Friday, October 07, 2005

New Berries, Old Berries

How do you manage to help new church attenders (new berries) who posses the time, talent, and a deep passion for serving God find the most appropriate place to serve while other (old berries) have been in certain roles for a long time? People like eatingnew berries if they are ripe. Somehow, the old berries simply aren't 'exciting' any longer.

For example, let's take the basson player has been playing 1st chair in the orchestra for the past 10 years. This "old berry" basson player has put in 'her dues' and has given her best. Then one day a "new berry" basson player emerges. People soon discover, along with the director, that this "new berry" bassonist has more time on his hands, more talent at playing his instrument, and a heart and passion that outshines the "old berry" basson player.

What do you do with the two berries?

A good conductor knows that only one bassonist belongs on the 1st chair part. Never double up the 1st chair! It would be foolish to create a entire second orchestra at this what do you do?

Recently, the church where I am the worship arts director at has gone through some significant growth. Our attendance is up 30% from last year, and 70% from two years ago. This is something none of us anticipated. So what do we do with all of the new musicians, technicians, artists, actors, and behind-the-scenes people?


I'm figuring out a way to incorporate the new berries while honoring old berries. How? For example, how about having a real conversation with all the berries about what is happening. That's right. Sit everyone down (hopefully you have organization enough to do this) and explain what's happening. Always avoid making overarching personnel changes without discussing it first with everyone - the reasons why. If you don't, some may end up feeling that you have an agenda and they might be the next on your chopping block.

Another example, create a rotation schedule. Give a group a break one week and have another group fill in. Rotate them around. In other words, the 1st chair bassoonist can take a break every other week. In fact, the bassoonist might enjoy coming and listening to the orchestra every other week - and might even learn how to improve what she does by hearing what the other bassoonist does in the context of the orchestra.

Another...create a sub list. This way people can be called on to serve when their is a hole in an area. Sub lists are also a way to find out people's motives for serving. For most, it's not pleasant to be put on a sub list. "Sub" usually means "underneath" - something that is undesirable. I admire those who are on a sub list before I admire those who are in the spotlight. Jesus did to.

Another...create a process to incorporate new berries. Ask yourself, how will any new berries feel welcome if we don't make room? How do new berries find out about serving? Does anyone ever ask the new berries to serve - or are they expected to initiate themselves?

Bottom line...every berry has a place - whether old, new, senior, or junior. It's my job as a leader to find the place for them.

The funny thing is...many berries limit how they serve by establishing a narrow field of how they will serve themselves. Most 1st chair bassoonists will never "lower" themselves to setting up the chairs in the orchestra pit. The best berries are the ones who don't care how their time, talent, and heart attitude is long as it's serious contribution to the team.

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