How Worship Ministry Is Like Football
We see our Worship Arts Ministry at Valley View Church as helping to serve the overall purposes of our church.
We’re not a stand-alone entity that operates separately from the other vital ministries within our church. The best way I know to explain our unique philosophy and approach to ministry is through the analogy of American football.
Besides the fact that I’m a huge football fan (Roll Tide!), there’s another, more significant reason why I like to use football as an analogy: Football is not only familiar to most people in our area of the country; it also runs a convenient parallel to how we try to organize and conduct our ministry at Valley View.
We’re Like Special Teams
That’s not to say we think we’re special, mind you. Actually, it’s quite the opposite…
“Special teams” in football don’t drive the ball down the field play after play. That’s the job of the offense. And they don’t try to keep the other team from scoring on drives–that’s the job of the defense. Special teams are simply those players who help with kicking plays during the games. They often start a drive by kicking the ball downfield; then they get off the field so the offensive players can take over.
[pullquote]We see what we do on Sundays in our services as helping to “start the drive” in people’s hearts and lives.[/pullquote]
In the same way, we see what we do on Sundays in our services as helping to “start the drive” in people’s hearts and lives. Lifting up the Lord in corporate worship can act as a powerful catalyst to help inspire and influence people toward a life of holiness. God can use what we do from the platform to whet people’s spiritual appetite to know Him more and to serve Him better. Each week we pray our songs and creative elements help to prepare people to hear God’s Word through our pastor and to want to invest time alone with the Lord when they leave our services.
As we state in our ministry manual: “Our goal is to help spark people’s desire to grow…We pray that people catch a glimpse of God’s glory during our worship services and then hunger to learn more about Him through other ministries within our church—such as life groups or missions.”
Sometimes We Score
Special teams players sometimes have the opportunity to score points for their team by kicking field goals.
Similarly, as a worship arts ministry, we get to help our church team toward a win. Our church considers it a “win” when people’s lives are impacted in some transformational way. Sometimes, the Lord blesses our efforts with visible fruit when people trust Christ as their Savior and repent of sin during one of our services. More often, though, we’re just one of many ministries in our church that God uses to touch and change a person’s life.
I must be careful to make myself clear: We do not for a moment believe we are merely playing a game on Sundays. People’s lives hang in the balance from week to week, so it’s much more important to us than some sport. Football is merely the analogy we use–similar to Paul’s analogy of a plant. He said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (I Corinthians 3:6 ESV). When God causes someone to grow, that’s a win in our book! Our worship team is just thankful we might be allowed a small part to play in someone’s spiritual birth and growth!
Meet our Coaches
We know and embrace that, as leaders in the Church, we are foremost to be shepherds and pastors to our people. However, we like to use the idea of a “coach” who cares for his players because that best depicts our leadership structure.
In a sense, our lead pastor is the head coach. He and our elders give direction and clarity to our mission and our vision as a church. Our pastor is also the lead worshiper in our congregation.
As the worship pastor in charge of worship arts, I see myself as the “special teams” coach. I’m just one of several coaches on our staff who lead ministries. We are each under the authority of our lead pastor and elders. I have assistant coaches who oversee certain groups within our worship arts ministry, such as the technical and creative teams.
Good coaches focus more on people than on things like schedules and equipment. As the main coach over our area of ministry, it’s my job to train and recruit quality players–musicians and singers as well as tech people. Furthermore, I am to empower those in our ministry to lead and mentor others.
[pullquote]Seeing myself first as a coach reminds me that my primary responsibility is training up others and giving them opportunities to lead.[/pullquote]
I don’t try to sing every song or give every testimony. Often I won’t lead more than one or two songs during a service. Why should I? We have other well-qualified worship leaders on the platform who can sing and lead. My most important job is not to “run the ball.” Seeing myself first as a coach reminds me that my primary responsibility is training up others and giving them opportunities to lead.
It Takes a Team
No matter how many great players a team may have, it still takes teamwork for them to reach their potential as a great team.
Whether you’re a fan or not, it bears noting that any time one of the Alabama players was questioned about their championship season this past year, they always responded the same way. They all said they couldn’t have done it without their team. Individual players simply refused to take any credit for themselves.
That’s how winning teams think–they see themselves first of all as a team. They value team effort. They cheer each other on, encourage one another, and hold each other accountable to the team’s rules and standards. It’s no wonder they can win so often.
At Valley View, we’re still working on building a winning team in our worship ministry. We certainly haven’t arrived yet, but by God’s grace, we’re moving in that direction! Our ministry members are buying into our vision of worship ministry more and more. Instead of saying “they,” our leaders and members are learning to say “we.” It’s incredible to watch how they’re caring for each other more deeply and how they’re growing as worshipers and as worship leaders.
We’ve made several adjustments in the past couple of years since I’ve been there–both in our philosophy of worship arts ministry and in our practices. As a result, we’ve had to say goodbye to a few who preferred doing things their own way. But we’ve gained many more who realize the tremendous benefits and joy of being part of a team–not a football team that merely wins some games, but rather, a church team that helps win souls and build the Kingdom of God, for His glory and honor above all.