Being an effective worship leader involves SO much more than just leading songs on Sunday mornings. Today we talk to Chris Vacher, award-winning blogger and Creative Arts Pastor at C4 Church, about what it takes to be a great worship leader when OFF the platform. The other parts of the job, like pastoring your team, keeping your walk with Jesus authentic, constantly learning, and making sure you are caring for your own family. Enjoy the wisdom from Chris as he gives us some things to focus on (and work on) in between Sundays.
Make sure to keep up with Chris online by using the links below.
Being on the stage is an important part of what we do, but it’s HARDLY the main thing we do. -Tweet That!
4 things effective worship leaders do between Sundays: private worship, pastor people, grow/learn, & enjoy family -Tweet That!
Alex Enfiedjian 00:11 Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the worship team podcast. My name is Alex Enfiedjian. And I am your host. Today is Episode 17 of the podcast and I am talking with Chris vashi, who is a well known worship blogger. his blog, actually, for the last two years has won worship leader Magazine’s Best of and Chris is also the creative arts pastor at sea for church in Ontario, Canada. So I’m really stoked to talk to Chris today about what you should be spending your time on in between Sundays. Chris has a passion for making sure that worship leaders are well equipped to do a great job not just standing on the stage, but of all the little things that happen in between. So today we talk about how to spend your time effectively in between Sundays. So let’s get right into the episode today with Chris vashi.
Alex Enfiedjian 01:11 Hey, everybody, I am here with Chris vashi, who is a blogger on all things worship related, and also the creative arts pastor for C for church in Ajax, Ontario, Canada, where he says it’s not actually cold this year. So hey, Chris, thanks for being here.
Chris Vacher 01:28 Alex. Thanks, man. It is it’s like spring, it’s February. But it’s like spring. It’s pretty awesome.
Alex Enfiedjian 01:32 That’s right. You should move yourself out. It’s like 70 degrees all the time, huh, don’t me. Alright. So currently, I think most of our listeners are probably familiar with you and your blog, which is called Chris from Canada. But if they’re not familiar with you, and what you do, can you just give us like the 32nd intro to Chris vashi and family?
Chris Vacher 01:52 Sure. So I’ve been a worship leader for 20 years, I met Jesus in high school because I was musical I got involved in worship ministry right away traveling. I’ve been on staff at a church in a full time worship ministry capacity for 10 years. So that’s been like the main focus of my life. For the last 10 years. I’ve been on staff at this church for two years. I’m the creative arts pastor. So I oversee all of our worship ministry, worship leaders, worship teams, I oversee all of our communication, which is video design, anything that you might like, see or hear or feel. And then I oversee our production ministry as well. I’m married for almost 18 years. And we have four kids, three girls and a boy. And we live on a little house in the country. And we’ve got chickens, that keeps me busy when I’m not doing church stuff, and get to enjoy our country life a little bit. So that’s me. So the chickens keep you busy when you’re not busy, but you’re always busy. So you know, I need that thing that has no connection to any other part of my life. It’s my little meditation, just go and hang out with chickens and collect eggs. And it’s pretty awesome.
Alex Enfiedjian 02:58 That’s great, man. So Chris, when we were talking about what to talk about, On this episode, he had brought up the idea of like, everything that a worship leader should be focusing on between Sundays. And I had a hard time wrapping my brain around that because there are so many things that worship leaders should be focusing on between Sundays. Like, I mean, leading worship from the stage singing songs is a important part of what we do, but it’s hardly the whole picture. Right? And so what I’d like you to do right now is maybe just give us the laundry list like of the roles and responsibilities, paint, paint a vivid picture of what the life of a worship leader should look like. And all the various things we have to do between Sundays.
