Duration of Ministry

a. Long-term vs. short-term: Ideally the pastor will lead the new church to start others but will remain as pastor of the original church because he’s a pastor with a missionary’s heart rather than a missionary with a pastor’s heart. The founding pastor learns church planting since it is needed to start the church but then he moves to the issues of being a pastor and eventually raising up others to plant. Statistics show that longer tenured pastors tend to grow stronger churches. Generally, plan a long-term commitment as long as the planter is effective.

b. Church planter vs. planting church: The two approaches are typified in the ministries of the church at Antioch and the Apostle Paul. Antioch was at the epicenter of the church planting movement [Ac.13-15]. Barnabas and Saul were sent along with other leaders to begin planting churches in the Roman province of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). Ac.13-14 documents their missionary journeys and the formation of church plants. They returned to their home church and reported all that God had done, and remained in Antioch for a long time [Ac.14:26-28]. Paul was a church planter and after some days felt stirred, and approached Barnabas to return and strengthen the churches that they had planted [Ac.15:36]. Ultimately, Paul went with Silas, and Barnabas went out with Mark and more new churches were established.

Consider the type of cloth that you are cut from. Perhaps you are like Paul and imagine yourself planting a church and developing leaders and the ministry to a sufficiently healthy level that you can responsibly transition the lead pastor role to another, and then you go out to replicate the process. On the other hand, you may be more like the church at Antioch. Your strategy is to develop the local church and use it as a base to prepare church planters and send them out to plant churches with your support. Either model can be effective and viable, but it is helpful to have a sense of your calling as you approach the process of church planting.

Book Review: Church in the Making by Ben Arment

Church in the Making

 

Trevor Gavin, a church planter in Portland [Nexus Portland], recommended this title with the endorsement, “One of the best books on church planting I’ve ever read.” After devouring the book, I have to agree. Furthermore, I would highly recommend this title to anyone involved in church planting.

Arment is an experienced church planter who writes from a biblical perspective and with practical insights. In essence, he analyzes some of the issues of why some churches seem to succeed and why others seem to struggle. He goes beyond the cliché, “God is just blessing” to uncover some helpful truths. The book does not propose a methodology per se, and is a very organic in approach.

The book’s first section considers the type of “soil” that is indigenous to the proposed church plant community. Some communities are far more receptive to the gospel generally, and/or church plants … especially those from pastors outside of the community. Arment does not endorse abandoning planting in difficult soil, but instead urges planters to understand the soil, and cultivate it prior to attempting to plant. His practical and biblical insights are easy to read and well worth the cost of the book.

In the second section, Arment provides valuable insights into the critically important phenomenon of momentum. Again, biblical lessons and practical insights are woven to instruct planters about the importance of social momentum and how to leverage same to advance God’s kingdom and the gospel.

In the third and final section, the emphasis is developing deep roots. A vision for a new church must be birthed out of community rather than imported and imposed upon a community. Here, you’ll discover some more practical and biblical approaches to create an indigenous connection and deep root system.

Arment shares a vulnerable peek at triumphs and tragedies experienced along the way to encourage and create reasonable expectations; and explains some of the lessons learned along the way to help others embarking on the journey. Also, the detailed and provoking questions at the end of sections provide a composite picture to consider before you take another step in the planting process.

So, get it, read it, and reread it ASAP … and encourage others to do the same ~

Community Service/ Servant Evangelism

a. Purpose: To demonstrate the love of God to your community in tangible ways through acts of service evangelism; and to mobilize the local church to live their faith on mission beyond Sundays.

b. Large-scale quarterly projects: The goal is to mobilize large groups of people on a quarterly basis. Create projects that are suited to multitudes of people becoming involved with opportunities that do not require specialized training or expertise. If possible, the projects should be kid friendly so that families can serve together. By mobilizing large groups it helps to increase the visibility and impact to the community; and also encourages the body.

c. Smaller-scale on-going projects: These are on-going service projects that mobilize the local church to impact its community. Some potential ideas to consider include: senior centers, meals, incarcerated youth, pregnancy centers, rescue mission, food pantry, moving and home repairs, car repairs, transportation, tech support and disaster relief.

d. Youth center: The youth center is a great way to reach the next generation and impact a community for Jesus. The goal is to provide a place for students to gather after school. Provide activities such as art, spiritual life coaching [mentoring], music/dance lessons, sports, tutoring, energy lounge, computer lab, game room, etc. Decide on a target demographic such as elementary, middle or high school students, and create a space for that group.

i. Chapel time: We offer a Chapel every day of the week to encourage all the students to know Christ, grow in Him, and make Him known to others.

ii. Staff & volunteers: By mobilizing volunteers to serve in various areas, and having minimal paid staff [e.g. part-time director] you can offer the youth center at a nominal cost or free to students and parents.

