How Do You Introduce New Worship Team Members?

David Santistevan —  — 17 Comments

By now you know that Sunday comes fast.

Just when you finished scheduling, picking out songs, rehearsing, and leading worship, it’s time to do it again.

Without an intentional discipleship strategy, without a plan, you’ll invariably resort to “pulling off Sunday” and using volunteers to get it done.

interview

When your worship team functions like this, introducing new worship team members becomes a thing of desperation rather than an intentional process. But no longer. By now you are committed to making disciples, right?

The Scenario

We’ve all been there. You need a drummer. You need a bass player. You take the first person that volunteers without really knowing who they are, what your vision is, or if they have the necessary skills. Desperation.

But in order to avoid getting the wrong people on the bus, you should develop a new worship team member packet. And that’s what we’re going to cover today.

I’m going to warn you: I’d love for you to leave a comment today (don’t I say this in every post?). That’s because I crave a conversation – I want to know your thoughts and ideas. So get ready :)

The Worship Team Member Packet

What should a worship team packet include? That’s a great question.

If I’m talking to a potential worship team member, I’ll set up a time where we can have an “interview” of sorts. In addition to getting to know them, these are the things I like to cover:

1. Vision – You knew I would say this, right? That’s because it’s the foundation of your ministry. It’s the filter through which you process all your decision-making. The Big Kahuna. The Real Deal (ok, I’m done). If you don’t know what you stand for and where you’re going, you’ll get exactly that. Your worship team needs to know what makes your heart beat – why they are joining this team. Write that down and internalize it deep in your spirit.

2. Expectations – How many times have you had problems on your worship team because expectations weren’t clear? A musician didn’t show up prepared. Someone was late. Your band needs to know what’s expected of them. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Scheduling – Do your team members know they must respond to Planning Center? Seeing the request isn’t enough.
  • Dress Code – Creating this in advance will save yourself a lot of awkwardness. We created a mini video to help cast the vision here.
  • Attitude – What’s the attitude you’re looking for? Describe it. Let people know what’s unacceptable.
  • Practice – Does your team know to show up prepared before rehearsal? Have you given them a clear system for how to practice?
  • Punctuality – How early should people show up? If practice is at 4 is showing up at 4 acceptable? Or do they need setup time?

3. Prayer – This isn’t so much something you put in a worship team packet as much as it’s something you do on the spot – you commission new members. Pray for them. Prophesy over them. Commission them to lead and serve with passion. These moments have helped me develop as a pastor and leader. It’s not just about getting people on the roster. It’s about making disciples. This is a great moment to do that.

OK, friends. I warned you. Now it’s your turn.

How do you introduce new worship team members?

What are your good ideas?

What are you struggling with?

I look forward to hearing your comments.

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17 responses to How Do You Introduce New Worship Team Members?

  1. i would be interested in seeing your dress code video. is it serious or humorous? something you didn’t address in the post is when/how you assess the person’s technical proficiency/ability to actually play their instrument. are we assuming that has been done prior to them getting their packet? and related, if they aren’t quite up to snuff, does your church have a development process or is it just “practice and try again later”? our team is in the process of developing a thought process around this entire issue, so I’m interested in your/others take on it.

    • Tim, our video was serious. More vision oriented. Development process – that’s a great topic of conversation. We have a few different “streams” at our church where we’ll place people of differing skill levels – youth teams, small groups, etc. If they’re not ready for that, we’ll give them specific things to practice and re-evaluate their skills in a couple months. I’d like to hear what others do as well.

  2. Great practical thoughts David. Thank you. What stood out to me is taking time to meet with your potential musicians before hand. What has come back and bit me in the butt are some of the practical things you listed ie. dress code, punctuality, being prepard. I haven’t been doing this forever, but I have been doing this long enough that I would think addressing something like that would eventually become easy.. Yeah, it hasn’t, it always seems to be uncomfortable. Sometimes it can be enough to affect you or your team on a given Sunday, which is definitely not what you want. I’ve also learned that reminding your current team of the expectations can be a good thing. David, thanks again for your ministry.
    ~Moses

  3. As creatives, I think we’re afraid of harshing each other’s buzz by requiring preparation, pre-practice setup time and stuff like that. The “soft” things like vision and personality are typically the easiest for us to translate to another musician. In my experience, it’s SO MUCH EASIER to have this conversation up front rather than after two or three months/years of frustration. As always, great tips, David.

