Playing With Excellence, Part 3: Knowing Your Gifts
Carrying on this subject from Part 1 and Part 2, I'd like to focus in on the power of a gift-driven worship ministry. As I've said before, "when a church is fueled by desire-driven volunteers, its effectiveness is stunted. But when it serves with servants propelled by giftedness, there is no limit to what God can do." The goal, then, is to help our volunteers know their unique giftedness, and send them to serve in that way.
There are tons of resources out there that churches can use in this discernment process. The ones I've used with some degree of success have been the SHAPE assessment (book) and this Spiritual Gifts Inventory book. I'm sure you can even use free resources like this Spiritual Gifts Test to give you an understanding of your areas of giftedness. In the end, the resource isn't as important as what you do with the results.
As we all work to discover our spiritual giftedness, it might start to become clear whether or not we are serving in the best capacity on the worship team. The most natural way for a volunteer to shift to the most fitting ministry would obviously be self-selection, but sometimes that process requires the insight and direction of church staff. As worship teams become filled with more people gifted to lead and play, and less people who just want to lead and play, their capacity to call the church to worship grows all the more. We don't want our teams to be made up of self-sufficient musicians, but Spirit-led gift-bearers.
Knowing your spiritual gifts is just the start of understanding if you're meant to serve on a worship team. Understanding your giftedness in pastoring, shepherding, discipling, faith, or evangelizing is critical to knowing your fitness to serve, but there there is this whole other world of gifting that we have to consider: musical ability. And now it gets a bit touchy.
I mean, who can decide if my voice is "good enough" to lead a song? Who has the right to say that my drumming doesn't hit the mark? Yeah, it gets personal real quick, and unfortunately, the sensitive nature of this dynamic leads to two realities on worship teams today. For one, it stunts teams' abilities by allowing less-able musicians to remain on the team. The other reality is that it can create rifts between "cut" musicians and the church. It can get ugly. In my experience, I've seen both scenarios, but I've also seen God at work in it all. I've seen new musicians step up because they've seen a need on the team. I've seen former musicians graciously step into other roles in the church and finally find their stride.
This is why I believe in holding periodic auditions for current and future members of the worship team. It levels the playing field, giving equal opportunity to all who want to be involved. It also creates a natural conversation between church staff and volunteers about where their gifting might have a better fit, and perhaps how they can pursue improving their musicianship. If the administrative workload of auditioning all of these musicians seems too daunting, then church staff could always use real, Sunday morning experience instead.
The bottom line, really, is this: we simply would not be doing service to the Kingdom or to our volunteers by missing an opportunity to assess and work with each individual's giftedness. Somehow, we have to find a way to love the church and love our volunteers at the same time, but I don't think that's too great a challenge to let it pass.