It’s Fri­day, but Sunday’s comin’! This phrase, ini­tially intended to describe our antic­i­pa­tion at Christ’s tri­umph over the grave on Easter Sun­day, also strikes fear into the heart and mind of every church musi­cal leader. Why? Because it sig­ni­fies the tread­mill that never seems to ease, the con­stant grind from Sun­day ser­vice to Sun­day service.

We get so busy with choos­ing songs, select­ing scrip­ture pas­sages, rehears­ing teams, con­tact­ing vol­un­teers to par­tic­i­pate and deal­ing with crit­i­cism that we can eas­ily for­get the broader nature of our roles. We can eas­ily fall into the rut of merely man­ag­ing each week’s press­ing tasks, and neglect lead­ing our team in any long-​term capacity.

So how do we see fur­ther than the next ser­vice in our musi­cal lead­er­ship? Here’s 9 easy sug­ges­tions that will start us on the right path.

1. Place great impor­tance on team, not task.

Noth­ing will exac­er­bate the weekly grind more than focus­ing only on the tasks that need to be accom­plished and the dead­lines loom­ing next Sun­day. Instead, try to cre­ate times in rehearsal and dur­ing the week where the team can con­nect. Model to your team that you place more impor­tance on the peo­ple you min­is­ter with, rather than the dead­lines you are rush­ing towards. This can be a cof­fee, group dis­cus­sion, social event, or even just hang­ing around before or after rehearsal for a few more min­utes and chatting.

2. Cre­ate a medium-​term focus to your group devo­tional times in rehearsal.

It is great to pray for the next Sun­day ser­vice (and each min­istry out­ing needs to be bathed in prayer), but if we only ever focus our group devo­tional times on the tem­po­ral, we fall vic­tim to rou­tine very quickly. Instead, try to cre­ate ways to focus our devo­tional times in rehearsal on longer-​term top­ics. For exam­ple, pray­ing for an upcom­ing sea­son of ser­vices (ie Christ­mas, Sum­mer etc), focus­ing your group devo­tional for a month at a time on a spe­cific topic, shar­ing answers to prayer, shar­ing longer term per­sonal growth sto­ries (rather than just the com­mon­place “A good thing hap­pened to me this week”), dis­cussing your team’s growth over a period of time (such as a year).

3. Learn together.

If we are seri­ous about lead­ing beyond Sun­day to Sun­day, we need to be invest­ing in the growth and devel­op­ment of our team mem­bers. Sched­ule time (in rehearsal or oth­er­wise) to learn together. Bring in expert tutors to help take your team to the next level. Read a book together that will expand your skill and broaden your per­spec­tive. Take your team on a retreat or a con­fer­ence for per­sonal devel­op­ment. Do make sure, how­ever, that you feed back to each other what you have learned, in order to grow together.

4. Cre­ate a long-​term min­istry calendar.

Sure, per­haps your min­istry exists to pro­vide a ser­vice in the weekly meet­ing (such as accom­pany singing etc), but there are always things you wish to accom­plish, or goals you wish to achieve. Spend some time explain­ing the goal to your team (vision cast­ing), and map­ping out (with your team) what steps we can take to achieve this goal within a given timeframe.

5. Cre­ate medium-​term, process goals that point you towards your long-​term goals.

The old say­ing is true: “How do you run a marathon? One step at a time.” It is impor­tant to break down long-​term goals into achiev­able chunks. This may be as sim­ple as start­ing to learn a new song that you will use in 2 month’s time, or as com­plex as redesign­ing a process that will help you to achieve your long-​term goals. What­ever these medium-​term goals are, use them to build momen­tum, and look back on them as suc­cess mark­ers along your jour­ney, for the encour­age­ment of your team.

6. Ask for your pastor’s support.

Your pas­tor will likely be only too happy to share with your team their goals and dreams for the direc­tion of the church as a whole. Ask them to come to your rehearsal and share with your team where the whole church is head­ing, and where your team fits into that vision. Some­times, hear­ing the same thing from a dif­fer­ent per­son can make all the dif­fer­ence, as can know­ing how your min­istry fits into the big­ger picture.

7. Eval­u­ate your min­istry opportunities.

Spend time with your team look­ing at how you have oper­ated the past few times you have been involved in min­istry, and ask your­selves how you could have done bet­ter. Dur­ing this process, try to keep using lan­guage of growth (“how can we adapt/​build upon this”), rather than judge­ment (“that was ter­ri­ble. We need to change it”). Use your con­struc­tive crit­i­cisms to design medium-​term goals (see point 5), and set a future date to eval­u­ate your progress.

8. Have some­one out­side your team who you can talk to about the big pic­ture – often.

This may be a men­tor, a friend, or your pas­tor. Find some­one who is will­ing to lis­ten to you, and engage in con­ver­sa­tion with your about the big pic­ture – your dreams and visions for your min­istry, and where God is tak­ing you. By engag­ing in dia­logue about this often with some­one not on your team, it keeps your words and vision fresh, and can help you find other ways to share your vision with your team. It also will help pro­vide a valu­able outsider’s perspective.

9. Use Sun­days off wisely.

If you have a Sun­day where you are not respon­si­ble for min­istry (per­haps there is a vis­it­ing group lead­ing the ser­vice etc), the ten­dency is to can­cel rehearsal or waste rehearsal with unim­por­tant things. Instead, use this time to realign your focus on your long-​term goals, make progress on medium-​term goals, and spend time in com­mu­nity, valu­ing the team.

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With a few small adjust­ments to the way we approach goal-​setting, rehearsal time and team inter­ac­tion, we can ensure that our min­istry stays vibrantly on task, instead of falling prey to the monot­ony of Sunday-​to-​Sunday routine.

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