  4. David, very excellent, pragmatic post, I am forwarding it to a pastor.. This was not mentioned, but I think it is relevant to the topic.
    Once members are in, they tend to think that is there position or job. If there is enough talent, it should be rotated. I think it should be considered like this. The job ( chair or desk, depending on where you are), say, of lead electric guitar “belongs” to the church or ministry. They decide how to use it, fill it or not use it. It does not belong to the player. Different rules may apply based on whether or not it is a paid position, but that is still the churches decision.
    In a smaller church, perceived urgency tends to create problems by adding members too quickly who may not be qualified for some reason ( not just musically). You are oh so right, policies are a must. The best time to lay ground rules is at the beginning.

    • Don, this is great. I wish I had included this. Players can develop an “entitlement” mentality and feel threatened when others are added to the team. I would encourage everyone to add this into their expectations.

  5. Marc Daniel Rivera January 10, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Awesome post, we have been doing some of these in our team. Sadly, our drummer and base player just left.. I know God will select for us the best.

    Thanks Bro Dave!

  6. Some p&w members think that they do not get pay leading or playing music. Because of this, they do not need to show up on time or sign up to
    Be in the worship team. What would you be respond be?
    I told my team not to wear too tight jeans but they still wear them as much as I told them. Do I just ignore them?

  7. Will – what a great question and a difficult situation for you! The best way I’ve found to handle situations like this is to be straight up honest with the current players. Have one on one conversations. Sandwich the conversation with gratefulness, but be honest about where the leadership of the church has decided to go. If there’s a place to channel them, great. Maybe there’s a role in the tech department or in another ministry. Could any of the players improve enough to play? If so, you could give them development pointers and reevaluate them in a couple weeks. People will still be offended but if you can approach each person individually and be grateful, kind, and pastoral about it, it will help. Anyone else have some thoughts?

    • I meant to say “reevaluate them in a couple months”. “Weeks” probably wouldn’t be enough time :)

      • David, if you don’t mind, I have a couple of thoughts. Will, first off, what David said is all really great. This will probably be the hardest thing you do. First, read my post about who “owns” the job, and how it is filled. You are following the “instructions and vision of leadership” to quote a guy named David Santistevan. I would go slowly. Don’t dismiss everyone at once. Take a few weeks or even months. Pick a position that really needs to be improved. Advertise open auditions. No audition, no job. If the regular member doesn’t show, they “excused” themselves. (This doesn’t mean they won’t be upset though, back to David’s comments). Make sure the winner is clearly better than everyone else. The paid position whether or not it has payroll deductions should be considered “contract labor”. No play, no pay. Even pros want vacation, and get sick. Here’s your chance to keep your old team member in the fold. “Our bass player is out of town with his family for two weeks, would you like to fill in while he’s gone ?. It pays ,,,,,,,,,, .” They are likely to stay engaged , and maybe even improve, if they believe they have half a chance from time to time. Make the pro job a limited contract, like 6 months or a year. More auditions. Everyone has another chance. The pro shouldn’t feel entitled either. Don’t use the stick if you don’t have to, learn how to use the carrot. By the way, this is pretty much the model for smaller, paying symphony orchestras with contract players and substitutes. keep a good data bass of names and numbers.

  8. Thanks for this post! I have an annual meeting with our worship team members where we discuss similar guidelines as you mentioned, but I think it’s a great idea of using that as a packet instead! Too many times people will come up to me saying they know (or used to know how to sing or play an instrument) and would love to help out. I’ll usually give them a “well check us out on Saturday and see what you think” kind of response only to realize they weren’t ready to commit. An initial interview meeting would be a great way of getting to know each other and imparting the vision of the ministry! I’m assuming I would also state somewhere a level of skill we look for? How would I go about bringing across those kind of expectations? Great stuff!

  9. Love this David! Definitely think you need a plan in place when getting new team members on the team. What’s expected of you, time you should be there, commitment level, and maybe a general welcome letter and contact information sound good. I think you covered it well. These are simply what I would expect or possibly ask for if not given if I were joining a team.

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