Passion and Creativity - Part 2 (Passion)

Yesterday, I gave some background on my talk at ForgeCon'11. THe title of the session was "How to Build Passion and Creativity in a Small Team With Limited Resources." Today I want to summarize the discussion points from the first part - passion.

With many small teams built up entirely of volunteers, and with a small congregation often not blessed with a huge depth of talent, frustration and apathy can be quick to set it. Mediocraty is accepted, because often there is no real idea that things can improve. But I'm here to tell you, that no matter the size of the team or the level of talent, there is always ways to generate excitement and passion from within.

Start - always- with a vision. A worship team (or any ministry) cannot function without a vision. It doesn't matter what it is, or how long it lasts. There has to be a common thread to drive effort forward and unite the team together. Examples of a vison might be:
  • Lead Worship on every Sunday
  • Grow beyond your walls - service to the community
  • Train a new generation of worship leaders
  • Evangelism
  • Recording

 Any of these (or any you come up with) are valid. Be sure to set measurable goals that you can actually obtain. For example, if your goal is service to the community, then find a way you can accomplish that and do it. For example, Gospel Light Worship spent a year leading worship twice a month for a local church plant. Another year, we had a goal to record an album, and we did that. Nothing drives passion like success. (By the way, that first one might seem like a no brainer, but there are plenty of small churches that do not benefit from live music every week. iWorship exists for a reason.)

Second - be a leader! What does that mean? Model behavior. In the words of Russ Hutto, "Be what you want to see." Passion is contagious. If your team sees that your attitude is "Meh..." then how can theirs be any different? If they hear you complaining about the lack of insert here, then what do you think they will take away from that?

Worship privately. I don't want to get all "worship is a lifestyle" right now, but seriously, a worship leader needs to know how to worship. (and for the purposes of this article, everyone on your team is a worship leader) Personally, I have an hour-long commute in the morning, and there days I show up in the parking lot having cried through the last ten miles, because of the worship flowing. That's my time. Find yours.

Worship as a team privately. I will tell you something a lot of worship leaders do not get: platform time is not your worship time. You have a job to do, ministry to perform, a sacred, scriptural duty. This is not the time to close your eyes and get all into it. You cannot lead with your eyes closed. But, you do need to have that experience together as a team. Set aside some private time, cut twenty minutes out of your rehearsal once a month. Go to somebody else's worship service as a team, so you have no responsibilities and can let go.


Trust your team and be trustworthy. No one feels good about being micromanaged. No one feels good about having someone critique their every move. Trust your people. Release them to bring you ideas (more on that in the next post) and to do what you've asked them to do. There is a fine line between getting the arrangement right and being a dictator. People need to express themselves. They need to know you are not going to snap and bite their heads off, belittle their ideas (intentionally or unintentionally) or disregard their input.

Find a project to work on together. NOT something worship-related. Put your hands to the plow together. Build a Habitat house, serve at a shelter, go on a mission trip, help a shut-in clean out the attic, spruce up the church property. It doesn't matter what it is, it draws you togther, and that helps build passion for being together and creating together.


Get everyone involved somehow. Whether it's input on the setlist, crafting arrangements, introducing new music or whatever, people feel more passionate about things they have ownership of. For much of the year we rotate the setlist duties among team members, so everyone has a chance to influence the worship environment. We allow anyone to create arrangements. We may not use all of them, but we try all of them. Anyone can suggest a new song, which again, may not work out. But when a song you discovered really connects with your congregation, it's like a personal vindication. And that feels good.


Discuss songs from lyrical/thematic point of view. Even old songs. I call this "heart-speak." Let people express what a song says to them.


Attend retreats or conferences together. (ForgeCon'12, anyone?) They don't have to be huge deals. If I were a wagering man, I would wager that there is a small conference or retreat somewhere within an hour drive of you at least once a year. (offer not valid in Montana, Texas, or any of the prarie provinces) A lot of them are one-day deals, or a Friday night/Saturday thing. Go. Be fed. Have something to talk about. People walk out of things like that full of excitement - capitalize on that.

Get better at something together. Pick something that needs improvement and make it better. Some tips:

  • Small steps - work on something that is measurable and obtainable. Success breeds passion. Don't say "We want to make transitions better." Rather say "We want to smooth out the transition from Song A to Song B next Sunday." or "We can do a better job moving from a song in G to a song in B." or "I want to really feel that last chorus in 'Revelation Song,' so lets work on that dynamic."

  • Use available resources. There are a ton of resources available inexpensively or even free for teams looking to improve. as a great collection of training videos. or are great and have a ton of stuff. is a great place to ask questions or read articles by real worship leaders in the trenches. Seek some stuff out, and use it.

Now that you have all this passion, the next post will show you how to use it creatively.



  1. Great great post Mike. Can't wait to read more in this series. I hold the setlists quite close and I'm not sure I'm ready to let that go. Ha. I do ask for suggestions though.

  2. Thanks, Bro. Taking suggestions is always a good step. There's always a final say when someone else does the set, to make sure everything flows right. Daniel and I have taken this part back for the time being, as we are purposefully moving forward in certain areas right now, and working on improving the flow of the service. But we'll loosen up in a bit.


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