12 Elements of a Thriving Worship Culture

Our worship culture determines our long-term effectiveness at creating environments that disciple, mentor and release others.

Every church has a culture, and every worship ministry within a church has a culture as well. Our worship culture determines our long-term effectiveness at loving each other deeply, making beautiful music, creating environments that disciple, mentor and release others (often to replace us), and building consistent spaces that empower our community in Kingdom worship. I put together the following “Our Worship Culture” statement for our own worship community at the Vineyard Church of Franklin in Tenn., and am posting it here if it can be helpful in forming your own for your church.

The following ideas remind us who we are, and where we are going, as a worship tribe.

Our Worship Culture

Every church has a culture, and every worship ministry within a church has a culture as well. The following ideas remind us who we are, and where we are going, as a worship tribe. If we all apply our hearts to embodying each of these ideas personally, our worship community will thrive over the years.

1. We are a worship tribe first, and a team second.

We function as a tribe more than a team, carrying our church’s story with us, caring for our personal health and growth, praying for each other, and serving where needed, as needed. We all want to be like Jesus—and that makes us a family more than a team.

2. We have a weekly worship culture, not just a Sunday event.

We serve our family through many worship experiences, not just on Sunday mornings. We see our other events, large and small, with just as much significance as a Sunday morning. We don’t covet stages or platforms—they are just one context in which we lead.

3. We see the worship experience as an invitation to a table, not a service or experience.

We recognize that people have come to “meet with God” (Ps. 42:2). As worship leaders, musicians and techs, our posture is one of hospitality—we help set a Table for meeting.

4. We mentor others rather than being self-focused.

We do not cling to our roles but rather look for opportunities to develop others and, when they are trained and ready, release them to be involved. We give away stages as others are trained.

5. We actively pursue personal and musical growth.

We are self-motivated to grow—on every level. We are teachable, even the most professionally skilled among us, and receive input graciously. We model the pursuit of Kingdom greatness. We choose to get better month after month, on our instruments, musicality, leadership and more by taking consistent, small steps toward growth.

6. We serve our community, and each other, with no competition.

We nurture servanthood in word and deed, and champion each other. We have a distinct lack of ambition/competition among us. We trust God with our callings, and find opportunities to serve. Praying for one another keeps us us tender to, and safe for, one another.

7. We have an open-handed ministry model.

We believe that an Open-Handed Ministry model, where we make room for others to be involved, lead, play or participate, is vital. For health and growth, we choose to be flexible. We step on an off of stages easily, without fighting for platform. Our hearts and hands are open to all that God may be doing—in us, in others and our church.

8. We celebrate creativity and excellence, without sacrificing community.

We celebrate excellence in all aspects of personal spirituality and music, and yet we are also open to inviting others in and discipling—with all the mess it can bring. Creativity is a high value for us, and while it is always subject to the needs of our community when it comes to worship, we want to fan into flame the the creative passions of one another.

9. We keep the bar high on musicality, heart and skill on our team.

We believe that excellence in Christlikeness, and excellence in musical skill, are both vital qualities in every worship ministry member. We keep the bar high on both of these for ourselves, all the while working to create environments in which people at all stages of progress can succeed along the way.

10. We embrace relational and interpersonal purity.

We are vitally connected in relationships, in small groups and in our church family. We pursue accountable relationships, we keep short accounts and we are teachable. Family wins. Always.

11. We care for the poor and invite them into our lives.

[While this may seem out of place, for those who practice it, you will understand how this empowers a worship community culture.] We see the poor as “us,” not “them”—and allow this Kingdom perspective to change us. As a church community, and as a church family, we lean toward the poor, building community with them. This community-building includes us as a worship community. Our hearts and attitudes are softened by the felt-needs of the poor. We will continue learning to become like Christ in this as we go, and connection with the poor will shape our songs and ways of leading worship.

12. We communicate honestly, but with grace and a willingness to learn.

We choose to be very difficult to offend. We don’t do politics or complaining; we serve where we can, honor the direction of leaders, communicate with grace and honesty, assume the best of others, and give grace generously and freely as we bring our best gifts to an imperfect Table.

These are some starter ideas to help you form your own worship culture, and it’s my prayer you find your worship expression growing in richness, quality, passion, intimacy—and a sense of the Lord’s power in your midst.

Dan Wilt
Dan Wilt, M.Min., is an artist, author, musician, educator, songwriter, communicator and spiritual life writer. With 20+ years in the Vineyard family of churches, he serves in various ways to further a “New Creation” centered vision of the Christian life through media.