Six ideas for developing character in your worship team and encouraging their work
Part 3 in Claire Musters’ series on leading and pastoring a worship team.
Developing character and encouraging your team
In the previous posts we’ve looked at pastoral responsibility and ideas on how to develop team building sessions with your worship team. This last entry looks at the qualities that are important to build in both yourself and your team and practical ways to offer encouragement.
Qualities to encourage in worship team members – and yourself
I know this has been said many times before but, above all else, I would say teachability is the most important quality for a worship team member. Yes obviously musicians need talent but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are right for the worship team. Sometimes musicians can be quite arrogant and, believe it or not, Christians are not exempt from this! Worship musicians need to remember at all times that it isn’t about them – the focus isn’t them standing up front on a Sunday morning.
Make sure you model humility to your team members. Be gracious when your pastor asks you to do something you aren’t necessarily in 100% agreement with – after all you should be in submission to them and you need to model that. The way you respond to your pastor should be the way you want your team members to respond to you.
1. Constant communication
Your team needs to keep in touch with you, and you need to communicate clearly to them. This is especially important when giving feedback after a worship time on a Sunday morning. Work out as a team how best to debrief. We were told that our team hated being approached straight after a meeting if something had gone wrong – 9 times out of 10 they knew it but needed a bit of space to calm down emotionally before chatting it through. But doing it by email during the week was definitely worse! So now we try and get the worship leader to debrief with the whole team each time (which doesn’t always work as we often have ministry times that get quite chaotic, and those of us who are parents have to collect our children). Any larger issues we chat over face to face with those concerned as soon as we can.
2. Openness to constructive criticism.
I know this is similar to teachability (and follows on from the previous point) but I think it is so vital that we learn how to give, and receive, criticism. It has been said that if you are going to deliver a negative, you should offer three positives first and I think that that is a good rule of thumb. Too often we want to get the negative out of the way so we’ve ‘done our job’ but we can come across as harsh and unfeeling (even when it is usually the opposite – we hate giving a negative so it comes out all wrong). I do also think it is important to nip any problems in the bud early on so that they can’t fester and become bigger. If there is an attitude problem, for example, if you don’t deal with it you will find it affects the whole team.
I think as leaders we need to realise that we aren’t here to clone ourselves, to make mini mes. We are all different, and your team – particularly your worship leaders – need to have the freedom to be themselves. We all have different styles, and different songs that we may lean towards picking regularly. Imagine how dull church would be if we all led the same songs each week the same way. The church needs the variety within your worship leaders so allow them to develop in their own individual ways. I have learned to bite my lip when playing for other worship leaders. When they look to me for advice I give it, but I don’t offer up my opinions unless they are asked for. I think I am there to serve them on those weeks and so want to do all I can to support them. Undermining their decisions is not the way to go about it – I want to fully back them in the way I expect them to back me when I am leading so I only step in if I feel I absolutely have to. Remember it isn’t about preferences and styles – as long as the congregation is worshipping and the worship leader leaves space for the Holy Spirit then it doesn’t matter if they have chosen the one song you hate to play.
Ways to offer encouragements to your team
1. Ask their opinion.
People feel valued if you do this. We always ask our team to let us know if they find a new song they think would work in our congregation. We do always make it clear that we will filter them – a song that they simply love may not necessarily be right for our congregation at this time (or be theologically unsound – yes those songs are out there) – but we want the team to feel they have this creative input.
2. Every time they play go and thank them afterwards for their contribution.
This is such a small thing, but can have a huge impact. Try it and see…
3. Be intentional about every so often giving a practical gesture that shows how much you value your team.
Just before Christmas 2011 I was reading Darlene Zschech’s book The Art of Mentoring and something she suggested in there really resonated with me as being right for our team so we did it as a Christmas present for them. We emailed them to involve them in the process, but kept some of the details back so it gave them a sense of expectation. Darlene suggested that we should ask each member of the team what qualities and characteristics they see in every other member. We did this, collated it all and put each individual’s on a little card, which we gave out at the end of our Christmas service. The feedback we have had is that they were all totally blown away – and most of them have their cards up where they can see them every day. That simple thing will continue to be an encouragement for each one of us on the team for months to come.
One final thing…
If there is a character on your team that really winds you up (perhaps you inherited them rather than auditioning them and placing them on the team yourself) then think about why they wind you up, pray about it and then ask God what the situation can teach you and how you need to change.
Obviously there may be a significant problem that needs dealing with – the team member may be refusing to submit to your authority and causing problems throughout the team. If that is the case, talk it over with your pastor so you aren’t trying to deal with it alone. You may need to ask them to leave the team – and will have to handle that sensitively so you don’t upset everyone else on the team.
Okay, this is definitely the last thing
Be confident in your calling as a worship team leader and actively seek to pastor those within your team. You will find it isn’t just them that learn and grow – it will cause you to do the most learning and growing! You won’t always get it right, but if your heart is for your team they will see that, forgive your mistakes and stay committed to you and the whole team.
Claire Musters is a freelance writer and editor. Two of her greatest passions are worship and seeing people reach their full potential. Claire is currently available for work – check out her website clairemusters.com for more information and details of how to contact her.