Starting at a new church can be a daunting and overwhelming task. The first few months in particular are crucial to setting the tone and direction you want to take the ministry. With the right attitude and methods, you can successfully adopt an existing team, win their trust, help them catch your vision, build momentum, and transition the culture and direction of the worship department. In this practical episode, Zach Hodges and I share 13 ways to win when starting at a new church. Enjoy and if you liked it, please leave us a review on iTunes (or send us a dollar to celebrate our 4th birthday)! 🙂
How To Get Hired As A Worship Leader
Creating Culture Through Consistent Communication
Culture Docs Examples
First Meeting Notes Examples
First Meeting EMAIL Invite Example
5 Administrative Systems To Bring Health To Your Ministry
Cultivating A Healthy Relationship w/ Your Senior Pastor
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Alex Enfiedjian 00:16 Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the worship ministry training podcast. This is Alex Enfiedjian, your host wanted to give a shout out to the podcast today because it turns four years old this month. We started in October 2014. And it’s October 2018. And so just so grateful to be a part of your worship leader journey, and grow with you learn with you, and help you encourage you. And I’m just so honored to be in the fight with people like you. So thanks for being a listener. If you are a new listener, I want to encourage you to dig through the episode archive, just open the podcast app of your choice. And look through the list of topics that we’ve covered. so far. Over the last four years, we’ve had a lot of great topics, some of my favorites are recovering the Lost Art of congregational singing with Keith Getty, I really liked the episode with Aaron Ivey about creating culture through consistent communication. So check that one out seven principles to improve your church’s sound six steps to crafting engaging song sets, and so on and so forth. So dig through the archive list, check it out, see what will be a help to you. If you want to say thank you for the last four years, I would love it if you left us a review on iTunes. If you don’t know how to do that, you can go to worship ministry training, comm slash review. And it’ll explain how today’s episode is all about starting at a new church. You know, most worship leaders at some point in their worship leading journey are going to start in a new church, they’re going to come to a church that’s already established, and they’re going to inherit a team and they’re going to take it over. And I get a lot of emails from people who are like, how do I do that? What should I do? What should I focus on? How do I transition this team into the new direction. And so today I speak with my friends at colleges about that. And we just give 13 ways for you to win when starting at any church. Before we get into the content. I just want to tell you about our recommended product this month, which is Planning Center Planning Center is an online service planning software. It’s used for many, many things, but basically all your volunteers can be scheduled in Planning Center, your musicians, your sound people, your lighting people, your greeters, your ushers, everyone can be scheduled in Planning Center, you can pick your songs in Planning Center, you can build your sets in Planning Center, you can send resources for your team to practice. It’s just incredible how powerful this tool is. And I would encourage you to check it out. If you haven’t, you can check it out absolutely free for 30 days. And then after the 30 days plans started just $14 a month. So check all that out at planning dot center. With that, let’s jump right into the episode 13 ways to win win starting at a new church.
Alex Enfiedjian 02:55 Hey, everybody, I’m here with my friend Zack Hodges, who is a worship leader down in Temecula, California. Hey, Zach, Hey, how’s it going? It’s going well, Zach and I are going to talk today with you guys about 13 ways to win when starting at a new church and how to do that. Well. And Zach, I think you told me you started restarted at your church three and a half years ago. So you planted the church 10 years ago, and you came back to the church and re engaged re initiated and kind of reinserted yourself into an established situation. So you have some fresh experience on taking a team over and leading them into the next season. And I’ve done it unfortunately, multiple times in my life already. I’m trying to think in the last, I’d say seven years, I’ve already started at a new church three times, which is kind of sad, because it’s like a two year average. And now that I’m here, I feel like I want to do 20 years because I feel like you can do a lot of good in a short amount of time. But you can really build something great if you just plant yourself and go long term. You know, yeah, definitely. So almost everybody, unless you’re starting in a church plant, you’re going to be coming into an existing situation. And you’re going to be inheriting all the good and all the bad of that situation. And you’re going to need to take it in the direction that you feel God is calling you to take it and there’s so much that you could do right off the bat. And it’s like, well, what should I do? And so today we’re going to talk about really what should people do? What should they do first? What’s the most important thing for them to focus on? And what does that transition process look like? And what are some of the key factors that are going to make it successful? So I have 13 points, and I know you have some thoughts as well. And so we’re just going to kind of work through this list. I’ve put this in kind of a chronological sequence so that our listeners can kind of go Okay, this is potentially what I should do in this order in the first few months that I arrive at a church or maybe within the first year that I arrive at a church. So let’s just dive in to the topic. Point number one When you’re starting at a new church, the first thing you should do is to make sure your family is adjusting well. And that is especially true if you are moving to a new location. Like if you pick your family up, pack a minivan and move across the country, the first thing you need to do to start well at a new church is to make sure that your family feels comfortable. You know, I don’t know about you, I don’t know if you move down to Temecula. But when I moved down here, I actually took a couple weeks off of work. And I didn’t start until about two weeks from when we arrived, because I had to do things like help my wife and pack and decorate the house and get the kids registered for school and set up the utility bills and all those types of things like, because we’re excited about the new job, we want to charge into it. We want to go conquer the world. But if we ditch our family and they’re left unsettled, then it’s going to leave a bad taste in their mouth, they’re going to resent us, they’re going to resent the new church. And so it’s very important that we kind of settle in and take care of our family before we even touch the ministry. Do you have any thoughts on that? You know, I
Zach Hodges 06:07 totally agree, like making sure that your family is stable. I had it lucky because my family or my wife’s family lives here. And so they were a huge help. But Previously, we had moved to a different area. And I had to help another church plan. And we didn’t have that. And it was just a difficult season where we had a baby and there was just only so much I could do and I had to be careful not to over commit myself and not be available to my wife. So that’s, that’s really important.
