Sometimes you get the pleasure of meeting people who think differently than most. Rich, thankfully, is one of those individuals in the realm of worship leaders who speaks out regularly. I love and appreciate his ability to write thoughtfully and from his unique perspective.
I’ve known Rich for a few years now, and I’ve come to expect nothing less from him than thoughtful discourse and thought-provoking content on his site, RKblog.com. I think the thing I can put my finger on is that Rich thinks differently and expresses his thoughts not simply for the sake of stirring the pot, but for the sake of seeing the leaders of the Church advance in their understanding of why they do what they do.
Rich is a fantastic husband & dad, which is a greater legacy than any worship leader could hope to leave. I’m grateful that we have the opportunity today to hear from Rich and to get his take on the 5 Questions.
Rich has also graciously provided 3 copies of his book, The Six Hats of the Worship Leader (GREAT READ!) to three lucky winners. Read the whole post to see how you can enter!
Name || Rich Kirkpatrick
Church & Role || Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, San Clemente, CA – Worship Leader/Musician
Main Instrument || Piano/Keys
Fun Fact || My family dog, Copper the Dog, has quite a following on Facebook.
(All Emphasis from Chris)
1. How did you learn to/get into leading worship?
I was serving as a member of a large-church worship staff in the role of “Music Coordinator—rehearsal pianist, music copyist, and whatever it took to help the worship pastor. Our music director, asked me to “pray” about leading worship at a church plant with a friend of hers.
I did not know what “worship leader” was (since its was not even a term back then) or what a church plant was. That conversation set me on this journey over a couple decades in church music. I basically went from delivering pizzas to eventually leading worship in a megachurch—a decade-long process, but it seemed liked it went so fast.
There were few materials back then, and modern worship was just beginning. Music was my trained vocation, having spent some time in music vocational school. I never thought as a young adult that my training in modern music would actually fit in a local church. Now, it seems the norm. Boy, how things change.
I have to say that mentors have played a huge part in both getting me in the role and coaching me along the way. Along with that, my decision to get a theology degree have been huge positives.
2. What is the most helpful habit you have developed as a worship leader?
Community with other creatives has been something I did not know I needed until midway into my ministry career. The more I understand my peers and their off-platform process and preparation the better I can develop my own. It is one thing to watch the final product. It is another to actually get to know the thoughts, heart, and common struggles another worship leader has.
This is especially true if you can find someone a bit further along than you. Although, as that is getting harder for me to find, I learn a goldmine of knowledge and practice from my younger peers, too.
3) What has helped you develop as a worship leader?
Experience cannot be underrated. I was not a very good worship leader to the small group of people in my first church that suffered through my emotional and leadership development. We all have to start somewhere. It seems that today there is too much pressure for a young 20-something who has to be fully experienced and in front of a megachurch. People need development, and it seems I expected this in myself. This led me to further my network, schooling, mentorships and experiences as a worship leader.
4) What’s one thing you wish you would have known 10 years ago?
I am not called to be a “worship leader.” Being a worship leader is a role, loosely constructed for today’s purposes. But, it is not a timeless calling. My deeper calling as a father, husband, friend, and servant in the local church supersede the common misconception and elevation of “worship leader” today.
I believe the higher calling that I have is that of an artist. I serve the purposes of the Church and of my community through the creative skills and leadership I have, rather than through this one, boxed-in role called “worship leader.”
So, ten years ago I would have told myself to get over quickly the platform, adulation, appreciation and mini-celebrity that worship leaders experience—for a short time. It ends. It ebbs and flows. It comes and goes. Building people is what lasts, not your last worship set or cool platform design.
5) If you could only give one piece of advice to a growing worship leader, what would it be?
Think longer term. Plan on yourself not being in the role you are in by finding your replacement and what your next step will be like. For one, you cannot judge leadership on a single weekend.
And, think of investing in what lasts beyond you—your tenure or your leadership—will be healthy. We are not as important as we think we are. Sitting in the seat of worship leader is a role. What are you and I doing beyond that to build the Kingdom?
Such great stuff. I really appreciated Rich’s note about how there seems to be a lot of pressure for young 20-somethings to take such a prominent place of leadership in large churches now a days without the support they need. I don’t think the goal is to not give young leaders the opportunities, but rather to take the time and energy to mentor them, develop them, and love them well.