The Capital Equation

Several years ago at my previous church we devoted an entire Sunday morning to one big, combined worship service to record a worship album. We never did this sort of thing. We never combined our services, we never devoted an hour and a half to music, we hardly ever got that loud for that long, we never sing that many new songs in one service, and we never pushed the envelope that much in a two-hour period.

It went really well. It was a ton of fun, it was the middle of the summer, and it was the right thing for that one Sunday. But it was very, very different.

The week after this big extravaganza I was sitting in my pastor’s office debriefing the whole experience. He told me how much he enjoyed it, that he was excited for the new album, and that we had all done a good job. Then he asked me what I thought. I said how thrilled I was with it all, and how grateful I was that he let us do it.

Then I said: “I woke up on Monday morning and thought to myself ‘well, I just used up all my capital for the next year!'”.

He looked at me, smiled, and said: “you sure did.”

We were both happy with how well the whole thing had gone. But we both knew that we had pushed the congregation. And that if I was smart, I’d ease off the gas for a little bit.

Worship leaders must learn the capital equation. Which is: Build capital. Spend capital. Build back capital. Repeat as needed.

When all you do is spend, spend, spend capital, you’re operating out of a deficit. People don’t trust you, they’re worn out, and you’re not going to find them all that adventourous. Too many new songs. Too loud. Too much liturgy. Too many hymns. Too many electric guitars. Whatever it is. You’re spending too much, too soon, too often, and maybe too recklessly. Be smarter.

Likewise, when all you do is build, build, build capital and never take any risks or push people anywhere, then you’re wasting opportunities. Safe choices, same songs, no creativity, no one is upset with you, bored musicians, ho-hum services, and no lost sleep over a risky idea.

Do both. Spend capital! But once you’ve spent it, then ease off the gas and build it back. Feel it out. You’ll almost certainly lean too much in one direction before you realize it and then make a correction.

And that’s why regular conversations with your pastor are so important. So you can debrief, be honest with one another, and be receptive to his counsel about when he thinks you might be need to do some spending, or some building.

3 thoughts on “The Capital Equation

  1. Richard August 29, 2017 / 11:52 am

    sounds like “words of wisdom” to me.

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