Alex Enfiedjian 06:33 Yeah. And it’s not just on the homefront that you want to make sure that your family’s adjusting well, but also to the church, like you should check in with your spouse often and be like, you know, how are you feeling and you feel overwhelmed, because there’s a bunch of new people, there’s everything’s new for them. And so you want to ease your spouse into the church as well, especially because you’re on the stage, and everybody thinks you’re awesome, or they’re excited about you, or your spouse, yeah, hopefully, but they don’t know your spouse at all. And sometimes it can be overwhelming for the spouse, and they can feel like neglected or, or uncared for or like they’re not important. So just be very sensitive. And you know, don’t try to force them to make friends just let things happen naturally and, and make sure they’re settling in both at home and in the church. So that’s the first point, the first way to win when starting at a new church is to make sure your family is adjusting. The second point is to find out what your pastor wants. This is the second thing that you really, really need to do. And you are hired to serve god yes, but also to serve the senior pastor his vision for the church. And that’s why when I did the episode about getting hired at a church, which I’ll I’ll link to that in the show notes, in that episode I talked about during the interview process, you want to make sure that you’re asking just as many questions of the pastor as he is of you, and that you’re interviewing the church as much as they’re interviewing you because you want to make sure that this church is a good fit, that you agree to the culture to what they’re trying to do, and to the values and all that stuff. But once you’re actually hired, your job is now to facilitate what that senior pastor his vision is for corporate worship, like, What does he want a service to feel like? What does he expect from the musical worship? So I would encourage one of the very first things you do is sit down and meet with your pastor, like take a notepad or take your iPhone, maybe not an iPhone, because I think you’re just texting the whole time. But take a notepad and sit down and ask a whole bunch of questions. And here are some example questions that you can ask to begin the process of discovering what your pastor wants from you. So you could ask, please describe for me your ideal worship ministry. What are the areas that you feel are currently lacking in the worship ministry? How do you feel about the sound? How loud should a service be? What style of songs do you feel like the congregation prefers? Should it look and feel the same every week? Or do you want variety? So those are just a few questions. Are there any other questions that you think are important to kind of pull out of the pastor during that first meeting? Yeah,
Zach Hodges 09:02 I mean, ideally, the pastor has clear answers to those things. That would be great. I’ve had that experience, some where they have very specific things that they’re wanting that they’re looking for. But also often I’ve run across pastors that just the answers that I get to questions like that are a little vague. My pastor will say sometimes that he wants the people to be freed up in worship, and I would try to figure out, Okay, so what do I do? What do you What does that mean? And sometimes it’s a matter of really trying to drive clarity, like, just Okay, so I hear you saying, you want the people to be freed up? And do you mean, do you mean singing? Do you mean raising their hands, you know, like, help me understand what this means. And they may not completely understand what they mean. And this might be kind of an ongoing conversation that you need to have. And if your pastor only has sort of a vague vision of what it is that they’re wanting, then it kind of gets into you know, you Leading up, you know, you’re you’re following, but you’re also a leader. And so how do you lead up to your pastor, and it can be just coming in with a good idea of what you want to do what you feel like the Lord has put on your heart as far as what good worship should be, and maybe some good biblical examples of that and bring that to him as well and try to make it kind of a relationship decision that you guys come to together, if he doesn’t have a super clear vision and say, okay, you know, how does this sound this is, this is what’s important to me, this is kind of my vision, would that work for you, and, you know, just make that an ongoing thing. And not just one meeting that you have, but continue to kind of keep that conversation going.
Alex Enfiedjian 10:39 Yeah, and if neither of you have a clear, compelling vision for what worship should be, maybe it would be behoove you to read a couple books. For example, worship matters by kauflin is kind of like the the standard. And then Christ centered worship by Brian chapel is good. And then Zach Hicks wrote a book called the worship pastor. So maybe look at some of those books and be influenced by that I think there’s a book called rhythms of grace, I believe. So check those four books out and kind of get an idea. The point though, here is that you and your pastor need to be on the same page, and you want to be really clear what he wants from you, and what he expects from you. And that way, you’ll know how to succeed in helping him fulfill the vision that God gave him for the church. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So that’s the second point, find out what your pastor wants. The third way to win when starting at a new church is to assess your current team, assess your current team, you really need to take stock of what you’re working with and figure out what are the resources the people that I have at my disposal? And so you want to find out things like who are the strongest players, like you should probably find this stuff out before you even arrive at the church. So find out who are the strongest players who are the weakest players. And what what I’d encourage you to do is ask somebody who knows the team, well, it might be the senior pastor, it might be one of the team members that you’ve kind of already connected with, on a good personal level. But it’s got to be someone that’s musical, it’s got to be someone you can trust. To give you an accurate assessment of the team players, what I did was I sat down with the former worship leader. And this is at the church in the mountains. When I was moving up to the mountains, I grabbed a piece of paper, I wrote down all 15 of the people’s names that were on the team. And I sat down with his name was Rob. And I said, Ralph, I need you to tell me about every single one of these people. And so we we work through the list together. And that might be something you can do. And I just asked like, who are the strong players? You know, tell me about this person? What do I need to know about this team member? Like, how is their musicality? In what areas? Do they struggle? You know, he might say, Oh, yeah, they’re really good with like dynamics, but they really struggle with timing, or they have really good pitch, but they can’t sing harmony, and even ask questions like, how about personality? Are there any divas are difficult people on a team? You know, and I literally would write notes next to each person’s name, who was an A player, B player, C player, maybe you ask the question like, Is there anyone on the team that you wouldn’t want on the team? You know what I mean? Like, are there any people who shouldn’t even be on the team. And when you do that, then you can kind of formulate a game plan on how to work with these people who you’re going to want to schedule, and you’ll be able to anticipate any of the problems that you’re going to encounter, as you get launched in your ministry. Any thoughts?
