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Worship Team

How to Get New Musicians (and keep them)

Kade Young
Kade Young
Chief Audio Guru

As I meet with those who lead worship (especially those at smaller churches), I often get the question, “How have you been able to keep a full worship band over the years?”

A Quick Story

When I helped start a church plant 7 years ago, I started with a full band. There was about 20 of us who started the church, so almost half the church was the worship team.

Recruiting the initial team was fairly easy considering I had plenty of friends and family members who were musicians.

As the years progressed, the worship team changed. Some folks left for other opportunities and others simply decided they didn’t want to be a part anymore. However, there has always been a replacement show up right in time.

Following are the things I believe have helped me maintain a fully staffed worship team over the years.

Implementing these principles will help you develop a healthy and vibrant worship team that will continually attract new team members.

Productive rehearsals lead to an empowered, attractive team.

Have you ever left rehearsal feeling like you made no progress? We all have. However, it is important to diagnose the problem. I have found that it stems from one of the following three things:

  1. The worship leader was not prepared (didn’t have goals set for the practice, didn’t know their own part, etc).
  2. The worship leader did not send out the resources needed for the team to prepare (chord charts, mp3s, etc).
  3. The worship leader did not lead the practice. They just let things happen and did not put a stop to time wasters, like musicians playing their instrument when they shouldn’t.

You may have noticed a common theme. Failed rehearsals are on the shoulders of the leader. Sure, there is a chance that several worship team members show up severely unprepared, making it impossible to get through a song. Still, it is on the worship leader.

If more than one person shows up unprepared, this shows that you have not fully communicated your expectations or you have not held them accountable on a regular basis.

On the other hand, leaving a rehearsal where you made real progress is exhilarating! It develops an attitude of genuine passion and excitement across the entire team. This is the type of team we all crave to be a part of.

You might also enjoy: How to Increase Productivity During Worship Team Practice

A team that feels respected sticks together.

A team that feels respected operates like a magnet. They stick together, draw others in and repel those with selfish ambitions. So, what is the best way to show respect to your worship team? Honor their time. Following are several ways to respect your team by honoring their time.

  1. End rehearsals on time. Extending rehearsal does more damage than good. You may be able to perfect a song, but your team will feel like you value perfection more than them and their family.
  2. Arrive to rehearsal earlier than everyone else. This gives you time to prepare yourself so you can focus on leading when the team shows up.
  3. Always be prepared. If you play an instrument while leading, know your stuff! Nothing is more disheartening than a leader that does not know what they are doing.

The best way to respect your team is to honor their time. Tweet Quote

Leaders who don’t hesitate making hard decisions cultivate a healthy team.

As a worship leader, one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make is when to remove someone from the worship team.

So often, we leave people on the team who don’t belong because we are afraid to hurt their feelings. Maybe their musical skill isn’t up to par. Or they constantly show up late or unprepared. These types of problems will ruin the team moral in no time if not addressed.

Even if you do not have a replacement for the person that needs to be removed, you still need to remove them. Otherwise, you will never find a replacement. No one wants to be part of an unhealthy, unproductive team. So, how do you go about removing someone the right way?

First, schedule a one-on-one meeting with them and explain the problem. Don’t beat around the bush. Simply be honest (but not rude, of course). Communicate a time frame to allow them to fix the problem.

Be sure to let them know when the time is up, if the problem persists, they will have to step down. If that time comes, be a man (or woman) of your word. Don’t back down for any reason.

An encouraged team lifts each other up when mistakes are made.

Perfection is not an attainable goal, so don’t hold your team to unrealistic expectations.

We should all work towards excellence (the best we can do) while understanding that mistakes are part of life. When a worship team member is struggling to get their part down, reaffirm them that they have what it takes. Don’t beat them down by making fun or giving them a hard time.

We should all work towards excellence while understanding that mistakes are part of life. Tweet Quote

There has been several times that I brought a rookie musician on to the team because I recognized their potential. It is quite a bit more work than bringing on a seasoned musician, but boy does it pay off. It has been amazing watching their skill grow as I continually encourage them through their journey.

Remember, there is no such thing as too much encouragement. Offer it every chance you get. Then, your team will follow your lead and begin to encourage each other. Before you know it, you are all like family and the team culture is better than you could have ever dreamed.

Next Step: Set up safeguards.

The best way to develop a healthy team is to have a system in place for adding new team members. It is extremely helpful to keep the wrong people from joining the team to begin with. It saves a lot of headache and hurt feelings.

My post, 3 Steps to Successfully Add New Worship Team Members, reveals the process I use when adding new team members. It has worked extremely well over the years and I know it will work for you too.

Download Worship Team Application


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6 comments on “How to Get New Musicians (and keep them)”

  1. I am leading worship in a small church and there just aren't any musicians. I lead with an acoustic guitar and we have a cajon player and three vocalists besides me. All my musician friends are tied up at other churches.Any ideas?

    1. Hey Jim - my advice is to pray and believe God for new musicians. In the meantime, make sure you are putting systems in place that will make the experience as good as possible when the new musicians do show up. For example, be ready to lead productive rehearsals and also apply the things I wrote about in the article above. Hope this helps!

  2. I currently have an issue of an extremely talented musician wanting to join our band but he as a very big ego problem and is very arrogant. Do I take the chance and help mold this person and if I can't just cut them? Or do I just not even bring him on board at all?

    1. That's a tough one. I would probably bring him on with some clear expectations set up front. Mainly, if your ego gets in the way, things will not work out...

    2. I believe there are five characteristics of great worship leaders (which we all are -- not just the lead vocalist).

      1. Christian. Is this person a believer? Are you secure in his belief? If not, it's fine to be part of the church, of course. We welcome those who are seeking and questioning. But the worship team isn't the right place for a person who isn't firm in their faith.

      2. Character. It's important for worship team members to be humble enough to receive instruction. 1 Peter 5:5 says "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." It sounds like your guy may need some counseling in this area. How can he turn his talent into a blessing to others? My lead guitar player, who just turned 20, is fabulously talented, but he still mentors the other guitar players outside of rehearsal, usually at his house. In that way, all are blessed and grow.

      3. Culture. Romans 15:6 asks us to glorify God with "one mind and one voice." The worship team must exhibit this culture, or it simply won't work.

      4. Craft. When King Saul was tormented by an evil spirit in 1 Samuel 16, he called for a man "skillful in playing the lyre" to soothe him when the spirit tormented him. That man, of course, was a young David. Craft is important. We must be skilled, as well as faithful. Sounds like your guy is in pretty good shape here.

      5. Countenance. How we LOOK onstage makes or breaks a worship experience. The bible speaks of many different physical postures, including bowing, dancing, clapping, lifting our hands, singing, shouting, kneeling, even jumping up and down in circles. But the key is that it MUST be about HIM. Ego has no place on a Christian worship platform. But if we can worship with appropriate countenance, the entire body is lifted.

      From what you're telling me, Character seems to be the prime issue. Research all you can about character in the bible. Don't go into a conversation with only home-spun wisdom. Be prepared in the Word. Then frame the conversation about his actions, followed by how it makes you (and others) feel. Don't say, "You're arrogant." Be factual. Say, "On Thursday, you said THIS. When you did that, it made me feel 2 inches tall. Can you see how what you said could make me feel that way?" Then sit back and listen. Chances are very good that you'll get through to him. Even if his behavior doesn't change immediately, you'll have planted the seed.

      Prayers for you, friend. These conversations aren't easy. But hold on to the Word, use "me" statements, and God will see you through.

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