How to Change Your Ministry Culture From Managing to Mentoring

Church worship
Do you lead your worship ministry by management principles or by mentorship principles? (Lightstock)

For the second time this week, Joe felt like he had reached the end of his rope. 

As the worship pastor in a growing church, he constantly felt overwhelmed and underprepared. Regardless of how hard he worked, how early he came into the office or how many items he crossed off of his list, it seemed he never really got it all done.

If I just had someone to help me, Joe thought, then maybe I could at least get a day off this week. Somehow this wasn’t what he pictured when he felt called to ministry seven years ago.

Do you know a “Joe”?

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Maybe not, but you do know Moses. And Moses and Joe had a lot in common: They had more than they could do and no one to help.

This series on "Building Strong Worship Leaders" can help you move beyond the “one-man show” to invest in and raise up leaders on your team. This shift is about much more than just enlisting the help of a few others. It’s a shift in mindset for you as the leader to move from manager to mentor.

A manager maintains the status quo, tries to hold it all together and is often overwhelmed when the task of ministry becomes too big and there is no one there to help.

A mentor, however, recognizes that there are only certain things she can do, so she intentionally develops the leaders around her to help carry the load of ministry for the good of herself, her church and the kingdom of God.

Making the shift from manager to mentor is a leadership decision that we must all make in ministry. Whether you serve in a church of 100 or 10,000, every worship leader must make mentoring other leaders a key part of their ministry strategy.

This is a decision that Moses had to make as well. Here’s how the story unfolds in Exodus 18:

“The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, 'What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening? ... What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone" (vv. 13-14, 17-18, NIV).

Moses was stuck. He was so busy handling everything by himself that both he and the people were on a collision course with burnout. Sound familiar?

Thankfully Moses had a father-in-law who was willing to tell him what he needed to hear, and as a result of Jethro’s wisdom, Moses transformed from a manager of problems to a mentor of people. 

The transformation from manager to mentor isn’t always easy. In fact, this shift in mindset can be a difficult decision to make as you learn to let go of the way you’ve always done ministry to embrace the idea of raising up others to help you lead a team.

If you want to move from managing your team to mentoring your team, here are two mindsets that you must develop:

1. Mentors have a “we” not a “me” mindset. We have too many “Lone Ranger” worship leaders who think, No one will do it as well as me, so I will just do it myself. Assumptions like this keep them constantly overwhelmed by their ministry workload, while at the same time keeping young leaders on the sidelines.

After coaching more than 250 worship leaders, I’ve found that most worship leaders who feel this way purposefully keep their teams (and their dreams) small so that they don’t become more than they can handle. But God has more in store for them if they would shift their thinking from “me” to “we.”

Mentors know that anything worth doing is worth doing as a team. So they look for ways to involve team members in the work of ministry and empower them to lead. You can do this by inviting team members to help you plan music or lead the worship set on Sunday. You can prepare team members to lead rehearsals, sound checks or Sunday setups.

It’s only when we move from thinking “I can do it myself” to “How can I get other people involved?” that we begin to mentor and raise up leaders around us.

2. Mentors have a generosity—not scarcity—view of their time. Worship team managers are always complaining they don’t have enough time to get their job done, much less raise up leaders to help them.

Mentors, on the other hand, give of their most precious resource—time—to team members or leaders. Instead of saying, “I don’t have time to raise up leaders,” they say, “How can I use my time wisely to invest in someone?”

They know that by mentoring other leaders on their team, they will be able to trust them with some important ministry tasks, and as a result, create even more time in their busy schedules.

The mindset of the leader will always determine the potential of the team. If you actively seek to identify, invest in and invite members of your team to step up and lead, you will discover what Moses found (and what worship leader Joe needs): God wants to use the leaders around you to build His kingdom and give you the opportunity to do what only you can do.

Jason Hatley is the pastor of worship arts at The Journey Church with locations in New York City and South Florida. He is also the founder of and the author of Engage: A Guide to Creating Life-Transforming Worship Services and Revolve: A New Way to See Worship as well as over a dozen worship leader personal and ministry growth resources.

About This Series

The articles in this "Building Strong Worship Leaders" series are written by church leaders committed to intentionally training people about worship. Their churches are reaping the benefits—and they gladly pass on ideas and suggestions of how your church can too! This series is presented by, in partnership with Next Level Worship, a ministry providing quality worship discipleship resources to churches. Go to to register for free and exclusive coaching webinars for the community.

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