Facilities

a. Form follows function: You need to consider a long-term vision as a philosophical issue. When you first start, your target demographic may be twenty year olds with few kids. So, you wouldn’t need to prioritize children’s ministry space. Nevertheless, if you’re trying to reach a broader population in the future it will be an important issue. A large launch and/or a large church will need a big room. Let the assembly area be large enough to accommodate growth. What is the long-term vision for children’s ministry, an energy lounge [fellowship area], offices, etc.? How can you use space for multi-purpose? For example, can you convert the assembly area to a gym? How would you use the space available to impact your community?

b. Temporary vs. permanent: A temporary or portable use is generally limited to weekends and typically involves setting up each week. For example, a school, theater, church or hall is rented for weekend services. Temporary rental is often good stewardship as you use the space generally only for a few hours each week for a relatively small amount of money. Temporary facilities tend to create fatigue over time with volunteers and the church in general, but create opportunities for volunteers [e.g. set-up and tear-down].

Permanent facilities often communicate stability and credibility to your community. Permanent facilities also create greater control for use of space and strategic planning. A disadvantage is that you invest money in bricks and mortar not people. Research consistently indicates that the advantages of a permanent facility outweigh a temporary facility; and a new permanent facility is best. New facilities [e.g. either an industrial warehouse, or from the ground up attract, enhance esteem, allow you to design to meet needs but are more expensive than existing church space. Although initial cost of used is cheaper, maintenance and needed improvements often exceed initial projections. So generally if possible seek to create a new permanent space. However, I’m a huge advocate of creating a cool space from a used facility. For example, converting an old movie theater, art studio, or vintage church in a metro area can create an excellent facility that is worth the investment as the space attracts the community to the church.

c. Location, location, location: New churches, especially, need to be as visible as possible. If your space is visible from a main thoroughfare the building promotes the church. The fewer turns people have to make off a main road or freeway off ramp the better. Most people won’t drive more than 15- 25 minutes. Seek to be close to the focus group as possible [e.g. college]. Be aware of the direction of new growth in the city [confer with city planning and community development departments]. Consider zoning issues, local ordinances, and work with the local government as you begin to plan.

You’re likely to be far more effective if you plan the project with the city agencies rather than asking them to approve something that does not comply with various ordinances after you’ve finished.

d. Lease or own: Owning has advantages for strategic planning because you are not subject to rent increases which are typical in a lease agreement. Depending on the availability & price of real estate in an area, it may be wiser to lease or buy. Generally, the more supply the lower the prices. If the availability of property is limited because of growth in the community or a relatively small geographic area the prices will be escalating. If real estate prices are prohibitively high as can be the case in a metro area or upscale suburb then you are likely to lease unless there is an industrial/commercial condo complex where a purchase becomes more feasible. Parking will generally be a huge factor so consider the availability of reciprocal or shared parking. As a rule of thumb, limit debt service or lease payments to one quarter to one-third of revenue.

 

Global Missions

Develop a philosophy of ministry that supports and encourages the church to be actively involved in God’s global ministry. Jesus foretold an expanding sphere of influence for His church as empowered by the Holy Spirit, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the outermost parts of the world.” [Ac.1:8]. As God is moving in the local church your ministry expands beyond your city, county, and region; and soon you are sending finances, short-term, and long-term missionaries to the field. You’ll receive hundreds of requests for support, as Jesus declared, “the poor you will have with you always” so it is necessary to have a philosophy to use as a matrix to guide decisions.

a. Support Bible teaching churches: Prioritize Bible teaching churches as recipients of support. In developing countries the material needs are overwhelming. The desire to impact those needs via social programs such as orphanages, medical clinics, feeding programs, home building programs, etc. is good and noble. Yet, if those programs do not bring people into relationship with Jesus resulting in everlasting life, they miss the mark. In essence, we have minimized some physical hardship but have failed to address the greatest need – Jesus. The advantage of supporting Bible teaching churches is that they are designed to create and develop relationships with Jesus. There is no other institution that can impact a community like a church. As an ideal, the social programs flow out of the activity of a local church that you support rather than as an alternative to them.

