By Willy Counts
It’s no surprise that the Worldwide Church is transitioning the way that they approach church as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, or “these unprecedented times.” Local churches everywhere are in need of strategies to help them understand what works and what doesn’t work post-COVID.
If you need a strategy that is guaranteed to work, look no further. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Whether you lead worship in big or small churches, young or old congregations, we all need to establish a clear vision to know exactly where we’re going and where we’re taking our church in worship. No matter your church’s demographics, establishing vision creates lasting momentum that is exciting and will keep your team from burning out.
However, establishing vision is not for the faint of heart. Even though it is a simple concept, it can be very difficult to carry out. It will require some goal setting and lots of patience.
Let me give you 4 steps to establish vision in your worship team.
- Set Goals and Benchmarks
Bill Gates famously said, “Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in 10 years.” Keeping this in mind, let me talk with you about setting goals.
Years ago, my wife, Hilary, and I started creating vision boards. We would look up ideas on Pinterest (don’t tell my friends I use Pinterest), print them out, and pin them to a board so that we could look at it every day. She is amazing at it, but it took me some time to allow myself to really dream. Maybe you can relate.
During this process, I encourage you to take self-imposed limits off of what you really want for your worship team and your church by creating a visually compelling end point.
- Who do you like to watch and listen to regularly and why?
- What kind of experiences would you like to have in worship?
- What kind of musicians would you like to have on your team?
- Is there a style or genre you’d like to try?
- What instruments would you like to have on your stage?
Once I completed this process, I had my five-year plan for my worship team.
When I recently joined the staff at my church, the first thing they asked for was a budget for the upcoming year. Being a Dave Ramsey fan, I know about budgeting and snowballing my way out of debt!
However, this process was a lot different than the get-out-of-debt budget that Dave preaches. Creating this vision-budget allowed me to break up my five-year plan into one-year increments. It was actually inspiring and fun! Who knew budgeting could feel inspiring?
I tried to prioritize things that I knew I’d need in the first year. For example, monthly rehearsal resources, new drum heads, a new computer and interface, an Ableton license, and a team party were some of my Q1 expenses. I try to purchase one big thing each quarter, which spreads out my expenses across the whole year. Five years is 20 quarters, or 60 months! Imagine where your team could be if you stay focused on your vision for 60 months!
Establishing values has to do with the emotional part of your vision. Paul said it accurately in Romans 7 when he stated, “For I want to do good, but I cannot do it.”
Our heart’s desire is to stay focused and intentional in the long term, but our mind, will, and emotions are not as black and white the budget you created. Establishing team values will give you and your team a pathway to success.
In essence, you are saying, “If you keep these values, we will see our goals happen.” This will be the part in the process that will challenge your team to raise their standards.
The values that work well for my teams are:
- Heart: Have a strong relationship with God by praying, reading the Word, and other Christian disciplines.
- Community: Have a strong relationship with your team and church by spending time with them and praying for them.
- Excellence: Giving your best, not being the best.
- Attitude: Build the team up, remain positive, look at challenges as opportunities.
I’ll give you a real-world scenario. If you’re one of the many worship leaders struggling with team members coming to rehearsal unprepared, you’re not alone. I tackle this with the value of excellence, which I define as giving your best.
Coming in unprepared to a rehearsal is not giving your best, therefore this must change. Having one-on-one conversations with your team about their shortcomings will be a necessity. These values must be lovingly implemented, but certainly enforced.
Your communication of your vision is imperative. We all know Habbakuk 2:2 when The Lord told him to “write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.”
As leaders, we have a responsibility to make sure that our team knows where they are headed. This is done best when you consistently communicate with your team using different styles of communication.
For example, I recommend having a team meeting with a presentation of your vision, goals, and values. But don’t leave it there.
Every month, talk about the progress your team has made in your scheduling email (or better yet, record a video). Every week, talk about your values at your rehearsals and why they are important. When you close a quarter, throw a party and praise the team for the wins that happened. Every step towards the vision you set is a huge win, so treat it like that!
As you embark towards vision, I encourage you that no vision is too big for you to obtain. God can change church finances as well as people’s attitudes, so don’t falter or get discouraged, even if things are taking more time than you’d like. Aim your sights high and watch your team rise to the occasion. I believe you’ll be surprised at how much can change in about a year’s time.
For 17 years, Willy Counts has played music in different churches, taking every opportunity to build solid worship teams who are grounded in their faith in Jesus Christ. In addition to church consulting, he serves as a worship pastor at New Creation Church in Longmont, Colorado. Visit him online at www.countscreative.com.