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What a Lead Pastor wants from a Worship Leader during sung worship

What a Lead Pastor wants from a Worship Leader during sung worship

Help us exalt Jesus. 

We want our worship to be in Spirit and in truth.  These are the worshippers the Father seeks.  Since the Spirit of God is given to proclaim and exalt Christ, it's your job to lead us in worship that exalts Jesus.  Help us sing songs about Him and to Him.  Make Him the focal point of our worship time together - declaring His character, treasuring His presence, remembering His faithfulness, celebrating His goodness, experiencing His holiness.  Lead us to the feet of the One who is entirely, eternally and equally God, and enable us, (through the songs that we sing), to shout a defiant "no" to the pressures of life as we make the declaration that Jesus is Lord. 

Lead us into encounter.

We want to experience encounter with the living God who walks among us.  Lead US into encounter.  Absolutely sing from the abundance and passion of your own experience, however, remember that there is little more unattractive than being forced to watch intimacy.   When you do your spontaneous thing, which we love and often awakens us to the One who walks among us, please remember to show enough restraint to help us sing the song.  We haven't gathered to watch your intimacy with Him but rather to experience the living God together.  

Help us embrace the faithfulness of God   

We know that life is difficult and that you experience the same trials and tensions as others.  We don't want you to ignore life's hurts.  At the same time we want you to set an example of a believer (1 Tim 4:12).  A believer is not someone without doubts, uncertainties or questions.  A believer is someone who is more preoccupied with Father's favour than their failure.  A believer holds onto the covenant goodness and faithfulness of God, "when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay."  This is not a denial of life's circumstances but a declaration of covenant faithfulness in their midst.  My wife's song 'We still Believe' helped us do this as a community during a time of sustained loss and severe trial.  

Help us engage with the songs of the saints. 

Songs that have been sung: we want to stand in a long line of worshippers.  We want to sing the songs that sustained and shaped the devotion of those have gone before us.  We want liturgy.  We want to intentionally remember that the journey didn't start with us.  Please give us more than this year's top 40, and help us connect with the rich heritage of worship that has been entrusted to us.

Songs that will be sung: give us something from Heaven; something that you overheard in one of your moments with Jesus.  These are the sounds that are not from around here; sounds that awaken our heart afresh to the majesty and beauty of God; songs that you are writing, that reflect what Jesus is doing in your church and your city.

 Finally, thank you for leading us and awakening in us passion for the beauty and majesty of Jesus.  We are deeply grateful.

The Story is the Strategy

God knew what he was doing when He created the world with a word. Divine words shape communities. Similarly the words we use as leaders - the stories we tell - shape the culture of our churches. Stories help us keep effective models visible, they draw attention to the God who is active among us, they awaken our longings for more and remind us of what is possible. Stories throw our minds into fresh possibilities and our hearts into unchartered territory.

We create evangelistic structures through principles…
…we shape missional movements through stories. 

Kingdom leaders increase momentum in the culture through telling an alternative story.

At Causeway Coast Vineyard we have intentionally cultivated a storytelling culture. Our staff gatherings primarily involve shared stories of life change. If you attended, you would notice there is lots of story and little strategy. It’s because for us the story is the strategy.  Every time we share the story we treasure what the Father has given. In so doing, we create the climate for Him to do it again. Exodus says,“Wherever I cause my name to be honoured, I will come to you and bless you.” Phrased differently, “whenever and wherever you treasure what I have already given and done, I will intensify my presence with you and my favour among you”.

Without stories of remembrance, culture drifts towards structure and momentum becomes momentary. We increase the momentum in the culture through stories. 

Culture is carried through story.
Culture carriers are story tellers. They tell stories of the past and the stories of the future.

Every week remarkable things happen in our community… things we could only have dreamt of previously. Each week there are stories of divine intervention, dramatic kingdom outcomes where something shifted that previously seemed impossible. Stories like an entire classroom filled with 42 children surrendering their lives to Christ this week.

These are the BIG stories. 

It’s important to tell big stories. Big stories change paradigms. They serve as a reminder that the impossible is invading and the Kingdom is drawing near. These stories of divine favour stick in our mind, they add to our momentum. When shared on a weekend, everyone is filled with awe and the sounds of the scriptures are heard in the room. We love BIG stories. 

Yet, in CCV we don't always tell the big story.

