Church Growth

Building The Bench

Rick Muchow is the worship pastor at Saddleback in California. I don’t know much about him and the style at Saddleback is not one I am particularly fond of myself. Today however I became a fan a Rick Muchow.

He answers a question from Kelly Gabriele serving in Little River, SC that points up a very common misconception in churches that once we have our ministry teams set were done and we can just operate in our gifts:

Our Praise Team is fully stocked at this time. What do I do about other musicians and singers who might be interested? While I want to reach out to new talent that may be in our church, at the same time we have a worshipping, wonderful, dedicated team with all the players and singers we need right now. Our service is growing by leaps and bounds… we are SO blessed. I think I am afraid of looking closed minded and closed hearted toward others who might be interested in joining. And if you tell me to start a Praise Choir I’m going to run away– that really frightens me! But then again, it may be time to “build a bench”–or should I leave well enough alone?

Rick hits it out of the park. The bottom line is we are not called to operate in our gift for a season and then hand it off to someone else. As Rick so eloquently and gracefully points out according to Romans 12 when someone has a gift in the church we are to LET THEM use it. Here are his remarks in total:

Many churches would love to have this “problem.” This is a great time. You must feel very encouraged. The question here is really about stewardship.

Why is God giving us all this talent? This is a common predicament for those who find themselves in a position of great wealth. Believe it or not, there are some people who don’t want to steward great wealth. With it comes great responsibility. It takes a lot of work and effort to manage great resources of any kind.

In my position as my church’s Worship Leader, I’ve always thought of myself as the manager of God’s musical resources within this church. I take this responsibility very seriously, realizing that all these people belong to God. He created them for a purpose. There is a fine line between our perceived needs and the church’s needs. My goal is to help people fulfill their place in ministry. I am not familiar with your exact situation or season, but I would encourage you to examine your paradigm here.

Let’s look at Romans 12-1:8 (NIV.) Every believer in the church has a contribution to make in the body of Christ. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” This verse is about the life of worship and about using our gifts. Everyone needs to worship with their life. Part of that worship is using our gifts for the glory of God, to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.

Verses 4-5 tell us, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

In verses 6-8, we are told 7 times to “let him.” Starting with verse 4, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”

When I try to put myself in your place, I think God would be asking me to “build the bench.”

Let’s talk about building the bench. The bench is not the place where people never play. The bench is the place where they are ready to use their gifts at a moment’s notice. The bench has great benefits. For the inexperienced player, the bench allows them to train with the rest of the team. The bench also allows the team to share the load, avoiding burnout and injury. Finally, the bench provides a sense of teamwork, community and family.

Romans 12 is an example of how God wants us to include everyone into active service. God created each of us to use our gifts for Him. As a leader, our task is to try to figure out the puzzle and make a place in which each gifted person can serve.

If your team is “full”, here are some ideas. As we teach Biblical principles of teamwork, servanthood, and family, we are reminded that there is a place for everyone to serve in the ministry of the church. We willingly let another person use their gifts even when it means we have to share opportunities and responsibilities.

Start a new service time or form a team who can help other churches which have a smaller talent pool than yours does. Increase the number of people you use at a given service, for example start an orchestra or choir. (It’s not as scary as you might think!) Try a new rotation that allows more teams to serve in your existing services, for example each team serves every other week while rehearsing every week with the whole team together. Another idea is to promote existing team members to leadership positions allowing new leadership to take on the added responsibility of expanding your team.

How many musicians do we need at the church? According to Romans 12, when someone has a gift in the church we are to LET THEM use it. It is our responsibility to create the ministry climate that allows every member to incorporate their unique contribution to the body of Christ. This approach takes more work up front but is absolutely worth the investment.

Most churches don’t have this problem and I think the reason is we are not stewarding well that which has been entrusted to us. Those people He has bought with His own blood and given gifts. If we do not steward His resources He will send them to a place where they will be stewarded well.

Thanks Rick.


H.T. The Worship Community

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Worship, 0 comments

Working Yourself Out of a Job

Just watched a video from a very prominent worship leader, Someone I highly respect. I have been mentored by this person in a lot of ways so I don’t mean to throw stones at them necessarily.

The video started with him saying I have been leading worship at my church for a long time but I don’t want to do it forever so over the last couple of years I’ve tried to be more purposeful in bringing up the next generation. The video ended with him saying so if your in your 40’s or 50’s it’s time to start raising up the next generation.

This is a mindset in the church that must be broken.

Yes we need to bring up the next generation but as leaders our responsibility is so much broader. If your still doing the same thing in ministry you were doing 5 years ago there may be a  problem. Our job as leaders is to equip the saints for works of service and the edification of the body. We must be not only looking for the next young and upcoming gifting and talent; we must be constantly evaluating those God has entrusted to us regardless of age. Our primary responsibility as leaders is to be the driving force behind allowing those entrusted to us to step into the fullness of their calling. We must not only look to those who are younger but those who have recently come into the family and those who for whatever reason were called 15 years ago but have finally started to walk in obedience to that call. When we look to the “younger” generation only we miss out on so much and may be causing a brother to stumble.

The body of Christ must constantly be moving. Search committees are the absolute worst way to fill ministry positions. We must recognize, call out, equip, and release the gifting in those entrusted to us. Not do our job for 20 years and then hand it off to an 18 year old.

Youth is not a qualifier and age is not a dis qualifier it’s about calling, gifting, character, servanthood, love for the house. Not necessarily in that order.

And finally if your the only one or the one who most often stands on the platform in leadership in any capacity and you’ve been there more than 5 years it’s time to start asking yourself some very serious questions.