Zach Hodges 13:16 Yeah, I was just gonna say kind of as a balance to that the situation that I recently came back into was one where there was a lot of very strong musicians, but some culture problems kind of developed. And so I was coming in not really looking to, you know, solve musical problems so much as culture issues, priority issues, things like that. And so for me, it was it wasn’t just a matter of who’s good, who’s not good, you know, because underneath that question is an assumption that making the music good is the main goal. And for me, that actually wasn’t the main goal, the music was already decent. The main goal was actually Okay, I need to kind of reshape the culture of this team and reset priorities. And so, in thinking about who’s going to be on the team, how am I going to make this whole dynamic work, a lot of what I was thinking about was, what is this person adding to the sort of the mix of the team, the culture of the team, and so figuring that stuff out, too, is really important. We recently had another church merge with ours. And I did that same thing, I sat down with the worship leader from there, and just kind of went through like, okay, who is this person? How long have they been around? How old? Are they? What are they strong? And you know, same kind of things. And I was looking for musically, how are they going to fit in, but then also culturally, how are they going to fit in? How am I going to protect the culture of the team that I want to have kind of the vision for my worship ministry, and within these people?
Alex Enfiedjian 14:43 Yeah. And you talked a lot about culture there. And that’s actually the next point and the the next point, point four and five, there isn’t a specific order that they can happen in point four is that you should create culture documents for your team. Now, you might not be able to do that before point five because point five is You’re going to call the first meeting and gather the team. Sometimes that happens before you have the paperwork. But I would highly encourage you, if possible, to create the paperwork before the first meeting. So that’s point four is create culture documents to hand out to the team. And we’ve talked about this a lot on the podcast in the past, and I’ve even linked, you know, to our own culture documents here. And I’ll do that, again, I’ll put them again in this episode, show notes. But these are documents that you’re going to pass out to your team to your new team that you’re inheriting. And they are like, expectation documents, like it might be, you know, this is who we are, we are worshipers, we are servants We are family, we are like this is the type of team that we want to become. And so here is a document outlining what that looks like. And that’s going to take some prayer and some time to write it up. And that’s why I said it might not be able to do it before the first meeting. But there are also documents like how are things going to work like very practical things, like for example, from now on, we’re using Planning Center for scheduling, you know what I mean? This is the dress code, those types of things. And again, I’ll put links in the show notes for that stuff. But the key to creating documents, you have to do this in your first few months, I would say the sooner the better, you have to do this. And the key is to put it in writing and to fight for clarity, right like to be as clear as possible in everything that you say and right. Because the clearer your communication, the more your ministry will actually form into the vision that you have in your mind. And I don’t know if you’ve kind of thought about this before Zach. But I’m learning like, it’s a kind of a principle that our words are actually very similar to God’s words, they have the power to create, you know, not that we’re not that I can speak a little tiny globe into existence. You know, what I mean? Like, what you say, and how clear you are, will actually form the outcome of the situation or the culture. And so we can use our words to create the culture that we want. And that’s why we need to fight for clarity. Yeah, when we write these documents.
Zach Hodges 17:00 Yeah, totally agree. I mean, so part of what I hear you saying, I think is that you need to have your vision really clear. And then also that you need to have your your values really well established. That’s, I think, maybe another way of saying that. So what’s going to be important to you? What are the guiding principles? Not just where are you trying to get to, but how are we going to get there, you know, Burger King, and chick fil a are both fast food restaurants. But chick fil a has very different values and principles that guide them and how they do what they do than any other place. And so what’s going to be important to you, and then just repeating that over and over again, like I’m amazed at sometimes it just how many times I have to say something before people finally get it. It’s not just saying it wants, but it’s so important. there’s a there’s a quote by a guy named Ed catmull, who helped found Pixar and he said, getting the right people and the right chemistry is more important than getting the right idea. And I think sometimes we get lost in trying to come up with a cool arrangement or making the music really cool. But the truth is that getting the team really healthy and focusing them all on the clear vision, clear values, aligning everybody kind of what you’re saying with, with just a process documents, kind of getting everybody marching in the same direction, that’s actually going to create better music, better ideas, then focusing on the ideas themselves.
Alex Enfiedjian 18:20 Yeah, that’s good. And I’ll link to an episode I did with Aaron IV from Austin stone worship, that he talked a lot about culture, and how to infuse culture into your team and how to how to kind of sit down and decipher what are the values. So I’ll link to that episode. And you guys could check that out. But it’s so important. Yeah, like Zack said, but
Zach Hodges 18:40 I totally just went and grabbed Austin stones like handbook and just ripped off dropped off a bunch of stuff. It’s so good.
Alex Enfiedjian 18:46 Yeah, I did the same thing. So the fourth way to win is to create clear culture documents for your team. After that, the next thing you want to do, if you can do it in this order, great. If you can’t, that’s okay, then one of the first things you should do is to call a first meeting. that’s point number five call a first meeting. And I would say that this meeting is so insanely important. Like, you know what they say that first impressions matter. And you only get one, you know what I mean? So So call a meeting, send an email out to everybody. Hey, everybody, I’m so excited to be taking over here. And I’ve heard so many great things about you. I want us to get to know each other. And I want us to kind of set the tone for our ministry. So please be at this first meeting. It’s very important that you’re there. Please, please, please, please, please. July 1 2019, whatever. I don’t know that. And then they come and here’s your assignment. You need to be over prepared for that meeting. You need to write everything down in an Evernote note or write it on paper or maybe even print out a summarized version of what you’re gonna be talking about and give it to the team. Do not wing this meeting because this meeting is too important to wing and the thing I’d say Zack, is that the tone of the meeting The tone of the meeting is the most important thing. And it’s the thing that the people are going to remember, you want the meeting to be overwhelmingly positive and encouraging and exciting and thankful. And and you want to really make it about the team members, because you want to have your team members, your brand new team members who don’t know you at all. You want them to walk away going, I like that person. I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but I heard that one way to get people to like you, in your first encounter with them is to let them talk more than you would Yeah, I should probably work on that a little bit more. But but to ask them questions to make it about them. And that puts a positive correlation in their mind that this person is cool. Well, what they’re really thinking is, this person is cool, because they like me, or they let me talk or they care about me or they’re interested in me. And so what I would say is at this first meeting, you really want to make it about the people who have been serving before you got there, you want to make it about them. And so things that you should do is like thank them, you know, hey, well, here’s what here’s how I did it. At my at my church. We sat in a room and it depending on how big your team is, we started with them. I said, Hey, guys, I’m so excited to be here. I would love to first get to know you. So we went around popcorn, like, name, how long you’ve been on the team? What instance Do you play, and your favorite ice cream, whatever. And so before I even said one word about me, I asked about them, they went around the room, they talked about themselves. And then I said, Okay, cool. Let me tell you a little bit about me, you know, and then you just keep it short about yourself, like seven minutes about your experience or your ministry, and just where you’re coming from and your family, maybe seven or eight minutes about that, but really emphasize them. So like thank them for their faithful service, you know, yeah, tell them how you’ve heard such great things about them. share how you’re excited to come and join them in what God is doing at the church and how you’re excited to move with them into this next season. And so just honor them and speak value into them. That’s what I’d say, what would you say about this first meeting?
