Would you like to be a traveling worship leader? I think that’s great. The church needs people who are willing to serve through music in various front line settings. The church will always need people who can leave their posts to serve in setting where a permanent worship group is not practical. Summer camps, special services and outreach events will always need the frontline musicians and mission bands who can make it happen. Over the last two decades, I have had the privilege of serving hundreds of such settings and every once in a while, get asked the question, “how do you get started doing something like this?”
If you are a worship leader / musician (or a speaker or other specialized ministry) who has a desire to travel and serve in ministry, here are some thoughts about it:
Get started: Pray for opportunities to serve. When invitations come, do whatever you can to make it happen and be available. Have yourself ready for opportunities (the say life is 90 percent preparation and 10 percent performance). Contact denominational headquarters and other leaders in the church to let them know of your availability to serve. Put together what you need for people to know of you – pages, pictures, social media, etc, but don’t over do it. I’ve seen people with amazing publicity that couldn’t deliver that level in real life. And I’ve seen some amazing people who were stunted by a weak image online. You want to match it as close as possible. And sometimes, less is more. Can you lead at your church? Sing for a men’s meeting or women’s meeting? Is there a class or group in your church you can offer to help? You’ll miss the big opportunities if you are waiting for big opportunities alone. Seek the Lord as you are working honing your skills and crafts – learn music, write, dream, pray, trust and be ready. Then jump in… today.
Keep on track: Keep it going. Accept invitations to serve. Worry about money when the time is right (I have lots of thoughts on that topic for another post). Always send thank you notes. Always be grateful. Organization is key to helping people feel like they have gotten a great deal. Have a goal for your ministry. What do you want to do? Where do you see yourself in a few years? Who can you most effectively serve? What unique gift do you bring to the church? Who can help you in ministry? Who has gifts for publicity, promotion, administration, technical, etc – that can help you as you are serving. Invite them to come along side you for specific projects.
Stay grounded: A person in on-the-road ministry can get a skewed concept of the church pretty quickly. You are rarely a true guest anywhere. Everywhere you go is a party. You always have confidence in that fact that you are suppose to be there (you might even see your picture / poster around the church or online). There’s an expectation around your being there – people are putting most all their eggs in the basket that this evening, this weekend or this week of camp is going to be great. Typically, they respond differently to you than your home church does. And you don’t have to worry too much about long term after effects – you just hit the road. (On a side note, when a guest is at worship in another church, the church tries to act they way they think they should be and in doing so, begin to live it!) Though this position of traveling ministry leaders is needed in a church, it can be dangerous for those in it. Always be connected to your own church. Accountability is important for anyone who is on the road. Be at your own church every Sunday morning that you aren’t some place else. Rarely have I planned to travel on a Sunday morning – I have either been at a church or left after ours to serve in ministry. The one or two times I have had to travel on Sunday morning, I’ve stopped for worship. You are there to serve the church, one tiny little microscopic fraction of the mighty kingdom. Be faithful in it and grateful for the opportunity.
Confidence in God alone: Like anything else, the church, worship music, ministry styles and everything changes constantly. At the moment you think you are ready and set, things change. That’s why your confidence has be grounded in God alone. There have been times when I have been invited to serve in music at an event for literally 12-14 years in a row and then one year, another person is invited or the event quits happening or whatever the case might be. It’s great to have confidence in your call to ministry, your gifts for serving, but our ultimate confidence has to come from being a child of God and nothing more. This clears the way for healthy and whole living – and allows God to use you where you are most needed.
Amazingly, two of those churches called me and invited me to come the next month. Two months later, after the spring musical in which I played guitar, a lady came up to me to ask if I would consider playing for her camp in the summer. I signed up immediately and spent three weeks of that summer playing guitar for a Baptist camp in southern Illinois. During those weeks, the Lord connected me with other people and that summer after my senior year of high school became the springboard to what I’m doing today! Though college, I led revivals, retreats, conferences, churches and camps. That eventually formed into something called Harvest Ministry and eventually led to serving part-time on staff at a church and serving part-time in traveling ministry. I praise the Lord for the opportunities I’ve had and for what will come on the road ahead.