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: their worship comfort zone. 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.
Effective worship ministers find out what the church is passionate about and integrate it into the worship service. One effective way in finding out what your church’s DNA is to simply ask people what their most worshipful experience in the church has been.
Before people are willing to go somewhere new with you they must know that you won’t abuse their willingness and trust. To earn their trust, you must let them know that even in stretching them, they will not be forgotten or misrepresented. That is why your worship team should be multi-generational, just as your church is.