b. Seek to create short-term mission trip opportunities for multitudes: In this facet the goal is to get as many people exposed to global missions as possible. Create opportunities to go to the mission field for the multitudes by considering logistics: cost, duration, geographic proximity, family or youth friendliness, the work(s) to be performed, etc. For example, we organize summer trips designed to reach the multitudes by traveling from Southern California to Baja Mexico. The geographic proximity of a six to eight hour drive significantly reduces the cost when compared to expensive airfare. The relatively brief round-trip travel allows the team to accomplish much even if the trip is of limited duration [e.g. five days]. We design the trip to be family and youth friendly by creating opportunities for a family or youth to serve such as a kid’s bible camp outreach. This would be in contrast with a trip whose only purpose was a building project that would be effectively limited to those with

 

 

construction skills. By creating a positive experience for many to a short-term mission we expand the interest in the church towards global missions. The key is to find a partner church with a scope of ministry that fits this plan. Otherwise, your trip becomes a burden to the indigenous church rather than supporting their ministry. The goal is to support the indigenous church’s needs not fulfill the sending church’s agenda [e.g. doing a major outreach event may be counter-productive to a 1-2 yr old church of 50 people].

c. Create opportunities for short-term trips to support the churches you support in more distant areas: Our approach to short-term trips to support churches in distant areas is impacted by the logistical issues. For example, the cost of travel tends to extend the duration of the trip [e.g.10-14 days]. These factors tend to limit the number of people who can go. Our vision is to determine the needs, primarily leadership needs, of the indigenous church. Team members should be able to provide support for the lead pastor, train and develop other church leaders. For example if a church in Africa needs help with youth, women’s ministry and tech send team members who can train in those areas. If the need is for construction, ideally bring someone who can do the work and help train others to do future work. The aim is to support leadership from the top down so that indigenous leaders are better equipped to carry-on the work of ministry when the team departs.

d. Leverage and influence: It is wise to invest where you believe that you are getting the best return on your investment in regard to advancing the kingdom. Invest resources in missionaries and local churches that you believe are making a recognizable difference in advancing Christ in a community. Also, it may be advantageous to invest more resources in fewer missions than minimizing resources to each recipient in an effort to “place more pins around the globe.” It is the problem of an inch deep and a mile long. Also, look for places where your investment makes a difference. For example, some well-known missionary organization may not need your support since they are able to receive support from so many others, but there may be a particular work where your strategic support is significant.

i. Consider promoting a missionary/work each month: By highlighting a particular ministry each month you make the congregation aware that the local church is global in perspective and make the church more aware of how resources are being used to impact the kingdom.

ii. Common support: We want to encourage church’s in our association to support common works/missionaries to increase our leverage and influence. Also, whenever possible, Calvary Chapel churches will seek to support a long-term [6+ mos.] missionary sent-out by a network church.

e. Encourage “staff” to experience global missions: Encourage lay and paid staff, especially pastors to experience what God is doing in the world. It will broaden perspective generally and help develop a missional perspective for foreign and local missions. We typically pay expenses for at least two staff members to go on every mission trip. Also if additional staff members desire to go we support them by not counting the time away from the church against their paid vacation benefits.

Lead pastor & global missions: I believe all lead pastors, especially church planters, should experience missions for the reasons described above and also because of the need for adventure. Most planters tend to be adventurous entrepreneurial types. Mission trips allow you to experience adventure and remain faithful to your “home church.”

f. Calvary Chapel Missions Policy Manual: A detailed manual describing missions policies and guidelines is available to all Calvary Chapel church planters.

