Podcast Episode #159: Mentoring Worship Musicians with Anastasia Fomenko

Worship leader Anastasia Fomenko joins the podcast to discuss mentoring young worship musicians, creating a culture of growth and leading worship for the long haul.

Jason and Daniel read an embarrassing worship moment and talk preparing for Christmas way ahead of schedule.

Here are some notes on our conversation with Anastasia:

On common mistakes young worship leaders make

People start off with great intentions, of wanting to lead with excellence, but that can lead you to fear–fearing those you want to serve and those you want to please. One of the greatest challenges is teaching people to let go of that insecurity and the need to perform. Sure you’ll want to play and lead well, but God has given you something unique. You don't need to be perfect and you don’t need to sound like your heroes, you can bring your own sound.

On using critique to grow

Worship leaders need to understand that the best thing that can happen to them is growth. In order to grow you have to be open to critical feedback. Honing your craft is important, but having honest relationships with people who love and support you is essential. If we don’t know what we’re doing wrong, we can’t do better. Don't wait for feedback to come to you, be humble enough to ask for honest feedback.

It's not about perfection, it actually gives you permission to fail. If you feel like you can’t fail you won’t try new things. It’s important to create a culture of family; you should have relationship long before you ever get on a stage together. Our people already know they are accepted for who they are and not for what they do.

On what you learn from a worship team audition

Auditions are awesome to show where a person at. They show skill level as well as where our potential team member's heart is at. Whether you are a beginner or highly skilled, we want you to go through the same process and become a part of our family first. Whether someone wants to be on the stage or actually wants to belong really shows the heart intent. Catching the vision is so much more important than playing really well

On growing your skills and confidence

Heart is so much more important than skill. Skill can be learned if someone is passionate about growing. As much as we are interested in being excellent in Spirit, we must be excellent in craft. Lessons show me you are motivated to grow; you can’t be stagnant. If you’re not growing, you’re dying.

On lessons learned from leading worship

I’ve definitely onboarded too quickly. We feel the pressure to have full band and a full sound. I wish I didn’t put so much pressure on myself to create that. COVID actually helped me see when we gathered that we could create raw, authentic music with only a few musicians, and it was true to who we are. When you onboard too quickly you bring people on who are not ready. 

You also need to have a clear vision. Every single Sunday morning I can express the "why" of what we're doing. People can’t hear vision enough. When you’ve got tired or burnt out worship musicians it will lift them up and spur them onward. 

On leading worship for the long haul

I am constantly understanding that there is so much more to God than I know. It’s staying on my face, staying in the secret place and developing my relationship with God. When leading worship for a long time, we can learn to manipulate a room to worship and not carry it on the inside of us. We can know what to say and what to do but can do it from a wrong place. How do we stay humble? Humility breeds strength. We need to go back to the source.

Raising the next generation is key. Why spend 20 years leading worship and not see a generation behind me that are leading? I’ve come to the place that my identity is not wrapped up in being on a stage. I’m cheering on the next generation and my prayer is that God will allow me to give myself to others. There is so much freedom in that. Now we’ve got these young worship leaders that are learning to lead and they just keep coming. If we’re giving back we will always feel alive because we'll be a river.

On leading old songs

Just because a song is new and just came out yesterday, doesn't mean we have to lead it. What if we leaned into the Holy Spirit and asked Him what songs we should be leading? Don't get me wrong, I love new songs but as worship leaders we really should be in tune with what the people need. I've loved seeing the old songs becoming new again.

Follow Anastasia on Instagram. Listen to Anastasia's music on Spotify or Apple Music

Kristina Kislyanka leads worship and student ministry at her church in Washington state. She’s passionate about songwriting, producing music, and growing community within the Church. Kristina is a member of the Maverick City Music Choir. 

Podcast Episode #159: Mentoring Worship Musicians with Anastasia Fomenko

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