Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sucker for a good metaphor

OK, day one at the Calvin Symposium.

I attended Greg Scheer and Paul Ryan's seminar entitled "The Art of Worship Team Leadership" (based mostly on Greg's book The Art of Worship).

As a worship leader, and someone who has led similar workshops in the past, I'm always interested in attending others' workshops to compare ideas and learn new techniques... new tools for my toolbelt so to speak.

Speaking of toolbelts... the thing I love gleaning from workshops like these more than anything else are new metaphors (like "tools for my toolbelt")... new perspectives on how a worship team works together and how best to get across an unified understanding of that dynamic to your team.

The two new (to me) metaphors that Greg and Ryan used that I liked a lot were those of worship leaders as "gardeners" and as "hosts."

As gardeners, those leading a congregation in worship--particularly musicians responsible for leading congregational singing--have a lot of details to attend to, much preparation or "tilling the soil." But in the end, all you can do is sit back and let the Holy Spirit work. We don't make the congregation's authentic, heartfelt worship "grow" by our effort... all we do is lay the groundwork and prepare our part. The true worship of God by God's people is ultimately the work of God's own Spirit, not the result of human leadership, no matter how skillfully done.

The second metaphor of hospitality hit home for me as well (forgive me, I couldn't resist). They struck upon this idea in a couple of different ways. The first is similar to the gardening idea, but instead of a garden the picture is that of a dinner party. The hostess or host of a dinner party has many details to attend to (the worship-leading musician has many musical and technical details to attend to), but in the end it's not about the details, it's about enjoying yourself at the party. The hostess wants to be able to enjoy her guests once they arrive! Musicians in a worship service should remember that once rehearsal ends and the service begins the most important thing is the worship of our living God, not the details.

The other aspect of hospitality that was discussed which really was meaningful for me was hospitality within the worship team itself. I have often described the dynamic of interaction between musicians on a worship team as that of a good jazz combo, each listening carefully to one another and playing off of each other. Part of that which always bears reminding with musicians, particularly inexperienced ones, is that good musicians have learned to not play on top of each other, drowning one another out, and that no one has to play all the time.

Having "inter-team hospitality", as Paul put it today, means that each team member has a servant-attitude toward one another, deferring to one another rather than selfishly taking up all the sound space themselves. I love how this perspective shifts the difficult issues related to arrangement of a team and team-member personalities from a focus on the director who has to ask team members to pull back to a focus on each member listening for how they can make room for their fellow teammates. This is a wonderful way to model biblical, Christian sister & brotherhood within worship leadership ministries.

There were many other great ideas and tips I picked up today, as well as some points of contrast that I'm still processing through... but alas, it is late and I have a long two days ahead of me.

Check back in tomorrow.


Unknown said...

Hi, Luke,
Glad to hear you're enjoying the symposium and taking it all in.
The metaphor of "gardening" reminds me of a song I've enjoyed for a long while: Wayne Watson's "Field of Souls" that starts with the lines
We work the field of souls
together you and I.
That could be great for Chapel.

Luke and Marla said...

The gardening metaphor is a good reminder to me that not only are the "growing" and the "fruit" the work of God through the Holy Spirit, but the very materials with which we "plant" or "lay the groundwork"--our skills, talents, time, voices, the physical space, etc.--are created and given to us by God.

Thanks for externally processing on the web so we can journey with you through the Symposium! I love you!


Luke and Marla said...

P.S. I think your time stamp is still set to PST. :-) We're not in California anymore, Toto!