Approach to Giving

a. Tithing in the new covenant: The NT does not “command” the giving of a tenth as was required in the OT [Mt.23:23, Lu.11:42, Lu.18:42, Heb.7:7-10], but the NT always creates a higher standard than the OT [see, Sermon on the Mount]. God’s people should honor Him by voluntarily returning some of the blessings that God has given them.

b. How should we respond to the better covenant:
i. Give voluntarily: 2 Cor.8:3-4
ii. Give cheerfully not out of compulsion: 2 Cor.9:7 iii. Sacrificially: 2 Cor.8:1-5
iv. Regularly & proportionately: 1 Cor.16:1-2

v. Model generosity: You can tell where your heart is by seeing where you are putting your money. “Where you treasure is, there will your heart be also” [Mt. 6:21]. As a leader you need to model generosity, and as a church be generous in giving sacrificially to advance the gospel.

c. Trust God to provide: Pastor Chuck Smith frequently shared, “Where God guides He provides.” The idea is that if God is in something He will provide the resources. God will move people to support His will and vision. Therefore, there is no reason to pressure people to give. Avoid manipulation, guilt and shame as motivators. Instead, love the people and feed them the word of God. As people mature in Christ they discover the joy in giving, and their right and responsibility to give to support God’s mission. Trust that as you teach through the Bible that God will place the proper balance and emphasis on the subject of giving.

d. Reduce pressure re the offering: We receive an offering each Sunday but prior to receiving the offering we ask people to complete a prayer request so that way everyone can place something in the offering whether a prayer request or a monetary gift. An alternative is to rely upon on-line giving and/or to have a receptacle for people to place an offering as they leave or enter the church. Don’t make people feel compelled to give.

e. Building fund campaigns: In the three building projects that I’ve been involved in during the last seven years we never undertook a typical campaign of asking people to make pledges for contributions. We simply trusted that if we communicated the status on a quarterly basis that God would move people to respond per His will. I’m not suggesting that a campaign is wrong but it was a blessing to see God come through with the needed resources without making the money the focus.

Developing Authentic Relationships

How can a growing church remain intimate? The bigger you get the smaller you must get …

a. Community groups: The early church expanded exponentially so that thousands were gathering. Yet, smaller group gatherings in homes were an essential feature of the early church [Ac.2:46, 5:42, 20:20]. Whether they are called “home groups” “life groups” “cell groups” “grow groups” or any other descriptive term, the purpose is to promote biblical community. Almost 60 times in the New Testament we read the phrase “one another.” It is difficult, if not impossible, to develop biblical community until you develop authentic relationships. There are many advantages to community groups: they are not limited by facilities, can expand geographically, promote assimilation and more.

A church of community groups: You are either a church with community groups or a church of community groups. Make small groups part of the early vision/dna of the plant. Establish and communicate a goal that everyone becomes involved in community groups/mid-week study. Although we offer a mid-week service that typically goes through books of the Old Testament, we never promote the church service. Instead we constantly promote community groups. Also, we try to incorporate small group aspects into the mid-week study such as discussion questions and prayer groups.

b. Community groups should include: Spiritual development [e.g. Bible study, Christian living resources, devotionals, Christian history/biographies, leadership development], worship, prayer, discussion/interaction, and fellowship. Seek to develop mature disciples and leaders not just small group members. People need to have a sense of community and deeper relationships, feel appreciated and respected, feel listened to, grow in faith, receive practical help and encouragement to develop spiritual maturity.

i. The key concept is community: People know and care for one another. Groups should serve the purposes of providing care, meeting needs, and supporting ministry as they have opportunity to serve together. For example, groups can meet individual needs for prayer, emergencies, and can serve together by “adopting” a missionary or working as a group during a beyond sunday community service project.

ii. Develop assistant(s): Who can become group leaders so that as groups reach a ceiling size [e.g. 16-20] it can form two groups.

c. A proposed model:
i. Groups tend to form re common life connections: For example, newly married, married with

young kids, financial stewardship, college & career, middle-age singles, seniors, men, women, etc.

ii. Common resource: Two times a year utilize a mandated common resource that all groups study together for about 8 weeks. Common resources help the group to identify with the larger body of the church. By limiting the use of common resources to twice a year you still provide autonomy for each group to focus on particular needs and interests.

iii. Training: Each group leader should participate in training [@ 6 weeks], and should intern as an assistant leader in a group [training materials are available to all Calvary Chapel church planters].

iv. Oversight: The pastor or other leader acting as the overseer for the community groups should communicate with and/or meet with leaders on a quarterly basis. The purpose of the meetings is to reinforce the vision, address issues, discuss resources and needs, provide training, encourage and answer questions.

Equipping for the Work of Ministry

a. Spiritual formation process: All of God’s people are called to minister. The goal of leaders is to develop mature believers who discover their role in the body of Christ, and help to build-up the body. Paul described it this way, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ [Eph.4:11-12]. Equipping refers to placing people in the condition they should be. Research consistently shows that the greatest need for strengthening the church is to get people involved in ministry. People want significance: they want to know that their lives make a difference; if not mobilized for ministry, they will look for significance in work hobbies recreation etc. The goal is to have an intentional process that moves people to become mature followers of Christ that contribute to their community. As believers minister it builds up the Body helps to establish maturity and creates unity.