Zach Hodges 22:01 Yeah, I completely agree. It’s very important. I did this about a year and a half ago, ish, when I took back over the worship ministry at my church. And it was very similar. I prepared a lot, definitely tried to connect with people. there’s a there’s a quote that I love, it says people will work for a what, but they’ll give their lives for a why Craig, Rochelle said that in the leadership podcast, which is really great. And so for me, I was trying to help people get a vision of of that, why, you know, why are we here? What are we going to be about? Where are we going because probably if you’re there taking over another worship team, it means that something has changed, people are probably a little bit unsure about where things are, where things are going. And the best thing that I felt like that I could do was help them just feel some security in where we’re headed, what that looks like to get them bought into that vision and excited about that even and seeing their own potential in what they could be a part of. And then as well, just loving them, kind of showing them my heart, why I’m there, why I care about doing this, why I care about them, just helping them see that. I’m not just here to do a job, but that I really care about them personally, and that I want us all to succeed together. And so it was a lot of kind of just setting the course setting the tone for, like you said, setting that tone for for how the ministry is going to be how our relationship is going to be super important. And I prepared for days, I had a very, very clear outline that I followed. Yeah,
Alex Enfiedjian 23:35 yeah. So don’t do that meeting until you’re really ready to do it. But also don’t put it off for more than a month like it should happen within the first month, I’d say yeah, first five weeks or so. That’s super, super, super important. I wish I had my my original meeting notes. And I could put a link but I, I looked for it, I could not find what I had written down. So sorry, everybody, you’ll have to kind of just prayerfully seek the Lord on that. So that’s a point five, you call the first meeting, you get to know your team, and you cast a vision for what the future holds. And I think you hit on something real quickly that I want to pull out an isolate for a second. And that is trust. Your key objective during these first few months is to win people’s trust. Yeah, you know, you said they’re a little bit insecure, they’re a little bit unsure. They don’t know what the future holds. There’s been change and everybody hates change. So you have to do everything you can to win trust. And that means smile a lot. That means Be kind, be loving, and be professional. You know,
Zach Hodges 24:30 yeah, you win people’s trust by being trustworthy by by making decisions by following through by just loving them. It doesn’t have to be anything that you conjure, just over time by having them over by the way that you interact with them by just remembering Little things like texting them or you know, whatever. Just all the normal relationship things like leadership is nothing more than influence. And in order to have influence, you need to have a relationship you need to build that trust and so in my mind That is pretty much the job. It’s not the music, it’s leading the team, and you have to have that relationship and that trust to do that.
Alex Enfiedjian 25:07 That’s huge. Okay, so the sixth way, then let’s talk about the sixth way to win after your first meeting, the sixth way to win is to begin utilizing your team. And this, Zack, we’ve talked a little bit offline about this, over the last couple months, you have this interesting thing, you’re going to inherit a team of people who you did not choose. And some of them you’re going to love, you know, obviously, you’re gonna love all of them, but musically speaking, some of them, you’re gonna be like, Oh, my gosh, this person is amazing. And I love how they play. And some people, you’re gonna be like, Oh, man, like, that’s not my taste. That’s not how I would play things. I maybe they’re not even good. You know what I mean. And I know, I talk a lot about the music. And you talk a lot about the people, which shows which one of us is more mature. But, but you have problems. Yeah, but you do have to put together the music. That is our job. It’s music ministry, we’re ministering through music. And the truth is, you’re not going to inherit a team of people who all fit exactly what you want them to be. And so you really have two options in how to utilize these people. Option number one, which I think is not a good option is you re audition every single team member, and you make decisions, whether they can play or not in your team. And I know one worship leader who did this, and it ticked a whole bunch of people off, and I do not recommend this way. I mean, in some ways, it would be easy just to start fresh, like, Okay, I get to hand select my team, I’m going to get rid of the people I don’t necessarily have chemistry with. But I just like you said, it’s about people, and we’re supposed to shepherd people, and love people. And it’s people over music, right. And it’s a
Zach Hodges 26:41 bad way to build trust, I heard it said that, instead of allowing people to earn your trust, you should give trust and allow mistrust to be earned. And so if you start the whole thing off with, hey, I don’t trust any of you and I want to audition, every single one of you, that pretty much starts the relationship off on a kind of a weird foot. So that seems maybe like not the best way to go to me as well.
Alex Enfiedjian 27:01 Right? So the better way, in our opinion is option number two, you take everybody upfront, you take everyone is a lot. And you say this is the team that was here, before I came in, this is the team that we will start with. And we will move forward in this new direction. And we will set new expectations and we will coach and help and develop and train and pour into and believe in people. And if they can’t hit those expectations, they themselves will fall off the train as the train moves forward. You know, and I think what happens is they naturally sense it. They’re like, Wow, I can’t perform to the level that the team is now performing. I don’t have the time commitment that they’re expecting from me now. So I think people will sense like, this isn’t my season anymore. Or in some rare occasions, you’ll have to point it out like, hey, you’re always working, you don’t have time to rehearse. Maybe this isn’t the season for you right now you don’t have the time to commit to the level of the ministry that we’re calling each other to, you know, so any thoughts?