Chris Vacher 03:42 Yeah, I guess the the Sunday part is like the it’s the part of the iceberg you see above water, and everything else below that. And so you know, whether you’re whether you’re a full time worship leader, like this is your full time gig and you can get full time attention to it, or you do it as a volunteer. Sort of doesn’t matter that how you invest your time between Sundays. The evidence of that will show on Sunday morning, whether your week so it’s everything. You know, I think about somebody full time so it’s everything from like, managing emails, scheduling teams, choosing songs, working with your pastor, being in staff meeting, making sure the stage is set up and ready to go doing pro presenter working out Planning Center, making sure other people on your staff do you know what’s happening, maybe there’s you know, you doing communion, are you doing baptism, you gotta make sure that people to serve communion, and you need the tank set up. I mean, there’s, like, that’s just a laundry list. And that’s just every Sunday 15 times a year on top of that, it’s like, Okay, now we’re going to do a series design, or we’ve got Easter coming, or we’re gonna do we’re doing a night of worship, or we might do some songwriting together as a team, or there’s a guessing, you know, you start to getting these bigger events stuff. And then it’s like, okay, Am I going to be here long term? And I thinking out a year, two years, five years? How are we developing people? How are we mentoring people? If there’s other worship leaders? How are we equipping them? If there’s people on our team? How are we building relationship with them and developing community? How are we equipping our artists to serve? Really well? How am I equipping myself? Or how am I being quick? Who are my mentors? You know, five years from now, what’s my job gonna look like? So there’s above the water of the iceberg. The part that people see on Sunday is, you know, can you put us on a set together for songs, maybe scripture reading? Can you transition really well? Can you do a key change? Can you lead a team, all of that, but there’s, you know, once you’re in the job, or even if you’re a volunteer worship leader, you know, you learn pretty quickly that, you know, those those hours spent between Sundays, if you can invest them really, really well. The effectiveness on Sunday is maximized more than you could ever imagine,
Alex Enfiedjian 05:56 man. Yeah, that’s a huge list. And it could keep going, right? That mean, vision caster, culture protector, meevo, agenda planner, I mean, like, there’s so many roles to our responsibilities, and so many hats we have to wear. One of the things he said at the end, though, was how we use our time between Sundays will, it will determine our effectiveness on Sundays. So I want to ask you a question, Chris, like, out of all of that, what are like, let’s say three, or maybe four of the top things that the most effective worship leaders do?
Chris Vacher 06:33 So I’ll say these and don’t hold them in order of priority. How’s that? So the first thing isn’t that maybe the most important, but I say these things are important. So I would say the most effective worship leaders I know, and maybe the opposite, the ones that I have seen where the effectiveness has not lasted, is when the investment in personal discipleship is primary. So don’t ever, ever, ever get in the trap of professional Christianity. You know, I’m a leader, I’m upfront, I’m spending time choosing songs, I’m talking to my pastor about the passage that he’s preaching from, that’s never ever a replacement. It’s actually a terrible replacement for personal relationship with Jesus. Like, why would Why would you ever give up that personal intimacy in the personal relationship and personal time spent in relationship with the God of the universe? Who knows you and loves you and wants to be with you? And why would you give that up for, in a sense, like the facade of what you put on on Sunday, and just giving out to other people, and the effectiveness of Sunday, is made most effective when it comes from like, the most honest ways. So, I mean, for me, that’s spend time and personal worship away from preparing for Sunday. So ministry, but you know, this Levitical role of his ministry before the Lord. And so in your office, in a room in your house on stage, sometimes I’ll just go to the platform in our auditorium, nobody’s in there. And I’ll just get on my guitar and sing and just worship the Lord that I like being in our auditorium to do that, or I’ll do it at home or wherever. But just personal worship, for sure, personal time in Scripture outside of the passage that your pastor is preaching, just believe that God is going to speak to you through His Word, because that’s what he does, you know, have have personal mentors and people who know you and love you and are in relationship with you for more than what you do on Sunday. That’s It’s huge. And I can’t, you know, I can’t give too much weight to that. I think that’s really important. And the inverse is true, the ones that I’ve seen, who have lost effectiveness. And you know, some friends of mine who have been in worship ministry, even like walked away from ministry, walked away from the Lord. That’s the piece that was missing. It became about the Sunday it became about the bit of the iceberg that was above the water and not what was underneath. Yeah, I’d say that that’s a huge one. Can
Alex Enfiedjian 09:04 I speak into that? I mean, that’s like you’re saying, you have major relationship with Christ, a professional matter, your job. The fact that you have to stand in front of people on Sunday, is motivating you to spend time with Gaza. Your job is fueling your relationship with God, rather than your relationship with God being something that fuels your ministry. That’s where the starting point is. And that’s what you’re saying is the difference. And I’ll be honest, I’ve been there. I’ve been in that place where it’s like, oh, my gosh, I got to I got to stand on the stage someday I got to make sure that I’m reading my Bible and that’s that’s the backwards way of looking at it. It needs to be something that’s real and private and personal that overflows and spills out into effective ministry. And that’s that’s what you’re saying. Effective worship leaders spend time with Christ in private when no one’s watching and it doesn’t really count for anything.
