By Mike Harland
You can call us Worship Pastors. Or Ministers of Music. Or maybe, Worship Leader or Music Guy.
But, how about this one – Enemies of Distraction.
I received an email from a pastor this past week asking what he should do with the following type situations:
- Inappropriate social media posts by leaders
- Questionable types of clothing worn by musicians
- Key influencers on the worship team inviting others over for “Bachelor” finales
There were a couple more I won’t list here, but I think you get the idea. Some of you might say, “That’s not my job. I can’t police the behavior of adults in the ministry I lead.”
I would disagree. Not only can you – you must.
The gospel is why we sing at all. Presenting the clear and powerful truth of God’s Word through Jesus Christ is the only reason we exist. If something hampers or distracts from that gospel, we had better eradicate it and fast. We know that God’s Word has the power to change the lives of the people we lead. How can we live with anything that would distract from it?
As a leader, you have to challenge the people you lead to guard against unnecessary distractions like these:
- An instrument that is out of tune
- Visuals that have the wrong words or misspelled words.
- Clothing that draws attention to an individual
- An unprepared song
- A lifestyle of an individual of the leadership team that isn’t consistent
- A performance that is over-the-top and doesn’t fit into the presentation
- Poor operation of technical equipment
- An individual who enjoys the spotlight but doesn’t participate in the overall church program.
- A bad attitude from an individual who feels under-utilized.
I could go on and on, and I’m sure many of you could add to the list. So, how do we serve in the role of “The Enemy of Distraction”?
- Pro-actively communicate your expectations of team members regarding their use of social media, behavior, ministry participation, and the like.
- Establish a dress code and enforce it. (Men – I highly recommend you enlist a trusted woman to communicate with the women in your ministry about concerns.)
- Make excellence your goal in everything – technical systems, musical presentations, team accountability – and prepare your people so that it is achievable.
- Regularly articulate your desire to eliminate distractions that will affect how the gospel is presented through your ministry.
- Develop and maintain personal relationships with your team so that you will have the relational equity to address concerns when necessary.
- Consider your responsibility to lead as more important than being liked by everyone all the time.
- Seek godly council from your pastor or others when you have difficult situations to address.
- Pray about existing distractions and how to deal with them.
Whatever title you may want to give the role of leading worship through music – consider adding this one to the list…
We are “The Enemies of Distraction.”
God deserves and requires our best offerings of tithes, worship, attitude and everything else. Anything that distracts our attention from that is counter to God. You got me on: “A bad attitude from an individual who feels under-utilized.”
As the wife of a praise and worship minister, I found myself with a bad attitude one Sunday morning. It began when the phone rang and my husband said he needed me to fill in for the church pianist. Then one of the handbell ringers called and it became my privilege to play her bells. Finally came a message that the soloist was sick and needed me to sing the solo. None of the three tasks was very demanding and, since I have a music degree, the only real challenge was figuring out when and where I needed to be, but I let stress and frustration get the best of me. I prayed that God would bless the music and message, and He did. During the service I had been telling myself that I was just a substitute, drumming up feelings of resentment that the people I was substituting for were not even dedicated enough to be there, that surely I was a better musician, but here I was, only a substitute. Suddenly I was jarred out of my self-centered distraction by the realization that the pastor was preaching about Substitution. He was saying that Jesus was my Substitute on the cross. He was using that word. He wasn’t saying anything I didn’t already know, but God’s timing brought me back from distraction to worshiping and praising Him and seeking His forgiveness.
“A performance that is over-the-top and doesn’t fit into the presentation.”
I have been railing about this for years, especially in the form of guitar and drum solos that showcase an individual’s talent but do little to guide the congregation in either praise or worship. I even wrote an essay about the tendency of church bands to turn worship into performance, and in doing so to tacitly glorify themselves instead of the Lord. It’s called “Ignore the Tour Guides, If You Can,” and it’s a free download on my web site. Or, if you prefer, e-mail me and I’ll send you a copy.
Keep up the good work,