worship team

Training Musicians

As a worship leader, training up musicians and other worship leaders is a centerpiece of my role. Training musicians is necessary in order to have a thriving, sustainable worship experience at your church. But I would venture to say that as Christians, that should only be part of the motivation for raising the talent level and excellence of our worship teams. The beauty in my platform as a worship leader is that I get to develop people. So often we view developing great musicians as the end goal. Having excellent bands is not enough for us to count ourselves as successful worship leaders. I think that training musicians is actually just a means, whose end is discipleship. I’d like to offer what I think are some practical steps to make that vision of discipleship come to life.

1. Spend time with your team outside of service and rehearsals.

This should be of utmost priority to anyone in a leadership position. If you position yourself as a leader who spends time with people “offstage”, they are much more prone to value your opinions and respect your decisions. It builds trust between you and your team. In everything from Paul and Timothy to Obi Wan and Luke, the value of organic relationships in a leadership role can be clearly seen and appreciated! Everything else is secondary.

2. Do away with chord charts during services. 

Not even cheat sheets. When I used to lead in youth ministry (where I dealt with mostly inexperienced musicians), I found that chord charts and cheat sheets were a huge hindrance. When your musicians are relying on these tools, they aren’t allowing themselves to actively memorize the music, thus obstructing their perspectives on good musicianship. When I began to take these pieces of paper from them, they realized that they had to understand the guts of the song -- the chords, the rises and falls, the subtleties. I watched them participate in making the music, which is the quickest way that anyone can learn. 

3. Provide them with everything they need to succeed.

Set your team up for success! If you are doing an arrangement differently from the MP3, take the time to cut the MP3 to flow how you will be performing it. Provide chord charts with as many notes as possible for rehearsal. And for the love of all that is good and holy, please communicate often! So many times we blame our team members for mistakes that we could easily fix with consistent communication. Are you doing every single thing you can in order to ensure that your team is well equipped? This can transform a team member who has great potential and willingness into a beastly musician with a heart for your worship experience. 

4. Give them freedom.

I say this with a caveat; you must trust the musician in question. If you’re dealing with a player you feel comfortable with, don’t be afraid to let him or her try that guitar line that doesn’t necessarily suit your preference. Let your drummer do a jazzy fill every once in a while, even if it isn’t something you would choose to do. Giving your team freedom of expression (as long as it doesn’t hinder your overall vision for the songs) is a great way to continue to build trust, and to get your musicians thinking outside the box. 

Hopefully these steps serve as practical reminders for you as a worship leader or band director. Remember to always build genuine relationships with your team members, and to love them well. Happy team building!

Vagner is our Plantation Campus Worship Leader. He leads with passion and loves creating an atmosphere in worship that empowers people to meet with God. Learn more about Vagner.

Shepherding Your Team

It’s so easy to forget that spiritually leading my team is the most important part of my job as a worship leader. Often times, I am very concerned with the quality of the experience, but I can forget about the quality of influence on my worship team. Psalm 33:3 says, “Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.” From this verse we see that the Lord enjoys our excellence. But so often, the pursuit of excellence and the tyranny of the urgent can pull us from what really matters: loving the people around us. I can forget that God has placed a team of people under my leadership so that I can shepherd them. Love them. Encourage them. Correct them and help them grow. Pray for them. Walk with them through some of the toughest seasons of their life. And as shameful as it is for me to admit, when I’m not prioritizing how I can serve them, I can start to see my team of volunteers as a resource instead of as people, as God’s children. I can fall into the trap of thinking about what they can do for me, instead of what I can be doing for them. .

Perhaps, you too tend to lose sight of the state of your people. Well, there’s hope for the both of us and it begins with our willingness to be intentional. “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks…” (Proverbs 27:23). Great leaders consider how their people are, not just how useful they can be. Knowing the condition of your community (individually and as a whole) will not just happen naturally. Intimacy is hard work. The Message translation says, “Know your sheep by name.” How many times have you been introduced to someone, only to forget their name seconds after you shook their hand? Guilty! To know your people you must be intentional to listen to them. You need to be the one asking the questions, praying the prayers, and making the time for your volunteers. As your knowledge grows, so will your compassion to disciple them.

Being purposeful and accessible are maybe the greatest keys to effective discipleship. You’re probably thinking, “How am I going to make time on top of everything?” I understand. The secret is to create margin. Organize your time and your tasks well so that when Sunday arrives you can spend your time with your team, instead of charting songs and answering emails.

As you get to know your team, not only will you be able to more effectively encourage them, but you will also be able to empower them. Andy Stanley writes in Next Generation Leader, “The people who follow us are exactly where we have led them. If there is no one to whom we can delegate, it is our own fault.” Good leaders produce followers, great leaders create more leaders. Jesus is (literally) the perfect example of this. He came to serve, not to be served, and then He empowered us to carry His precious gospel. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father (John 4:12).” Consider the strengths of your team members and start giving them responsibilities in those areas. This will assist you in creating margin for yourself. You may even discover that they are better at parts of your job than you are, and that’s okay.

Be encouraged knowing that the God who is your perfect example is also your perfect strength. Be intentional to know your people, listen to them, pray for them create margin for them and empower them in their strengths. If you are looking for ways to serve your team, you will find them. It doesn’t mean you always have all the answers. More often than not, it just means you are willing to listen. 

Rehearsal Tips

Rehearsal Tips

Often times, a "great rehearsal" seems to be one of those things worship leaders can’t figure out. But really, the success of a rehearsal is simply a matter of leadership. I’ve outlined some things I have discovered over the past decade as a worship leader and a band member that have helped to make my rehearsals more effective and efficient.