Chris Vacher 09:59 And that’s why Seasons of that. I mean, I think there we can all look, if you’ve been doing this long enough, you can all look back to season a life where man I was, and so that there’s an ebb and a flow. But you know, we got to say, where’s the priority? We get to choose first relationship with Christ personal relationship. And I mean, I think it’s true, I think the, the the idea of trading that for for public ministry leadership is a terrible trade. Even just in the economics of it, it’s just the benefit of it, just it can’t be understated. You can’t give enough weight, especially if you’re thinking longevity. And people who were really called to this for a long time, it’s got to come out of that personal personal discipleship, personal relationship with the Lord first always. Second thing I’d say effectiveness is, we talked about this a little bit, but I always think about how do I lead people and not just on Sundays again, but like in my office, in my work environment, if you’re a volunteer, you know, how are you leading people in relationship but I always think of like, leading down leading across and leading up leading up would be with my senior pastor with my lead pastor, how do I manage expectations on what’s you know, what’s possible, what’s achievable? what’s realistic with timelines, and budget and people. So just managing relationship and managing expectations really well, that way leading across with other staff, other leaders, keeping them excited and informed about what’s happening in our services. at our church, Sunday is a big deal for us. Not all churches make Sunday they do when they Sunday they do because it’s the one time of the week where our whole family gets together, we have two services at one location, we have one service at another location. So we’re not literally all in the same room together. But it’s like a little family reunion every Sunday. And so I want to make sure that our staff are excited about that, that they’re aware of what’s happening. If there’s changes in what we normally do, or where we’re going with Sundays, I want to make sure they’re in on that. And then leading down and that’s not in a condescending way. But if you’re a leader, it’s because you’re asked to lead people. And so how do I lead in my, in my world that’s like, other staff or other leaders or teams of people? How am I setting vision and setting expectation? How am I helping us move forward? And am I looking out, you know, four months, or six months or 12 months and thinking about where we’re going and starting to set some conversations? Or if things are getting stale? How do I leave? Maybe we maybe we need to go somewhere else and see something? Or maybe we need to read a book together? Maybe we need to whatever, whatever it is. But how am I consciously not just getting people to fill roles? And to do a job with that paid or volunteer? How do I get them excited about what God’s doing? And and help to lead them and develop them so that ultimately they will then lead and develop others? And so that multiplication?
