The Idol of Perfection in Worship Arts

Worship-Leading-630x419Every Artist and Creative must struggle with the tension between perfection and process!


  • the creative moments in worship where music and text fit together and connect with the worshippers;
  • the times when playing music flows from the heart and its more than notes and verse;
  • when everything falls into place.


  • when you realize that you have just sung through an entire set of music,
  • including readings and prayers to find that you have been thinking about something else entirely;
  • those times where frustration over the people you work with sours the whole experience of music;
  • that time when that worship service you plan gets pushed aside for another idea that you really think is void of all creativity.

I don’t know about you but I’ve been realizing that most of my time as a worship leader is process.  I have been thinking about the times when I pursue a different goal than Jesus. My commitment isn’t to the team of people God has given me to work with but rather I pursue ways to get my own needs met!   When I consider how often I struggle for approval from others, looking for value in my work, or seeking security and safety through doing a great job I see how often I try to get these needs met in my job and thru people rather than learning that my needs are ultimately met by Christ.  I have acceptance, value and security because of what He thinks of me and what he has done for me.

Developing a Team approach to Worship Arts is important for the worship leader as it directly addresses our tendency to hold all the responsibility for worship on our shoulders.  When I realize that I am better when I have a team, I am then able to see the process of creating and producing worship services as the result of what we do together.  I no longer take criticism as a personal affront but approach feedback as a way to help us work better together.

Perfection is something I see as an idol connected to my need for acceptance. Instead of seeking acceptance from my performance, I see that Jesus and He alone is the perfection I need.  In his perfect life and obedience to His heavenly father, he gained merit that I can’t attain.  For perfection is needed to be able to live in harmony with God.  I also can’t make up for my mistakes before God.  Just as a note played can never be recovered, my sinful worship, my love of self, my obsession with approval with others shows me my heart loves those things more than I love God.  That is sin.

So by realizing that Jesus lived a life of perfection and is perfectly accepted by His Father, never sinning and perfectly doing everything right I see the answer.

When I become a Christian by embracing the message of the gospel, I find that Jesus Himself died so I would not be punished for my sin.  He also lived perfectly so I would not have to do everything perfectly to have credit and acceptance before God.  The gospel not only frees me from punishment of sin, but I also am freely given all of Jesus goodness.  So as I am “In Christ” I am not only forgiven I am blessed! The father looks at me now and sees my work, and sees it as a father looks toward his son.  He can say “good job, lets work on that, and maybe you can try it like this.”

By believing these two things and living by faith each moment, I can stay in the process! I can leave perfection to Jesus.  To allow myself and others room to fail.  To offer forgiveness to myself and to others by the same grace I get from Jesus and my Father!

Maybe this will help you as you continue on the journey!



Life Coaching

The Art of Life Coaching

When I consider what it looks like to fulfill the great commission I can get overwhelmed.  Jesus commands us to make disciples, bring them into fellowship in the Church, and provide places for them to grow to maturity.  In my life context, I have been considering how to be part of Jesus plan by investing in people who share a love for creativity and art.  This whole Atlanta Arts Network idea is at root a movement of artistic believers who understand the need to grow in their faith to live out the vision of Christ.  But getting my mind around how this works in just my own local church is daunting at best.  This is why my focus at first has been on a few leaders both in my church and also in Atlanta.

While this blog isn’t about our methods of building a ministry or the over all philosophy it is important to remind myself at times that Atlanta Arts Network is a Network.  Made up of individual churches who are capturing a vision to build arts communities.  For this to happen I am praying for a grass roots movement of individuals who love creative people and love to invest in them.

I am convinced that one of the tools that must be embraced for this to work is Life Coaching.  For a pastor or lay person to begin to see artists join the community of Christ, they must first know how to determine where a person is in their spiritual journey.  They must also know where they need to go next.  I serve in a larger ministry, Worldwide Discipleship Association, that has been building mature disciples for 40 years.  One of the tools we use is called Life Coaching.

For Arts Communities to grow in our churches we will need creatives who have a heart to pour their lives into others.  Life Coaching teaches how to make this happen.  But what do you have to know to be a life coach? I think there are five points that are helpful to remember.  Relationship, Promise, Faith, and Plan.

Life Coaching is Relational.  

WDA* believes that it all starts with Relationships!  Relationships take time.  Time is the critical component for discipleship and Life Coaching.  Jesus called the disciples at first to come and see.  He went into their world. (John 1:38-40)

Life Coach’s know God’s promises.

