I’ll never forget the first time I went out to the Purpose Driven Youth Ministry Conference and saw the Saddleback Church student worship band perform. They were professional, effective and leading worship at a high level At the time, our church didn’t have much of a student band. In fact, it wasn’t a band at all, it was our lead worship guy from the adult services volunteering his time. He was good, the teens enjoyed him; however, something needed to change.
If you can have a student worship band in your ministry, you can have a powerful impact on how the teens worship and connect with God. When you have teens lead worship, it sets a model for their peers and it gives them a piece of ownership in the ministry. But, starting a band isn’t always easy In fact it’s something you might desperately want now, but, no matter how hard you try, nothing seems to happen. You can’t recruit teens; if you do, they are inconsistent with showing up, and the ones you can get do not have the talent. And that’s because building a high quality worship band is a process.
Here are five steps to help you get started:
- Define Its Purpose—Do you want your student band to lead worship or set the mood at the beginning of the program? Part of the reason worship bands fall apart is because there is no vision. To create one, you need to ask yourself, “How is this going to bring my ministry to the next level?” If you cannot answer that question, then you aren’t ready to start putting one together.
- Put It in the Budget—If you want a student worship band, you are going to prioritize it in your budget. Your expenses will range from quality equipment (i.e., microphones, drum set) to a worship leader. You might luck out and have someone donate all the equipment. You also might find someone who is willing to commit a huge chunk of their time training, recruiting and preparing teens; however, that’s not realistic. Equipment is going to break, plus, by financially investing in a leader, you create an accountability system that expects excellence.
- Outsource the Leader—I can play guitar and piano. While I might be a good band leader, as a youth minister, my focus is on too many things. No matter the size of your ministry, if you can stipend a volunteer or hire someone, then it takes a huge burden off your back. This person will be able to host tryouts and practices and select music. You’ll want to find someone who loves God, likes teens and is focused on growing musicians and disciples of Christ simultaneously. While it would be beneficial to budget for one, you do not have to pay a lot, just enough to show them appreciation. No matter the pay, treat it like a job; interview them and make sure it’s the right fit for your ministry.
- Promote It Frequently—Once you have it budgeted, the purpose defined and a leader in place, promote it like crazy. If you host tryouts, announce it at your main worship, send out emails to parents and post an ad on your web page. Give your worship leader permission to plug and promote the band each time your ministry meets. Create a buzz so that you can recruit the right students who want to play, display it’s purpose and show students how to worship through music. No matter what, be persistent. In the beginning, you might not get much; however, the more you plug away, the more momentum you will build.
- Create a Commitment—Teens are a part of so many clubs; therefore, you’ll compete with them when forming a student worship band. After tryouts, you’ll want your teens to sign a commitment similar to one they might sign on a sports team. Set out your expectations for practice, attendance and even conduct. You don’t have to recruit teens who are Christians In fact, your band might be an effective evangelization tool; however, set a moral code because they are leading their peers. The commitment holds them accountable.
Again, forming a student worship band is not easy and it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and money to get one started; however, the fruit of your labor will be well worth it. It’s through a student worship band that we’ve seen our ministry grow. It’s prepared teens for the message and their small groups, and we’re looking to see how it continues to grow disciples.
What obstacles do you face in forming a worship band?
What has worked for you in forming a worship band?