Picture this; you, the Worship Leader have spent hours planning and praying through your worship set to make sure you have the right songs for your church in the right keys for your team. From there, you’ve spent even more time rehearsing with your band to get all the transitions and other seemingly minor but essential details squared away. But now you’re walking off the stage after worship asking yourself, “What just happened? Why wasn’t anyone singing? I didn’t even do a new song!”
I believe we can all identify with this situation. We've all been there! And if you are like me, you instantly question everything you thought you knew; your gifting, your calling, etc. But I have good news for all of us, it doesn’t have to stay like this.
I believe that participation in church comes from, and is dependent upon, the health of the relationship between a church and its worship leader(s). And just like a relationship between a close friend or a spouse, a healthy relationship only comes from meaningful conversation and intentional time spent with one another. In other words, you need to know a person and be known by that person for a healthy relationship to exist. So that means, participation from your congregation starts in the hallway, the fellowship hall, or wherever it is that the church is together and interacting with one another. Without meaningful conversation with your church body, you cannot fully lead them.
Now, I understand that this can be a daunting concept. Whether you lead worship at a church of 15 people or 15,000 people, initiating intentional conversation can be difficult. Let’s be real, the numbers can scare us! If you’re an introvert like me, you might be asking yourself, “How am I supposed to have meaningful relationships with everyone in my church?!” The answer: one at a time.
North Point Pastor Andy Stanley puts it this way, "Do for one what you wish you could do for many." The weekly challenge I have set for myself is to have one new intentional conversation a weekend. As each week goes by, I continue building relationship with those I have previously met while also being intentional to meet another person. By doing this I put aside the overwhelming and impractical pressure to meet everyone in a given weekend.
Now, I’m not saying that you need to go and spill your guts to every member of your church (that can come off as insincere and a little needy), but you do need to have conversations that go beyond the small talk that we often find ourselves defaulting to. A few ways to do this are:
1) Keep the conversation moving! Ask questions that warrant more than a “yes” or “no” answer.
2) Keep it specific! Ask them about their passions. What do they like?
3) Listen first, speak second. No matter how awkward it may feel, don’t make the conversation about you.
4) Give them your undivided attention! Make eye contact. Put away your phone! This shows that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say!
One thing that I have found to be beneficial in this journey is to include my team in it too. In doing this, we as a team are capable of meeting and loving on more people than any one person ever could. Every once in a while, we have a couple people in the green room share who they have met from the congregation recently, and they share something they learned about that person. We then get to celebrate the things God is doing in our church together.
Know that none of this happens overnight. We need to remember that in ministry, we’re playing the “long game”. We’re not looking for the shallow relationships that come from quick temporary results, but rather, we are holding out for healthy and lasting relationships that in time will stretch far beyond the four walls of the church.
God has placed you both physically and geographically where you are to love His people. No one else is exactly where you are, and no one has greater potential to influence the people God has put in your church. Let’s love His church well! Let a unified and involved worship experience be the byproduct of a church that loves each other well.
Zach Reynolds is the Worship Leader at the Calvary Boynton Beach Campus. Zach is an excellent leader, husband to Jennie, musician, songwriter, and he also teaches at Ocean's Edge School of Worship. Follow Zach on Twitter.