Tag Archives: Church

Facing Conflict at work? 6 Skills to help you through

One of the hardest things, I deal with is helping worship leaders work through conflict and brokenness in their churches.  If you have spent any time around the church you will realize that conflict resolution skills and experience are a must for a team.  People will hurt you! People will disagree with you! People will sin!

The challenge for the worship leader is to develop and maintain a healthy relationships with all the staff that he works with regularly as well as the others in leadership at his church.  Whether you serve at a church of 100 or 4,000, the skills that will help you survive the certainty of conflict are essential.

Here is my short list.

Meet regularly with a colleague outside your situation. Don’t do this alone!  If you have opportunity to meet with other like minded leaders do it.  Don’t meet with an opposite sex leader, recipe for disaster there.  You don’t need to confide in you co-worker or assistant.  The best place to begin isn’t your wife either!  Take time to find another worship leader or person you trust and begin to talk regularly about the stresses and challenges of your work.


Humble Yourself! Remember The enemy is roaring lion!  You are a target! Don’t ever forget that!  The evil one wants to make you completely unfruitful and unproductive, angry, hurt, bitter and toxic.  Remember and memorize this verse.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV)

Learn about conflict  read a few good books and take a class or two!

The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
Related Article from Peacemaker Ministries: Accountability: The Mark of a Wise and Protected Leader


Develop good boundaries No one needs to be taken advantage of.  If you find yourself, in a hurtful and abusive situation you need to know how to recognize it and deal with it.

Boundaries: Henry Cloud and John Townsen

Safe People: 

Necessary Endings


Remember Sin and conflict is not always intentional!  One of the most important things I have learned over the years is that people are sinners!  People and leadership teams don’t think! People and leadership teams are unwise  and sometimes People and leadership teams are intentionally sinful!

One of the best books to read about his concept is Bold Love by Dan Allender.


Choose Joy! You will grow to be like Christ!  I hate it when i grumble to my wife about some issue that is bothering me. (yes I’m also prone to talk to my wife)  She looks at me and says, “you’re gonna be so shiny.”  As much as it bothers me, she is right!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)

It is my prayer that you never have to encounter a situation at your church and ministry that causes conflict and pain, but you will!  Don’t despair!

Jesus hasn’t left his throne! He is praying for you! You are not alone!


The New Normal

Art TalkAs I was finishing up my notes for Saturday’s workshop, a new pope was announced. Many of my Catholic friends rejoiced on Facebook at his choice of Pope Francis I as his papal name, in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for his life of poverty, his love for creation, and his commitment to reconciliation and service. My friends shared their hopes that this name would both reflect and urge a new era for the Catholic church.

It made me think about just how much the values of simplicity and service are being called for in our society, in response to excesses and errors of the past. And sometimes simplicity involves greater sacrifice than excess, at least at first.

My other big passion in life – after Jesus and the arts – is sustainable farming. I know, that’s a weird one for a New Yorker. But I wasn’t always a New Yorker, and I probably won’t always be one; and there are plenty of us here with this passion anyway. My husband lives in fear that I’ll come home one day and announced that I’ve “bought the farm,” literally. Until then I plant my non-GMO tomato seeds in compostable paper cups in my Queens apartment, to eventually be planted in a small plot in a community garden.

I’m also a regular at the Union Square Greenmarket (a farmer’s market you’ve seen if you watch much Food Network). Although it’s pricier than a grocery store, I buy as much of my produce there as I can afford, because I believe in what those farmers are doing and I want to support them. I believe that my financial sacrifice will, in some small part, reap benefits for the environment, for society, and for my own heath. If enough people are able and willing to make those kinds of sacrifices, then the excesses of the past will be absorbed, and healthy, sustainable food production will become “the new normal.”

Not only do I sacrifice to help reverse my society’s excesses, but I also sacrifice to examine my own excesses. If I pay $4 for a single tomato, I eat it simply and observe it carefully. I don’t take it for granted, and I remember it then next time I’m tempted to pay the same $4 for a Big Mac, super-sized-fries, and jumbo Coke. I might be more engorged by the Extra Value Meal, but am I enriched by it?

I see something similar happening in the arts. We’re in the midst of a sea change in how the arts are being made and sold, and we don’t know yet what “the new normal” is going to look like. But it will definitely involve sacrifice, by many, to usher a new, more productive state into being. And I believe – very strongly – that the artists of the church have a lot to teach to the mainstream arts world about what sacrifice, service, and simplicity can look like.

The season of Lent is also about voluntary simplicity, in preparation to honor the sacrifice that took away the sins of the world. Would that all of our sacrifices had such power.

The arts world needs us right now. More than ever. And that’s exciting.

We’ll talk more about it Saturday.


Second Things Second

I frequently hear questions like these: “In the big scheme of things, are the arts really all that important? If I really want to help people, shouldn’t I become a missionary or pastor or doctor or firefighter, rather than a dancer?”

“What difference do a few paintings make in a world threatened with starvation, injustice, and eternity separated from God? Maybe if a play shares the gospel it can be an evangelistic tool, but isn’t a musical comedy a gigantic waste? Aren’t there better ways for me to spend my time, or my church’s money, than on the arts?”

These are good questions, and they’ve been asked by many people, in the arts or about the arts, particularly as it comes to how we use our resources (money, time, and energy). And they’re not just asked by Christians. Arts organizations that are competing with social services for grants ask themselves every day, “Is making art in an affluent city for affluent people really more important than building housing for AIDS orphans in Africa? Than feeding the survivors of natural disaster or war? Than rescuing people out of sexual slavery?”

