Book Review: More Than a Worship Leader

41aYymFbqYL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Recently my friend and co-worker Gary Durbin wrote a book titled More Than a Worship Leader. I had the privilege of reading this book and really enjoyed it. I’m excited to review it as well as recommend it to others.

Gary breaks this book down into three main parts: off stage, on stage, and up-staged. Gary’s desire to help worship leaders grow off and on stage is evident throughout this book. I found the off stage section to very insightful and challenging. Most books on a particular area of ministry focus more on skill rather than the person. In this section Gary helps the worship leader understand that who they are off stage is vitally important. However, what they do on stage is still important. That’s where the on stage section comes in. In this section Gary does an excellent job at helping worship leaders get better at what God has called them to do week in and week out as they lead God’s people. The last section, up-staged, is a humble reminder that it’s not all about us and that’s ok. All three of these sections challenge worship leaders to do more than just get up and sing a few songs on Sunday. Leading worship is a high calling from God that should be cultivated and taken seriously.

In addition to my comments above, let me share with you a few things I really liked about this book. First, this is a book for both rookie worship leaders as well as veteran worship leaders. No matter where you are as a worship leader there is something for you in this book. It’s been encouraging to see our student worship band going through this book together. It’s huge for rookie worship leaders but shouldn’t be overlooked by those that have been in the game for a good while. Second, this is a book not just for worship leaders. Even though the focus of this book is leading worship in the context of the local church there are things found within it that is helpful for people in other areas of ministry. I’m involved in student ministry and I walked away with a ton of great and challenging insights from this book. It’s also very helpful for those in ministry that have worship leaders serving on their team like lead pastors or student pastors with volunteers or students leading worship. I’d encourage others in ministry to not look past this book just because you’r not leading worship. Third, this book is written by someone who loves Jesus, the church, and worship leaders. I don’t just say this because I work with Gary and have the privilege of being his friend. This book is written from the perspective of someone who has served in the local church for quite some time and has gained a lot of experience in the area of worship. His heart and love for Jesus, the church, and leading worship shines through the pages of this book.

I’s encourage you to grab a copy of More Than a Worship Leader on Amazon and check out more content from Gary at www.garydurbin.com.

3 Ways to Use Student Leaders in Your Ministry

12771549_10209197367077562_8672662913260402396_oAn important aspect of student ministry is student leadership. Every student ministry needs student leaders. When students begin to lead and take ownership within their student ministry amazing things happen. It’s important we give students leadership opportunities instead of just making our staff and volunteers do everything.

But how do we use student leaders in our student ministry? There are countless ways to do this and it will look different in every student ministry. However, there are three key ways we have used student leaders in our ministry that I think can be translated to almost any other student ministry.

Planning. One of the worst things we can do is plan events for students without actually getting any input from students. If we want to have an event that connects well with students we need to know what they want and don’t want. We need to discover what things are popular in their world and what would reach other students in their context. For the past two years we have been using our student leaders in our planning process for events and retreats. It’s been a game changer. Our events and retreats have gotten much better because of this. Don’t be afraid to ask student leaders for their ideas and input. Also, don’t be afraid to give your student leaders ownership over an entire event. We have done this and are planning to do it even more in the future.

Interacting with new students. Our hope should be that all our students are welcoming and interacting with new students when they come into our ministry. We can’t expect every student to do that. However, we can expect our student leaders to do it. When student leaders join the team they should be reminded that they will be held to a higher standard and will be asked to lead in various ways. So one of the things we require all our student leaders to do is to be on the lookout for new students when they walk in. If they see one, they are to go talk to them and hangout with them throughout the night. The phrase we communicate over and over to our student leaders is this – “No student left behind.” We want every student to feel welcomed and to feel like they belong. We don’t want them left alone in any way. This will require a lot of coaching on your part. You may have to remind your student leaders of this every week. But it’s worth it. Students interacting with new students and making them feel comfortable and welcomed is huge!

Teaching. Yes, I said teaching. Don’t be afraid to step aside and let your student leaders do some teaching. This will require you to do a lot of coaching but it is worth it. Walk your student leaders through how they can plan and teach a lesson or a whole series. Give them time to then do that together. Once they are ready give them the stage. Have them teach for a night or a few nights. Students teaching God’s Word to other students is an awesome thing. This may sound risky to some but it’s a risk that’s worth taking. It will help your student leaders grow in their knowledge of the Bible as well as how they can communicate it to others. One of the highlights of this year has been watching our student leaders plan and teach an entire series.

These are just three ways we use our student leaders in our ministry. I’d encourage you to try these three things with your student leaders. Also, don’t just settle for these three. Be creative and find your own ways to use your student leaders.

Don’t Let Student Ministry Steal Your Identity

Being in full-time student ministry can be a dangerous thing. Sure, there are great benefits in seeing students come to know Jesus and equipping students to live a Gospel-centered life, but there are some risks involved in student ministry. Not just student ministry, but in any full-ministry position you may find yourself in.

One of the dangers I have had to continually guard against is allowing student ministry, instead of who I am in Christ, to become my identity. Let me explain, I am guilty of allowing what I do on a weekly basis with students and everything else in between to become my identity.

Recently, God has put me in a season where I believe He is trying to break me of this sin; yes allowing anything other than who you are in Christ to become your identity is sin. In the past few months I have transitioned from a student ministries position at one church to another student ministries position at a different church. At my former church, I was the guy. I was hired to be the student pastor of students from 7th-12th grades. I did everything from training leaders, ministering to parents, preparing events, planning weekly mid-week gatherings, and teaching God’s Word every week. I was doing what the typical student pastor does. The problem is it started to steal my identity. It stole most of my time, energy, and devotion. I’ll be transparent and say that Christ started to take a backseat to my ministry. Then God moved me from that position to a new church with a somewhat different position, at least for a season.

I am now serving at a new church and I love it! It’s a multi-site church meaning I am not the only student ministry guy. I am one student ministry guy at one campus, alongside a few other guys at other campuses. Now here is where God’s pruning season, at least the way I see it, starts. For this year my campus’s students combine with another campus for mid-week gatherings and most events. We do have our own small groups for our campus’s students though! What this means for me is that I am not doing what I was doing before. I am not planning mid-week gatherings and a ton of events. I am more so partnering with other student ministry guys at the campus we combine with and helping them wherever they need me. I have a lot less planning, teaching, and being the guy in charge. Am I complaining and whining? I hope not, because I believe God has placed me in this situation for a reason.

A year from now, Lord willing, our campus will be doing our own mid-week gatherings and doing more stuff. I will be back into the former role that I was used to and love. So what do I do until then? I believe I need to do what God put me in this season to do, to learn how to place Christ before student ministry and to let my identity rest in Him, not what I do week in and week out with students. God has placed me in this season to learn servant leadership as well as to better equip me for the future and for what He will do through our campus’s student ministry next year!

What about you? Is student ministry stealing your time, energy, and devotion? It’s a demanding ministry, but when it steals what you should be giving to Christ it becomes extremely dangerous. Allow God to teach you what He is teaching me. Your identity is in Christ, not ministry.