"For Those Who Are Passionate About Reaching The Younger Generation"

Youth Ministry Topics Developing Student Praise and Worship

Worshiping Our Audience of One (Part 2)

Cynthia Cullen

PEOPLE MATTER TO GOD

The focus of the worship ministry at NorthStar has never been perfection. Everything we do will be done with a people-orientation, because at NorthStar people matter to God. With this focus, we can still do worship services with excellence.

The following analogy helps explain the worship ministry philosophy behind the scenes of a weekend worship service. Rehearsal night is the same as a family cleaning the house before inviting an important person into your home. You polish everything, find all the dirt in the corners, and do all the hard work to get the details done. When the Saturday service starts, the King of Kings is here and you can’t do one more thing. Either the plates are out and it’s ready or it’s not. Each person on the worship team wants to do the best for their King of Kings. It wouldn’t be right to pull out the paper plates. Each person has got to be ready by knowing their music and performing with excellence. That’s what our goal is every weekend at NorthStar. As the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 6:7 - "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…."

One goal and touchstone of NorthStar worship is authenticity. As a leader, the number one priority for each member of the team is to develop an authentic feel to worship. A core value of NorthStar is that our people who minister are real. We communicate the authenticity as an aspect of our walk with God in everything that we do creatively at our weekend services.

STRUCTURE OF THE WORSHIP TEAM

There are four different facets of the worship and creative arts ministry: the vocal ministry, the band, the drama ministry, (NorthStar Players), and the Media Team. For each of these four areas there is a director or ministry leader, both paid and unpaid staff, who oversee these areas.

In addition, a leadership team of approximately 10 people is composed of both paid staff and volunteers. This team is made up of the Worship Director, worship leaders, the directors of each of the four teams, and others that may be invited because of their marketing and graphics background, spiritual depth, or ministry experience. Each person is chosen from different stages of life: the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, which represent the makeup of NorthStar’s current congregation.

Each member of the Leadership Team has been asked for a one year commitment to help run the ministry and give vision, but also to function as an accountability team. It functions much like King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Although Arthur was the King, when they all walked into the room, they all laid their swords down and everybody had an equal voice at the table. Even though Arthur was in charge, everybody had an equal say. That’s exactly how the leadership team functions at NorthStar.

The Leadership Team meets once a month at someone’s home for dinner. It’s an informal time when all members talk about what is going well or what needs to be tweaked. Each month we determine creatively what goes on in services, new ideas, things we need to change about the rehearsals. The Leadership Team is the pastoral team’s sounding board. Our pastors meet with the Leadership Team throughout the year for a two-way dialogue about worship at NorthStar.

The Leadership Team meetings are also a time for me to be open and honest with them as a leader to say here are some things that God is teaching me about that we need to address as a team. This is not a gripe session. A lot of people in ministry I’ve talked to are afraid to do this with their team because they’re afraid that it’s going to be all critical. The way to make this work is to choose people that you respect for their walk with God, their priorities, their servant’s hearts, and their love for excellence. Each person on the Leadership Team has taken ownership of the worship and creative arts ministry. They feel the responsibility to do this ministry well because they know it rises and falls on their leadership.

Also, each person has been empowered to make decisions. We all have the freedom to agree or disagree, yet it’s done with great love. The environment I’ve created for the Leadership Team is that they know that anything that’s shared within that environment stays within that room. We make the tough decisions through the Leadership Team. But, most importantly, we do more than minister together, we pray together, we carry each other’s burdens and we’re concerned that each person grow to his or her greatest potential.

One of the benefits to the Leadership Team is that there are leaders from all four of the areas of the ministry that shepherd their area. It’s impossible for the Worship Director to know what’s going on in everyone’s life. But, each of these team leaders has certain people for whom he or she is responsible.

I should mention here that the Worship Director also meets with our pastors as much as possible to get input and to nail down the details for upcoming services.

THE WORSHIP VOCALISTS TEAM

We’ve taken a different direction in our vocal ministry. We have done specific worship teams in the past and have found there is greater unity when we all work together as one group. Currently, we have about 18 vocalists. Worship vocalists rotate and sing about once a month in the weekend services, but they sing with different people almost every time. This is determined by their particular style, the worship leader, and what the weekend calls for in the area of vocals. Anybody could be a part of the worship community; there was no audition required. But for our vocal ministry, I have a pretty extensive audition that I put them through. The two covenant agreements from vocal team members is that they are committed believers and that they are committed to NorthStar Church. Each one needs to believe this is the church that their families attend.

Pitch and all of the basic musical skills are required, such as reading music and singing by ear. Many times they’re just handed a sheet of music to sight read and learn. Other times they’ll be handed a lyric sheet and they’ll hear the song as it’s played. It’s vital for our vocal team to having the ability to do both. So in our vocal team alone, I’ve just been overwhelmed that in five years I have 18 people. There's no A and B team as each are incredible and are consistent with all of our qualifications. It’s been amazing to see God bring those people to NorthStar.

As a ministry leader, we are really investing in these 18 people. We’re trying to invest into them, not just musically, but by concentrating on spiritual growth in each of their lives. I feel a personal responsibility as I shepherd all the people involved in the worship ministry at NorthStar. I want to help them develop their spiritual gifts and abilities for God. I’m committed to seeing a definite growth in their walk with the Lord from January to December of every year.

The worship vocalists meet each week for about 1 hour on Thursday evenings just as a vocal team. That time always includes prayer and will some times include devotions, with various people sharing in the devotional time as well as time for the team to break into smaller groups and learn music for upcoming services. Our pastors drop in occasionally to share what God’s been teaching them personally. Once the missions pastor led the team in celebrating communion. Discipling our teams is a core value of our ministry, because people matter to God.

We don't have a "soloist mentality." Rather, I've tried to model a team approach. Despite the fact that I’m the Worship Director, I try to not be up in front all the time. We have four to five different worship leaders, both male and female that lead on any given weekend. This allows others to grow and learn about being lead worshippers and draws new worship leaders to our ministry.

A servant’s heart is the struggle of all artists. We all have a need to perform and sometimes it can be totally self-serving. We try to model how to have a servant’s heart to each other and everyone that becomes a part of this ministry. We have lost some people with amazing gifts because they didn’t get the opportunities they thought they should have had. This ministry is all about the team; it’s not about individuals. We invest in each person as an individual, but the greater good of the team is our focus. Many times, because of the style of music or song chosen, some people will not be used for a time. It’s not because of ability, but because of choices that have been made musically. We clearly communicate this and we have seen team members rally around their peers regardless of who sings how much!

If I know that someone has been faithfully attending rehearsals but hasn't been given opportunities to sing because of the nature of the weekend services, I try to make a point to take him or her aside to express my appreciation. It’s very important that the Worship Director individually affirm team members. My number one job is to be a cheerleader for them in their walk with God and their ministry here at NorthStar. All team members must have open hearts to see what God wants to do in and through them as members of the team.

Worship is all about glorifying God and helping others worship him. We just get to be a part of what God is doing!

To continue reading part 3, click HERE.