Zach Hodges 28:04 Yeah. I mean, building a culture of feedback of healthy communication, I think is incredibly important. I tried to really set the tone here by just being extremely honest about myself and my own weaknesses, and being willing to just be upfront about those. And then trying to be really encouraging of people and making sure that the people that I was working with really knew like, I’m working overtime to make this work with you, like we’re meeting before practice, you’re coming over to my house, and we’re working on stuff like I’m really trying to make this work for you. This is not just like a pass or fail thing, like I’m investing into you. Because as a shepherd, like I love you, and I want you to be a part of this ministry. And then if through all that, it comes to a point where man, this is just not working, I need to have a relationship. Again, with trust, like I need to have that sort of ability to have an honest conversation and say, Hey, this is just not working, I need you to we need to focus on these things or you know, whatever, probably gets back to that like hard conversations episode that you were you just did. But to have that culture where you can, you can say the hard truths in love is really important. And then another thing I would say is just to be mindful of the message that you’re sending here. For me, I was coming into a team that was probably a little bit too focused on the quality of music. And so I actually did kind of the opposite. I actually brought people into the team that weren’t as good as the other team members, but they had a an attitude that I really wanted everyone else to model. And that was kind of a way for me to send the message to the team, like, Hey, I know you’re a good musician and all but this is the thing that I care about. I’m bringing this person in so that I put my money where my mouth is and you know, conversely, if you’re saying to your team, you know, it’s just all about the lore, we’re just gonna follow the spirit. Like it’s not about the music, we just want to love people. But then everything is about the music and the way that you behave. You’re kind of sending two messages and so you need it. Make sure that the message that you’re sending in the priorities that you’re setting in what you’re saying kind of in that like first meeting, what we are talking about aligns with how it is that you’re going about kind of shaping the team and the music quality of the team. Because that can be really hurtful, it can be really personal. And you need to be careful with how you handle these people who have who love the Lord and love your church and love you. And, you know, it’s, it’s delicate. So,
Alex Enfiedjian 30:28 yeah, and I think, you know, as we think about, you’re inheriting a group of people, most of the time, those people have played together many years. And so I found that with time, I start to learn who plays well, with who, right, and there are a couple of people on my team who have played together for so long, under a certain style of music, that when they get together, they can’t really get out of that groove, they revert to the groove that they’ve like been ingrained in, you know, right, or that’s been ingrained in them. And so what I do now is I either don’t schedule them together, or I schedule them together, and specifically pick songs that I know that are going to be right in their wheelhouse. Right. Right. So really utilizing the team members that you have, I think that’s really important.
Zach Hodges 31:12 Yeah, just one sorry, one more quick thing. forgot to mention this. Another thing that I think is important is to distinguish who it is that you’re building on, and who it is that you’re building with. So there’s certain people that they have a lot of potential, they’re bought into the ministry, they’re working hard. And that’s somebody that you can build on, you can develop that person and take them farther. And there’s other people, they got what they got, they’re not really that interested in growing, and you can kind of build with them. And maybe you can only build with them to a certain point. And so kind of making that distinction. You know, is this somebody that I want to build on? Or is this somebody that I’m just building with at this point?
Alex Enfiedjian 31:52 That’s good. Okay, so that’s point number six. Number seven, is in the midst of all of this to stick super close to your senior pastor. You know, I had a weekly meeting with my pastor, I still do. And especially in like the first five months of starting a new church, you want to just ask them all the time for input, like, get feedback, what did you like? What didn’t you like? Am I fulfilling your vision for the role, what could be better are the songs that I’m selecting working for the body, and so really stick close, and just get a ton of feedback. And I’d also say about this concept of sticking close to the senior pastor, like, try to make friends with the pastor, you know, take them out to lunch talk family, you just want to build a good solid relationship with the senior pastor, especially in these first few months.
Zach Hodges 32:37 Yeah, yeah. And be willing to take feedback that he didn’t want to hear, because you’re going to be pouring yourself into this thing. And it’s really hard to put a lot of energy into it. And then here, it’s not, you know, I wasn’t really feeling that or whatever. And you kind of just need to have thick skin. And keep in mind that this is not about you, and your ego and your musical plan for your life for whatever you’re, you’re supporting him and, you know, there’s gonna be some bumps along the road. And it’s not, he’s not rejecting you, if he doesn’t like your idea. It’s just your idea. It’s not you, you know, be willing to constantly readjust and constantly change your ideas and don’t get too stuck on something because because that could drive a wedge between the two of you.
Alex Enfiedjian 33:21 Right, and again, you’re there to serve the Lord Yes, but to also serve the senior pastor’s vision. So Exactly. Cool. So as you’re sticking close to your senior pastor, the next point is point number eight, to make friends with the sound guy and the video guy, or even if they’re volunteers, but whoever you’re going to be linking arms with and serving as a team. Those people should be number one on your friendship list. Like, you need to say I’m going to intentionally invest time and resources into getting to know these people and having a good relationship. So what we did when I first came, there were two guys, Anthony and Eli. And we would meet every single Monday for lunch. It was our lunch hour, and we would go upstairs, we’d sit on the roof. We would eat lunch, we would talk, talk about family, talk about struggles, talk about life, talk about ministry issues, and then we would pray together. And we did this every Monday. And in those meetings, we began to formulate like the more clear vision that God had for our ministry. And so out of that relationship with these people that I was linking arms with, we began to see what God wanted to do. And also when you’re friends with people, you realize, like you’re not on different teams, because sometimes like the tech and the worship teams can be against each other. But no, we’re all trying to do the same thing. We’re all one team trying to lead worship and so having a relationship with people kind of breaks down that hey, I need you to do this for me thing.
