If you lead worship and work another job, you are in good company.
Even the Apostle Paul was a bivocational ministry leader (see Acts 18). I believe that Paul set an example for us to follow - working while serving in ministry is a good thing.
Of course, I am not speaking bad of those who are full-time worship leaders. I simply want to offer a few tips I have learned over the years when it comes to being bivocational.
The only way to get more done in less time is to get organized. No more can you ‘fly by the seat of your pants’. It is time to put systems in place and find better ways of doing things.
For example, when I started using Planning Center (instead of burning CDs and printing sheet music every week), it literally saved me hours of work every month.
If you don’t use Planning Center already, keep in mind that it takes quite awhile for your team to get used to it (1-3 months). But, if you don’t give up, they will end up loving it.
Here is a post where I wrote about my workflow with Planning Center: How to Increase Productivity During Worship Team Practice
I encourage you to take a look at the systems you already have in place. More than likely there is a better, more efficient way of getting the same result. It is worth the effort to find the better way.
For example, I used to meet with my keyboard player to teach the songs for the week. This consumed at least an hour of my time every week.
Then, I started recording a video tutorial and sending it to her instead. I still had to take time to create the video, but I only had to teach once. Then, if she forgot a song, she just looked it up instead of another meeting. Genius!
Now, I post these tutorials for all to take advantage of. If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you know when new tutorials are released.
You can save a ton of time and frustration by taking things a week at a time. I used to plan the worship set (especially new songs) several weeks in advance. Now, I plan worship every Monday - only six days in advance (even when we have a new song).
You may be thinking, “That is not enough time for the band to learn a new song!”. But, I have found that it is plenty of time, and let me tell you why.
It is human nature to wait until the last minute. So, even when I would plan several weeks in advance, the band would wait to put in the effort until the week of. After realizing this, it clicked: why take the time to plan several weeks in advance when no one would even take advantage of my extra effort?
There is something extremely freeing about focusing on one week at a time. It relieves a load of stress and simplifies your job as a worship leader.
There were several years where I was worship leader for one church and business manager for another. While serving as business manager, I can remember countless times where the associate pastor would ask me to spend hours making a report look more impressive. It is not that he wanted the information presented in a better way, he simply wanted to make a bigger impression on those viewing the report.
The interesting thing is, they just wanted to be able to understand the data. They could care less if the design was top-notch or not. But, the associate pastor was my superior, so I fulfilled his request, time-after-time. I can’t help but wonder how much the church could have saved if time had not been wasted on designing these reports just to impress other people. I could have used that time on things that really mattered.
Moral of the story - don’t waste time on things that are not important. Keep in mind, things that aren’t important often disguise themselves as being important.
For example, I used to spend quite a bit of time outlining what each instrument should do in each song (when they should play, what type of sound it should have, etc). Then, I examined my motives. I wasn’t doing this to help them, it was simply because I was a perfectionist.
My band was extremely thankful when I stopped this nonsense and let them take responsibility for their own part. It was a win-win!
It is far too easy to settle. After all, it is the way you have always done it - and it works!
The moment we have this thought is the moment we start losing efficiency and wasting time. New solutions to the problems we face as worship leaders are introduced almost daily. We owe it to ourselves to pay attention and continually try new things.
Do these new solutions cost money? Usually. But, most of the time, all it takes is a simple calculation to find that the time saved versus the cost of the new solution do not even compare.
So don’t be afraid to spend money on things that will enable you to get more done in less time. It may seem counterintuitive, but this is at the very core of being a good steward.
Dude this was very helpful. I'm a part-time at a church and I've had quite a variety of jobs from carpet cleaning, newspaper work and now substitute teaching. It's been really hard at times to keep everything balanced and keep up with things. I also switched to taking things a week at a time and have found that to be really helpful. It is nice to hear from someone else living the bi-vocational life.
Kade this is a article for me man. I have been struggling to get a balance in my life and work even since I went full time because I am doing similar jobs as you just felt like I had no time in the day. I have been struggling to get a constant schedule and I think that is a struggle whether you are full time or bi vocational . Scheduling is the hardest thing. Also still in the buy in phase with my team with pco some love it others are eh and others have not touched it. But sticking with with thank you for all your insight
Nice article, thank you. I'm a bivocational worship leader as well. Time management seems to be the most importand factor for me. I lead with voice and acoustic guitar. Printed music use to always present a challenge for me in that its time consuming to print as welll as difficult to arrange on a music stand when trying to transition. Since those days, I have found ONSONG. Its a great Ipad app that works exceptionally well on Sunday mornings. Its very versatile and the developers are constantly upgrading its usefulness. I have over 1500 songs at my fingertips and changing keys or rearranging is very simple. If your readers are not familiar with ONSONG, It would be nice to see an article about it. Thank you
Yep. Halt time worship leader at a church and teach part time. At each job, something about the other comes up! Thank you for this good information.
Thank you for pouring out so much wisdom!! Every blog you post since i have subscribed has been spot on with whats happening within our worship team. Blessings dude!!!
I appreciate you affirming the "take things one week at a time" approach. It seems the conferences I have attended in the past say the only way is to get six weeks ahead. As a court reporter by day and a worship director on the side, I could never attain that and thought I must be doing something wrong. Relieved to know I'm not.
This is a wonderful article. I find it very useful, especially at the paragraph that you mentioned about focusing on what is important. Usually when I lead worship, I focus too much on each individual instrument, which is quite non-sense. But what I realised, as you did, was that musicians at my church are quite talented and they can be very creative and able to handle their parts so well; and what I should focus more is the whole picture, with hearing from God and leading congregation into worship. Thanks for this writing, Kade. God bless.
This article is helpful Kade. I need to find ways to make my time more efficient. I am a perfectionist like you so I go above and beyond to make sure all of the team's music is perfect and try to take away any excuses they may have for not being able to minister with excellence. This is among other weekly practices is quite time consuming. I'm on a very part time salary and put in 20-30 hours a week with worship related things at the church. I'm not currently bi-vocational but I may have to reconsider soon. If I can find ways to cut back on my current hours and be just as effective this will help.