Do you embrace Inclusion more than Excellence?

Does your church have non-leaders leading, non-singers singing, non-musicians playing, non-communicators communicating, etc.? Many churches live in this uncomfortable reality. 

“Everyone has a place, even if it’s the wrong place.” (Carey Nieuwhof in his post:

One of the dynamics you have to wrestle down is whether you value inclusion over excellence. Small-thinking churches often choose inclusion, not excellence. They think, “It’s just the way it is. We don’t have a choice.”

But this is not limited to small churches. Larger churches often find themselves in the same situation.

It’s a question proceeding from the philosophy of ministry employed by that church.

Your worship/music ministry has to answer this: “Do we place a higher value on excellence or inclusion?” Once we’ve decided on the answer to that question, we can move forward with a strategy.

Let’s say someone auditions for the worship team, but he can’t play well. What do you do?

Many leaders flinch.

They can’t bear the thought of hurting someone or angering their friends, so they cave, even though he’s a mediocre player.

If you value excellence, turning him down in the mix is NOT the answer. The best solution is to learn to say, “Not now, but here’s a path to your future involvement.”

This “Inclusion vs. Excellence” is a question many leaders ask. But it’s impossible to give a good answer to a bad question, and in some ways, “Do you value excellence or inclusion?” is a bad question. A better question is, “Do you value development?” In other words, do you have the guts to develop people, or do you chicken out and either say yes or no to their involvement? 

We love it that they want to serve, and if that person wants to be a blessing to the team, they will take the steps required to achieve the level of skill needed. And you may have to help them with those steps.

Theologically, putting people in positions for which they’re not gifted is a denial of the diversity and giftedness of the body of Christ. God designed some people to sing. Get them singing. He gave others the gift of rhythm. Get them drumming. He gave some the gift of leadership or communication. Get them leading and communicating.

Neither placing a higher value on inclusion or a higher value on excellence is “wrong” per se. It just depends on how you want your presentation to appear.

This issue isn’t limited to the music ministry. It’s a factor in every ministry of your church. It’s a mistake to dismiss choosing appropriately gifted musicians as entertainment. It’s called gifting.

The body of Christ works best on gifting.

Sometimes people want to do what they’re not gifted to do. As a leader, it may be your job to place them in the area of their gifts. Long term, they’ll be much more fulfilled and will be leading from their strengths, the way God designed them.

Let’s think about a few scenarios and how we might want to handle them. Talk about them with your team or open a conversation with us.

1. You get hired for a new worship director position, and you “inherit” a team of mediocre musicians and leaders. One of the mediocre vocalists is the pastor’s daughter who has been singing on the team for 4 years. The drummer can’t play with a click because his tempos are too erratic. Your best vocalist can sing harmony, but none of the other 6 people who have been singing regularly, can sing anything that deviates from the melody - and even when they do that, it’s not pretty. 

2. A person who comes to your church, and on his first Sunday there, he volunteers to sing and play electric guitar on your worship team. (You presently don’t have anyone to play electric.)

3. A young lady who auditions to sing with your team has a lovely speaking voice and beautiful expressions of worship, but frequently goes off key in the middle of a song.

4. Your church only has 45 people in regular attendance. As far as you know the worship leader (you) and only one other person in the congregation have any musical skill that you would consider to be at “an acceptable level” to be a part of the music team. Other (less skilled) people have volunteered to serve on the team. 

5. What scenario(s) have you encountered that cause you to decide if inclusion or excellence is of a higher priority?

(Thanks to Coach Kevin Denlinger for writing this Fertilizer!)