We as worship leaders are all at different points in our ministries. Some of us are leading strong teams with a line out the door to join your team (Joel Houston), while others are struggling with getting anyone through the door and various issues that may arise. Some of us have led teams for a while, and some of us are just getting started. No matter where you are currently, here are a few warning signs to watch for as you lead your team and how to overcome those obstacles.
1. No Worship outside of practice
We need to live a lifestyle of worship every moment of every day. We are leading our congregation to the throne of God, so we should know the way! But here is an interesting question for you…does your team worship together…outside of rehearsal for the set? Whether this means you rehearse your set and then just pick a random song and worship, or having a time outside of practice to worship together. This is very important as it will help your team understand spontaneous worship better, and may even help you begin to write your own songs as you worship together more.
2. Rely on bringing in the “right talent” instead of growing the right people
Do you rely on the right talent to walk through the door or are you focused on intentionally growing the people you have in your church? If you are strapped for volunteers, then hold a clinic for the instrument you need the most. Teach the fundamentals of worship. If you intentionally grow people, especially the next generation, then you will never be in need of people to plug in the holes of your team.
3. No shared culture
It is important to bring your team together for more than just practice. Each church has a culture. Do you do anything outside of rehearsal as a team (potlucks, team outings, jam sessions, other ministries)? Try having a pre-service word and prayer. This could be a time to highlight one of your values. If you do not have any, then here are a few you can borrow (love humility, generosity, serving, faith, honor, unity).
4. Dependent on tracks
While using tracks can really boost your team to the next level, be careful not to get too dependent on using tracks. You may soon find yourself unable to play a song during service because your equipment died. You may also be missing out on the opportunity to grow more people to fill in what layers you need. Your team can get so used to the tracks that they do not know how to follow the spirit in worship when a song must continue.
5. No processes written down
Does your team know your processes? Do you know your processes? This could become a huge point of dissension in your team if you are not careful. If the team does not understand the audition process, or if you let people slide through the cracks all the time it makes you and your church look bad and unprofessional, not to mention the “hurt feelings” that come with such a vulnerable time as auditions. Ensure you not only have a process that does not have cracks in it, but that you also follow up with every single person that auditions.
You will also want to solidify your other processes such as scheduling people for services so that you are not burning out your “A-team” while leaving others out on the bench for six months. Simply having a tracking sheet to show how often you use people or how you want to intentionally grow them will help you as well as your team.
6. Worship team is “talent first- then servants”
Does your worship team come in, set up their equipment and then talk for half an hour while the other servants are sweeping the floors, putting out fliers, etc..? You may have a talent-first problem. Yes, the worship team has to be ready to rehearse, but we should all be servants. Look for ways to get your team involved and serving more. Even within the team you could train the singers how to help set up drums or wrap chords. Get everyone involved and pulling their weight.
7. No focus on ministries outside of Sunday service
Does your church focus on worship on Sunday only? Do you have a Junior High or High School youth worship ministry? Do you offer worship to your other ministries such as Celebrate Recovery? There are many opportunities to get your team and those you are growing involved. Take a team to the local nursing home or prison. Teach a worship basics course to those going on a missions trip. Teach a Worship 101 class to anyone in your congregation to help them understand that worship is not just about music on Sunday morning.
If you find disunity on your team, look for the source. Ensure there is good communication between members and leadership. If you don’t have rules written down such as contacting someone that you have been offended by within 48 hours, then look into establishing a few rules for your team. If you feel members of your team are not respecting your authority as a leader, talk to them behind closed doors. Also, establish rules for practice such as one person talks at a time and no one plays an instrument when someone is talking. Ensure members are not gossiping and enforce consequences for this behavior. You may find disunity is also because of what you are doing as a leader. Do you show favoritism or deal with people differently because of who they are or what they play?
9. Lack of Commitment
Do you find your team not responding to your planning center request or denying your invitation? Look at team dynamics. Are you overstressing your main team? Do you need to give them a break and bring in some new people to grow musically and spiritually? Perhaps you have individuals with more talent than heart. Look at rearranging your practice times. Is it on a bad night? Are you wasting people’s time by holding four hour practices before service? Are you having your team play all seven services in one weekend? Lack of commitment is generally due to burn out and wasted time.
10. Lack of growth-spiritually, musically
Is your team stagnant? If you are musically stagnant, look at holding clinics for different instruments, sign up your team for jam sessions at your local music store. Look into the new music coming out in song discovery. Look at writing your own music for your church. Is your team stagnant spiritually? As a worship leader, check in on your team’s devotions. Ask them what is going on in their lives, and if there is anything you can pray with them about. Take your team on a local mission trip and serve others. Take them to play at a prison and watch lives change before your eyes. Schedule a worship and prayer night where there are no time restrictions.
Kimber Nettis is currently an active-duty Captain in the U.S. Air Force. She graduated from Baylor University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Christian Ministry through Liberty University. She and her husband Michael founded Armed to Worship Ministries, a non-profit that serves to organize, train, and equip a lifestyle of worship.