One of the dangers that can come from being a Pastor who is a leader is you forget or neglect the fact that you are first and foremost a disciple. Leadership is fun it can be very challenging but is many times rewarding because we look behind us and can count those following us and be encouraged by our weekly mini census. The problem with being a disciple is that it is not glamorous it is not visible. It is difficult and often times painful.
Under-shepherds, pastors, always remember that you are more fundamentally a sheep than a shepherd. – Mark Dever
We as pastors can be so busy getting others to live the Christian life that we forget that the Christian life is a daily dying. It is walking in a moment by moment obedience to the call of Christ and to the cross of Christ.
Youth pastor your job is to preach the gospel to the next generation, absolutely but if you fail to follow Christ primarily, your messages will be shallow, and your ministry will be short. I have pastored at the same church for nearly 20 years and what I have learned is that I want to duck and I want to hide. I have now known most people longer than I have lived my life not knowing them. What that affords me is people speaking truth to me when I need it most, even if I don’t want to hear it.
I have led in times when I wasn’t following well and the ground was as hard and as inflexible as my heart. I find the more I live my life yielded to Christ the more I am concerned with how well I am following. Healthy leadership is most often the byproduct. There are many unhealthy churches in America because there are many unhealthy leaders in America. Pastor, you must preach the cross of Christ not just principles for better living, you must model what it means to deny yourself and carry the cross you preach.
Much has been written on this subject and for good reason, because the church needs not just good men it needs good men who will lead people to Christ. Leading people to Christ inherently requires leadership. The Christian life is not one of separation and study alone. It is one of interaction and guidance. A pastor is not a monk he is a follower who leads other followers. He is flawed for sure but he must not let his flaws disqualify him from leading but must lead in such a way that he points beyond himself to Christ.
How many people follow you doesn’t make you a leader THAT someone is following you does. If you are a pastor you are a leader. You have a responsibility to lead well and to lead people to a closer walk with Christ.
This year was a change for me I started graduate school a little over a year ago, and the books I want to read are now waiting for me because of books I have to read are taking precedence. I have learned a couple of things about reading this year.
1.Reading books above what you typically read or are comfortable reading push you to read more efficiently and read more widely. There are books I would never have read this year if it were not for that.
A while back I did a blog post on the 6 things I tell every worship leader. I thought I would do one for every story teller. Our church is blessed to have story tellers who have done what they do for years, but what I have found is the things that make good story tellers great story tellers is they are constant learners.
Here are some practical tips I give our story tellers no matter how long they have been at it.
1. Internalize the script – I don’t tell them to memorize the script because I have found there is something so powerful and profound when people take the script internalize it and express it through their own experience and in their own style. I have one story teller that makes every week a production with actors props and scenery to boot, and the kids love it. Another finds incredible personal illustrations to highlight their point and still another uses props and vocal intonations to captivate the kids. Take the truth, leave it unchanged and add the uniqueness of you.
2. Maintain eye contact ALWAYS – Any time you look down at a paper in your hand you place an impenetrable wall between you and those you are ministering to.
3. Be over animated – you always come across more subdued that you really are.
4. Bring your Bible up with you – Put the sheet with the bible verse in your bible and read from that if you must but preaching from the Bible reinforces in the mind of the kids you are speaking to that these are more than stories.
5. Use peaks and valley’s – Few things create tension for a story then proper use of vocal inflection. Most people are comfortable with one particular vocal range. The problem is kids get used to your “normal” voice. If you want kids to be on their edge of their seats speak softly and then build to get much louder.
6. Elevate Christ – Elevate Christ make sure that every story points the kids to a place where they can see the greatness of God. Where they realize and recognize their need for a savior. When it comes to the application portion think of practical illustrations for young kids, and older kids, making sure that not only reference Christ but you help kids understand that Jesus is everything.
If I could speak to adult worship leaders or youth worship leaders most of the items on this list wouldn’t change. I actually have a theory that leading worship for kids is the most raw and most under realized way to develop future worship leaders. If you can’t lead worship for kids chances are you won’t be as engaging and successful with adults. Leading worship for kids strips away the showmanship than can creep into the practice of even the most accomplished worship leaders out there. Here are a few practical tips I constantly remind every worship leader in our kids ministry.
1. Smile – You don’t want to convey worship is painful (actually I have heard of kids pastors who have used worship as a form of punishment. “If you don’t stop talking we are going to worship for 5 more minutes.” I kid you not.)
2. Sing – Even if your voice isn’t that stellar having a vocal focal point helps kids enter in.
3. Make eye contact – When you are leading kids in small group, worship, or large group eye contact is huge. Eye contact is the time out chair of the soul. When kids are messing around eye contact does wonders believe me. If you don’t believe me ask a mother.
4. Make it personal – Share a scripture or something God is speaking to you this week – Kids learn by example be an example
5. Teach kids – Having kids in a kids ministry setting is a huge advantage. We can break down what we do and why we do it, something that will never happen in “Big Church” We need to take advantage of this opportunity to teach them the heart of worship.
6. Be a worshiper yourself – The best way to teach kids to worship is to show them how to worship with your life.