I recently spoke with a worship pastor friend who was seeing major decline in his team. People were leaving left and right from his music ministry, and he couldn’t figure out why.
I started off with asking him some questions. Let’s call him Jeff.
Josh: Have you set vision for your team?
Jeff: Yeah…I told them we want to play our best on Sunday. That’s pretty much it.
Josh: Are you developing anyone else on your team to be a worship leader outside of you?
Jeff: No, none of them are talented enough.
Josh: Do they get time off?
Jeff: No, I only have one person per slot so they have to play each week.
Josh: Do you do anything with them outside of Sunday?
Jeff: Not really, we’ve gotten coffee with them a few times but that’s pretty much it.
Josh: Have any of them ever contacted you to talk through life situations?
Jeff: Nope, not one time. I wish they would though.
Do you see the same problems I see here? Jeff has created a culture where the #1 value is playing well on Sunday. Go ahead and take a health check of your worship team: is that the same culture you have created? Does your team flock to you when they need help in life? Are they fully invested into what your vision is for your church?
There are five major values I live and die by as a worship pastor. Take a second to read them and see if they are applicable to you.
To attach yourself to something, you must believe in something. Not only is Jesus-centered vision the catalyst for your worship team, but it also reflects the bi-product of what you are able to deliver to your church as your team leads worship. If you want your worship team to excel, then give them a vision that is worth excelling for. Our worship team at Canvas believes in three core values: Passion, Excellence, and Family. Passion for Jesus, excellence in our musicianship, and creating a community of family within our collective of musicians. For us, vision is the end-all-be-all for being a part of this worship culture. Do not be afraid to lose teammates over casting too big of a vision; as a matter of fact, I have lost teammates in the past because my vision was so big. That’s perfectly fine. Lay out the vision Jesus has given you to your team, let the ones who see it catch the vision with you, and move forward with God-centered confidence to bring this vision to reality.
Guys…I’m getting old. In the past, I was the young worship leader who didn’t know much and was leading a team of people that were 5-20 years older than me. Now being in my late 20’s, I’m leading a team that mainly consists of young urban millennials. With this, I see a lot of my earlier self within many of my young teammates. I firmly believe that if your team cannot function or grow without you present, than you are creating a ministry that will flatline when you’re out of the picture. As my pastor says, “good leaders produce good work, great leaders produce great work.” I have my worship team, and then I have my team of leaders on that team. Each leader on my team is in charge of finding their own person to develop as well. Our leaders on our worship team believe that once you learn something, you immediately teach it to who you are leading. This creates a system that continually empowers and grows each person on our team. This also allows me to have time off, no burnout, and knowing that my team can deliver on a Sunday without me present.
We have a firm rule that no one (outside of our staffed worship leaders) are scheduled more than twice a month. This allows our team to not only minister, but be ministered to. Worship burn out (especially in a set up and tear down environment) can happen extremely fast if you are using all your teammates each week, non stop. I understand there are cases where you may only have one drummer, one other vocalist, etc, but build your team in a way where they not only know, but understand that the end goal is to only be used twice a month. In some special cases, you’ll have those teammates that want to be used every single week because they love leading or playing worship. Don’t let them. Their spirit is right, but they need rest as well. Nurture your team and give them ample rest for their service.
Alongside vision, community should be the second aspect your for worship team. not only does community breed on and off stage chemistry, but community allows your team to knit hearts with one another. There’s a few ways we do this at my church:
These are night where are team gets together to not talk or play music, not talk about the church or the worship team, but to simply hang out and have fun. We’ve had team nights where we sit around a bonfire at the beach, or do a holiday gift exchange, or like the next one coming up…we’re doing a pizza and ping-pong tournament. This is a time where you as the leader are serving your team, and they do nothing but be served to.
Our worship team gathers once a quarter for what we call Desperation Nights. These are nights where we gather in an intimate atmosphere and worship. We keep this atmosphere raw and innate on purpose. Nights like these lets our team expose themselves in a way they only would to family, which is our third core value of our team. Try this out with your team: gather them together in a living room, play some music together, and I guarantee you that they will leave feeling more connect not only to Jesus, but to one another.
There’s a major difference between being a worship leader and a worship pastor. As a worship pastor, a big portion of your job is to shepherd and pastor your team. Only 10% of my job is leading worship; the other 90% is growing leaders, initiating spiritual development, and cultivating healing and growth within our team while continually casting vision. Your team needs someone that they can go to when life gets rough, and that should be their pastor. Continue to grow your team not only as a teammate, but like a son or daughter whom you love.
Vision, empowerment, rotation, community, and shepherding. These five values can set a wondrous spirit within your worship team. What do you do to create a healthy worship team culture? Leave your comments below.