10 Tips for Worship Team Members (Part 1)
Being a great worship team member takes more than just having a musical gift. It takes doing the necessary behind-the-scenes things, too. If you want to be more of a team player and see your worship team soar, here are ten “must-know” tips to help you achieve and maintain that goal…
1. PRACTICE. Professional musicians know the difference between practice and rehearsal:
Practice is to fully learn your own personal musical part in private.
Rehearsal is bringing everyone’s musical parts together, prior to the performance.
There is a saying among pro musicians:
“An amateur practices until they get it right once; a professional practices until they never get it wrong.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone show up to rehearsal thinking they’ll learn their parts on the spot (pride). What if everyone on your worship team tried to learn their parts at team rehearsal? My friend, that would be total chaos. For me, I make sure that I fully know my parts one week prior to the service. Then I just play along to each song in the worship set on my iPod (roughly 35 minutes) each day leading up to Sunday.
Musicians and vocalists who know their parts well are always more relaxed and free to worship on stage. But if we show up to rehearsals with the consistent excuse of, “I didn’t have time,” it looks like you want stage glory, but you’re not willing to put in the time to be prepared. Unpreparedness can also show a lack of value to your audience (God and the congregation). For those who frequently use the, “I didn’t have time” excuse, maybe you need to re-evaluate your schedule and your priorities. Would you have been prepared if you hadn’t given as much time during the week to social media? Entertainment? Video games? Other unnecessary activities? We’re all given 24 hours in a day; some just use theirs a little more wisely.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed…” -2 Timothy 2:15
2. BE A SUPPORT TO YOUR WORSHIP LEADER. Just like many of us, most worship leaders also have full-time jobs. Also like us, they have families, bills, and other church obligations outside of the worship team. But does it occur to us that they also have to wait in line at the DMV, take their child to the doctor, or take an emergency counseling session with a parishioner? And on top of all this, they have to coordinate a worship service, schedule personnel, select the worship song set, oversee lyric projection, listen to potential new songs, in addition to having to know their own parts.
So worship leaders, just like us, lead a very busy life and can get discouraged from time to time. All too often they’re pulled aside by a church member to be told that they should retire a song, or they may receive an email crammed with rebuke (masked as “constructive criticism”). Yes, worship leaders, too, can have haters. So part of our role as worship team members should be to encourage our leaders. An occasional thank you card, a restaurant gift certificate, a thoughtful, handwritten letter of appreciation, or even a simple spoken, “I appreciate you” are just a few ways that you can show your support.
“…Honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.” -1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
3. BE ON TIME. I want to begin by saying this:
A prideful heart is at the root of perpetual tardiness.
Those who are consistently late typically fall into one of three camps: (1) they value their own time more than the time of those who were punctual, or (2) they think that since they're a volunteer, everyone should just be glad they showed up (entitlement), or (3) they believe that they can schmooze everyone who was on time, until they forget they were late. Either way, it’s pride.
Always arrive a few minutes early to rehearsals and be ready to play before the designated starting time. If rehearsal is scheduled for 8am, that doesn’t mean that we drive onto the church grounds at 8am. It means that we must have our gear set up and ready to play or sing our first note at 8am. This is one of the most important marks of professionals and successful worship teams. Would we be late to a job? Of course not. Then why would we ever be late to the things of God, amen?
A successful worship team runs like any successful church or business: on a schedule. Use a calendar app and become an expert in always knowing what time it is. There’s nothing more frustrating or embarrassing than tardiness (even if that means others are embarrassed for you). Too many vocalists and musicians think just because they’re talented, more musically advanced, or have more important priorities than others, they can show up whenever they want. Big mistake!!! In past paying bands I auditioned for, if you showed up late, you were often asked to leave...your services were no longer required, and you were labeled in certain musical circles as, “UNDEPENDABLE”. Ouch! So to those who are regularly tardy, remember this:
When we REGULARLY arrive late, we may as well shout, “My time is more valuable than your time!”
It seems everyone we meet can tell us how busy they are. But if we can’t keep track of where we need to be and when we need to be there, we’re not being true to our commitment—and our word.
“You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.” -Deuteronomy 23:23
4. DON’T SABOTAGE SONGS YOU DISLIKE. Show me a worship team whose members like every single song they play and I’ll…oh wait…that worship team doesn’t exist. We all have songs in our worship set that aren’t exactly our favorite. Song Sabotage means to either be unprepared with— or give very little effort toward— songs that you don’t particularly care for (hoping that during rehearsal, the worship leader will replace it with a song you would rather play).
We have to keep in mind that songs we may not like actually do minister to others. Imagine going to see your favorite artist in concert and they didn’t play your favorite song, simply because one of the musicians didn’t like the song and decided not to prepare! And how frustrating would it be if someone on your worship team sabotaged one of your favorite songs? We all have songs that we’d like to see retired. But until that glorious day, have a Christ-like attitude; be a team player, and give 100% of yourself to every song, for God’s glory, amen?
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” -Colossians 3:23-24
5. BEHAVE LIKE A CHRISTIAN ON STAGE AND OFF. Many who attend church have the unrealistic expectation that everyone on the platform either is a model Christian, or should be. While this may be an unfair expectation of those of us who are on stage, it is fair to say that we are church leaders and we are held to a higher standard (see Acts 20:28).
So our relationship with God, knowledge of God, desire to honor God, and the amount of time we spend with Him should not only be on the increase, but it should be evident to others in our off-stage behaviors. Are your conversation topics, activities, and language different off stage than when you’re in a ministry setting? If so, this is a sure way to make certain that others disconnect when we’re on stage.
Today’s congregants aren’t looking for us to play the latest songs, wear the coolest clothes, or have the most up-to-date hairstyles. They’re looking for one thing: sincerity in our worship. And you can be assured that if we’re faking worship, people know. People (and God) don’t expect us to be perfect Christian examples, but like it or not, we are seen as role models to our church body.
You won’t want to miss the final 5 tips in our next blog. Please subscribe on this page and be up-to-date on this, and all of our latest postings.
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