I know it’s hard to admit, but you know and I know we could be spending our time and money in much better ways than we do. When asked to write on this subject I didn’t want to confess the ways in which I waste time and resources. No way! I would rather observe how others waste their time and report my findings to you. So I contacted a few of my closest worship leader friends to hear what they thought of the subject. Some of them you may know like Bob Kauflin (Author of Worship Matters), Benji Cowart (Award-winning Songwriter, Worship Pastor and Teacher), Ben Gowell (Producer, Songwriter, Guitarist for Paul Baloche and Worship Pastor), and Jonathan Lee (Award-winning songwriter and Worship Pastor). Others may be less familiar to you but they are dedicated guys whom I admire and respect and who serve in their local churches: Matt Kees, Jeff Harrison, JD Farina, Michael Sainz, Joe Mikey Papa and Randy McCoy. I thought I would share their insights to see if it strikes a chord in you. I know they did with me and have encouraged me to make changes in the way I utilize my time and resources not only in ministry, but also in life.
10 Ways Worship Leaders Waste Time & Money
1. Looking at Gear (Waste of Time)
When I teach at national worship conferences, I often find that people will leave the event discouraged. Why? The conference has all the celebrated artists and bands, state-of-the-art audio, lighting, video and music technology and they leave to return to their home church with little hope of ever having any of it. Do we really need this stuff to worship? Really?
Don’t waste time thinking about what the mega-church has and how your church would be better if you had it. JD Farina says: “I think the biggest issues for Worship Leaders are similar to what happened in 2 Samuel 6. There was much rejoicing, worshiping, and celebrating around the ark. The outward expressions were on point. However, many things were going wrong. I’m not a great writer so I’ll just list a few things. The ark (the presence of the Lord) was never meant to be carried on a cart. It was to be carried by people. As Worship Leaders, we tend to want the new cart, best equipment, newest songs, lighting, and smoke. There’s nothing wrong with those things, but the presence of the Lord is not carried on any of those things. People carry it. Consecrated people. We must come to a place where we crave the glory of God. Not an emotional/exciting time before the preaching. This only happens through prayer and fasting. Living holy, consecrated lives before God. Having a personal encounter with God before we have a public one.
The reason why they used a cart was because that’s how the Philistines moved the ark.
2. Spending too much or not enough on equipment (Waste of Money)
We can look at this in a couple of completely different scenarios. Michael Sainz adds, “(Worship Pastors) often compare their budget to larger churches and feel the need to spend lots of dollars to have the latest and greatest (technology).”
This is counter-productive. Many churches don’t even have enough in their budget to pay anyone to operate their tech or to buy a new microphone. Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’. On the other hand, many churches don’t spend enough as Jeff Harrison points out, “I think a big area of waste is “on the cheap.” My church is looking to add this equipment, “on the cheap.” Most people know that if you save and buy later, you will get what you actually need and not what will merely get you by. I see this a lot with system upgrades or new IEM (in-ear monitor) systems. I usually recommend people wait a year or two, save their money and get something that is going to last and serve them well.
Matt Kees concurs, “piece-mealing” tech solutions or “jerry-rigging” solutions instead of just getting what is needed (like Jeff said, getting by ‘on the cheap’).
Qualify the purchase and ask what this equipment will do for the team and the church?
What are the pros and cons?
Who will operate it?
Do they know how?
Is it built to last or is it a “cheap” substitute?
3. Working without a plan (Waste of Time)
Randy McCoy and Bob Kauflin agree on this major time-burner. Make plans and execute them. It’s one thing to have an idea, it’s better if it’s implemented. Write the plan down so you can track progress toward your goal. This will keep you on the course and if you lose your way, get back on track again as soon as you can.
4. Trying to do it all! (Waste of time)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That’s true but Jesus empowered His disciples to fulfill His mission. Don’t waste time by trying to do everything yourself. Cast the vision, lead by example and people will follow. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Learn to delegate. Create and foster an environment that empowers the people on your team. Look for people who have strengths where you are weak. The best teams are composed of many different types of personalities, skills, and character traits. Don’t waste time by trying to strengthen your weakness. Play to your strengths.
5. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, ETC. (Waste of time)
‘Nuff said? Most of the Worship Leaders polled thought that this is a major reason for poor productivity (This applies to all of us, not just to worship leaders). I think all of us could limit the time we spend on these activities. Amen?