Apostles refer to ones sent out cross-culturally (e.g. missionairies) [this is distinct from the office of apostle held by the 12]. God has gifted certain people to reach a culture of pre-believers and this gift is clearly needed. Prophets proclaim truth under God’s anointing and help people distinguish the truth of God from other cultural values [again, the gift is contrast with the office], and evangelists win souls for the Lord. But our focus is the role of the pastor-teacher who loves, cares for and feeds the Word of God, and has the express responsibility to equip God’s people for the work of ministry. How do you equip people for the work of ministry?

b. Create a culture of serving: Develop a congregational atmosphere in which spiritual formation is a core value, and people understand that they serve God by serving others. Expect the best from people and encourage a high level of commitment to Jesus. Set high expectations for people since they will never rise above the level of expectations. One of the characteristics of a healthy church is that people move from consuming to contributing. In that regard, people should be involved in at least one ministry appropriate to their gifts.

i. All people in a local church should participate in ministry: Gallup’s research suggests that generally only 10-20% of the assembly do 100% of the ministry. This stunts the growth of the 80- 90% as well as the body of Christ generally. However, Gallup’s research is particularly interesting in that it indicates that 40-50% of those who aren’t participating would if asked or trained. So preliminarily establish and communicate a standard that everyone should serve God by serving others. Avoid a clergy-lay distinction and abuses of authority by clergy over the people [the doctrine of the Nicolaitans Rev.2:6]. Remove the myth that ministry is only the pastor’s job, and remove unbiblical obstacles to serving God by encouraging all to become involved in ministry.

ii. Organized trained & mobilized: Create a structure of ministries for people to become part of. Insure that each ministry leader is prepared to train and recruit volunteers. Mobilize people to volunteer and leaders to recruit. In addition to training to perform a function equip them by seeking to develop Christ-like character.

iii. Make it easy for people to get information and get involved: As lead pastor you want to constantly reinforce the message of “saved to serve” ~ that we serve God by serving others. Encourage people and challenge them to take the next step by getting involved in a ministry. Make sure the process is as simple as possible: e.g. complete a card, sign-up on line, or even a sign-up table. The easier it is to get started the greater the response is likely to be.

c. Intentional leader development & mentoring: Getting everyone involved in serving God by serving others is one part of equipping believers for the work of ministry. In addition, there needs to be a meaningful leadership development program.

i. School of Ministry [SoM]: I strongly urge you to consider adopting our som program as a formal means to train leaders. Each of our church planters will be provided with curriculum, vision statement and forms for use in their local church. The purpose of the program is to equip people to be more effective spiritual leaders. The program covers fourteen modules: devotions, worship, servant leadership, the leader’s time, expository preaching, defending the faith I and II, ministry and people I and II, planning and vision, equipping and evangelism, pastoral epistles, church history, and Calvary distinctives.

ii. Intern program: The intern program provides an opportunity for those interested in vocational ministry to discover more about who Jesus is, who they are, and discover more of God’s calling for their life through working in the ministry of Calvary Chapel. A full description of the program and forms shall be provided for our church planters to use.

The Lost Art of Leadership

This is a guest post by Bob Franquiz, the pastor of Calvary Fellowship in Miami Lakes, Fl.

Two decisions, like no others, have affected my life as a follower of Jesus. The first was when I decided to honor God with my finances. I heard a pastor speak boldly from God’s Word in regards to tithing, and I decided to take God at His Word and try it. Years have past, and all I can say is that God has been so faithful to me. The second decision was the choice to roll up my sleeves to get involved in the church that I called home. I know this might not be the end all in regards to service as we look at a world that is desperately in need of practical ministry, but I do believe that serving in a simple capacity at church on a Sunday can begin to get people to live beyond themselves.

As pastors, we need to facilitate this by casting a strong vision of what it means to follow Jesus. We hear so much these days about the need to cast vision for a building program, a new ministry venture, or a strategic change that we need to make. Yet I hear too little talk of what the world could look like if God’s people started truly following Jesus. Let me say at the onset that this is going to take guts. People, especially in America, don’t want to hear about a faith that involves taking up your cross and following Jesus. Yet, this is the message we preach. If we choose simply to let people sit in rows every seven days and call that the Christian faith, then we have done both Jesus and His church a great disservice.

