This is the Ad Lib Music podcast. Have you been looking for someone to walk alongside you in your leadership journey? We love worship leaders! Ad Lib Music is an organization of worship coaches that is deeply committed to eradicate isolation and burnout so that you bear much fruit. Part of our mission is to give you resources, and THIS is the Worship Fertilizer from Ad Lib Music. http://AdLibMusic.com
233 What is Your Lid?
I’ve been getting up at 4:30 AM the last couple of weeks to spend quiet, uninterrupted time writing and editing my past Fertilizers.
I’m putting them into a book to publish. You’ll notice this is the 233rd Fertilizer I’ve written. I started in 2009.
I’m going through each one and painstakingly and cruelly editing them. Well, that’s a bit dramatic, and it’s pretty enjoyable to do. I cringe occasionally, but I like revisiting most of what I’m seeing. And some of it I just love!
But I’m not doing it alone. For a mere $139 per year, I’ve hired Grammarly to help me improve my writing skills. Ok, so it’s just an app that scores your document, finds errors, and makes suggestions. But it’s making me a better writer. (See, I usually would’ve written, “It’s actually making me a better writer,” but I’m used to Grammarly telling me that “actually” is overused or unnecessary.)
Turns out, I have a problem with creating tautologies. A tautology is when you say the same thing twice. Like “My own life,” or “he always over-exaggerates.” or “I want to see him personally.”
I also say “that” a lot. So after I’ve gone through the whole document, I search for instances of the word “that” and try to reword the sentences.
I like to add “just” to things. Not quite as often as your average twenty-something in their prayers, but… And Grammarly knows just how to make me change it. The prompt asks, “Do you want to sound more confident?” Ugh! Of course, I do, so I remove it. (See, there’s no “just” before “remove”?)
There’s a cool feature that grades your paper with a classic 0-100 score. Most of the Fertilizers start with a score in the 80’s, and I love working the post until it scores s99 or 100. It’s a little game I play.
Here’s how you can use this.
With the Great Reset we’re experiencing, take some time (get up early if necessary) and evaluate your leadership skill.
Think about your interactions with team members and ponder how you can improve them.
Imagine yourself as an unchurched person or a new believer and listen to the things you say on the live stream.
Watch it again with no audio and look for your physical quirks.
Send the link to another worship leader and ask them to (lovingly) tell you two things they like and two things you could improve.
If you can listen back one track at a time, solo your instrument and check for sloppiness or a lack of musicality.
Think of a change you’ve wanted to make. What’s stopping it? How is the way you lead, contributing to the delay?
Read (or re-read) John Maxwell’s classic The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership book.
Sign up for a free coaching session to finally find out what they are like
Do an audit of your songs. Find the ones you’ve only scheduled once in the past year and consider removing them. By looking at the top five songs you’ve led, what is the general theme you seem to go back to? (And here’s the most valuable question: why is that theme central for you?)
Make a game out of it. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Work to be better.
Maxwell’s first law, the Law of the Lid, states: “leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his or her potential.”
This means you want to work to “raise your lid” or take off the limits you’ve place on yourself. You may be a fantastic musician, but if you can’t lead people, you won’t be a very effective worship leader. You might love people, but if you don’t know how to create change, your effectiveness is capped. You might have significant energy and ambition, but if you don’t understand the principles of lead
232 The Great Reset
Maybe we feel disoriented because God is trying to reorient us.
As churches, we’ve been forced to rethink virtually everything about our weekly gathering rhythms.
Naturally, we feel a growing anticipation for when we can meet again. Once this storm has past, what will you restart and what will you put to rest?
And what if we don’t look at it as "when we come back" but "what God is inviting us into?" This is such a time of unusual opportunity. We must take the time to ask this question.
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)
"Jesus responded, "Why do you keep looking backward to your past and have second thoughts about following me? When you turn back you are useless to God’s kingdom realm." (Luke 9:62 TPT)
Can you mow a straight line if you keep talking to your neighbor as you look back over your shoulder?
So take a moment to reflect: what was Sunday really about?
Fundraising (don’t hate me)
You can read the Fertilizer called "Why do we Gather?" here to jumpstart your thinking.
