Participation and Professionalism

When it comes to preparing and delivering a service, there are so many aspects to think about. Here are a few thoughts to consider. Let me know what you think

My role at Oasis Church Waterloo involves a lot of thinking about how we make sure what we deliver through our Sunday services reflects the life of the church and that we conduct those services the best we can. This balancing act has some necessary tensions that I’d like to share – not because we have all the answers and want to promote the magic formula, but because i think it is healthy to share these concerns and learn from one another that we might all become a bit sharper in our skill.

So, over the next few posts, I’ll throw open for discussion some of our perceived tensions and the ‘tricks of the trade’ that have given us some success in holding those factors in a heathy tension.

The first of these tensions I’ve labelled ‘Participation and Professionalism’.

It’s not a problem limited to church life. People looking for work often face the dilemma that they have the necessary qualities or qualifications to do the job but lack experience in the role. The only way to obtain that experience is to do the job, which they can’t get because they lack the experience… and the vicious circle continues.

We have a philosophy at Oasis that gives people an opportunity to ‘learn by doing’. It’s based on Jesus’ model of apprenticeship, teaching the disciples through a method of leading by example them and then enabling them to perfect their skills by carrying out the task themselves.

Apply that method to the art of leading services, leading sung worship, speaking and teaching you’ll find that much grace is needed. People do not become superstars and skilled workers overnight. Even the most gifted, talented or anointed of leaders need time to practise and perfect their trade, to find their feet and, in some cases, find their faith. And so the tension arises between involving as many people as possible whilst maintaining a standard of delivery that aids and facilitates positive corporate worship expression.

Again, let me reiterate that I do not have all the answers to this issue. But allow me share a few ideas that we’ve found helpful.

Firstly, surround new people with experienced team members. Try not to let the whole weight of the job fall directly on their shoulders. We generally have three key players in each service – the service leader (who comperes the service), the band leader (who leads the musical elements) and the speaker. When introducing a debutant to any of these roles, we make sure the other two roles are filled by experienced people to support the newbie through the service. This relieves the pressure somewhat and makes everyone feel a lot more comfortable.

And secondly, encourage first-timers to lean toward simplicity and do that simple thing well. Why start your first time with something hugely complicated and see it fall like a lead balloon, sapping every ounce of confidence and enthusiasm as it goes? Do something simple, build a good rapport with the congregation; let the trust between congregation and leader develop and they’ll be more inclined to follow you next time around. Scare them with something overly ambitious and even dangerous and they’re less likely to trust you again. (This also is true of seasoned leaders after a particularly inspiring conference or festival. Thousands of new ideas, so little time!)

Ultimately we long to offer our best, as leaders we want to serve our congregations, we want people to feel at home and feel they belong to the church. People grow through experience.

Next up: Extrovert and Introvert


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