We don’t always tell the big story because…
… the BIG story isn’t always the best story

The big story and the best story
Big stories are dramatic; they attract a lot of attention. The best stories are dynamic; they create a lot of traction. They move things and people forward. While the Big story details divine favour - outpourings of the impossible - the best story is often the story of reaching for the impossible in our ordinary everyday lives and failing miserably. It’s the best story because it reminds us we can all reach. Everyone gets to play. Everyone has permission to fail and everyone rejoices when an ordinary believer gets breakthrough in their everyday life. 

Big stories shift paradigms. Small stories shift practice. Big stories remind us what is possible. Small stories keep it accessible. Small stories move the whole community towards action. The more people you want to bring with you, the more the story has to be accessible. So we tell our big stories to change paradigms and our small stories to move people. We tell our big stories to change minds and our best stories to capture hearts. When we sense an atmosphere of unbelief building in the minds of our community, we wheel out the big guns. When we sense that people think it’s possible for others but not for them, we wheel out our little guns. In those moments, we often have our children tell the stories of kingdom breakthrough in their context.

Suddenly everyone is thinking if they can do it, I can do it. And of course…whenever the storyteller is not a staff member you just strengthened your culture.

So there you have it. The big story and the best story. Most churches tell only one kind of story. Often they tell the wrong story at the wrong time. As a leader it’s your job to be skilled at both.

Releasing Scattered Servants

Releasing Scattered Servants

“The wind blows wherever it pleases…so it is with EVERYONE born of the Spirit…”

It’s a haunting verse. It reminds me that those immersed in His presence live uncontainable, dare I say, uncontrollable lives.  As a church leader, it reminds me that it is not my church, these are not my people, therefore their primary loyalty is not to church activity. These are not merely supportive servants assigned by God to strengthen my vision or support church expansion. They are scattered servants; under the influence of the Spirit they show up wherever they please and bring life to everyone they meet. 

“The wind blows wherever it pleases…so it is with EVERYONE born of the Spirit…”

It’s a comforting verse. It awakens me to the possibility that everyone can be part of the divine movement. As I read I remember that God is doing more through the movement of His people than I can imagine. It encourages me that His kingdom advances through servants not experts. It reassures me the kingdom is so much more expansive than our services. As a leader it invites me to unleash the power of everyone, everywhere, everyday; moving people beyond church into a movement that brings life.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases…so it is with EVERYONE born of the Spirit…”

My friend Phil and his team were in a local school helping with the RE lesson. As they unpacked scripture with the students, one of the kids declared "I just don’t believe it."  Phil probed a little. "What would it take for you to believe that the stuff written in this book was true?” She replied, “I'll believe it when I see it.” Ordinarily her argument suffices. However, she didn’t know Phil was a kingdom carrier and therefore excited at the prospect of demonstrating the kingdom.

"Is there anyone here in pain?" He asked. Silence followed. "There is someone here, you have pain in your back. God wants to heal you right now."  Reluctantly, one of the students responded. Phil explained how back pain is often caused by misalignment of the spine and often rectified through growing the leg. Turning to the person who had raised the earlier objection, he said “do you want to see a leg grow?”

He then spoke to the leg... And the leg grew…and the spine was healed

Afterwards Phil invited the kids who had witnessed the kingdom to encounter the King. Six of them did. Including one young girl who now believed because she had seen. 

It probably never crossed Phil’s mind the story could have ended differently.  It certainly crossed mine. Aside from potentially disappointing the kids, we could have lost our relationship with the school.  The safe option is to leave “that stuff” until after class. The safe option is only to do things with permission. Had Phil asked for my wisdom, I would have counselled him to handle the moment differently.

Thankfully he didn’t ask.  

“The wind blows wherever it pleases…so it is with EVERYONE born of the Spirit…”

Scattered servants like Phil need to be entrusted and empowered by leaders to take risks and make mistakes. It's difficult to help people realise God trusts them if we don’t trust them. It's hard for them to see themselves as sons/daughters with their own inheritance, if we treat them as servants. Scattered servants need entrustment if they are to be empowered. Granted, sometimes the release increases the mess; sometimes there seems to be more failure than favour. However it's impossible to release people without raising the bar of risk. It's impossible to raise up safe scattered servants. 

“The wind blows wherever it pleases…"