If I told you that ministry didn’t have to be lonely, or that you could have a massive impact on your city or region simply by your willingness to invest in a few relationships, that it is possible to develop relationships across the boundary lines of church and denomination, and that those relationships could potentially become some of the most valuable friendships you’ll ever make… Would you believe me? God spoke at the very creation of mankind: “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). As human beings created in the image of a God that has always existed in perfect community with Himself, it makes sense that he would create us with a desperate need to be in community with others. But community with whom? Other people? Other musicians? Other worship leaders? From other churches?
Jesus prayed a very interesting prayer for all believers to come in John 17, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (vv. 21-23 ESV). Jesus’s very prayer for us is that we would come together in unity—so that the world will know His love.
TWO WAYS TO FULFILL JESUS’ PRAYER
There are two simple ways that we, as worship leaders, have an amazing opportunity to develop authentic community that will greatly impact us individually, our own church’s culture, and our cities, so that we can together fulfill this prayer that Jesus prayed so many years ago.
Worship ministry can be incredibly lonely. Ministry in general can be lonely, but leading a worship ministry, filled with untapped creative expression, pent-up angst, the relationship dynamics of a team filled with creative and emotional people, technology that seems to be filled with all sorts of demons at all the wrong times, and dysfunctional working relationships with other members of leadership in the church, can be the equivalent of taking crazy pills every morning, chasing them down with a swig of depression and a few drops of frustration. We can start to feel this way when we lack the support, encouragement, and wisdom of other friends and mentors that love you, champion you and support you. Surrounding yourself with other worship leaders can have a tremendous effect on your state of being, as well!
Scenario: you’re sitting around a table with about 15 other people who love Jesus and also lead worship, sipping coffee, each one sharing the things they’re having difficulty with, rejoicing with one another in their victories, and praying with one another through seasons of darkness and defeat. Can you imagine the lift in your spirit when you realize you’re not alone, or that you’re not crazy for feeling the way you feel, or that your new worship leader friend from that church down the road has the wisdom and experience to help you walk through a land mine of a situation that just came up in your staff meeting this week?
Invest in developing relationships and working with other churches and leaders in our cities. Imagine what could happen if we began thinking of other churches and ministries in our cities as teammates, and not as our competition. One thing that we do at my church during each service is to pray for every other church in our city and region. It’s a simple prayer, but it communicates that we believe we are all on the same team, working towards the reality of every heart having an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ.
Think of the impact of what we could do if we pooled together our resources, connections, and creativity. When we are willing to open our minds and hearts to relationships with other like-minded leaders that live near us, not only can we be encouraged and affirmed, but we also have an opportunity to support and speak life into someone else’s ministry and life story. Naturally, as friendship and trust is developed, you’ll begin to want to get your teams together to play music, write music, record, and lead worship together—heck, you may even let each other borrow equipment and instruments for things! For example, in my city, this looks like worship leaders and their churches working together to host nights of worship in a local theater with a stage filled with people from over 20 different churches and ministries, leading worship all at once! Crazy and inefficient? Yes. Difficult to manage and a little messy? You bet. But more beautiful than anything I could ever begin to articulate.
This kind of unity, demonstrated in love and humility, is what draws people’s attention to Jesus. One of the crew members from the theater (who is not a follower of Jesus) told me after our most recent night of worship that he was moved to tears during a few moments throughout the night because he was so impacted by his realization that this massive audience, all from different backgrounds and generations, all with their own stories of joy and sorrow, have come together with such love and passion for something so much greater than themselves. This is a man who is on the production crew for shows every single night, but something about the unity and love in that room—for one another and for Jesus—moved him to experience the love of Jesus in a way he had never known before. And this is only one story that finds its origin in a bunch of worship leaders getting together years ago to build community.
Your commitment to invest in authentic relationships with other worship leaders has such potential to literally spark a revival in your city as you together bring glory to Jesus and work towards fulfilling his prayer that we may be one. Now, go find the contact information for those worship leaders down the street and shoot them an email to set up a coffee date. You’ll be glad you did.