What is your worship ministry culture like? Is your church struggling with gaining and retaining volunteers in your worship ministry? How is the health of your staff?

In this episode, N.C. Baptists’ worship ministries strategist Kenny Lamm and David Manner, executive director of Church Forward, discuss practical ways to invest in volunteers in your worship ministry. In this second half of a two-part series, David Manner shares suggestions in creating a healthy culture in your worship ministry.

David will be our keynote speaker at the Renewing Worship EXPO.

If you missed PART ONE of this podcast, check it out.

To download this episode, click here.

Podcast Highlights:

  • “It doesn’t matter how large or small our worship ministry is, we should be developing distinctly and becoming uniquely the worship team that God has called us to be with whom we have, where we are.” (6:38)
  • “As we think about we’re called to love God and love our neighbor, I think one of your closest neighbors should be that ministry staff with whom you work.” (13:22)

David adapted the language of the twelve Gallup questions to fit a worship-leading context for you and your worship volunteers to consider:

Healthy gathered intergenerational worship may not occur until we, as worship leaders, are willing to lead dispersed intergenerational worship first.

1. Do I know what is expected of me in our worship ministry?

2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do this ministry well?

3. Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every time I serve?

4. Have I received recognition or praise for doing good work in the last seven days?

5. Does my leader or someone else in our worship ministry seem to care about me as a person?

6. Is there someone in this ministry who encourages my development?

7. Do my opinions seem to count?

8. Does the mission of our worship ministry make me feel like my contribution is important?

9. Are my co-volunteers and leaders committed to quality?

10. Do I have a close friend in our worship ministry?

11. In the last six months, has someone in this ministry talked to me about my progress?

12. During this last year, have I had opportunities in our worship ministry to learn and grow?


1. Don’t Compare them with others

Are you critical when volunteers can’t imitate a worship model you consider successful? Is it evident you are disappointed when they don’t measure up to your expectations? How well would comparisons like that work in your marriage?

2. Stop coming to rehearsals unprepared

Your lack of preparation indicates either laziness or arrogance. Both reasons convey that your time is more valuable than theirs. And being an artist and a leader doesn’t give you permission for either one.

3. Don’t treat them like extras

Why wouldn’t they assume expendability if you treat them like they are the undercard to your main event? You might have enough talent to succeed alone, but that is not what you have been called to do.

4. Stop considering them as “just ministry volunteers”

Serving as a ministry volunteer is their response to a divine invitation. Since volunteers serve because of calling, they should never be treated as just volunteers filling a vacancy. Your worship volunteers are, instead ministers fulfilling their mission. And for that, we can have some accountability

5. Some of us never affirm them publicly or privately

Yes, it’s true their service is for God, not you. But they still need you to affirm them regularly, intentionally, and meaningfully. They need to know their contributions are fulfilling expectations, are valued multilaterally, and are making an eternal difference. Affirm them in public and correct or coach them in private

6. Some of our volunteers never get a break

Don’t forget volunteers also have jobs and families when you are scheduling them for multiple services every week and rehearsals that always run long. Enlist a large enough pool of volunteers for a rotation to give them a break.

7. Stop making all decisions for them

Leading like you alone have the ability, creativity and even right to be the sole proprietor means you are guarding your status, not leading others. Entitlement and control may achieve compliance for a short time but rarely the buy-in of a long-term commitment.

David referenced 20 things pastors and worship leaders should say to each other. This is the complete list:

1. I’m glad we’re in this together.

2. If we don’t get along, our church members won’t get along.

3. I’m praying for you—sincerely.

4. Let’s plan the service together.

5. I’m not threatened when you get the credit.

6. I need your help.

7. If we blow it up, someone will have to pick up the pieces.

8. I’ve got your back.

9. Let’s go get a cup of coffee.

10. I value our friendship.

11. Tell me about what you are reading.

12. I am interested in what you think.

13. I’ll take care of that so you can spend time with your family.

14. I apologize.

15. Feel free to disagree.

16. I trust your leadership.

17. I’m never too busy to meet with you.

18. Let’s attend that conference together.

19. If it will threaten our relationship, let’s not do it.

20. I love you, my friend.

A closing admonition to pastors:

Pastor, we depend on you as a primary worship leader for our congregation. We do agree that your leadership centers more on worship through the Word and Table than through the music. We also understand and affirm that worship can’t be contained in one expression, such as music. But when you choose not to sing, we wonder if you really view the musical worship elements as an appetizer before the main course or the warm-up band before the headliner. When you study sermon notes instead of singing, it gives the impression you are unprepared, reminiscent of a freshman cramming for a final exam. Pastor, we desire worship that is a continuous conversation with a variety of worship expressions instead of just stand-alone elements of music and preaching. We long for you to teach and model active and fully engaged participatory worship instead of passively giving permission to others not to sing too.

So, with humility, we ask you to help lead us in full-throated singing so that all of our voices, including yours, might unite in communal utterances of praise, thanksgiving, confession, dedication, commitment, lament, and response. When this occurs, our songs will communicate vertically and horizontally in a unified voice so compelling that it can’t possibly be silenced (Ps 30:12).

Dr. David Manner is the Executive Director of ChurchForward (formerly the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists). Before joining the convention staff in 2000, David
served for twenty years in worship and administration with churches in Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Oklahoma Baptist University; a Master of Church Music
degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and a Doctor of Worship Studies from the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies. David writes for various online and print publications, including his worship
evaluation blog: worshipevaluation.org (under renovation currently). He is also the author of the book, Better Sundays Begin on Monday: 52 Exercises for Evaluating Weekly Worship.

This podcast was produced by NC Baptist Communications and was first published on NCBaptist.org. For more episodes, visit ncbaptist.org/podcast. You can also find us on Apple Podcasts.