Org Chart for Worship Arts Ministries

I’ve had some intriguing and stretching conversations with pastors and arts leaders recently concerning the best way to structure leadership for the worship and creative arts ministries. Often the conversation centers on the dilemma of whether the “up front” leader of worship is best suited to also lead the entire arts team and creative process. Of course this varies according to the gift mix of all the individuals involved. I have observed a wide variety of options, and celebrate the desire of so many churches who are attempting to craft a structure that optimizes the strengths of the leaders on the team, rather than forcing some kind of org chart that does not support the reality of the situation.

My good friend Stan Endicott, who serves part-time on the staff of Mariners Church in Newport Beach and who also consults with churches in the area of arts ministry through Slingshot Group has stretched my thinking on the issue of structure. Stan believes that most – not all – up front worship music leaders would prefer and are best gifted to lead the band and prepare for the “worship set” on Sunday mornings without leading the entire arts ministry and overall creative process. As a result, in many situations Stan recommends that a church employ what he calls a worship architect to serve behind the scenes, leading the overall brainstorming, producing, and development of volunteers. Then the up front worship leaders can possibly be hired part time, freeing them up to also pursue other musical interests and opportunities. This approach seems to be working in several settings.

I think the crux of the issue concerns the wiring and strengths of the individuals God has brought to your setting, and then building a structure that works best given those realities. I do believe that someone – preferably one person – needs to be entrusted with the overall responsibility of crafting and leading the design of Sunday mornings. Preferably this person would be included on the leadership team (whatever it is called at each church) who set the strategy and planning for the staff and congregation. In addition, this arts leader would build the primary bridge between the pastor(s) and the artists.

I’m curious to learn more about what is working in your setting, or what you are struggling with and want to organize to work more effectively. Titles and job descriptions vary widely for these roles – but how is it really going in the trenches of everyday life? How do you decide who makes the call on creative decisions, proposed changes, and resolution of conflicts? When we decide on a structure, it is vitally important for the pastor to make it clear to everyone what is expected from each person, and who is accountable for what. To the extent these lines of authority are unclear, the rest of the team will not function as freely and as powerfully as possible. Please weigh in – what’s working for you?


Eric Frisch said...

Our church has a fantastic Creative Worship team, which includes those gifted in drama, video, music etc. At each meeting, our pastor and I (I'm the Worship Arts Director) lay out what we're thinking for worship in regards to scripture, message, and music, and then we turn the team loose. They ALWAYS come back with simple, effective, and relevant ideas. This makes my job incredibly easy because, even though I technically oversee those areas, all I really have to do in the end is sign off on the finished product and arrange the different elements within the "big picture". That allows me to spend most of my time on music, which is my real gift. It works for us because we have so many creative people on our team who are able to do so much with our ideas.

Christian Performers said...

I spend a lot of time working with leaders in different types and sizes of churches and generally speaking, I agree with Stan. The structures which seem to put people where they are most gifted are the ones that incorporate a director who administers the creative arts area, leaving either full or part-time people to lead the various other elements of the ministry. Many music pastors have little or no training in drama, or video production, for example and some don't have the gifts of shepherding and administration needed to oversee the area. Also, a Creative Director, who poses no competition for wanting to be cast as the lead in a skit or for singing the vocal solo in this year's Christmas musical, for example (I find ego and competition problems to be one of the biggest problems for worship and drama teams), can be instrumental in helping members of the team develop their gifts and to grow in spiritual maturity.
Lauren Yarger
Executive Director/Producer
masterwork Productions, Inc.

Jeff Poole said...

Wow! How refreshing this topic is. I am a person that has always served on a church staff as the "architect" as your post puts it and not the "out-front" worship leader. As I am looking for God's next place for myself and my family I'm receiving a constant stream of rejections due to the fact that I don't play guitar and lead worship. I know that the right place is out there for me but am anxious to see the "mainstream church" come to this conclusion that the "out-front" person usually is unequipped to facilitate an entire department of artists all by themselves and while "in the spotlight." I have never wanted that "front man" role but instead God has gifted me with leadership, administrative, and creative abilities that seem to empower a department of artists...even the worship leader. :) Thanks to you Nancy for bringing this topic up and here's hoping that it begins to ring out a little louder every day.