Friday, December 10, 2010

Confessions of a Church Musician Part II

See Part 1

Perhaps an appropriate recap of Part 1 would be: “Church changes and that means sometimes roles do as well.”

I’m writing this series to help artists navigate this change and to give people the freedom to discuss this in the clarity of conversation, rather than within the often murky confines of the artistic mind. (Or maybe only my mind is murky ;-)

I’m not trying to change the new paradigm, but rather, helping artists transition well into the next chapter.

Why talk about this? Change the play on an accountant and that’s cake. Change the play or paradigm on an artist and let’s just say it’s somehow less clearly-cut than opening a new spreadsheet ;-)

So what now?

Re-surrender. When church changes artists must re-surrender their talents. When there’s a great fit between your gifts and what the church needs, honestly there’s not a lot of surrender going on; you’re feeling like you’re doing the most natural thing possible. But when the church changes and your gifts are’t the match they were, it stops feeling natural. One now needs to re-surrender.

This is what re-surrender looks like in a prayerful dialogue:

“Lord, thank you for how You have gifted me. My abilities comes from You. How do You want me to use these gifts today? As the expression of Your church changes, how and where would You like to use me in Your church? Lord, help me not be self-centered in my giftedness and serving. Lord, if there is self-serving junk driving me, shine Your light on it and root it out. Help me be fully surrendered to You and Your church. Lead me, Lord, and I will follow.”

Pray along these lines and initiate healthy conversations with healthy Christ followers. Do NOT have “shadow” conversations or “discussions in the bushes” about how unhappy or disgruntled you are.

I’ve thought about the person who has phenomenal tile or building skills. For the run of constructing our current facility their gifts were a perfect match; but then the building was completed and so was that specific kind of serving opportunity for them. Their serving had to look different going forward, or until that skill/gift is needed again. Church changes and we have to along with it.


Maybe God wants to use your artistic gift in a different area of the church or in a different manner. Maybe it’s ministering to a different audience within the church. Maybe it’s helping younger artists develop and mature musically and spiritually.

Maybe God wants your artistic gift to become more missional; using it outside the walls of the church, influencing the culture and cultivating relationships with those whom you’d never meet inside the church. Maybe God wants…?

Re-surrender and begin to ask Him how He wants to use your gift; where, when, how and for whom? Maybe God will start something that’s now only possible because you have more time to use your gift in this new way.

Words for churches and their arts leaders

One of the most profound things I learned at the AND Conference was that leadership has to start the dialogue about change as soon as they sense change is afoot.

This is messy because on the front end of change, leaders do not have it figured out. We leaders usually don’t like talking to teams when we don’t have answers. But when changes happens without a dialogue that’s instigated by leaders, the followers often feel lost or left out.

(I am in no way “sticking it” to Oakbrook or any church’s leadership here--we have GREAT arts leadership. I am in leadership at Oakbrook—this is simply the clarity that I have in hindsight.)

This is what transitional leadership looks like:

“We don’t have all the answers…where don’t exactly know where this is going…we do know we are transitioning into a more worshipful (or fill in the blank) paradigm…we are leaving a more performance-oriented paradigm…we don’t know how this will affect personnel but it probably will…we want to keep an open dialogue…”

Further along in the process as more clarity naturally happens, it will be apparent that some people will be used more and other less. That’s the time to initiate one-on-one conversations. Help guide those being used less to navigate the change. Tell the truth in love. God moves, God changes things and leaders are His mouthpiece.

When it comes to church leadership, much is talked about and written about when it comes to team building. But when it comes to team restructuring or team retooling, I’ve heard or read very little about this topic.

But for churches who are standing the test of time, leading transitions is par for the course and crucial. Because we don’t want to turn away blue chip volunteers that we’re using less—we want to help them transition too!

When a team transitions, people must transition. And the people need led in the process, much like they were led onto the team on the front end. If a football team chose to change their makeup to a more run oriented scheme, the coach would talk about how this new change is going to affect the current roster.

Fortunately for the church, we don't have to cut players, but rather help them transition within the team of the church as a whole.

I think this is the end of this series…I think…maybe...depends on the feedback ;-)