Here are some further questions for your team:
What do you miss most about gathering? Why do you miss that? What scriptural model, design, or narrative does that desire come from? (this will either help strengthen it or help you let it go)
How is the Church better positioned to be the Light of the World with these limitations?
What are the benefits of physically gathering on a weekend to worship? (List them specifically and comprehensively)
What energy have we been over-investing or under-investing in planning the hour on Sundays?
How has this season kickstarted the church (versus just the leaders)? How can we re-tool to continue this healthy shift?
What is one thing that we’re sure needs to stop? What sacred cows do we need to grill? (things/ministries we used to do that we thought could never end, but now have been paused)
Where is our greatest opportunity for sharing the gospel?
How do finances shape what you do when you gather?
How was the way we were doing ministry failing to make strong, radical disciples? How would we shape ministry to more fully do that?
How do our gatherings and ministries love, serve, and lead in ways that are scriptural and Spirit-inspired in the context of our emotionally-driven world?
How can the Church be more unified, not with the world but, for the sake of the world, with Herself?
How has your worship ministry failed or succeeded in training your congregation to be homes of worship? What can you do to strengthen that (beyond the helpful idea of sending them videos of you doing a song)?
Seize the opportunity given us! Let’s get in sync with the Lord’s perspective and purpose in this time. We ask Him together to reshape, realign, and reset us for His desire!
And this would be a great time to join the other worship leaders who are resetting their next decade with a round of coaching. Having someone to talk with who is outside of your ministry context is so helpful! We’re offering a free session to leaders who haven’t tried it yet. Just schedule a time by clicking on https://adlibmusic.com/schedule-a-call.
Lucas. Now you know how to say Luke in Spanish. Well, only if you pronounce it Spanishy.
But do we know what to do when a messenger from God shows up when we’re just doing our weekly service?
I was in my daily scripture reading in Luke 1. I felt a resonance with Zechariah and Elizabeth who were from…shall we say “a long line of worship leaders.” And Zach had just showed up to lead his weekly worship set. He was a good man, and godly.
And “God showed up.” Or perhaps I should say there was heavenly activity.
And he flipped out and didn’t know how to respond. He was “shaken and overwhelmed with fear.”
Granted, an encounter with the Holy is overwhelming, affecting our whole being - spirit, soul, and body.
But Zach’s response seems to be unbelief. He questions, which on face value could seem perfectly appropriate. The message was naturally impossible. But the angel’s response tells me there was something in his heart. It wasn’t innocent curiosity like Mary’s would be later in the chapter. There was something untrusting, resisting, resting-on-logic in his question. Something that lacked faith.
And without faith, it is impossible to do the heart of worship, aka please God. (Hebrews 11:6)
So I’m reading this story and I think about us as worship leaders and pastors. There’s no question that along a long enough timeline of us showing up to perform our appointed duties that God has interrupted us. He has spoken. He has revealed His heart.
Have we been ready? Are we ready?
I know most of us, if we are leading right now, are recording or live streaming from homes and empty sanctuaries.
But are we expectant?
Do we yearn and pray for more than just proverbially burning incense?
And when God’s Spirit breathes and moves on us, how do we respond?
Zechariah said, “How can I be sure?” Like “I don’t want to be a fool for proclaiming or believing this.”
Mary said, “How will this be?” Like “Give me some details about Your plan, Lord…this is exciting!”
Our response to when heaven invades earth seems to have bearing on what happens next.
Do we believe that as we record, as we stream, that God wants to say something, that God wants to meet us?
I say “Give me some details about Your plan, Lord…this is exciting!” His life will follow!
Our lives feel a bit like this picture of Banda Aceh, Indonesia. The first picture is before the 2004 tsunami and the second picture is just after. I’m not trivializing the 230,000 people that lost their lives in that tragedy. It paints a powerful picture of what many of us feel in this time of global quarantine.
As we slowly crawl through this time, we can get disoriented, discontented, distracted, disillusioned…lots of things.
But stay the course, friends!
I remember the end of 2008. I was working at Starbucks and my store closed on November 22nd. Now what?
Well, it’s when I decided to jump into Ad Lib full-time. When I worked at Starbucks, I had to get up at 4:30 AM. And now I didn’t have anyone telling me when to show up. I could just start working whenever I wanted to.
