority – begin with the end in mind. Salvation and repentance are the two major indicators of success for the worship music. Life change is what matters.
- Process – every service must be carefully planned by the spirit, via the team, in advance. Tech teams must be informed. All information must go out on time. Practice happens at home – rehearsal is what the team does.
- Product – Every service must thoughtfully move people towards the message and the movement of God.
The process must be as important as the product.
Know the songs so well that you can talk to Jesus while you’re singing it.
Working under authority is a great learning process.
Learn to say, “Yes – here’s what it’s going to take to pull this off.” Lee always says “yes” to Perry; he just gives him all the info and is honest.
“Artistic integrity” may be Satanic.
Managing a band.
- Email letters to the band – pray up, be prepped, be punctual. Failure to do those things will get you NOT CALLED BACK.
- NewSpring invests financially into the players, along with counting them as friends.
- Excellence reflects GOD.
- Auditions are held with grace and truth. They exalt the nursery and the parking team. Our charge is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. A small handful of people are meant to have stage ministry. Most people who have been told they can sing have not been told the truth.
- Stage ministry can be toxic to a person’s faith and growth.
- Planning and song prep: style should serve people, repeat songs a lot, pray.
- Don’t play too much new music – let people obey the Biblical command to sing, which they cannot do with too much new music.
- Pray for every person you need.
- Why trust your ability to add when God is a multiplier? Keep your needs on a whiteboard and be reminded DAILY to pray for what you need!!!!! I NEED A SOUND GUY. I NEED A GUITAR PLAYER! ETC.
- Face-to-face communication is essential.
- Gossip and communication – negativity that goes up is ok, because the leader can do something about it. Sideways negativity is gossip.
- Expectations: avoid the word “should”.
- You don’t have to have a band to have excellent worship.
- The worship team has the greatest power to encourage the staff. They get to play and have fun and do what they love! Show love to the lowest person on the totem pole.
- Don’t be the guy in the Hawaiian shirt, obviously too old. Lead and develop a younger generation of worship leaders. Pray and ask for God to send them.
- Challenge the young leaders – have you read the whole Bible? BIBLE FIRST – MUSICAL SKILLS SECOND.
- Wait for margin to do a new thing (like produce a record).
Theology of songs is important.
NewSpring wants to be peers and move forward together spiritually, which means that they generally do not involve folks who are not following Christ. You need people who are following the same things and ideas.
Don’t be afraid to cover a Lady Gaga song with an acoustic guitar and a guy. Keep it fresh and make it excellent.
How to manage external expression (deadness on stage, looking distracted): critique dvds. If you are going bonkers for Jesus inside, don’t fake it by being still. Don’t keep it inside – let it out! Bring the band to the critique meeting and let them see themselves!
“This is just the way I play” – respectfully disagree. You are in the band – you are a leader. Let it out. Is it that you don’t know your music? Are you not prepared?
Set list is planned about six weeks in advance, though sometimes it goes to two weeks. Lots of advance notice helps.
Hard start for rehearsal is 6:30 – get there early. Prayer starts immediately at 6:30. Check monitors. Check ears one person at a time. They start with a familiar song and end with an unfamiliar song. Record every rehearsal to make mp3s available to the band, especially with a new arrangement.