I’ll never forget that day. I was at the 2017 MTNA Conference in Baltimore, Maryland when I got a text from a good friend letting us know that a big announcement would be made at our church that Sunday. It sounded really, really serious.
Since I wouldn’t be there, I called him immediately and was shocked to hear that our Senior Minister, who had been with nearly 30 years, was being let go. (The nitty-gritty of the reason why, of course, is not pertinent to this story, so we’ll skip over those details.)
After hanging up the phone, my next outing at the conference was brunch with my good friend (and author of The Varsity Musician’s Playbook), Christina Whitlock, and Wendy Stevens. Bless their hearts, they were very sympathetic to my blubbering shock at the information I had just received.
That is one of my life moments I will never forget.
Fast-forward just over a year. It’s now the summer of 2018.
Our church was going through a formal “transition” process with a company called Interim Pastor Ministries. It was a long process, but the results were well worth it in the end.
During this time, a person in our congregation who had been a worship leader in a previous career had been filling in as our worship leader. After a year he was ready to step down, but our church still had not hired a new pastor and wanted to wait until the new pastor came before hiring other staff.
Thus, I was next in line as the most obvious person to ask to lead the worship team.
This is another one of those life-moments where it throws you a complete curveball.
MY plans for 2018-2019 were to vamp up my work here on Piano Pantry, open up a shop, etc. His plans were otherwise, however, and I am so glad I took the fork in the road.
The Job Situation
Since this was a temporary situation and I already had a job playing for a small Lutheran church in our town, the elders wanted to ensure I did not have to quit my job to take on this role. Thus, it was set up that I was the “coordinator” of the team, not necessarily the weekly “up-front” worship leader.
My duties included scheduling the team, choosing music, putting together all the chord charts and sound files, and rehearsing the band and vocalists every Thursday night and Sunday morning. (Plus all the other little things that get wrapped up into it that you can’t really articulate).
On Sunday mornings, I would arrive at our church at 7:00 am to prep, rehearsed the worship team from 8:00-9:15, left to play at the Lutheran Church at 9:30 (while our worship team led the 9:30 service), then came back and attended our 11:00 service with my husband.
Every 6 weeks or so, I would take a week off from the Lutheran Church (I just recorded the music for them on a Yamaha Clavinova) and would lead worship at my church. Otherwise, we had 3-5 team members we rotated as worship leaders from week to week.
It’s been a whirlwind, but the past 11 months has taught me a lot as it’s been a new and unique experience for me. The only other time I’ve been in charge of music in a church was for two summers after I graduated high school. I moved out of my parent’s house and lived with my aunt and uncle so I could lead music at my uncle’s small church. That was 20 years ago though, and things have changed quite a bit!
This week is my last week in this role and I thought it might be nice to share with you some of the things I learned not only so you might glean some tips, but as kind of a final recap for myself mentally.
It’s that whole “putting a period on the end of a sentence” thing in life where you mark the end of one venture before moving onto another.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past year:
1) Appreciate the person who is leading.
Just like a lot of things in life, it’s easy to nit-pick and finds fault if things aren’t exactly the way you would like them. We tend to like things catered to our exact tastes.
There is so much more that goes into the role of worship leader – I had no idea. I learned that I need to appreciate the person who is in that role more and be positive and supportive of that person, even if their “style” or the way they operate things is not exactly the way I would do things.
2) Plan with Planning Center Services
Planning Center is a website for churches focused on managing different areas of the church such as member databases, check-ins for child programs, church event management, and so much more.
One of those areas is Planning Center Services which is designed to organize all things worship-team including team schedules, weekly planning, and file-sharing. We have our own song database, can organize our songs with tags and can see a history of when and how often we’ve done each song. I don’t know what I would have done without it!
Planning Center Services also has a sheet music app called Music Stand that links to your P.C.S. account and syncs your Order of Service playlist so it will create a setlist from your service order. The best part is that if you make any updates to the files, it will automatically update in Music Stand as well.
It even has the ability to connect everyone’s iPad on the team to one “session” so one person can turn everyone’s page at the same time. (This feature never worked for us quite the way we wanted but it’s still a cool feature!)