6 things I tell every story teller

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.

6 Things I Tell Every Worship Leader

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.

Retro Post: Performance skills – 101

performance

Performance skills – 101 Sharpening your skills to use in every aspect of your program.

One of my greatest frustrations is that only in the church world do people
think that performing, preaching and mc’ing are a natural gift. This
belief means that (1) those who believe that they don’t have this gift are
excused from any of the aforementioned tasks and (2) those with the gifts
just have to keep performing and they will get better and better.

This concept is absolutely ludicrous. It is the same as a man saying “I
have always naturally been good with my hands, I am going to start
practicing operating on people and I am sure I will get better”. Even in
the world of fictional TV shows this would be too far of a stretch. Doogie
Howser MD was a wizz kid and a doctor by 16 but he still did all of the
study and training…

A football team doesn’t just play games to get better but they run
specific drills to improve specific skills that will help them with the
game. This is what I believe we need to start doing.

In this episode we are going to look at one skill that is crucial in
on-stage speaking. In fact if I could only tell you one thing that most
help you it would be this:

Truth by Vibration!

The year was 2002 and I was in a theater class. I was performing a piece
from the “Dead Poets Society” with a girl in my class, and I had to
confess my love for her. We got to the most crucial part where I said with
all my acting skill – “I love you”

“CUT”

The teacher stopped me and told me he didn’t believe me and to try again.

“I love you”

“CUT”

The teacher tried to help. He told me to just say the line. I said with no
effort “I love you” and he said “PERFECT – that is it” and told me to do
it in the scene. I got to the part again, I said my perfect line and he
said “CUT”

Over the next 30 mins it was really painful. He got me to stop and start
20 times speaking the line and getting it perfect, then performing it and
failing. After the 30 mins I still didn’t get it. I had no idea what he
was saying because to me they sounded exactly the same. It wasn’t until a
few months later I found out a secret that has changed the way I have
performed ever since.

I went to a voice training class and the speech specialist said during a
routine exercise “Truth is communicated on Vibration”.

Every time you speak, sing or make a noise a vibration is made in your
body. We generally talk with a bit of chest vibration and a bit of throat
vibration but when we get on stage for some strange reason most people’s
voice gets a little bit higher and it goes straight to the throat. This is
the easiest way to tell the difference from a preacher that has been
preaching for years and a rookie. The rookie’s voice is always a little
bit higher than they normally speak.

When I perform my voice goes high, goes low, goes all over the place for
the enjoyment of the crowd, but whenever I want to communicate a message I
make sure my chest vibrates.

Professional performers are trained to speak on vibration (that meaning in
the chest) because it sounds more confident, it is more relaxing, and you
can speak for as long as you want and your throat will not tire. The other
main reason is that if you don’t speak on vibration people will not
believe you.

So give it some practice. It is a learnt skill that takes time. It is not
speaking in a deep voice but it has certain feel that has to be learnt.
The best way is to practice your message with your hand on your chest and
focus on getting the vibrations lower.

If you look at all the great preachers, performers and mc’s, you will
notice that they speak very similarly to when they are off-stage. They may
not realize they are speaking on vibration but have just developed that
over the years. If you adopt this specific training you will find that you
advance a lot quicker than those who have gone before you.

Have Fun

Dan.

The difference between leading kids and leading adults in worship.

worship-nights

Most people would say leading worship for kids is totally different than leading for adults. I disagree. I have heard and seen people who lead for adults that are unable to lead for kids? Is adult worship leading really that different from kid worship leading? No.

The biggest difference you will find as you move from kids, to youth, lastly to adults is that you can get away with a lot more the older the crowd. The stuff you get away with when leading for adults won’t cut it for youth ministry, and what you can do for youth ministry doesn’t work in kids ministry.

Here are a few things every worship leader can do to be successful no matter what the age of the kids you are leading.

1. Open your eyes – You are leading you can’t lead what you can’t see. Closing your eyes to much breaks the connection you need with those you are leading.
2. If you have the mic LEAD – Nothing worse than tentative leadership. Lead strong.
3. IF you talk at all make sure its about the greatness of Jesus not trying to get those you are leading to do what you want.
4. Have LOTS of energy. – If you feel stupid you are probably doing something right.
5. Smile – no one wants an emo worship leader
6. Know the words
7. Practice during the week not before church.
8. Remember worship is about Jesus not you. – You want people to leave thinking about the greatness of Jesus not the quality of your voice or the skill of the band.
9. You can’t lead people to where you have never been. – Be a worshiper yourself.

 

The Lifecycle of good leadership

I posted a couple of posts here and here that were largely focused at younger leaders. I want to talk to some of us who have been around for a while.

After leading in the same church for a good stretch of time and meeting other leaders from around the country. I have started to notice a leadership trend of sorts that I don’t believe has been talked about much. It’s the lifecycle of a leader. Have you ever met a 50 year old person who is trying to act like they are 20 it’s weird and unnatural. I’m not saying you have to wear Hawaiian shirts because you are 50 it’s just weird because there are certain levels of maturity you expect from people at different points in their lives. Leadership is much the same way.

This is personal observation and I’m still working through it so bear with me. Here is my challenge to everyone who is leading someone out there know where God has you in your lifecycle of leadership don’t despise where you are but embrace it with an attitude of faith and obedience and God will use you where you are more than you will ever know.

1. Learning

  • When you are staring out don’t pretend you know everything because you don’t, actually I know that  I know less than I thought I knew when I started. Ask more questions than you answer.
  • Email, call, tweet, connect with leaders who are further down the road than you.
  • The moment you feel that you have arrived you are in trouble and you are the last one to know it.
  • It’s in this season that you need to observe grow, learn and formulate ideas, get big vision. In some ways we never move on from here.
  • Build your team lean into God more than you lean into anything else

2. Doing

  • This is where you start pulling your team together.
  • You start to put to action those things God place on your heart to do.
  • This is where you start to find your voice for your generation. This doesn’t mean that you are going to travel and speak it means that you are going to use the skills you have learned to reach your generation.
  • Every generation has a means God uses to reach them it’s our job to find that means and speak His message to Glorify him not us. In the doing phase you are applying what you have learned and are typically to busy to help others because you are in the thick of what God has called you to do.

3. Teaching

  • There is a point somewhere along the way that you start to share with others what you have learned and how you have seen God use what you have learned to bless other people and reach people.
  • You start to let go of things so that you can allow other to learn and do.
  • You impart to the next generation not the means that you used but the lessons you learned, the mistakes you made and victories you won.
  • You take the sum total of what you have learned and what you have done to help create a foundation for the next generation of leaders to build on using the methods and the means God has called them to use.

We need fathers who will step up and teach and we need more sons who will be quiet and listen. To much of leadership is about preferance not enough is about timeless principles. There is nothing more frustrating (for the leader and for those they are leading) than a leader operating outside of their where God has them, a young guy teaching untested theories as if they are gospel, older leaders blindly clinging to older methods and neglecting to pass on the principles behind the methods.

I can’t tell you where you are as a leader but you know. Embrace where you are, grow, learn, apply and give away. In the end everyone will forget who you are and God will get the glory, and that’s just how it’s supposed to be.