Training Up Other Worship Leaders

Featuring Kevin Pledger Posted on June 21, 2008

I had a pastor near Cincinnati, Ohio who introduced me to the whole concept of studying leadership.  Before that, the thought had never entered my mind.  I'm not even sure that I knew that leadership was something one even could study!  Every Friday at staff meeting, we would sit around a table for the first hour we were there and listen to one of Dr. John C. Maxwell's INJOY Life Club lessons.  These were leadership lessons primarily aimed at ministry personnel.  Those Fridays changed my life and my ministry forever.

In  one of the lessons, Dr. Maxwell said, "Never do ministry alone."  That one statement has stuck with me ever since.  It is now a method of my ministry.  This statement is the key to training up capable leaders in your worship ministry.

Before we go any further, you must know that in order to train capable leaders, there is the assumption that you are a capable leader yourself!  I do not mean to be offensive.  But in my years of ministry, I have seen too many men and women in the pulpits of America who lacked good leadership ability.  The leaders whom you mentor can only reach as high as your ability can train them.  On a scale of 1 to 10, if you are a 4, you cannot train up leaders to be a 7 or 8.  So the first step is to assess your own leadership ability and make sure that you are the one to mentor others.  The most difficult thing for any leader to do, in my opinion, is to give himself or herself an honest objective view of themselves.

Once that assessment has been made and the determination reached that you are the one to train others, the process actually becomes a little easier.  From there, you follow Dr. Maxwell's statement to "never do ministry alone."  Choose one or two (or more depending on time and availability) potential leaders that you will be training.  Pull them alongside you in almost everything you do.  Meet with them over lunch for worship planning meetings if they are not in the office with you.  Explain why you make the decisions you make for everything from song choice to band member scheduling.  Show them your resources for ministry aid (like directing them to PraiseCharts and other sites) and help them to understand how and when to use these resources while equipping them with accounts to do so.

There is a simple three-step process that I use when training up other leaders.  Know that this process in most cases is not something that can be successful over days or weeks, but more like months or years.  Training capable leaders takes time.  This three step process is this:

     1. Model
     2. Mentor
     3. Mobilize

The first thing you do is model what you want done and how it is to be done.  Let those whom you are training know what the standards of quality that you expect to be upheld will be.  Have them watch you and take notes.  Again, be very responsible to explain why you do what you do.  Help them to be leaders, not clones of another leader.  Helping them to understand why you do what you do will help them to make proper decisions later.

Second, you want to mentor others by pulling them alongside you and having them do ministry with you.  This may be having them on the stage with you and actually giving them one song (at first) to actually lead.  It may be a situation where you are the one in communication with the congregation and they just do the solo work, or where they do it all.  The more they understand and comprehend, the more you have them do on their own.  Understand that this may take a few months or even over a year.

Third, mobilize your newly trained leader for effective ministry by allowing him or her to have responsibilities in your ministry.  Part of this stage would be the understanding that they will "never do ministry alone."  They should be given the responsibility of pulling others alongside them and training them to do what they do.  You, or course, will need to maintain some type of overseeing accountability for your leaders and keeping everyone on the same page.

This process should never end.  You may be asking yourself, "Doesn't this mean that I would eventually work myself out of a job?"  YES!  Now you're catching on!  As a church staff member, you are not so much hired to do your job as much as you are hired to train others to do your job.  That is how to have longevity in ministry and leave a lasting legacy!

Here at First Christian Church in Decatur, Illinois, where I serve, it was necessary for me to be gone for three weeks last year with two Sundays in between.  From day one of being on staff, I had followed this three step process.  During those three weeks, not a thing went lacking.  I had two vocal teams (now three) with at least three vocalists who were comfortable with effectively communicating and vocally leading the congregation in worship.  Others were in place to do rehearsals.  The two Sundays went by without a hitch.  And when I landed on Saturday night, I knew that when I walked on the stage the next morning and gave the downbeat for the first tune, that the band and vocal team would be ready.  They were.  It was the first time in 14 years that either the Pastor or Associate Pastor (or both) had not had to come on the platform and lead worship when the Worship Leader was gone.

I'm not the one who thought this up.  It's not my original process.  But I can give firsthand testimony that it works.  Thank you to all who have helped shape me as a more effective leader and worship leader.  And thanks, Dr. Maxwell!

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