Monday, October 25, 2010

Setting Up A Worship Team

My assignment for my "Lifestyle of a Worshiper" class was to write a guide for a church plant or new worship pastor to set up a worship team. Let me know what you think and what grade you think I should get. ;-)

Step 1 – Pre-team planning

The first thing to consider when setting up a worship team is vision. Find out where do you want your worship team to be in 6 weeks, 6 months and 2 years. Why do you need a worship team in your church? The church is probably doing worship recordings or videos, what would a team add that you aren’t already doing. Dwell on questions like “What your goals?” and “Why move from where we are now?” In Habakkuk 2:2, God says, “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” Writing down your vision and purpose statement is important. It makes it easier to communicate and tweak with your pastor and later, when you’re caught up in all of the technical problems and week-to-week chaos, you’ll be anchored in your purpose. During this process, talk to other worship leaders and get their advice. Do a study on worship in the Bible. Read books on worship leading and it’s purpose and method. Make sure that you are taking into consideration the needs of your church and your pastor as your hear from other sources. Your worship team will without a doubt look different from any other church’s team.

Step 2 – Lead by example

After your vision is written out and prayed over by you and your pastor, begin to lead worship by yourself. For at least a few weeks, lead the group with just one instrument. As your congregation gets used to the freedom that comes from breaking out past a set recording and order of song, you will begin to execute the vision that you and your pastor laid out. Put into practice the things you’ve written down. If you wanted the song list to go along with the pastor’s sermon, do that. If you wanted times of “Selah” or prophetic song begin ministering in that area. This way, when people join you, it’s not from a relationship of “Ok guys, what do you want to do this week.” Instead, you come to people and say, “This is what we’re doing, can you help me out?” People become part of something that is already moving in one direction instead of being pulled in five directions from the start.

Step 3 – Adding to your team

The members of the worship team have just as much potential for influence on members and visitors of your church as the pastor or worship leader has. They are usually in front of people just as much, and they are placed in front of people as examples for proper behavior in church. If these people are exuding warmth, excitement and passion, then chances are your audience will pick up on that same attitude. If they are bored or distracted, the people in the church will assume that response is acceptable. Make sure that the first people you add to your team are spiritually strong and mature even if their musical talent isn’t as strong. This will develop a spiritual culture that new members to your team will pick up on. Take this slow, as it is one of the most important considerations. When approaching people, first assess their spiritual maturity and musical talent before cementing them into the foundation of your team. Invite them to come over to your house and worship with you, or have them lead worship with you for a service other then the main service. This can continue for as long as necessary to be sure that you know him as a Christian and a musician and to make sure he catches the vision for the team. Make sure that this person has the heart of a worshiper and not just the head knowledge. Isaiah 29:13 “The Lord says ‘These people come near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”

Step 4 – Developing your team.

Don’t be satisfied with just getting by. Whatever isn’t growing is probably shrinking. You want to give your best and that involves getting your team to the best they can be. Make sure to develop them spiritually as the weeks progress. Don’t get into a habit of practicing and playing, practicing and playing. That’s a “maintenance mind-style.” God calls us to go from glory to glory. Regularly sit down with your written vision and purpose statement and come up with a few things to work on that gets you closer to your goal. Address problems quickly before they spread. Maintain a team that is pulling it’s lowest points up rather than a team that is continually deteriorating. Challenge the members of your team to higher musical feats. Practice things that are hard. Make musicianship an act of worship instead of a necessity to get the congregation singing in the same key at the same tempo. Make commitment to the team important. Respond to issues like showing up late to practice quickly. A team that coasts through services is not worshiping at it’s best.

Step 5 – Handling a large team and a large church

There will come a time when you have enough musicians to go to multiple teams. Make sure that the teams are in constant communication and fellowship. If you have multiple worship leaders, meet with them together regularly to go over the vision and current goals for the team and the service. I suggest shuffling your team members and leaders around regularly. Discourage any talk of preference between teams or leaders. You want to make sure that you are one cohesive team that is building each other up. If your church service has two services, play similar songs and styles for each service. Separating your leaders and styles between first and second services is a good way to divide the church into demographics that dislike each other’s music style or personality preference. Constantly blending the teams will avoid gossip and favoritism. Also, this will expose your team members to each other’s talent and skills. Shuffling team members usually learn from each other more than set teams do. Make sure that your large group of musicians are following the same plan. Meet with the entire worship team regularly to discuss the vision for the musical and spiritual growth of the team. Be proactive with your finger constantly on the pulse of your teams. If the size of your team is causing you to miss problems that come up consider scaling back.

Setting up a worship team is all about vision and communication. Making sure that you know what you want and communicate that effectively to your leadership, your worship team and your pastor.

Peter Webb

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