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Worship, 1 comment

Are Worship Pastors Becoming Extinct?

The Key word here is “Pastors”. We have tons of technicians, musicians, etc. etc. but a shortage of pastors.

Glenn again nails it here. So I will re-post in total

Thanks Glenn:

Over the past seven years, I have served as the Director of the New Life School of Worship, a 9-month program designed to train worship leaders for local churches. We believe that to effectively prepare our students for local church worship ministry they need to be trained in more than music. They need to be grounded in theology, familiar with church history, and responsible with their handling of the Scriptures. Moreover, they need to learn what it means to be a pastor: to shepherd the people under their care. 

But it seems that some churches aren’t looking for that. They would prefer a musician who can lead the “singing”, oversee the tech team, and produce recordings of their original songs. None of these are bad expectations, of course. But are we looking for these trade skills at the expense of other, more essential pastoral qualities? Are worship leaders simply highly skilled technicians who have a “steady gig” at a church? 

Today’s worship leader may spend more time with his Macbook than with a real book. She may be more familiar with GarageBand than the people in her band. He may be better versed with directing the choir than providing spiritual direction. 

Of course, the trade side of being a worship leader and the pastoral side are not mutually exclusive. A person can be good at Pro Tools and at pastoring the people on his team. The trouble is we’ve lost the sacredness of the pastoral vocation. Any person who says their core role is to pray, study, and provide spiritual direction is not as “useful” to the corporation we call church. What else can you do? we ask. Then we proceed to fill so much of their time time with scheduling bands, arranging music, and working with the latest recording software that they are no longer doing any pastoral work. Musicians and singers become cogs in a wheel, things we use to fill slots. True, the administration needs to be done. And yes, musical excellence is valuable. But at what price?

Ross Parsley, the long-time worship pastor here at New Life, is fond of saying that music ministry is not about music; it’s about people. Worship ministry is first a sort of a “helps” ministry that serves the Body of Christ. But more to the point, it is an excuse for us to connect with one another. Music is the table we gather around, the place where we see each other face to face, and then learn how to walk alongside one another in this life of faith.

Perhaps the question every church who hires a worship pastor– and every aspiring worship pastor– should answer is this: What will Jesus ask us about: the music we produced, the services we programmed? Or the people we pastored, the sheep we fed?

Take time today and think about the people on your team. Pray for them. Pick up the phone and call them. Break bread with them. Talk to them about more than the setlist. Remember your calling as a worship pastor, not a music program manager. Clear some of the clutter from your week. Maybe it’s time to appoint others to do the tasks that are keeping you from your role as a shepherd. You have never met a mere mortal. Our music will not last forever; these people will.

glenn Packiams’s blog

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Faith, Practical, Worship, 0 comments

Wanna see the world saved?

John 17:9 I do not pray for the world but for those you have given me.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read that verse but this morning it stopped me cold. Jesus prayed not for the world but for those the Father had given Him.

The more I study the more I am convinced Jesus came at a time in history without mass media and huge venues to show us how we were to evangelize the world. I am not against mass media or huge venues but I am against them taking the place of making disciples the way Jesus did. Jesus walked with His disciples, those entrusted to Him, and made them His primary purpose not a means to an end.

So many times we use those entrusted to us to meet needs rather than, like Jesus, using the need to equip the saints. Jesus had compassion on the crowds but spent the bulk of His time making sure those entrusted to Him were equipped and released into the fullness of their calling.

Ephesians 4:16 says “the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

When church leaders begin to recognize, call out, equip, and release every gift into the body the church will grow.


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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, 3 comments

What is “Fruit”

As I collect my thoughts related to ministry and building the church I am reminded of how much God is focused on the individual. Jesus was not focused on the crowds and often avoided them. Every moment seemed to be a teachable moment as He walked with the disciples and focused the bulk of His time equipping those entrusted to Him to carry the message of hope when He ascended.

Ephesians talks about how we were each adopted as inheritors, (1:5,11,14) created to do “good things” (2:10) all being carefully fitted together with Christ as the cornerstone to build the temple of God (2:19) given specific gifts and the grace to walk in them (4:7) then it all culminates in 4:16 with:

“the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love”

I believe the reason the church is not serving is primarily because of the leadership of the church but that’s a topic for another day. The question today is what is fruit?

The Bible is full of references to fruit. What is it? Certainly we can refer to Galatians 5:22 and the fruit of the Spirit but is that the sum total of the definition?

In the natural fruit is the result of excess nourishment the plant doesn’t need to survive. Fruit contains seed for reproduction, provides nourishment, and tastes good. Apple trees produce apples not dates and grape vines produce grapes not tomatoes.

Minutes ago I did a Google search of blogs related to John 15:5 and overwhelmly fruit was equated with “souls”. Ultimately everything we do in the Kingdom relates to souls impacted for eternity but are we all evangelists? are we all disciplers? are we all called to street witnessing?

Ephesians 4:11 says He gave some to be evangelists. I count 25 different gifts enumerated in the New Testament. If my primary gift is administration my being perfected in that gift will ultimately result in the church growing according to Ephesians 4:16 but not necessarily evangelism directly the way I read it.

We must all be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks us a reason for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15)  but what is the fruit I will produce as I walk in the fullness of my calling and gift(s)? It can’t be “what I do” because I can do that in my own strength and John 15:5 says I can do nothing apart from abiding in Him. How does Romans 7:4, John 15:5, Colossians 1:10, and others practically manifest in the life of a believer?

The stated purpose of this blog is “a place to process what I am learning as I choose each day to walk with my Savior”. I don’t have this all worked out this is simply what I am processing with Jesus right now. I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, 2 comments