David Santistevan on Pastoring Worship Teams with Humility & Vulnerability

Podcast Episode #176

Beyond Sunday Podcast host David Santistevan joins the Worship Artistry Podcast to discuss teaching worship, sharing failures, and constantly learning.

Kristina shares about her recent trip to Eastern Europe.

On being a worship pastor 

An identity crisis in college between being an artist or pastor lead to a refinement and led me to becoming a worship pastor. I wouldn’t choose to be in front of people and show my face, but God is kind of funny like that and puts you into positions you wouldn’t want to be on your own. 

The heart behind what I do is people and leading the to the heart of god and to strengthen the worship culture in the local church. What does it look like to have a healthy worship ministry where teams are empowered and are on mission together, and leaders are developed?

On starting to teach

I never sought out being a teacher or training others. I focused on getting involved in a local church and planting roots. I went from a Christian college environment to a multi-generational church, with unbelievers and elders. It was in that furnace I learned how to serve and love people with different opinions and backgrounds.

Leading worship at a local church is the most difficult place to lead worship. No offense to artists that sell out arenas, but leading to a room of people that love worship is easier than leading a group of people that are not sure why they showed up at church that day. 

My pastor always said never do ministry alone. It’s not what you can get done, it’s about who you can empower. It became super fulfilling for me, and I learned as I went.

On sharing failures

Vulnerability is what connects with people. I’m not perfect but I wanted to grow, so I decided to share that with people. If there’s something I failed at, I can share so other’s don’t also make that mistake. 

There’s something about taking the posture of being a learner. That is a process we should be on until we pass. How are we developing? How are we growing? If I’ve arrived, I’ve lost my effectiveness. When you do fail, turn it into a lesson for yourself and help others learn from it. 

On where authority comes from

I don’t like to throw myself out there as an authority on a subject. But I think that humility is part of why people are open to receive from me. I am constantly learning, so I may have gone through what you’d like input on. 

A good coach is a good question asker. If you ask the right questions, the person you’re helping is able to unlock the answer for themselves. 

On common issues with worship teams

Musicians just playing their part and don’t pay attention to the rest of the team. We need to stretch ourselves and grow as a band. Musicians that enjoy playing together are the ones that are effective worship leaders. If you can get your head out of the music, be well prepared, that’s when the real magic happens. When everyone is so prepared you can be spontaneous. 

On ways to inject life into worship teams

Worship leaders should ask “how can we shake things up?” Planning time to worship as a band or writing a song together are great ways to do that. To breakout out of the creative box we've put ourselves in.

If you do the same songs, try to find a way to modify the song. 

On expanding beyond the typical worship sound

Worship music can all sound the same. But congregational worship isn’t necessary about creativity but about unity and everyone being able to sing it. Congregational worship isn’t about a spectacle on stage, it’s about unity, everyone participating. I’d rather have a loud singing congregation than a super creative band. How do we do both well? I don’t know but it’s a journey to dive into that tension.  

Listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Kristina Kislyanka is the Marketing Manager, podcast co-host and sometimes vocalist at Worship Artistry. She is the Worship Pastor at her church in Washington state. She’s passionate about songwriting, producing music, and growing community within the Church. 

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