Zach Hodges 34:47 Totally. Yeah. jails world Sanders said leaders must draw the best out of people and friendship does that far better than prolonged argument or mere logic? And I just thought it’s so true. just heard somebody else say like, you know, maybe The best thing you could do for your drum volume problem is just take your drummer out to coffee and ask him how he’s doing. Just having a relationship is so crucial. And I have a close relationship with my media guys as well. And actually something that I’ve done to try and just bring us all closer is instigate a time in the morning, where, before we do anything, we just get everyone together from media, the video, people, the worship team, we all just pray together, we sing a song together, we kind of I partnered with the media director to kind of develop this time. Because after that, we all get really busy. But just even having that time where everyone’s face to face and drawing everybody into like to the Lord and to really why we’re all here, it was just, it’s been so helpful, just to create some FaceTime with everyone and help drive those kind of that unity.
Alex Enfiedjian 35:49 Yeah, super important. So make friends as your pastor, make friends with your sound and video guys. And then the ninth way to win when starting a new church is to make friends with other pastors in the area, I say, find a local support network, find a local support network. This is trying to find other worship leaders, other worship pastors at other churches in your area who are a little bit further down the line than you are, and maybe even a lot further down the line than you are. And so what I would encourage you to do when you first get to church, or even before you arrive at the church, this is what I did. I emailed three churches that were large churches, because I had never worked in a church of this size. And I had no idea what I was doing. So I got online, I found three big churches around me. And I emailed them. So harvest, Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, and Hillsong, Los Angeles, these guys are people that have ministries that at least from the outside, I really respect. And I’m like, I want to learn from them. And I just said, I would love to take you out to lunch, I’ll drive to you, I’ll buy you lunch. And I just would love an hour of your time. And so I would encourage all of our listeners to do that. And when you do that show up with questions like do not just waste their time, have thoughtful, intentional questions about the problems or the questions that you have, and ask their advice and listen, and don’t try to impress them. Just listen, and write down everything and go as a learner. And I’ll tell you that when I emailed these people, one of them said Yes, right away. One of them didn’t respond, and I had to keep emailing. And the other one also didn’t respond for quite a while. But at each point in my journey over the last year and a half here, they got back to me. And it was exactly what I needed. Right when I needed it. You know what I mean? So the first church got back to me, and they had answers to questions that I was having at that point in time, and so on and so forth. And so these relationships, because I went in humbly, and I didn’t waste their time, and I respected them. They become like longer term relationships that are now very life giving. And I can text them when I have questions. And so I would just say like, this is huge. If our worship leaders get a job at a new church, they should definitely reach out to other churches. So
Zach Hodges 38:02 yeah, totally. When I actually actually when I first texted you like a year ago, that was actually what I was trying to do. And seems to actually has been very fruitful. So if you are you’re on the podcast. Yeah, just actually just text Alex, and then everything, you’ll just end up on his podcast, right? And
Alex Enfiedjian 38:20 the only reason you’re on my podcast is because you’re just like, super cool and smart. And every time I hear you talk, I’m like, man, he’s doing such a good job leading, and I could learn from him so we can learn from everybody. So
Zach Hodges 38:31 I think I think we have this idea that like, there’s these other people that really know what they’re doing. And the deeper into this I go, the more I realized that we’re all trying the best we can and at different points, having varying levels of success, and just realizing that and almost like giving myself permission to just learn and try and grow and not feeling like I’m trying to get to the same level as some other person has been. I don’t know, really freeing and nice. Yeah.
Alex Enfiedjian 39:00 And you know, it’s funny, I was reading a john Maxwell book, and he talked about, it’s really easy for me to give advice about how to be a good leader. The hard part is to actually do it myself. And yeah, exactly. podcaster, who has has a bunch of listeners? You know, I think a lot of times people think, oh, Alex knows how to do everything. He’s amazing. But honestly, like, I have to take my own advice. You know, half the time that I’m teaching these concepts. I’m like reminding myself Oh, yeah, I got to do better this, you know, so I think the key is to just ask questions all the time. Like, if you’re right, nobody has it all figured out. But just keep asking how can I do this better? How can I solve this problem? How can I this How can I that? You know exactly, so I think that’s what makes somebody successful. Okay, so find a local support network number 10. We’re almost done. We have three more. This one’s huge. Okay. This one is to evaluate and fix broken systems at your church. If you can do this in the first few months of arriving, your team We’ll be like, yes, the Savior has arrived. And please don’t take that hermetically and like, send me an email. But the point is like, you want to solve problems, you want to take away pain points from the team. I talked a lot about this in my episode about five administrative system structures and schedules that will improve your worship ministry or whatever it’s called. And I’ll link to that. But when I got here, there were so many things that were broken. So many things that didn’t make sense, so many things that were hindering me from taking the ministry in a healthy direction that I just slowly, systematically started, not slowly, quickly, systematically started solving those issues. And guess what, like, the team started to go, thank you for taking away this pain point, like, you are making our life better, you know, and a couple examples would be perhaps like, you guys don’t have a midweek rehearsal. You know, maybe you could do a midweek rehearsal. Or maybe there’s no service planning tool, like you don’t use Planning Center, you’re just like texting each other. Maybe there’s no weekly meeting with the pastor. So whatever is a system that’s not working, work to solve those because it’s going to make everything stable. And it’s going to win the trust of your team. Any thoughts?
Zach Hodges 41:10 Yeah, just, I would encourage you to to be a good listener and a good like, watcher, make sure that you’re not just copying and pasting what you did at your previous experience into this new one, because it worked for you then. And so you think it can work? Now, maybe that’s true, but make sure that there’s an actual problem that you’re trying to solve, and that you’re not just changing things that don’t need to be changed and listened to observe, you know, what, what are the pain points, and maybe there’s a different solution, like maybe Planning Center is overkill, and texting actually works good. Everybody responds to that, maybe that’s fine. And that can just work like that would seem crazy to me. But I’ve seen that work. And then the other thing is, if you make any kind of change to the, to the kind of the routines that people are used to, some people are going to be super on board right away, and other people won’t be. And so I think it’s really important to make sure that you lead with the why why is this important that we do this? Why do you have to learn this Planning Center thing? Why am I making you make this account, you know, all this, because it’s a hassle. And if, if you feel like I was working fine the way it was, then you’re not going to be motivated to be on board with the new system. But if you can help everyone, see, if we get on this new system, if we make this change, we’re going to be able to work a lot more clearly. We’re going to spend less time just doing things that don’t matter. And ultimately, we’re going to be able to get people worshipping Jesus better, you know, whatever your y is, but bring it back to that vision that why that thing that even that you’re working out with your pastor, how does it connect to that? And why should you care about this, and that transition will be so much smoother.