6. Perfecting the Self-Image instead of pastoring people (Waste of time)
My dear friend Jonathan Lee writes, “I feel like Worship Leaders spend too much time on their image. What they wear, what they say, and how they look. Do they spend all their time in the “green room” or are they out in the middle of everything being leaders and pastors and loving people where they are. I am learning that my time on stage is less important than my time loving on my team, teaching them, and encouraging them.”
Joe Mikey Papa related something similar, “Worship Leaders waste time and money worrying about a record deal instead of pastoring the church God has given them.”
Benji Coward is on the same wavelength, “…for me, it was a lack of intentionality both on my part and my church’s part but mostly on my part, starting with asking right questions, What are we trying to accomplish with the music portion of worship? What is my calling to my team? Is it to make them a better team? Is it to help foster their growth both as believers and as believers who have a calling to steward their gifts? If my role is Pastor/Shepherd and not just Music Director, how well do I know my team? Do I know what’s actually going on in their lives/marriages/etc? Do I spend enough time with them outside of rehearsal to where they’re comfortable letting their “I’m fine” mask down?”
Joel Klampert passionately shares, “Worship leaders waste time NOT pastoring the church. Not jumping into the garbage heap with our brothers and sisters. Not cutting a hole in a roof to lower our friends in to see the King of kings. Knowing your team and knowing the struggles and heartaches in your congregation puts you in a position to lead in a way that gives glory to God but also gives you the unique ability to sing prayerfully and prophetically over the people in the room. You are no longer singing songs or performing a concert. You now know that as I sing “I’m no longer a slave to fear” the person in row 18 who is scared to death to walk into the rooms of AA, is a person you are interceding for as you sing those lyrics, doing things in excellence for Jesus is important, but when we see Jesus face-to-face, He won’t be asking us if we nailed the dotted eight riff on a Hillsong set. He will ask us if we knew him when He was hungry or gave Him drink when He was thirsty.
7. Lack of Rest (Waste of time)
I taught at Pure Worship Conference last week with Ben Gowell, who was kind enough to share his thoughts: “We don’t always manage our time ‘working well’ and ‘resting well’. We show up for ministry opportunities worn out and tired because we’ve not properly ‘rested’ in times when we should be. We’ve been working out social media, staying up late watching TV, or on our computers and not getting good sleep/rest/quality time away that we need to recharge.”
This is also a waste of money if you’re in a paid position. The church is expecting you to be prepared and available to fulfill the duties of the position and beyond. Get the rest you need. Please, we don’t need any more worship leaders burning out.
8. Not spending enough on training (Waste of time and money)
Your church just purchased a new digital mixer? How much did you spend to teach the sound tech how to run it? Your vocalists are all over the place with intonation and you don’t know how to make it better? How much are you spending on training for your musicians?
We need to know who are the ones who are committed to serve and have the desire to learn. Bob Kauflin points out: “Don’t waste time working long term with poor musicians who have no intention of practicing to get better.”
On the other hand, don’t allow the most talented musicians on the team to get away with skipping or being late for rehearsals or meetings. This wastes everybody’s time and discourages the members of the team who are on time or early. Establish guidelines and require a commitment to the team.
9. Not Spending Enough Time or Money on Team Retreats (Waste of time and money)
We think nothing of spending all we can on equipment, facility, and infrastructure improvements. However, when budgets are created for the worship and tech team, dollars need to be allocated for time away together and not for any other reason other than to build relationships. The investment to build team relationships will pay huge dividends and will make a radical change in the way we work with each other. Strong relationships are built outside of the workplace, or in our case the church. More problems will be solved with a team that cares for one another rather than by the gear they purchase. In my opinion, this is the best use of our money.
10. Little Time for Prayer
I know I am guilty as charged. I don’t spend the time I should on my knees in the presence of my Father. Jesus always made time to be with Abba. Shouldn’t we?
Benji Cowart sums it all up here:
“A lack of long-term direction and intentionality towards your direction can create an environment where I plan four songs, chart and distribute charts and run a rehearsal every week and gain zero ground towards true movement spiritually & musically. If I work efficiently, I can plan and prepare for a rehearsal in one day and then I have four other days that I can either fill with meetings, wasting time, or intentional investment in my team and the music ministries effectiveness. The most effective thing to do in the name of intentionality is prayer but honestly, when I was full time, I was terribly undisciplined there.“