Alex Enfiedjian 13:02 So that’s the second one, first one spiritual, making sure your spiritual walk is vibrant and real. leading others Up, down, left, right. Yeah,
Chris Vacher 13:10 yeah. And then I would say the third thing from in terms of effectiveness is like, Don’t ever stop learning. And I’m an information junkie, that’s part of social media. For me, if people dropping me on social media, they know I’m always sharing stuff, because I’m always looking to learn, I never, ever, ever in my life, want to get to a place where I feel like I figured it out. And now I’m just, you know, just turning the gears and spitting out Sundays, I always want to be learning. So I’m always reading we were talking earlier, I have a book list every year, my goal in life is that every year read more than I read the year before. And so I just build an Amazon checkout cart. And then a few times a year, I’ll buy a bunch of books. Because I want to stay sharp, I want to read from other people who are further along for me and wiser than me, I want to read also for people who are younger than me, and thinking about new ways to do it and reading about what is God doing in a younger generation? And what are some of the things that God’s speaking because you know, we’ve we’ve gone through this kind of modern worship movement, and now the guys who broke through kind of my age, mid 30s, late 30s, you know, now We’re the same age as the people who got pushed out 20 years ago, and I don’t necessarily think that was done real well. And so how do we not hold on to our models? But how do we open opportunity for what God is doing in a younger generation? I’m seeing some things I’m really excited about. So you know, be reading be engaged online, there’s, there’s unbelievable access to people like never before who are the mentors that you’re learning from? I have mentors in my life. Some of them I only talked to a couple times a year but their mentors via social media or via email or via phone, whatever, don’t ever, ever, ever stop learning. Just look, look for ways to learn from people who are doing Better or different from you? Alright,
Alex Enfiedjian 15:02 so let’s say someone’s listening and they’re like, okay, I’ll start learning. Tell me what to learn. Give us four books that you are like, hands down best for worship leaders to read.
Chris Vacher 15:13 Okay, so my here are my four that I get when I get asked that question. Worship matters by Bob kauflin vertical church by James McDonald, worship by the book by da Carson. And unceasing worship by Harold best. Now I say all four of those not because I believe wholeheartedly in every word on every page. But for me, those give a real full, you know, full finger view of what we do on Sundays. But I’m tempted now to add a fifth book, which I just read yesterday, and it’s from Bob Copland, as well called true worshipers. I read it yesterday in one sitting, and it was just like, I could not put it down. It’s incredible. And I think that book is going to get onto my list of muscle Easter, referred by Bob coffin. So there’s
Alex Enfiedjian 16:00 five. That’s awesome. That’s really good. Okay, so you gave us three things that effective worship leaders do between Sundays? Are there more? Do you feel like there’s other things that you could add to that list?
Chris Vacher 16:13 Oh, man, I think that list is is never ending. You know, really thinking about, I always encourage worship ministry people, you know, how long is your perspective? So the church that you’re serving at now? Are you planning to be there? Two years, five years? 10 years? 30 years? And then how, how long is your calling? Do you really do you believe God has called you for the rest of your life into worship ministry? So when we went in 2005, to our previous church, we went in and I told the search team, I said, Listen, if you’re looking for somebody to come here for two years, to help kind of set things on course, and then leave, do not hire me. Because if we’re coming here, we’re staying until God kills us, or calls us somewhere else. And after eight years, God called us somewhere else very, very clearly, God called us somewhere else. And now the truth, right, I said the same thing to them. I said, Listen, do not bring me if your expectation is two years, three years, we our intent is to be here until God kills us or calls us somehow. So I have 30 years of perspective, what that allows That is to say, Okay, my plan is to be here, when I’m 6065 70. I don’t need to get my way, right away. If something can’t happen in 30 days, or six months, I’m okay with that. I’ve got patience. Because, what, six months in the context of 30 years, it changes how I invest in relationships with people, you know, musicians who might not, who might not hit a performance mark that I want them, I’ve got all kinds of patients with them, because my hope for them is that they’ll be part of our team for 10 years, 15 years, 20 years. So if there’s one Sunday, when life is crazy, and they didn’t sleep great, and they miss the key change, I’m not gonna go slap them upside the head. Because Listen, man, like you are still here. And you’re part of the team and part of the team means we carry each other, and we get back on the horse, and we come back the next Sunday that you’re on, and we keep going, because I want you to be here five years from now, 15 years from now, 20 years from now. And I also think that changes how you think about how you are being developed as a leader. So you know, get back get back to that idea of who are your mentors? You know, spending time listening to the kinds of questions that people are asking you. What are people coming to you for, for advice? I find that a lot of times God uses other people asking questions to help direct paths. And so you know, is it about I’ve got to be the best musician I can be because I’m going to be a musical leader in our church, or is it about, I really need some theological training because I’m moving more into like a teaching role. Or is about like, for me, I always want to be very collaborative and in relationship, and that works out for us in songwriting. So I want to get better as a songwriter, I want to write with better songwriters, I want to get better as a collaborator in relationship. So spending time thinking about that too, like how long is your perspective and that changes how you interact with people? Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday?