Jesus understood that they needed to know the promises of God. They would have heard his pronouncement that the kingdom of God was in their midst.  (Luke 4:16-18)

A Life Coach has to have faith in God.  

Jesus begins the great commission by stating that He is the one with authority.  It is not faith in myself, but trust in Him.  He the King is building people to Christlikeness.  He is the one who also will be with me! (Matthew 28:18-20)

Life Coaches have to have a plan.

Jesus modeled for all of us how to help people grow to maturity.  He spend 3 years taking time in relationship, teaching content, helping them apply and holding the disciples accountable, praying for and with them, as well as creating situations where they could put into practice what he was teaching them.

WDA Life Coaching is a great tool for anyone who has heart to help someone grow but might not know how to go about it.  It takes time to invest in someone else. It will cost us.  In the process, I learn to remember God’s promises, live by faith and I can follow his plan.

Sure not everyone feels like they are gifted as a disciple maker.  There are those who might be called to pursue making disciples as their primary calling.  For the artist, Life Coaching is an art too!  For us to be part of God’s work in our churches, we will need creativity in how to make disciples.  It might not be a formal program but it might be one person who God has brought into our lives.  It might be a musician who plays in worship.  It might be someone who shares a similar love for our form of art.  It might also grow to a community of artists who are living in community together, creating, serving, loving and contributing to the flourishing of our world.

What do you think?  How could life coaching be part of the life of the artist?  What ways do you see that you could invest in the lives of others? What benefits to your church could there be if you and other creatives began to share this kind of life together?


To learn more about Life Coaching and Worldwide Discipleship Association visit our ministry website at

The Atlanta Arts Network exists to connect artists and worship artists, encouraging people who create and share art and cultivate a love for the arts as well as aspiring artists in the context of Christian community. 



Life Coaching and Worship Leading

photoJohn* came up to Pam one Sunday after church and shared how much he liked music and wondered if he would participate in our worship.  Pam being one of our volunteer worship leaders, said sure, why don’t you come up on Saturday morning when we have our rehearsal, I’ll give you some music, you can sit by the piano or in the front row and sing along.  Once I hear you sing and figure out where you are maybe you can participate.  John, showed up Saturday, eager to sing.  It was apparent that he didn’t have much musical training.  I was volunteering to lead that week, and also leading the rehearsal.  You would think that having this type of individual join a rehearsal would completely mess everything up.  Actually in another church, or situation and even earlier in my time at St. Paul’s, it would have been quite the challenge.

This kind of thing isn’t new to Pam, who has taken on new developing musicians like lost kittens at times.  I certainly don’t have the knack for either attracting or helping people in this situation.  Honestly, it gets in the way of me running a rehearsal.  This week, as I led the rehearsal, I watched with interest in how Pam was interacting with John.  Other people have come to mind, such as James* who came to sing and participated in our worship, sometimes taking part by doing a reading rather than singing.  Mike*, came and sang as well, and as with the others, didn’t have as much training and needed to develop more as a musician.

As I have watched Pam, I began to think about Saturday morning rehearsals as a place for mentoring.  It certainly didn’t help with efficiency of time and quality of music, however it “smelled like Jesus” (to take a phrase from author and radio host Steve Brown). I might have thought that these folks would be better served through individual voice or music lessons, but bringing them to practice created an all together different dynamic.  As these individuals came and went through our congregation, I realized that in God’s eyes taking the time to help someone learn to sing, was just as important as providing quality music for service.  The rest of the worship team began to see that people were also important.  They learned by seeing Pam’s example.

By providing a way for a singer to come to practice and try to sing with us, even when they might not even sing on a sunday, they were able to see the gospel in action.  Who merits the grace and favor of God? Not me! None of us.  This thing called church and worship music isn’t about my performance anyway.  I say that all the time.  Could it be that the father is just as happy with their singing as mine?

In taking time to love people who are interested in music but may not have the ability now or maybe ever, still is an approach to people that acknowledges their being created in the image of God.  They have have value no matter their skill.  Taking time for them both musically and personally Pam is modeling what our ministry, WDA, calls Life Coaching.  “Meeting people where they are, helping them take the next step”®

I learned something these past few years watching my colleague take time to love someone practically during our rehearsals and sometimes even in our services.  “Come on over next to me on the piano and sing.”  What a great example to me and to others of the gospel at work.

Thanks Pam for teaching me how to love and showing me a practical way to bring others into community!

*John, James, Mike are fictitious names for actual people. There are probably many more!

For more info about Life Coaching visit the WDA website: Life Coaching part of WDA’s 28/20 Project.