Alex Enfiedjian 42:42 And that leads to the next point, which kind of stems from this one, which is to create early wins. You know, I read in a book once. I think it’s called you turn church or something, that when you come to a new church, you should start making visual changes and improvements to the church. I know that sounds very superficial, but it’s because it creates a sense of change, and excitement and newness and freshness and movement, and momentum. And I’m not saying to make a bunch of visual changes. But what I am saying is you want to create some early wins with your team and solve, like I said, solve some of the things that have been bothering your team find ways to make their life easier to do things that your team members will like. So an example of a quick win would be to have a professional come in and tune your pa because immediately while your your your speakers are going to sound better, your rooms gonna sound better. And like wow, Alex arrived, and all of a sudden things sound great. Well, no, it’s just that we tuned the PA but it sounds great. And the team is like cool. We sound great. Now you know what I mean? Another quick win would be to make the volunteer space a little bit cooler, or more comfortable. For example, at our church, when I came here, the back stage area where we hang out between services. All it was was an old cafeteria table and a bunch of metal chairs. That was it. And I was like, this is really uncomfortable. And they were like, yeah, it’s been like this for 15 years. I’m like, well, let’s change it. And so you know, and this sounds like a lot of money to some churches. And I understand but we went to IKEA we spent $1,000. We got some really nice couches, we painted the walls. We hung some cool, like retro lights. And now like the team is happy. And they’re like, this is so nice. And that’s, you know, that wasn’t very hard. It was just an easy win to make the space better. And what that does, like I said is it creates excitement, momentum, and it builds trust, because everyone wants to be part of a winning team. You know what I mean?
Zach Hodges 44:29 Yeah, the I think the word momentum is really the one for me. You know, when I first came onto this team, there was I was the only worship leader. There was one drummer, and just very few musicians. And the big thing that I really had to jump into was recruiting. And so I worked hard on our application process, everybody that I met basically at the church like hey, do you play an instrument, and I auditioned a lot of people and within a year now we have I think it’s seven drummers and Six or seven worship leaders, some of that’s cheating, because we had the church merge, but that was only like half of them. So I was able to bring a lot of new people into the worship team that some of these people had never even met before in the church like, gosh, like, Where are these people coming from? And that kind of created a sense of momentum, like, hey, like things are moving, there’s, you know, Zack is has kind of brought some new life into the team and things are going well. And when you have that momentum and kind of that early trust, you can get a lot done and people will start giving you permission and trust to do other things.
Alex Enfiedjian 45:30 Yeah. And I think as you lead, and you create movement movement, for some reason is gravitational, it draws other people in. Yeah, I see, I see something happening, and they want to be part of it. And so they’re going to come around. And I’d say that, I think we’ve talked about this in another episode a long time ago. But when people see that things are well organized and thought out, they want to be a part they want to join. Yeah, and so so the momentum keeps growing and going. But one thing that I would say about this is, is it’s okay to occasionally you don’t want to brag or whatever, but occasionally point out the wins. For example, at the one year mark, for me, I sent out an email to the team saying, Hey, guys, can you believe all that God has accomplished through us this last year, and then I listed like 15, positive changes that God allowed us to do this first year, you know, notice that I included them in the when I said, God allowed us to do these things. Because like I said, Everybody wants to be part of a winning team. So cool. And then as you go along, the second to last way to win your new church is to ask for honest feedback, I think this is really important. Ask for honest feedback, meaning just, you’re an outsider, they need to know that you are willing to listen to them, and that you’re not just going to dictate how things are gonna go. And so try to ask often, like, how are things going, what could we better? How am I doing as a leader? Hey, what in what ways Am I not doing well? So what I do is like, once a year, I’ll send out in an anonymous survey, that’s hard to say, hmm. And I’ll say, you know, some of those questions like what what’s going well, what’s not going well? What am I not doing? Well, what would you like more for me to do? And they fill it out, and they send it back, and I read it, and I get really depressed for a day. And then I go, Okay, well. So now I know what to work on. So yeah, it’s very important.
Zach Hodges 47:24 Yeah, I did something similar. I sent out a survey about six months ago. And I just kind of asked three questions like, What’s going well, what should we keep doing? What should we stop doing? And yeah, I got some good feedback, some encouraging things, some not. So encouraging things. But I think I said this earlier, but the culture of honest feedback is just so crucial to having a healthy team. I mean, you see this in the gospels, Jesus was very honest at times. And you have to lead this in, it’s not just giving honest feedback, because then you kind of can be a jerk, but also encouraging honest feedback, like when you do have somebody that comes to you with with any kind of feedback, smaller, great, just saying, Thank you, like, this is exactly the kind of feedback that I want, thank you for bringing this to me, I really appreciate it. and encouraging that so that people start to get those signals, like it’s okay for me to come to you and, and say something that may come across as negative or critical or something, because we’re all in this together. And we’re all just trying to make this thing better. versus if if you get some negative feedback, and you kind of act weird, they’re never going to do that again. And so how you accept feedback and how you encourage feedback is going to help build that culture of feedback.
