Building a Worship Team
After leaving University I did some temp work for a while. In one of these temp jobs I was working with some other graduates cold calling plumbers asking them what bathrooms they installed. It was one of the hardest and least rewarding jobs I’ve done and there was no sense of team amongst us. Moral was so low that one of the girls set up a Facebook group entitled “Why I hate ringing up plumbers asking them what bogs they install”! (Imaginative title there!) No enjoyment, no direction, no togetherness! Not the best team.
I wonder if this reminds you of some of the worship teams you’ve been part of in the past? I’ve seen, been in and even led worship teams where there’s been little sense of team, just individuals pitching up doing their own thing!
I’m no expert and have never written a thesis on “building team” but I can share a few thoughts and things that have worked well in the teams I’ve led over the years. Everything within me cringes at doing this but to make the different points memorable I've put them into categories so they spell out “BUILD TEAM”… wow...
When building a team don’t try and be anyone else, be yourself! Bring your own personality and gifting to lead your team. Once I understood this and realised I didn’t need to copy that inspirational leader (who was so different from me) I relaxed. I think my team relaxed as a result of this as well! One person I know who is starting to lead a team is quite eccentric and naturally funny. People that serve in his team love it because he’s being “him”! We can LEARN from others but BE yourself.
Phillipians 2 has helped me so much in thinking about team. Paul talks about what believers are united around. We have a precious unity that exists from being in Christ. So unity already exists. What we need to do when building team is to make sure that the other truths from Philippians 2 are put into practice. How we should count others more significantly than ourselves and prefer one another’s needs. Sometimes we have to lay down our own idea for an arrangement bowing to a team member’s idea. If we lead teams in this way looking to Jesus then this is the perfect foundation for a united team.
They say that a team falls apart without vision. As someone leading a team you can inspire your team by casting vision. My vision statement for the Church Worship Team is that we would “Serve the Church, Be Creative & Worship Jesus”. To fulfil that vision my aim is that over the next year we would grow to 12 different worship teams across our 3 Church sites with committed leaders with distinct team sounds. What’s your vision for your worship team? It might be that you’d rearrange 3 songs in the next year? It might be that you’d commit to spending social time together as a team once a term? Your team members should also know your expectations as a leader. What meetings they should attend, how much time they should spend practicing etc.
As a team leader do you listen to your team or do you just want to interrupt them and put your point of view across? Leaders that don’t listen are frustrating. I’d much rather be around a leader who takes time to listen to me and reflect on what I’ve said. Listening should take a high priority in practice times too. I once went to a practice where the musicians started a song and for 16 bars of the song none of them realised they were playing different chords to one another. They were so focussed on what they were playing that they didn’t listen to each other. Take some time in your next practice to listen to individual members of your team and how they play, then you can give them specific encouragement and feedback. By doing this recently I noticed that a team member was playing notes that were too low and didn’t cut through the mix enough, I suggested they played an octave higher to make space for other instruments in the mix.
We want to be able to develop skill and develop leadership in our team. Developing skill can be done through seminars, workshops or one on one tuition with your team members. I’ve been trying to develop one of my team members recently by sitting down with them, going through the sounds available to them and making suggestions. You should always be wanting to develop leaders too. A good and Godly leader is someone who leads with passion but holds what they lead lightly. Last year I was so struck by a worship leader I really admire saying to me “Olly, I’d like you to lead the worship team instead of me at this conference”. I admired this person’s humility and the fact that he didn’t want to keep this position, he was willing to give it away. Who in your team could you imagine replacing you? How would you feel about someone in your team outgrowing your gifting? Be a good and Godly team leader by developing skill & leadership in your team and don’t cling onto your position too tightly! No one is irreplaceable in the Kingdom of God!
Try new things
Try new things at practices. Try a song in a new style or give the song a fresh arrangement. I wouldn’t want to be in a team that just does the same thing week in week out. I want to be part of a dynamic and creative team. Tim Hughes says that whenever he leads worship he always wants to “try at least one thing that he hasn’t done before”. Are we willing for our team to try new things and take risks?
I’ve found that eating together and hanging out (playing board games?!) is a fantastic way for team to get to know one another in a relaxed and fun environment. It’s amazing how different a practice is after the band have hung out together- there’s more fun and people feel more relaxed. Some of my team members have now become some of my closest friends. We have to ensure that we aren’t just chasing RESULTS but we are ENJOYING the journey together as friends.
Allocating roles within a team is great because people in the team feel a greater level of responsibility and ownership. Sometimes I get one of the singers in my team to lead a song or two, sometimes I’ll get our bassist or drummer to musically direct a song. I always get our drummer to click into songs which takes the pressure off me! In your team what roles can you give the musicians? It doesn't just have to be a musical role, if you feel weak with your organisation maybe a team member could help you administratively?
You don’t have to be every band member’s official “mentor” or “discipler” to input into their lives. As a team leader you aren’t there just to get the musicians to play the right thing. You should be encouraging them, challenging them and spiritually investing in them whilst they are in your team. You should be looking to cultivate worshipful hearts amongst your team. One on ones are good to have with team members. Offer to pray for them and the situations they are going through in life. As well as these meet ups I always think “who can I take with me” from my team when I’m asked to lead worship at different places or speak somewhere. I want my team members to learn not only over a cup of coffee but also by sharing ministry experience and life with me. Remember- your team aren’t YOUR MUSICIANS (a dispensable commodity). Your team are GOD’S CHILDREN (precious and loved). Mentor and invest in them!
I hope that’s helpful in some way when it comes to building team! I'd love to hear your thoughts and what's worked for you. Comment below!