It doesn’t matter how many seats are in the auditorium, how talented the musicians, how awesome the gear, or how beautiful the song: at some point or another, we all have to deal with the cancerous disease of complacency. And I’ve noticed that how we deal with it, in our circles of influence is not only like a window into our true motives, but also a core sample of our effectiveness as leaders, and sometimes more importantly, as friends.
In my current stage of life, I’ve held every position in a worship band except choir director. Everything from part -time volunteer to creative director, and in one terrible, regretful case, drummer.
But a portion of the undercurrent of all my experiences (except the drumming one) has been a passion to be effective at whatever I, or the band I’m in, am/is doing. It’s something I believe musicians are called to, and it’s something about which I have a tendency to be outspoken, occasionally rather loudly.
Regardless of my personal convictions, I think there are three things worship leaders and support staff can do to create a culture that hates complacency and loves excellence. And that culture, as long as it’s focused on the advancement of God’s name and leading people in His worship, must exist.
First of all, this discussion is much bigger than music stands, so if that’s what you think of when you think “complacency,” then stop now. Well, don’t stop now. Keep reading, and then stop. I’ll agree that a music stand is a crutch, but I’m not sure it’s as big a deal as we sometimes make it out to be.
The first real step in combatting complacency is cultivating relationships. That seems to be the first step in combatting a lot of negative things, go fig.
What I mean is, if you have no rapport with your team, they won’t be receptive to your efforts to push them toward excellence. (Side note: Don’t assume that just because you’re behind the microphone or have a title, you know what excellence looks like. Yikes.)
Good rapport consists of three things: mutual attention, mutual positivity, and coordination. Thanks, Wikipedia. But that makes sense, right? I can’t effectively express my passion for excellence to you if there’s no pretense between us. I’ll look or sound like a witch, a spook, a goof, or a jerk, and none of those things make you want to do what I suggest. But if there’s a relationship between us, you know what drives me, and I know what drives you, we can communicate in a way that fosters legitimate growth, and that should be what we’re both after.
The second is proper planning. Get Planning Center. It will be one of the best tools you’ve ever used. If you’ve already got it, use it. In addition to allowing you to make detailed, info-rich plans for your team members, utilizing the tools in Planning Center will provide a few indirect results that will help you combat complacency.
You send me, the bassist (it’s always the bassist), a Planning Center schedule on Tuesday for the following Sunday. Assuming there is a weekly rehearsal that isn’t within 24 hours of the plan being sent, that’s a more than reasonable amount of time to practice on my own. But I show up completely unprepared, with no legitimate excuse. It’s time for a powwow.
Using the tools Planning Center has to offer not only allows you to better equip your team, but it also allows you to quickly identify potential problems with complacency and devotion.
But this only works if you’ve got the first step under your belt. Who cares that you’re disappointed if we’re not friends? Why should I put in the practice time if we don’t have the same goals? Big deal, I didn’t practice. That’s what rehearsal is for. Etc.
The third is effective rehearsal time. Few things show respect for your team like respecting their time. And if you’ve fostered good relationships and provided proper planning, this is really the icing on the Complacency Combat Cake.
Have specified beginning and end times for rehearsals. If you don’t get to everything on the set list, it gets cut. Over time, you’ll get the hang of the time constraint, and you’ll get to everything.
Cutting what you don’t rehearse does two things: it shows your team that you’re serious about getting them out of rehearsal and back to their families/lives on time, and it shows them that you’re serious about excellence. A “que sera sera” attitude really should have no place in rehearsal. Leading God’s people in worship is a big responsibility, and to take it so lightly is no good. Saying, “We didn’t get to that last song, but we’ve played it 1000 times,” communicates “I’m ok with the possibility of a train wreck. I hope you remember the break before the chorus.”
If a band member is late, start without them. If the guitar players patch cables don’t work, cut the pedal board and go straight from guitar to amp.
If the first two steps are done, giving these extra authoritative pushes to your team will be easier and will foster growth, mutual respect, and most importantly, a desire for continued excellence. It won’t happen overnight, and requires effort and time, but if we want our teams to share our devotions, visions, and desires for excellence, these steps are a necessity.
Feel free to share steps you’ve taken to kick complacency in the face and teeth.