Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

I began my trajectory as a worship leader while I was in high school, playing keyboards or guitar for my youth group at the church where I first met Jesus. We weren?t part of a church family when I was a kid, so when I found Jesus I had that insatiable appetite of wanting to find everything there was to find. I wanted to read as much Bible as there was to read. I wanted to serve in every way there was to serve. I wanted to tell people as much as there was to tell about this Jesus who had changed my life.

But I knew it wouldn?t always be this way.

As a young worship leader, I wanted to be part of every opportunity that came my way. I spent hours playing through worship music books, put worship CDs on repeat and played along with them, memorizing chord progressions as I learned. I studied how other musicians played instruments I didn?t play and began to internalize what a D chord felt like to the point where I developed an ear that could play along with pretty much anything I heard.

But I knew it wouldn?t always be this way.

I grew in skill and I also grew in understanding. I learned how to work with pastors who were teaching as part of a worship service. I began to see how the work of a worship leader could support and encourage the work of a preacher in a way that would help people focus on Jesus. I learned how to design and develop a worship service so that people at every point on the spiritual spectrum could discover a bit more of this same Jesus I had found and was following.

But I knew it wouldn?t always be this way.

The last 12 years of my life have been given to worship ministry in a local church context, including the last 8 years at my current church. God has been so good to me and there is almost nothing else I could consider giving my life to than being part of a group of people being used by God to advance His kingdom.

But I know it won?t always be this way.

And whether your story is in any way similar to mine or not, it won?t always be this way for you, either.[quote]In the story of your life, whatever chapter you are living in currently will come to an end.[/quote]

In the story of your life, whatever chapter you are living in currently will come to an end. Your life may take a major detour, your story may continue along the same path, or your trajectory may transform into something you never imagined. But at some point along the way you will be able to look back at today with an ?I remember when…? perspective.

For those of you who are giving your life now in leadership at a local church level?serving God, your congregation, and your community?let me share with you three perspectives that I am trying to keep as I begin to think about what my post-this life might look like. Since we all know that the days of being the guy up front with a guitar leading worship are not endless, we need to think together about how our identity and activity is rooted in things deeper than our title of worship leader.

Clearly, this is a limited perspective for me. I am so deeply entrenched in the day-to-day, week-to-week, I-can?t-believe-this-is-my-job life that I love to live. But if you haven?t considered the days to come after your job description isn?t able to sustain the weight of your identity, here are three perspectives I hope will allow you to maintain a healthy understanding of who we are, who we are called to be, and how we should live.

Who we are: We are formed by God

Start here and don?t stray very far. Nothing determines who we are and how we live more than the foundational reality that God has created us, knows us, and loves us. My words seem very light compared to the weight of this reality, so let?s allow the words of God to give some perspective:

?You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother?s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.? Psalm 139:1-6, 13-14

Grab your job description, title, role at your church, songs, stage design concepts, and everything else from which you derive worth. Toss it all out the window. Beginning and end, your value and your worth come from the fact that you are a creation of the Creator?known and loved by the One who knit you together.[quote]Beginning and end, your value and your worth come from the fact that you are a creation of the Creator.[/quote]

It will always be this way.

Who we are called to be: We are followers of God

Second, our identity as children of God is found in who Jesus is and what he has done for us. We are followers of God because of Christ, because of his life given up to death?even death on a cross, because of my sin, because of your sin, because of the love of God that longed to be in relationship with you.

Whether you are a worship leader, worship team member, usher, person sitting in a pew?it doesn?t matter! Our identity and activity are lived out as a response of worship and love for what God has first done for us. My leadership, my serving, my talent, my commitment?none of it makes any difference when it comes to the love God has for me, how He has redeemed my life from the pit and given me a new song to sing!

It will always be this way.

How we should live: We are part of the family of God

Worship leaders, one of the reasons you are in leadership is that you were created and called as a leader. You may be proud of this or you may do everything in your power to shake it, but you need to recognize that leadership is given and taken away by God. And one day?maybe soon, maybe not?your window of leadership will come to an end.

Lack of leadership, either by position or influence, is no excuse to throw in the towel and abandon ship. Your faithful following of God who created you includes the reality that you are part of God?s family and the role you have to play?whether it?s the ?up front? guy or not?is still a role God has called you to play.

Being part of the family of God means you should live out the role of encourager, discipler, strengthener, and worshiper. All of those things you do now as a worship leader you must continue to do, just in a different way. Presently, God calls you to do those things as a worship leader, and one day He will call you to do them in a different way. But you still get to live out your calling as part of this great family we call the Church.

It will always be this way.

Nobody said transition would be easy. If it was easy we?d do it more often and there would be fewer casualties. Change is inevitable; things will not always be the way they are now. Developing a healthy perspective is the way to navigate the waters of change.

Remember you are formed by God, you are a follower of God, and you are part of the family of God.

Thankfully, those things will never change and it will always be this way.

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