Alex Enfiedjian 19:23 Yeah, no, that’s good vision is is a huge word in that whole scenario that you painted your vision long term, but then the ability to cast that vision for your teams and for the people you work with and leading up like you said to your pastors casting that vision Yeah, getting them on board. Yeah, effective worship leaders have vision without vision the people perish right. So that’s so that’s so key and a couple of things he said in there really pointed to relationships and shepherding people and pastoring people and obviously, that is a huge part of our role as worship leaders because The people that we sing with on Sundays are also the people that you know we live with and walk through life with. And sometimes they go through hardships, sometimes they’re there in sin. Sometimes they’re, you know, they need to be confronted on something other times they need to be encouraged. How do you as an effective worship leader worship pastor? How do you pastor your people? What does that look like? Do you have team nights where you get together once a month? Are you shooting them emails? Are you, you know, discipling people one on one, talk to us a little bit about your pastoring methods.
Chris Vacher 20:33 Yeah, and this is where this is where it might break down a little because it’s not, you know, every church is going to be different. And in my case, I’m a full time staff role overseeing multiple staff, multiple departments. But I think the principles here are the same. So yeah, relationship is key. When I came on staff here two years ago, one of the first things I did was I went out for lunch with every single person who served in our worship ministry at the time, it was about 35 people. And so it took me it took me a few months to get through the list. But, but that was really the first thing I did. And that was just a start relationship with them, to let them get to know me a little bit to ask them about their experiences in worship at our church, and, and then was able to get sort of a full picture of who our team is and getting to know them. We do team nights here, we call them creative community nights, and we do them about six or eight times a year. Some some ways you do tonight is every week, and it’s connected to rehearsal, or every month, we found in our context, yeah, every couple months, ish works for us. So those are just a chance for us to build community among creative volunteers across our whole church, and then to build creative values across our whole church. So we we spent time in worship together, we spent time in teaching together, we spent time doing workshops and training together, and then we get to encourage one another and pray for one another. So those those are huge for us. And our structure, the way we work, we have four other worship leaders here and those, that’s a staff role for us. So that’s where a lot of my pastoring happens is just developing or not developing, but like spending time with those leaders, because those leaders are the ones who lead our Sunday mornings. And so they have a shepherding role to with our teams, and with our congregation. So that would be like the closest pastor role relationship I have is with them. And then I do have some relationship with our team. But across our whole teams, now we have about 60 people. And so just the logistics of that breaks down a little bit. So I encourage our leaders to be in relationship with our teams, our teams to be in relationship with one another, and people on our teams to be in what we call Connect groups. So if you small groups or like groups or home groups, because you sometimes a serving team can’t really be a replacement for that kind of relationship. So we encourage people to be in Connect groups. And then and then I will often, you know, I’ll just call people up and say, hey, let’s go for lunch. We haven’t had time to really just talk and I really appreciate your investment. So yesterday, I took a guy out for lunch, and we just sat across the table and you know, are you doing what’s up this year? What are you excited about? And just saying just staying in? in relationship with people that way
Alex Enfiedjian 23:19 too? Man, that’s really good. So Chris, we talked about the spiritual life being super important. really learning to be a leader off the stage in your interactions with people we talked about always being a learner. Yep. Yeah, and, and pastoring. And I’d say that there’s one more thing that is important for worship leaders to be doing in between Sundays. And that is really investing in your family. I think you can’t be an effective leader in the church. If your family is falling apart. If your family is not being taken care of. They’re not your first priority, your first love, then you’re not going to last long term Sunday to Sunday, it’ll, it’ll come crashing down. So I would say make sure listeners that you’re taking care of your wife and your children, or your husband, if you’re and Chris, I don’t know if you want to speak into that at all.
