As we all know, church ministry gets busy and can be overwhelming, especially as a volunteer and/or bivocational worship leader or pastor. It can be easy to fall into the rut of putting out the schedule each month, going through rehearsals and having our main concern be that the band shows up on time and knows the tunes. If we don’t recognize it as important, we can miss the individual musician’s value of their creative well, perspective on worship and struggles they are facing. We end up going through the motions as a team each Sunday, missing out on the new sounds, new songs and deeper levels that God is calling us as worshippers to find in Him.
What I am saying is that the song list is not just part of the production in the service, and your team members are not just “plug and play” musicians to fill a slot and learn their parts. Now I realize that as worship leaders and pastors we don’t think this at all, but again it is easy to fall into a routine to just “get it done” because of all the other things competing for our time. We are always crying out for more in our worship songs, and that more is an untapped well of worship residing in each of your musicians. If you value them as individuals and take time to encourage and tap into those wells, you will see a fresh wind blow through your worship and the excellence, creativity and authority of your worship will see exciting new levels.
Below are some strategies to see strengthen your team and reach their full potential:
1. Pastor Your Worship Team: Seems like a “duh” kind of statement, but all to often we simply begin to neglect the spiritual maturity of our musicians and leaders. After all, they made it on the team and have been serving for a few years so they must be doing something right. This is dangerous thinking. Many musicians deal with major internal issues by consequence of their artistic nature. These are never really dealt with simply because they have a lot of talent. In order to reach the heavens, you have to lay a strong foundation. Take time to regularly meet with them individually (especially your worship leaders). Give yourself ample opportunity to both hear their hearts and hold them accountable. If you are going to start pulling from their well, you want to know it contains fresh water. Also, just one last thought on this … worship leaders are not necessarily worship pastors, and if we expect them to be then we need to offer training.
2. Be an Example: Like it or not, as the one in charge, the other musicians look to you as an example of the freedom and discipline they are called to operate in. This isn’t just about rules and standards, this is about releasing people in their giftings and their identity. Whatever boundaries you have set on your own expressions of worship, you are putting that box around your team as well. Whatever freedoms you have given yourself you must give to them also. Worship ministry is an exciting adventure into unknown heavenly realms and encounters with Jesus, so continually show them that you believe that.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Trim the Fat: This is a tough one, but the fact remains that the worship stage is not for everyone. If you have consistently done the first two points I mentioned previously and you find that a team member is struggling (being unprepared, authority issues, etc.), then you should not feel bad about asking them to step down. This doesn’t mean excommunicating them from the church, but working with them to see the issues resolved so they can be a benefit to the team again, if that is what they want. This can be especially hard if that person happens to be your only drummer, for instance … but a percussion-less worship set is no less anointed in God’s eyes. Don’t lose sight of the priority … all the production in the world will not remedy contention within the team. Keep in mind, you are not requiring your musicians to be perfect; this is about the pursuit of excellence, not perfection.
4. Prepare Well: Your worship ministry is tasked with the honor and privilege of leading people into God’s presence. You should be pulling out all the stops when it comes to preparing the banquet. Prepare your set list at least four days in advance, not the night before. Hold at least one rehearsal. Keep communication open with the scheduled musicians about any ideas they have for the songs. Collaborate on unique ways to present songs and transition from one to the next, even begin to write your own original material if you aren’t finding anything suitable.
All this to say that the Bible only mentions two things that God is searching for … the lost and worshippers. Your worship team has the ability to show the lost the power of worship, and show worshippers a deeper connection with their Savior. Don’t take this lightly, and implement these strategies so your corporate worship becomes more than just a part of the Sunday service.