So I decided to “sleep in” and get up at 5:30 AM every workday.
That single decision has stayed with me for twelve years. And it has shaped the way I approach what I do.
This quarantine has challenged that, but I’m pressing into that discipline again. Because it brings life! Schedule your life as though someone else was requiring it. In other words, when we lose our routine, we get disoriented and unmotivated. A day or two like this is fine, but weeks…not so much.
On Easter, as I watched the livestream from ACTS Covenant Fellowship (our sending church in the States), Bruce Lengeman challenged us. He recounted his experience that week where he “wasted an evening and ate too many chips.” (Let the one without sin cast the first stone. LOL)
And then he acknowledged, “It was sloppy.”
And I thought, that’s it! It’s really easy to live sloppy right now. It feels like this time doesn’t count. Like we’re just killing time until this is over.
But this is a time of TREMENDOUS purpose, of GREAT opportunity, of CRUCIAL intentionality! This is a time to be “never lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)
Some questions I’m asking:
What is God doing?
What is the Father inviting us into?
What is flaring to the surface? Pay attention! What dross is He refining from you?
What are you doing to keep your worship team from isolation?
What are you praying for most? And “where” are you tarrying in Jerusalem (at home) for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? (Acts 1:4)
Where are you stuck or where can we help each other out?
How are you investing your time?
Five ideas that I’m implementing:
I just started to listen to Nir Eyal's audiobook Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. He said, “Distraction is the opposite of Traction. Don’t let yourself get distracted.” Whoa! We need to gain traction in these days.
I also just signed up for Rachel and Dave Hollis’ “Next 90 Days.” (They usually do a “Last 90 Days” to invest the same kind of energy for the last 90 days of a year that we do for the first 90 days, but this is focused on these current 90 days.) They focus on doing the “5 to Thrive” (the five things you commit to doing every day for 90 days): Water, Exercise, Food, Wake Up, Gratitude. Sounds good, eh?
I’ve also joined spiritual movements: Unite714.com and https://louengle.com/pentecost/ These give me motivation to be prayerful and tune me in to what God is doing across the Church.
I will be watching Danny Silk’s “how to SURVIVE your kids during QUARANTINE” webinar. It has one for parents, one for kids.
We’re always on the lookout for good family movies. From April 15-21, Bethel Music is streaming their movie “Bright Ones” for free! We’ll be watching tonight: brightones.bethelmusic
“You tend to feel in control of your life when our wills are in harmony.” - God (via Sarah Young)
Control. Remember that feeling?
Life in sync. Options. Gatherings. Freedom. Routines.
As my wife read our devotional of the day, my heart perked up. …I can have a feeling of control simply by spending energy in aligning my will with the Father’s? Wow!
The context for the quote that Sarah wrote in 2004 says:
“On some days your will and Mine flow smoothly together. You tend to feel in control of your life when our wills are in harmony. On other days you feel as if you are swimming upstream, against the current of My purposes. When that happens, stop and seek My face. The opposition you feel may be from Me, or it may be from the evil one. Talk with Me about what you are experiencing. Let My Spirit guide you through treacherous waters.”
Now, in quarantine, the application is likely obvious. But what about when this blows over and life feels normal again?
And the grind of ministry ramps up
Your drummer shows up late again
Your vision is ever so slightly different than your pastor’s
You don’t quite know what songs to pick
You don’t feel supported by your audio tech
The congregation “just stands there”
You can’t get the right feel for the song at rehearsal
You don’t have a bass player
You question whether you have what it takes to be a worship leader
The vocalists don’t know how to sing the harmony
The team doesn’t respond to the PCO invite
The church bathroom is overstocked with TP
You know, normal life. (Sorry, I just had to add that last one)
What would it look like in those moments when you feel out of control, to stop and seek His face. Tell Him what you’re experiencing and be guided by the Holy Spirit?
For each of the examples above (or the ones your mind drifted to), what would it look like to ask the Father to align your will with His to bring a sense of peace, of control?
