Cultivating Talent In A Limited Pool…

So you having talent like this in your church…. Fantastic… What do you do?

I grew up in a small church in rural Saskatchewan. Usually when asked about the culture of a smaller church you will hear fantastic stories about Community, Family Oriented Serving Opportunities and the almost weekly Pot Lucks in the church basement. One other word that I hear more often than not is the word “lacking” in regards to the music and arts of the small church.

Within the small church I grew up in, we had a surprising amount of musically gifted people, which is usually uncommon for a church of 130 people or so. I had the privilege to be a product of the small church, to be grown and mentored into the man, worshiper, musician and worship leader I am today. Through the countless opportunities to serve, play out of tune, sing wrong lyrics, break hundreds of strings and still receive hugs and encouragement from the congregation to which I will be forever grateful.

Now, as great as that is, every church deals with growth pains.

The question many Worship Pastors and Volunteer Leaders ask is “How do I cultivate talent within my limited pool?”

And as I’ve asked this question myself and to a number of friends here’s what I’ve come up with.

Time – There’s the saying that “time heals all wounds” to which I reply, YUP! For many worship pastors they are in it for the long haul which means they have nothing but time to develop in house talent. The problem which many run into is the dedication it takes to time commitments and impatience. We wish we had musicians who just magically understand music and can play most everything. But that is not the case. As leaders we have to lead and understand that countless hours of running the various instrumentals over and over again to hit that solo will be in the long run worth it.

Excellence – This in fact is always a balancing act in most churches. Where do we draw the line between excellence and performance. As lead worshippers we do not want to simply preform a worship song, but lead the church into an authentic God encounter through the act of worship. In order to do so we need to be aware of the various man made distractions that so often we as musicians bring into the mix.

We serve a God who wants our hearts. And it should be our hearts desire to give God our very best. Often times in smaller churches I hear from musicians, “Well, its good enough for church.”  This NEEDS to change.  Every time we go on stage we must understand that we are serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and our attitude of “good enough” cannot be an appropriate response. This is one of my bigger frustrations.

Relationships – My friend Josh responded to this question so beautifully when he said that “the people serving with you need to feel that they are apart of something bigger. A family to support and encourage and a vision they can follow.” Often times I find myself joining a team with very little vision and goals set. It feels week in week out grind where we come in play through the set and then leave. We all have lives to get back to, however I have found that if there is no relational piece to the team that the bar is already set before you as a leader can try to set the bar yourself. As leaders and pastors we must be constantly building towards the relational rather the building toward the Sunday service.  One amazing way to remedy this is to encourage your players to play together outside of the worship gig. Jam nights not only are fun, but you get to see the other sides of your players. So play together often and in various scenarios.

Mentorships/Training – I love mentorships. I find that if I can surround myself with 3 or 4 men in various walks of life that I can give full authority to call me out and kick my butt when I need it but most importantly to speak life and encouragement into me, is the crux of how I tick. We need to develop the attitude within out teams of “I’m never there yet..” because through a desire and hunger to get better do we see growth form in exponential ways. Because once we think we’ve made it we begin to go backwards. I try to encourage the people I play with to expand their horizons and to monthly do something different within their gifting.

Heart – You know cousin Billy who really wants to join the worship team and has been quoting scriptures to you about the Heart of Worship and tells you that his role model is David because he was the man after God’s own heart.  You know that cousin billy also can’t carry a tune or plays only heavy metal electric guitar or pan flute or thinks he has a voice like Bieber but its more like a tortured cat. These types of people are in every church. They are in many cases most worship leaders nightmares because we all hate telling them the truth about their gifting.

Truth is. I believe these people are some of the diamonds in the rough that you may be looking for. As this ties in with the whole “Time” category above I believe that there is something so special about a Passion to worship. Finding a person who is so in tune with what God is doing in and amongst them through worship is something we as leaders often deem as eccentric or “special”. These are the people you want to build into and attempt to develop into musicians. Trust me, finding passion and building talent is way easier than finding talent and trying to build passion.

Wait – Don’t rush the release. This was something I had to learn myself. So often we as musicians look to jump in and showcase our gifting and talents to the world. Where as leaders we need to be able to allow timing, fit and divine go ahead to play a part as well. Because most worship pastors are looking to “fill spots” they will pick and release players who aren’t quite ready yet to be released. Although the role is somewhat filled for that weekend it does cause issues later down the road.  As leaders make sure we are not simply “filling spots” but rather hearing from God when the right time to release some players into the mix. This needs to be part of the vision you instill in your volunteers.

Celebrate – Lastly, make sure you celebrate the wins as they will always be overshadowed by the few misses in the arts culture. We live in a society so quick to scrutinize and criticize our gifting and talents. Just because we can’t sound like the next Jesus Culture or Chris Tomlin doesn’t mean that people are not being blessed by you and your team serving week in and week out. Unfortunately, we as musicians are often more sensitive to criticism than others so we need to encourage one another more often than not. For those of you reading this who aren’t involved in the music side of church, PLEASE encourage your worship leaders, musicians and pastors. We are a fickle bunch and often it hurts wearing our hearts on our sleeves in front of you.

Regardless of your talent pool, it should not have to equal your church size or structure. Through building and investing into your team with some of these values focused on you will begin to see an increase in not only gifting, but also in a willingness to serve and a passion to worship.

Let me know your thoughts.



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