Christians have the added question of “Is what I’m doing really more important than saving souls?”

My answer? No. It isn’t more important, if survival – both physical and spiritual, through a saving relationship with Christ – is what the arts are “competing” with.

But is it a competition? Is survival our only aim and anything that doesn’t contribute to it is inconsequential? Or is there a role for the arts in our world that is vital – life-giving – and justifies investment?

Three questions come up in this dilemma:

  • Are we all supposed to be focusing all of our resources on survival needs?
  • Do we have the capability to meet these needs?
  • What happens after we’ve met survival needs?

Are we all supposed to be focusing all of our resources (money, time, and energy) on survival needs?

If the answer to this question is “yes,” it seems to discount the individual gifting, calling, and opportunities we receive from God.

Certainly we are all supposed to be focusing at least some of our resources on the physical and spiritual survival of others. Scripture tells us to serve those in need, give generously, and share our faith – no exceptions. If I walked into a town full of starving people, and had the capability to give them food, but instead said “Now I’m going to perform for you a dance about food,” that would be irresponsible.

We artists need to push ourselves to serve others’ physical and spiritual needs, outside of and in addition to our preferred art-making practice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard artists say, “My art is my ministry,” as though simply showing up in the studio every day met their obligation to the human race, and to God.

Yet “we have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us” (Romans 12:6). My friend Molly has the gifting, calling, and opportunity to give financially above and beyond the capability of many others. Molly believes God has pulled her out of art-making for a season, to work a well-paying job so that she can give to others in ways that would make a real impact on their ministries.

Molly gives naturally. It’s who she is. If I decided Molly’s way was the only way I could serve God and humanity, and I tried to emulate her – without the benefit of what God has given Molly – it would be an awkward fit, at best. At worst, it would keep me from serving God in the way he uniquely constructed and called me to do.

God is sovereign. We have to assume that how he made us, where he put us, and what he’s given us to work with all add up to a vital and empowered role for us, to work alongside him in his kingdom.

And we need to help meet survival needs in whatever ways we can, whenever we’re needed. This will require sacrifice. It won’t be easy to do both.

Do we have the capability to meet these needs?

Some of that capability may, again, be in the areas of gifting and opportunity. Or it may simply be in what we have in our hands at the moment the need arises.

If I have no food to give when I walk into the starving town, but do have a dance about food, then dancing is what I can do for the people there. And, perhaps, after I’m finished dancing, I can help the people look for food. Or, perhaps, the dance will help the people think differently about their need for food, or help them creatively meet that need in some other way. Or it might just give them a few moments of joy, and a reminder that beauty – and therefore hope – still exists even within their desperate need for food.

Again, God is sovereign. If the person he sends into the starving town is someone with a dance to give, but no food, God has a reason for that.

What happens after we’ve met survival needs?

If I walk into the starving town, and I have both food and a dance to give, certainly I should start by giving the food to the people. First things first.

Then what happens? Second things second. I dance.

Once the most urgent physical and spiritual survival needs are met, all efforts after that are Second Things. And Second Things are important, too. Second Things are the things we’re living for.

If I had both food and dance to give a starving town, and didn’t give them the food, it would be irresponsible. If I had both food and dance, and didn’t give them dance, it would be unloving.

When a mother sees that her child’s survival needs are met, what’s the Second Thing the mother wants? She wants her child to thrive. To make friends, to be content, to get an education, to look forward to the future.

When we share our faith, we want to give someone access to eternity through salvation, and give him a vision for what that eternity will be like so that, between access and entry, he can live differently with eternity in mind.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?” (Luke 11:11)
“You prepare a banquet for me, where all my enemies can see me; you welcome me as an honored guest and fill my cup to the brim.“ (Psalm 23:5)
Fish = First Things
Banquet = Second Things

Second Things are a preview of the paradise that is to come.

Most often, in less extreme situations than my starving town, First and Second Things are co-laboring in a duet entwining life (vita) and vitality. Sometimes a dance is needed more than a sandwich.

God created the world and humankind, and shared with us the task of cultivating his creation, and using it as raw material for creations of our own – of making it thrive and thriving within it. Then sin put our very survival at risk. What was the simple and easy reality of creation, completed by God, is now the complex and difficult reality of survival, requiring our daily effort. And yet our “cultivator” role hasn’t changed. We must be – survive – in order to cultivate and create. Yet cultivate and create is what we were designed by God to do.

And second isn’t a bad place to be. Just ask a silver medalist. So if we feel diminished, unimportant, because we’re not “first,” perhaps we need to ask ourselves what (and who) that’s about. Instead, as Second Things workers, let’s delight in our role as servants of God’s original purpose for humankind, and cultivators of one another’s thriving. In our church ministries, we shouldn’t have to choose between First and Second Things. The blessings of God are abundant enough for both!

So, yes, if you really want to help people, become a missionary or pastor or doctor or firefighter. Or become a dancer or sculptor or accountant or waiter or whatever God has created and called you to do. We all need each other.

Editorial Note: This Article was reposted with permission of the author and this an other articles can be found at Church and Art Network.

luann jenningsLuann Purcell Jennings is the founder and director of Church and Art Network. She is a veteran of more than twenty years of arts leadership, as a theatre director, administrator, and instructor; and in full-time church ministry, including six years running the Arts Ministry of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (NYC). Luann has studied arts leadership at New York University, Columbia University, Lincoln Center Institute, National Arts Strategies, and University of Tennessee (MFA).