Preparing to Leave Prepares Them to Lead

By Mark Hamel

I recently left my part time job of six years as a worship arts pastor. Even though I have been serving in church leadership roles for decades, I still learned a lot during my time there. I learned even more when I left. You see, leaving really brings out the best in your team. It also brings out the worst in your leadership. I realized many things I had been doing by myself, my team should have been doing. Sure, a global pandemic changed the dynamics of our worship arts ministry, but I never set them up for success without me. It wasn’t quite a one man show, but it certainly was not the team effort I had hoped to cultivate. Nothing highlighted this lack of team effort quite like me trying to leave well.

Here’s my challenge to you, equip your team as if you are leaving. Everything you do should be able to be done by someone else. Granted, you may not have another guitar player or lead singer, but all the more reason to start looking for someone who has potential in your congregation. Many of the tasks you do yourself can be learned and done by someone else. Tasks such as early morning setup, order of service details, song selection, running a rehearsal, social media, post service tasks, and more can be taught to a trusted volunteer. You will probably find they have fresh ideas to make what you’ve been doing better, easier, and even more efficient. I also recommend documenting things such as vision, mission, login credentials, wiring diagrams, and more if you haven’t already. These would be important if you left, so they are important today. Each situation will be unique based on your church, volunteers, technical setup, etc. No matter the circumstance though, it is crucial to train leaders. In my research I found this quote, “you shouldn’t be doing anything unless someone else is watching you and learning how to do it too.” I’ve started to take this approach in my parenting and I know I will take it into my next ministry role.

Here’s my challenge to you, equip your team as if you are leaving. Everything you do should be able to be done by someone else.

The road to training your leaders starts with relationships. Be sure to build strong relationships as you earn their trust.

I also understand you may not have many volunteers or ones willing to take on more work.  This is a very very common story. The road to training your leaders starts with relationships. Be sure to build strong relationships as you earn their trust. From there, share a compelling vision and let them know you trust them with the ministry. As you begin giving them responsibility to make decisions and grow in their craft, let them know it’s okay to make mistakes. Then start letting them lead others. If you do this well your team will grow.

This hypothetical absence will benefit both you and your team. You will get more help than you’ve ever dreamt of, you get to focus on your strengths, to take a stress free Sunday off, and to lead like never before. It will also allow your team to grow, feel more confident, and most importantly take more ownership in THEIR ministry than they ever have. 

Preparing to leave prepares your team to lead, start equipping your team today.

As always, Sunday’s coming . . . and music is the easy part.

Mark Hamel has served in worship pastoral positions for more than a decade. He has a Bachelor of Science  in Electrical Engineering. He also serves as an administrator for the Worship Leaders + Facebook Group.