Alex Enfiedjian 48:37 Yeah, that’s, that’s really good. So the last way, we’ve gone through 12, so far, 12 ways to win win, starting at your new church, the last way is to form relationships form relationships. And this is obvious, you know, and I don’t do this well, because I’m very task driven. But it’s really, really important to spend time with people to ask them how they’re doing to get to know your team members. And I would say, don’t feel the burden to become everybody’s best friend. Don’t overextend yourself, but just in natural ways, get to know them, you know, maybe have three potlucks that you do per year or do coffee once a month as a recurring task. If you’re very task driven, you know, make it a task to get coffee with a team member. I do that it’s on my task list every month. But it’s important to get to know people on a personal level. So
Zach Hodges 49:23 yeah, yeah, I completely agree. Especially if you can identify who the kind of leaders within the team are. It’s really important to get those people kind of bought into your leadership. There’s positional power of you just having the title of leader. But then often there’s personal power of just specific people that have a lot of influence and getting them on your side is going to help move everything in that direction so much more. And so some things that I did was trying identifying those people and having them over for dinner, taking them out for coffee. Just trying to have midweek conversations with them and just you know, Hey, how’s it going, you know, whatever, very much like, obviously trying to create a relationship with them, but it wasn’t forced, just genuinely caring and trying to have a relationship with them. And you know, I’m by vocational. So I don’t have a ton of time. And this isn’t, this isn’t something I’m not like a natural people person, I don’t just thrive on hanging out with people all the time. But doing that has helped so much. And it’s something that even my wife helps me, just reminds me like, Hey, who are we having over to dinner next? It’s just so crucial to have a healthy relationship outside of the context of that team.
Alex Enfiedjian 50:35 Yeah, cuz like you said, trust, wins, influence and influences leadership. So there you go. Yep. And then you can take the team where you need it to go. Now I had 13 things on the list. And we’re done with that, I did have one other thought. And if you have any other kind of Final thoughts that we didn’t hit, one thought is important. So we’ll just call this extra bonus number 14 is don’t bash the past, like, Don’t bash the past I, I made a mistake at one of our early meetings, like about six, five months in, you know, the way things were in the past, in terms of musical arrangements were very fluid and kind of whatever you wanted to play. And I’m much more like production in terms of like, layer by layer, build the song, and everyone plays their part. And they kind of do it the same every time instead of just kind of going with the flow. And I actually I told them this, you guys are so talented. And you’re so incredibly gifted, that you can just go with the flow, and you make it sound great. But I’m more, you know, linear. And I like to build the song as if it were on an album, like track by track. And I said, you guys play more like a jam band. And they were like, what? kill you. We are not a jam band. And I offended like, at least three people. And I realized, like, you know what, I didn’t need to say anything about the past, when I was pointing them to the future, I just needed to point them to the future, right? I mean, and there was nothing wrong with the past. And they were a part of that. And that was that was how it was. And they loved that. And there was nothing wrong with that. And I don’t need to evaluate my opinion of that thing. I just have to say, Let’s gather together and go forward together. And so don’t look back and don’t bash the past, you know,
Zach Hodges 52:16 yeah. Yeah, the only two things that I would add is just not to fear failure, mistakes are gonna happen, you’re gonna make mistakes, like the one that you made. And that’s a great example. And anytime you’re trying to do something new that you’ve never done before, or that’s in a new context or something, you’re gonna make mistakes. And so don’t be afraid to make mistakes, just be willing to own up to them. And be honest about them and ask apology, if you need that, to failure is going to happen and just learn from it, don’t let it cripple you. So you know, don’t fear failure. And then the other thing I would say is just look for ways that you can grow your team, you know, the, especially the, probably the best servants that you have in your ministry, the ones that you want to build on, are the ones that are the real high performers, that they they’re there because they want to do something that matters, they want their time to count for something, and they want to grow and the gifts that they have and the relationship that they have with the Lord. And so if you’re not giving them avenues to grow and ways to to grow in themselves, they may not stick around, you may lose them. And so just helping people find ways to grow, you know, delegating things, giving opportunities and not just delegating tasks. But delegating responsibilities even as you get to know them and feel like you can trust them. Look for ways that you can grow your people and and pass off things that maybe are currently under your control. So that like you were saying, like ultimately, that you can grow leaders and have more people, leading and leading leaders and that kind of thing. There’s kind of that multiplying effect that you can have long term.
Alex Enfiedjian 53:54 Awesome. Cool. Well, congratulations to those listeners who just got a job at a new church. I hope this episode was super helpful. And Zach, I would love it actually, if you wanted to say a special prayer for those listeners who are starting brand new and feel completely overwhelmed. And they’re like, ah, can you pray for them? Yeah, my
Zach Hodges 54:12 pleasure. Lord, thank you so much for bringing these people to hear Alex and I talk not that we have any special wisdom, but Lord just that they love you. They love your people. And they desperately want to do a good job with this and in searching for that they have come across this and Lord, I pray that you would fill them with your spirit Lord, keep them encouraged and, and motivated to keep pushing on. Lord, help them not to overdo it or undo it. But Lord just to keep a healthy balance and to to be able to keep themselves healthy through this process. And, Lord, I pray that you would give them alignment with their pastor and give them vision for their own ministry that aligns with the mission of the church and the have their pastor and God that you would give them just the love for the people that you have put under them or that they wouldn’t be simply in charge of these people, but that you would give them a deep love for your people. In leading these people and in leading the larger congregation to sing songs of worship to you, God, I just pray that you would move in them and move in their hearts to put themselves into this job with all that they are for Your glory and for the good of your people. So Lord, we love you. Thank you so much for just what an incredible privilege it is to serve you with music and to serve you with other people that play music. God, it’s just so amazing. We pray that you would help us to do that well to steward the the people and the gifts and the talents and the energy and the time that you’ve given us, Lord for Your glory. God, we love you. And we lift all these things up in your name, amen.
Alex Enfiedjian 55:49 Amen. Thanks, Zach. All right. Well, that’s it for this episode, I would encourage you guys to take a look at the show notes because I put links to many of the resources that we talked about in this episode. Also, be sure to check out Planning Center, the best way to schedule your teams and your song sets, and many other things for your worship ministry. At planning dot center. It’s free to try for 30 days check it out. And if you want to write us a birthday review, that would be awesome. Just open the apple podcasts app or iTunes on your computer, or go to worship ministry training, comm slash review and leave us a review to say thanks for the last four years. That’d be super helpful and fun. Thank you. Have a good month and I’ll see you guys next month for another helpful episode.