Having said that, let me say that I believe begging for volunteer help is a sign of a much deeper problem. If a church cannot get anyone to serve in its youth ministry, then there are bigger problems than a teenager with no one to toss a football. There is a discipleship problem here that must be addressed or people will “help out,” but not really serve. If you have led people for any length of time, then you know there’s a difference between “helping out” and serving Jesus. The main difference is in the area of focus. Those who help out look to the church or the ministry leader as the one they are assisting. They like you, so they show up and give you a hand as you serve. Those that serve, on the other hand, look to Jesus as the One they serve. If the ministry leader changes, or they are asked to do something else, their focus remains the same.

Our role as pastors is to make disciples, and that involves servanthood. People who serve only in the area they feel “called to” might be very talented, but they lack the heart of the One who got on His knees to wash the feet of His disciples. I look for this quality in potential staff members. I look for people who don’t say, “Well, that’s not my job!” I have never met people who truly felt that their calling was to take out garbage and sweep floors. Yet, I know countless servants who do, not out of a sense of gifting for the “custodial arts” (to quote John Bender from The Breakfast Club), but out of a calling to do whatever they can for the God who has done so much for them. The Jews looked on this type of person and said, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus” (Acts 17:6–7, NKJV).

At the same time, it is important for us to be strategic and give people entry points that help individuals take the first steps in their path of discipleship. These entry points can be as simple as greeting those that come to church and handing them a bulletin, helping with the set-up and tear-down of our portable church, or assisting a children’s ministry teacher in a classroom. I find many churches tend to do this, but few think through what is strategically necessary to see people stretched beyond that. As an avid baseball fan, I tend to think of everything in terms of how a big league team is structured. We can usually identify those that are at the big league level (pastors, staff, elders, deacons) and those who serve at what we call “Single A” (entry level ministry positions). But the challenge for every church is to lead those at “Single A” to “Double A,” those in “Double A” to “Triple A,” and those in “Triple A” to the majors. You have to wrestle through the same Scriptures we did to determine when, why, and how people move from one level of responsibility to the next. The Apostle John recognized that not everyone in the church was at the same level of maturity and responsibility.

I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one. (1 John 2:12–14, NKJV)

So how do you move people from Single A to the major leagues? It takes time, gifting, and proven character to discern when it’s time to move someone up a level.

This post is part of a FREE ebook I wrote called, “The Top 5 Leadership Mistakes Pastors Make”. You can pick it up by clicking here: http://outreachninja.com/5mistakes/

Worship – music as an aspect & expression of praise & adoration

This area of ministry will have as much impact on a local church as any. In essence, almost every local church will devote one-third or more of the weekend service time to corporate praise and worship through music. So, it is extremely important to have a comprehensive philosophy of ministry. God designs people to worship. People also need to learn how to worship. The church that teaches people how to experience worship will influence its community for Christ.

a. what is worship? Worship is a life transformed by an intimate relationship with God. Worship is a spiritual response to God’s truth and Spirit [Jn.14:6; 17:17;4:23-24]. Worship is yielding to the revelation of God through the person of Jesus the Christ [Jn.4:25-26]. Worship is demonstrated in song, prayer, lifestyle, by individuals and an assembly, spontaneously and prearranged. Worship is the stirring by God’s Spirit of our spirit, emotion and will. It is a response of the whole person to God [Rom.12:1-2]. We worship God because only He is worthy [Rev.4:1]. Worship should be God-focused, build-up believers, and stir pre-believers to desire a relationship with God. Although worship is much more than expressing praise and adoration through song, music is an excellent means to communicate worship as an assembly.

b. what is the role of leaders? Leaders must model worship by their lives to establish a healthy church. Authenticity is a key element to true worship – prepare your heart [Gen.4:1-6; Ps.51:10]. Model and encourage people to participate, rather than passive observation, and give them liberty to express themselves: to sing, stand, sit, kneel, pray, raise their hands, etc. Be passionate and others will follow the lead. Passion does not necessarily mean energetic or upbeat. You can be passionate while singing the blues or contemplative worship songs. Leaders are to help implement the lead pastor’s vision not their own agenda. The worship leaders are to learn a philosophy of ministry from the lead pastor and they help to communicate and model that philosophy to the church.