And what I love about this truth is that there’s this massive freedom we walk in when completely trusting Him. So much so that rather than even asking for situations to change, we begin channeling all our attention and focus on asking for His will to be done. It’s the freedom of letting go and trusting God in the truest way.
I love and hate moments like the one we’re in. I hate it because it’s hard and I had plans! I love it because we’re in a global classroom of the Spirit. Not everyone knows it, but God is awakening His Bride and teaching us to pay attention.
Let Your kingdom come, Lord Jesus! Let Your will be one!
ps. As a bonus, here’s a short, encouraging video: https://www.facebook.com/lifecenteronline/videos/1312623769125284/
pps. Such a beautiful surrender…Control.
219 Take it or Leave it
I was leading worship and I felt like the congregation could take it or leave it. 💔
I mean, several people were deeply connecting with God, but I couldn’t shake this feeling like the American consumerism had taken hold.
One woman stood there singing pleasantly, holding her cup of coffee.
And that’s pretty common. I’ve done it myself.
I’m not judging folks. I don’t know what’s going on in their hearts.
But when people are having an encounter, you can tell. I know how to read body language.
I get to lead worship in 10-20 different churches a year, so I see a pretty broad spectrum. And a fully engaged congregation is…a refreshing experience every now and then. But this just felt different, starker. I felt…caught off guard.
But what to do?
I was processing this with one of our overseers, and he said very plainly "Disciple them in worship."
See, I was serving at a historically "obviously worshiping" church, but we’d had lots of transition and a ton of new folks. It was time to sprinkle some teaching into our leading.
And I’m certainly not complaining. It’s our job as worship teams to disciple our congregations in worship. If they aren’t learning to be a worshiping congregation, it’s our fault.
Here’s the response I’m suggesting:
Be a worshiper in your private life
See it as your role to disciple others in worship
Don’t settle for typical Sunday morning
Show up prepared
Be a worshiper in your private life
Get the full story in Fertilizer #216, but nothing has a greater impact on your effectiveness as a worship leader as the health of your own worshiping life. Nothing.
See it as your role to disciple others in worship
You’re not a filler, a warmer-upper, an entertainer, a rally-er, a singer. If anything, you’re a trainer, a discipler. But this isn’t an add-on to your identity. It’s not another hat you have to wear. This is your core role. You must see everything you’re doing through this lens.
Don’t settle for typical Sunday morning
Don’t settle for engagement when you can have encounter. Actually meeting with God and allowing Him to transform us with His gospel and His spirit is our main goal for gathering. No ear-tickling, please. (2 Timothy 4:3 NASB)
Show up prepared
You’ve planned your songs, but did you plan your bombs? (Dan Wilt explains what I mean here: https://www.worshiptraining.com/media/bam-worship-teaching-bombs-and-how-to-use-them …it’ll keep you from sermonizing.) I spend lots of time on Saturday evenings and early Sunday mornings thinking about what I’m going to say to help the congregation "get it." How will I activate them? What scripture will I read? How will I say things so they stay off of autopilot? What will I bring that actually disciples them in their worshiping life, by experience and understanding? How can I cooperate with the Holy Spirit and be in alignment with what the Father is doing?
So declare the WORTHship of the LORD, lead your congregation to actually meet with God (Psalm 42:2), and reignite your passion to disciple your congregation in worship.
Pretty cool podcast, a lot of good info regarding issues and questions that worship leaders face. Keep up the good work
Super Practical And Helpful
I’m so grateful for the podcast version of a newsletter I’ve come to anticipate Wednesday mornings in my inbox!
I just got done listening to the podcast, “Practicing is a Discipline That Sets You Free” And I was challenged again to think more about what I do in personal practice vs rehearsal with my team. As a new worship pastor leading a team at a new church plant, I have been painfully aware of my need to know my music thoroughly, and to understand the flow. But lately I think I have tended to slack when I have delegated the leading of a particular song to another, and I find I don’t practice that song as much. Then at rehearsal I’m not harmonizing well or I’m awkward in my lead ins.
This episode reminded me gently but practically, that time spent practicing isn’t only about me but about my team too. If it’s possible to practice daily as a musician/vocalist, then it’s possible to do the same as a Worship Pastor/vocalist.
Thanks Dave! My team will listen to this at our next rehearsal!