Chris Vacher 24:13 Yeah, I mean, I think that goes to, you know, when when you’re, if you’re being interviewed for a role and it gets to talking about salary, if you’re married, make sure you have that conversation with your spouse, before you say yes to a salary because there are salary implications. And I find often churches don’t really know what to pay people and and they want the most effectiveness from the least investment that there’s a business side to it. And so a lot of times, staff will get locked in at a salary that’s really just unfair, and it’s not sustainable for a family. And there’s resentment from day one in the marriage because your spouse is upset that you said yes to a salary your family can’t live on. So it is that I’d say also like make sure you got vacation time and make sure you use vacation for vacation. And take vacation if you got holidays, take it. And then building building weekly rhythms. So in my context, Friday is my day off. And Saturday is my and we’re off Saturdays as well back for service on Sunday. So on so I don’t put anything on my calendar Friday night, Saturday morning, nothing goes on my calendar and those whose time slots Friday night is family night, we make dinner for my kids, they watch a movie and they popcorn sit on the couch, we put them to bed and then Friday night is date night with my wife, and date night his kids are in bed, we make dinner for the two of us, we sit and watch a movie, we don’t go out. Typically sometimes we do. But it’s date night at home. And then Saturday morning, if you follow me on social media, you know, we do Saturday morning pancakes. And we’ve been doing this for probably I don’t five or six years. Every Saturday morning, I make pancakes my kids helped me. And we do breakfast together. And just those two things blocked out on my calendar, it helps the rest of the week, orient around the business. So I try not to be have too many evenings in a week for meetings. But if I am, I always know I’ve got those two big blocks of time on my calendar every week, week after week. And then there are other things like I do one on one time with my kids, my wife and I, a few times a year will go away for two nights together, just the two of us without our kids, we’ve got four little kids some kind of way without them is really important. But But you know, you got to figure out for your stage of life, where you are what you can afford all of that stuff. You’ve got to block out time on your calendar for family for sure. That’s good, man.
Alex Enfiedjian 26:33 So Chris, Sunday to Sunday, a lot of stuff that needs to happen between them. Any final thoughts for our listeners, before we wrap up today?
Chris Vacher 26:42 Yeah, I would say you know, one of the things I think that’s happened in the worship leader role over the last maybe 15 or 20 years, it’s gotten so big. And in a sense, we’re like victims of our own success. Because we want lighting, we want graphics, and we want tracks in our songs. And so really just as much as you can get into what are the what are the things that are going to give me long term effectiveness and success. That’s relationship with people that’s managing your calendar that’s developing, as a leader always learn. And then and then kind of orient the rest of what you do around that.
Alex Enfiedjian 27:17 That’s really good man. Chris, if people want to find you online, tell us where and hopefully they’ll connect with you.
Chris Vacher 27:23 Yeah, pretty much everywhere. Christian Canada. So Christian canada.com is my blog. You can search Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Christian Canada. I’ve been on Snapchat lately. And I don’t really know why I’m on Snapchat. And it’s really fun. And a lot of guys on my team are on Snapchat. So I get to do that. And I think my user on Snapchat is Chris sachet. And so you can do that. And it’s fun, like post on Snapchat, everything you don’t post everywhere else, because it’s fun. It’s temporary. But typically Christian Canada, you can find me pretty much anywhere. Awesome. Hey, thanks
Alex Enfiedjian 27:53 so much, Chris for the time. And God bless you in your ministry in Canada. Stay warm. Thanks, Alex. Well, that’s it for today. Hope you enjoyed that episode with Chris. Chris. Thanks for the wisdom. And I hope you noticed how many times Chris said the word leader and leadership. And that’s really what we’re talking about is becoming a great leader, not just on the stage, but in the lives of the people that you work with at your church, in your family. Being a great leader is what’s going to make the difference when you actually do stand on the stage. So may God lead you to become a better leader. And may you have a great week this week and great Sunday as you lead worship and a great month as you grow as a leader. God bless you guys and I’ll see you next month with another episode.