3 Mistakes New Worship Leaders Make In Their First 3 Months

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Being the new guy isn’t easy. This couldn’t be more true that for Worship Leaders in a new position or church. New Worship Leaders have to contend with “they way things have always been” as well as building relational equity with team members, staff members, and especially the congregation.

I’ve been the New Guy 3 different times in my life, and each situation was vastly different. In each situation, I found that the first 3 months were the most pivotal in dictating the tone and direction of my leadership there. I don’t think I’m a special case, and that every new Worship Leader’s first 3 months are incredibly important.

We can all appreciate the importance of a good start, and in looking back at my time being the new guy, I’ve identified several things I could & should have done differently. Today, I want to share with you three mistakes that new Worship Leaders might be tempted to make, so that you can avoid those hurdles and have an awesome start in your new spot!

1. You Changed Too Much, Too Soon.

I know, I know. You feel like you’re walking right into a hot mess and that you have to fix it TODAY. Things are probably disorganized or not setup the way you would do them, and that drives you nuts. I’ve been there, and that pressure to make everything right ASAP is a real thing.

Or maybe you’re walking into a situation where you’re taking over for someone who did a great job leading a healthy ministry. Even in this kind of situation, you will probably feel the desire to change things to fit you and your leadership preferences. None of this is bad, but trying to change too much, too fast is a great way to make everyone else uncomfortable and nervous.

Change is not bad itself, but UNMANAGED change can cause some problems for new Worship Leaders. When I think about change, I like to think about a big, big Cruise Ship. Lets say you’re sailing North and you want to go East, a definite change.

If you take the helm of that big Cruise Ship and whip the wheel as hard as you can to the right, you’re going to cause a lot of commotion on the ship. Everything will sway back and forth, and some people may even fall off the boat! Simply put: everyone on that ship is going to FEEL the change.

However, if you take the helm of the ship and gradually turn it over time, you will still get exactly where you want to go, but the change will go MOSTLY UNNOTICED. Just by adding a little bit of time, you’re able to do what you set out to do, but by managing your change well, you bring change in a healthy way.

I believe that there are 3 things that you can do to help ensure that you don’t change too much too soon.

First, talk to as many people that have been around the ministry to get a real history & perspective on the ministry. Taking the time to learn where the ministry has been and what has happened in the past (both good and bad) will help you to better understand what needs to change or maybe why things are the way they currently are.

Second, privately list everything that you think needs to change. This is just to get everything out of your head, on paper, and in front of your eyes. Listing the needed changes will help you to get perspective on your situation.

Third, take that list and prioritize the changes that need to be made. Which changes are not just the most important ones to make, but will impact or help the most people? Be ruthless in prioritizing this list so that you can focus on what is most important first.

Remember: CHANGE is almost always NECESSARY, but taking your TIME will help your change to be EFFECTIVE.

2. You Didn’t Focus on Relationships.

Piggy backing off of the first mistake, there is definitely a temptation to put your nose to the grind stone and build a reputation for being a reliable, strong worker in your first 3 months. Yes, you should definitely do this, but NEVER at the detriment of building relationships with your new team & church family.

To be honest, you could take the first 3 months and make all the changes, but completely fail because you never took the time to build your relationships with people. Every single time I’ve been the new guy, I can look back and see how important it was for me to build my relationships with team members & key leaders in the church. Getting everything done doesn’t always mean you were successful.

When I say build relationships, I don’t mean something super strategic or even a calculated effort. I’m simply talking about letting people know you want to get to know them, and then taking the time to get to know them. It’s NOT difficult!

All you need to do is go and hang out with people and ask them about themselves. Ask them about their families. Ask them about their interests. Make it your job to know your team. You will NEVER regret getting to know your team and key leaders in your church.

It is important that people don’t feel like your desire to get to know them is agenda-based or artificial. Let them know that the only reason you want to get to know them is because they matter to you.

One last thing. When I say key leaders in your church, I’m talking about other ministry leaders, key volunteers, elders, or anyone in your church that you want to have a relationship with. Don’t wait for them to come to you, go to them and ask them to go to coffee. You will be SHOCKED how your leadership will be received when people have that relationship established with you.

3. You Didn’t Share a Vision.

You’ve probably heard that verse in Proverbs that says “where there is no vision, the people perish,” and I believe that’s especially true for Worship Leaders and their teams. If you’re at the end of your first 3 months and you’re not sure why people aren’t more excited that you’re there, I would bet that you haven’t done much to cast vision for your team.

Casting a compelling vision for your team can do incredible things for the morale and future of your team. Especially since you’re new, your team is likely expecting and wanting a fresh breath of air, so give it to them!

A team without a vision is a team without a direction. Sure, you will get together on Sundays with maybe a rehearsal during the week and play some songs for your church, but I doubt you’ll be leading much of anything on Sundays together.

Now, what I’m NOT saying is take the time to figure out a grandiose, life-shifting vision that will change everything about how your team operates and executes. A vision is simply intentionally painting a picture of what could be for your team.

Take the time to pray through what God might be calling your team to grow into. What are some words that come to mind? What are some outcomes that will happen if this vision is carried through? Be descriptive, be challenging, and be detailed. Allow God to birth a vision for your ministry and be the steward of that vision with your team!

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