i. anyone on the platform will be perceived as a leader. So, do not put a pre-believer on the platform as a musician or a singer. They may be talented, and you may have a perceived need but they cannot lead people into the presence of God if they have no desire to go there and haven’t been there themselves. Remember, we are considering worship not entertainment.

ii. finding a worship leader can be a challenge especially early in the planting process. The ideal is finding someone who is talented and has a heart for God. If someone is talented and has a desire to grow in the Lord you can mentor them, but if they really have no interest in growing in Christ, I would choose someone with a heart for God even if they have “less talent” as a musician.

iii. real worship is characterized by the power of the Holy Spirit: help people distinguish the emotional energy of an event [e.g. concert, sports, etc.] from the transforming work of the Spirit [2Tim.3:1-5]. When people are experiencing corporate worship as an assembly it can be a very dynamic experience. Leaders need to remind and exhort the assembly that an authentic work of the Spirit will encourage life transformation resulting in God’s glory.

iv. who selects the songs? I have never asked a worship leader to select songs that would mirror the teaching theme of the message. It is not that I’m fundamentally opposed to the idea, but because I trust that the worship leaders are seeking God’s direction. I expect that God will direct them regarding their song selection as He directs the teaching and want to give the Spirit liberty to direct. On the other hand, if you as a lead pastor feel that you should select songs you have the liberty and authority to do so.

v. women as worship leaders: I’m all for it, but remember that you will be spending a lot of time working together especially in a church plant so create accountability. Also, I do not believe that there is any biblical prohibition from a woman overseeing the worship ministry or sharing devotions with the worship community.

c. what about conflicts regarding musical style: our philosophy values reaching the next generation. If we are going to reach the next generation we will have to embrace contemporary music. Contemporary is a constantly changing standard. So, remind the church of the vision to reach the next generation and the need to remain contemporary. In addition be a wise steward who remembers retains and reveals some of the past. Also, keep in mind that each generation will have their own preferences, and it is not unreasonable to expect new generations to reach back to older forms of worship whether it is classical, ancient/liturgical, choral, hymns, unplugged, a capella, etc.

i. multiple worship teams: develop multiple worship teams as quickly as reasonable. This develops variety of expression of worship that ministers to various tastes, and also provides depth in the worship ministry of the church. It also provides a place where people called to minister in worship music can share their gifts.

 d. excellence: encourage leaders to establish and seek high standards. The goal is to keep progressing towards spiritual growth & technical proficiency. Leaders need to be prepared and help their team to be prepared. Team rehearsals and individual practice should be required and members of the worship community should expect to be stretched to grow. Evaluate and adjust frequently by meeting with your worship leader(s) and giving meaningful constructive feedback. Help worship leaders to understand that excellence is not perfection – don’t put a yoke of perfection upon the worship team.

a pastor’s perspective: learn to distinguish competency and authority. As a lead pastor you have authority to choose all the songs, all the members of the worship team, and all the arrangements. Nevertheless, you may not have the competency! In other words, the worship leader may know far more than the lead pastor about music … so let them make decisions. In essence, give them authority along with the responsibility. Impart to them a philosophy of worship ministry, and give profitable feedback but then let them oversee their ministry.

Also, if you as a lead pastor are also a worship leader, musician, or pseudo-musician I would encourage you to remove yourself from the worship ministry as soon as reasonable. When our church was young, I used to play drums on one of the teams. People thought it was cool that their pastor played drums. I thought it was fun and that I could set an example as a worshiper and spiritual leader to the worship team and congregation. If I had to do it all over again, I would not get involved with the worship team for several reasons. First, it distracted me from other more valuable uses of my time as a teacher leader and shepherd. Second, it may have potentially undermined my role as a pastor-teacher. Third, it placed our worship leader in the difficult role of leading and developing a team, and exercising authority over the team with the lead pastor participating in the team.

lifework: all of the worship leaders at our church read the book “fruitful worship” to ensure that we are all on the same page regarding a philosophy of worship ministry.

 1. talk with pastors, worship leaders and potential church planters about a recommended book that addresses a philosophy of worship ministry. Once you’ve identified a resource obtain copies for all the church planters to review.

 2. arrange to discuss the book at a later date. If you believe that the book is helpful as a future resource plan to use it with your worship leaders.