Is your church an orchestra or a one-man-band?


Have you ever seen a “one-man-band”? It can be a little awkward. Sure, its impressive that one person can manage to play more than one instrument at a time, but the quality of the music pales when compared to the glory of a symphony orchestra playing multiple instruments and many parts.

When we “hire” a pastor to do everything for the congregation, it becomes like the performance of a one-man-band; one person performing at the front for our entertainment. The irony is, the people sitting in the rows are the actual orchestra players – the leader is supposed to be the orchestra conductor, not the whole show! Just as the music played by the orchestra has far more depth and beauty than one person could ever produce on their own, God’s people working together and ministering to each other will have a richer, deeper quality than a single person can ever bring to ministry.

If the orchestra don’t rehearse, they will lose their ability and confidence. If they never get to play their instruments, they will never develop talent and skill to perform for others. If they are made to sit and listen, and never to play music themselves, they will start to believe they have nothing worth listening to. When God’s people meet together, each person present has something beautiful to contribute; each person has gifts and life experience and knowledge to share. When we meet in a circle, there is an opportunity to empower each individual to perform and minister to one another, and to equip them to serve God and do his will. Just like the players in an orchestra have different instruments and different parts to play, we all have different gifts and different moments to use them.

When the conductor steps to the front of the orchestra, the audience hold their breath in anticipation, because they know something very beautiful is about to happen. Amazing things can happen when the leaders put away their own trumpet, and start to empower God’s people to make beautiful music together.  Its a powerful moment when you let the orchestra play.

This is a reprint of one of my earliest blog posts. 

I still see many pastors struggling to be one-man-bands, rather than empowering their congregations to each play their part.

5 thoughts on “Is your church an orchestra or a one-man-band?

  1. Kathleen,

    Things will not change in churches unless the pyramid style leadership is destroyed. Well, I have no problem with the pyramid if and only if Jesus is at the top and pastors learn to function mutually without the need for titles. Any pastor will tell u that he recognizes Jesus as the Chief Shepherd, but, does that pastor function in that reality. I have mentioned this time and time again only to discover that men feel threatened when their leadership style in questioned. Let me encourage you to check out some of Wayne Jacobsen’s podcasts and articles, particularly one newsletter he wrote entitled, “We Already Have A Shephered.” Let me know your thoughts!

    • Thanks for your comment, Stephen. I agree that the pyramid leadership model is faulty. I think pastors (and the rest of us) need to realise that Jesus turned the pyramid on its head. We need to go down to go up, we need to serve and lower ourselves in order to lead.

      Thanks for the link to Wayne’s work, he’s doing a wonderful job challenging the faulty system and casting a vision for another way.


      – Kathleen

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