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Help Your Church Break Out of Its Worship Comfort Zone

comfort zone

Comfort zone? What do we as Christian leaders do with this phrase?

As a worship leader, this may be the phrase I wrestle with the most. We can take Moses’ example and be encouraged that God is in the business of stretching the comfort zones of His followers. Moses, as most of you know, did not consider himself a great speaker, but God called him to go and plead with Pharaoh to let the Israelites go.

We see a similar charge to Abram, when in Genesis 12 God tells him to leave his country and Father’s house to a land that he will show you. Even though it doesn’t say here, I’m sure Abram was hesitant at first. Leaving the land that he had known his whole life for a place that hadn’t even been given to him yet.

So, we know that challenging our congregation to step out of their comfort zones is important and biblical. But how do we do that? It seems every time I start to think on this topic so many more questions come up. What is the current comfort level at? How do we stretch without breaking people? How fast do we move? Am I stepping out of my comfort zone? How do we develop a method? Do we move with our church or as a separate entity?

All of these questions must be carefully weighed and thought out before deciding what stepping out of a comfort zone looks like for your ministry.

I have been on staff as a worship minister for years now. While I have learned a lot, and have seen God move in ways I couldn’t ever imagine, things have not developed the way I initially thought they would. When I first came on staff we didn’t have a drummer. I remember telling someone that I thought we would probably add drums in three to five months. Guess what? We still don’t have a drummer.

Things never move along as fast as you think they will.

The most dangerous thing I did at the beginning was make my home church the end goal of our worship ministry. Now, my home church is a healthy, thriving church and my worship minister growing up was phenomenal. But I was trying to make another church’s DNA our own.

Worship ministry takes a lot of time to figure out what the church’s worship “DNA” is. By that I simply mean what is natural and comfortable for them. Is there a song that has been the church’s anthem that everyone raises their hands to? Is there a mashup that helped bridge the gap in styles? The DNA is made up of these unwritten rules, and what the church is passionate about as a whole.

I remember the first time I led a song with “woah’s” in it. It was within my first three months here and it was almost as if the other vocalist and I were the only ones singing along with it. I quickly realized that “woah’s” were outside of the norm for the church.

So, we stopped singing parts like that in songs for a time while I figured out what our DNA was.

You have to find what has been done, what has worked, what was forced, and what was taken away that should have remained.

For some churches their DNA is in their direct community; for others it may be younger families, older families, singles, multi-ethnic, middle class, upper class, lower class, etc. Neither is better or worse, it is simply the door God has opened for you and caused your congregation to become passionate about. For our church, it is global missions and our small-town community.

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Creighton Tamerius serves as the Worship Pastor at First Baptist Church of Sarcoxie in Southwest, MO. He enjoys traveling with his wife, Jennie, watching sports, reading, hunting, and looking at electric guitar gear that he can't afford.