Leading and Evaluating a Multi-Facted Worship and Arts Ministry

1When I arrived at Truro Anglican Church two years ago, my hope was to “hit the ground jogging”. Silly me. By the end of my very first day at work, I was simply overwhelmed by all of the moving pieces, different volunteer groups, needs, demands on my time, and weekly/monthly/yearly deadlines and expectations.

My question then, and my question now, even two-years in to the job, is: how can I move beyond just simply maintaining a ministry, but actually leading it and helping it grow, in multiple areas, with different needs, all at the same time?

The answer is a combination of many things: lots of prayer, listening, delegating, meetings, planning, administration, meetings, constant volunteer recruitment, thank-you notes, apologies, meetings, building a good team, laughter, clear communication, meetings, and a realistic recognition that you just can’t do everything and you just can’t please everyone.

I thought it would be helpful to share a bit of the scope of the Worship and Arts ministry that I help lead: 

  1. Weekly services
  • 7:30am
  • 8:30am (or 9:00am in the summer)
  • 11:15am
  • 5:00pm
  1. Church-year services
  • Carols by Glowstick
  • Lessons and Carols
  • Christmas Eve (two family services and two big evening services)
  • Christmas Day
  • Epiphany (featuring a family-oriented (no pun intended) three wise men pageant)
  • Ash Wednesday (family service and evening service)
  • Palm Sunday
  • Maundy Thursday
  • Good Friday (noon, family, evening, extended worship)
  • Easter Saturday (occasionally)
  • Easter Sunday
  1. Other congregational events with a large Worship and Arts component
  • Retreats (men’s, Alpha, parish, choir)
  • Annual congregational meeting
  • St. Paul’s Theological Center (runs two-three times per year, six Saturdays in a row, each requiring worship leaders and AV support)
  • Weddings
  • Funerals
  • Alpha
  • Monthly staff communion
  • Weekly staff meetings
  • Genesis Arts Camp
  • Miscellaneous
  1. Groups under the oversight of the Worship and Arts AOM that serve these services and/or congregational gatherings
  • Worship leaders
  • Adult choir
  • Children and youth choirs
  • Children and youth hand bells
  • Dance ministry
  • Instrumentalists and vocalists
  • Sound engineers
  • Projectionists
  • Altar guild (the people who set up for communion at our four weekly services, and special services throughout the year)
  • Flower guild
  • Lay Eucharistic Ministers, or LEMs (these are the people who help serve communion at all of our services)
  • Acolytes
  • Lectors (readers)
  • Ushers
  • Wedding coordinators
  • Sermon audio editing/transcription

As you can see, there’s quite a lot going on. Truro’s services are at once Anglican, contemporary, traditional, liturgical, spontaneous, and everything in between. It’s fun, but also requires a large infrastructure to support. And thankfully, in addition to a great staff team, there is an army of volunteers who serve faithfully each weekend to keep the ship afloat.

So how do I evaluate all of these moving pieces without losing my mind? Here are some “metrics”, for lack of a better word.

Evaluating weekly and/or occasional services

  • Level of engagement during the congregational singing. Are the people singing?
  • Attendance numbers and/or trends
  • Punctuality (starting on time, not running over, managing time well)
  • Presence, or lack, of technical, audio, musical, and liturgical mistakes
  • Managing costs of printed materials. (We just completed a significant overhaul of our Sunday worship guides, and greatly the reduced the cost/waste of paper every weekend.)
  • Protecting parishioners’ hearing (We are days away from installing a drum isolation booth, so we can get the drum level under control, and help us to have band/choir/organ/congregation coexist)
  • Ability to stay rooted in scripture and tradition, and do “traditional” well
  • Ability to change and adapt, and do “contemporary” well
  • A pursuit of a well-balanced, scriptural, Christ-centered, generations-spanning repertoire
  • Meaningful up-front participation of children and youth

Evaluating our various volunteer groups

  • Numbers of volunteers
  • Age spread of volunteers
  • Attrition rate
  • Effectiveness of our training
  • Recruiting enough new LEMs, ushers, readers, musicians, etc. each year to GROW the ministries (pursue ministry growth, not simply stabilization)
  • Successfully maintaining and pastoring our choir core, while growing fairly quickly. This a huge priority
  • Maintaining excellence in the acolyte ministry, and ensuring the smoothness of its leadership transitions from year to year
  • Quickness and pastoral nature of our outreach to grieving families to plan funerals
  • Organization (and streamlining) of our wedding planning process
  • Ability to integrate those with young children at home

I never get to all of these things every week. Sometimes I go weeks, or months, without giving much attention to some of these questions, or groups. I can do that because I trust the volunteer leaders, coordinators, and the rest of the Worship and Arts staff to do their jobs and let me know when there’s a problem. I don’t need to micromanage anyone, and even if I wanted to, I don’t have the time. I have to learn to let a lot of things go, and trust God, using the gifts of other people who have stepped forward to devote their time and energy to different aspects of the worship and arts life at Truro.

My main focus from week to week is planning worship services that are Gospel-centered, congregationally accessible, well-led and executed, and faithful to Scripture and our Anglican tradition. Beyond that, I do a lot of planning, administration, thinking down the road a few weeks and months at a time, and making sure the different pieces are moving in the right direction. Things fall through the cracks, emergencies come up, and I realize I’ve let a ball drop from time to time. But I extend grace to myself, and to my team, and that grace is reciprocated, and we keep plugging along.

And in the midst of all of the busyness and programming and planning and administration, I remember that I am simply a temporary steward of this ministry. Some day, I will hand it off to someone else. And they will lead the ministry their own way, before they hand it off to someone else. That’s all we are. We’re stewards. May God help us steward our ministries well, not simply as “maintainers” but as “leaders” and as faithful shepherds and servants of His flock.

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