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How to build worship teams

In the video above, Bryce and I talk through several key points that we feel are crucial when it comes to building a strong, healthy worship team in your church. A few caveats about what we said:

  • We lead worship for a large church (5000-7000 in weekly attendance across all campuses), BUT, we are a multisite church, and our campuses range in size from ~2-300 to ~3000. We believe that the points in this video are applicable to churches of literally any size.
  • Every church is different, and that is a good thing. We tried to talk about things that we feel are universal, but the vision of your church and your senior pastor should dictate the kind of team you build.
  • We assume you are building teams from volunteers – not paid musicians. Our teams are all comprised of volunteers. We do not pay musicians.

Build your bench

At our church, we try to have 3-4 people (ideally 4) in every position. Positions include: drums, bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocalists, keys, sound engineer, CG (computer graphics), lighting, producer (this person coordinates all the production elements together), etc. Your church’s positions may be different depending on the style of worship and services you do.

Having 4 people in each spot gives you so much flexibility. First, you can stop (or avoid) burning out your volunteers. We have a policy – we don’t schedule somebody more than 2x per month, unless they explicitly say they want to. People are busy, and we expect a pretty large commitment from volunteers. If we scheduled them more than 2x per month, they would get burned out. With four people in each spot, you can have the option of scheduling someone only once per month, and you have a great pool of people to call upon when somebody unexpectedly cannot serve or is unavailable.

One of the biggest advantages to having this many people on your team is that it alleviates your stress as a worship leader. You don’t have to worry about who is going to serve in XYZ position every week. You can build out a schedule even a year in advance (this is what we do). We have teams A, B, C, and D. A serves the first weekend of the month, B the second, and so on. We ask people to commit to a team and then they know when they’ll be scheduled for an entire year. But with depth, we can easily make adjustments as needed.

We also understand how difficult this is, because in reality, you probably have 4-5 positions on your team, and maybe 6 people to fill them. We’ve been there, and we get it. This is not something that happens overnight, but start with identifying who can serve where, and what positions you need. Are you looking for 2 more drummers and 3 guitar players? Then go get them. But just understand that it takes time – a lot of time, and a lot of hard work.

Build your culture

What kind of team do you want to have? They way your team acts and serves starts with you as the worship leader.

People are either thermostats or thermometers. The thermostat sets the temperature in the room, and every great leader is a thermostat, not just a thermometer. One thing we cannot emphasize enough is that culture starts with you. I will say it again, culture starts with you.

Want people to be on time? Then you need to be early to everything. Want people to serve with joy? Then be a joyful, enthusiastic person – and don’t complain. Want people to show up knowing their songs and ready to go? Then be overly prepared in every situation. You have to model what you want, and you have to constantly communicate not only what you want from your team, but why.

This comes down to vision – the culture of your team must support the vision of your church – and the vision is the ‘why’.

Where to find people

Now that you’ve identified who you need to find and the kind of people you may be looking for, the hardest part comes next: where do I find these people?

Step 1: Pray. Pray some more. And then keep praying. Actually, never stop praying. Have faith that God will provide for you and your church – because God has promised that His church will not fail.

Step 2: Let your church know you are looking. There very well may be people in your congregation who are fit to serve on your teams. They may just need the permission to approach you and begin serving. Start with a bulletin announcement and get the word out. A lot of people will see this, but not that many will respond. The next thing you could do is a platform announcement. Find an appropriate time (maybe during announcements) and let your congregation know you’re looking for people.

Finally, the best way to find the best volunteers is within the framework of a personal relationship. Get to know people. When you meet someone who may be a great fit for your team, approach them and ask them to help you and the church. The best leaders within your church will mostly likely only respond to a personal ask – this is something we’ve seen over and over again. The big-dog leaders in your church don’t respond to bulletin or platform announcements – they respond to a personal ask within the framework of a personal relationship. So get to know people – constantly talk about your vision, and ask people to partner with you to make it happen.

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