Small Church/Big Worship: Five ways a schedule helps develop your worship team

Small Church/Big Worship: Five ways a schedule helps develop your worship team

A few months back I wrote the Top Ten Signs You Lead Worship in a Smaller Church. Sadly, the list contains a little too much truth for many worship leaders and musicians. One in particular was #8:

My musician schedule contains only three words: PLEASE SHOW UP.

One of the mistakes that smaller church worship leaders make is not creating a schedule. It might seem silly—maybe even a waste of time—to craft a schedule that contains the same people week after week. If they don’t show, that spot is open. So why bother scheduling?

Fair question. I recently wrote a post on my blog entitled “8 Things to Think About When Scheduling Musicians.” It contains some philosophical and strategic thoughts about scheduling musicians. It’s applicable for leaders of any size ministry. But in this post, I want zero-in on why scheduling is important for small church worship teams.

1. A schedule reinforces commitment.

It’s a visual reminder for the musician that he’s part of a team. And seeing his name next to others on the schedule should remind him that other people are counting on his commitment.

2. A schedule prepares you for growth. It’s part of creating a bigger bucket.

Many small church worship ministries are like one-gallon buckets. I’m not sure if you knew this, but one gallon buckets can only hold, well, one gallon. If you try to put two gallons of, say, some Starbucks latte into a one gallon bucket, you’ll find a gallon of latte on the floor. Not good, considering that a Starbucks latte costs about $26 a gallon. (I actually did the research and math on that one…I know, I’m sick.)

The systems, policies and practices of a worship ministry create the bucket size. If you want to grow, begin creating a larger bucket. Raise the bar for preparation. Begin a qualification process for potential musicians. Require rehearsal attendance. And create a musician schedule.

Creating a bigger bucket doesn’t guarantee you’ll grow. But keeping your bucket too small is a great way to ensure that you won’t.

3. A schedule can help avoid burnout.

How? By intentionally giving people time off.

Musicians need a week off at least every two months, if not more. And not just when they’ll be out of town or home with a sick kid.

You and your musicians need to enjoy coming to church with your families. I call my wife a Sunday-morning-single-mom. She needs me to have a week off as much as I need a week off.

Also the “view from the pew” can be a refreshing experience AND a much needed dose of perspective.

4. A schedule can help you combat the MEs.

A small worship band is a ripe environment to grow the virus that causes the “MEs.”

If I stand in the same spot on the same stage and play the same instrument week after week, who owns that spot?


I’ve now got a case of the MEs: Musician Entitlement Syndrome. Forget about being open to new members. They can take my spot, but only when I’m on vacation.

So what does giving them a week off do to combat entitlement? It says, “You don’t own this spot.” It also says, “It may not sound the same, but we can worship with out you.”

This will likely cause tension. Which could open up a dialogue about true stewardship. Which is one of the antidotes for the MEs.

5. A musician schedule is a great prayer tool.

Pray for your team members, individually and as a group. AND…here’s where numeric growth comes in – pray for your gaps.

  • Pray for musicians to come in, to be raised up. Don’t pray for warm bodies who can play an instrument.
  • Pray for truth and Spirit worshipers.
  • Pray for musicians who are stewards of their talent.
  • Pray for the person God wants to fill that spot.

To give you some practical tips on scheduling for a small church, I wrote a companion post, “Six Tips for Scheduling in a Small Church,” over on my worship blog at

Question: What are some of your challenges scheduling in a smaller church?


If you’d like to dig deeper into Small Church/Big Worship, I’m offering coaching groups for small church worship leaders. They designed (and priced) with the smaller church worship leader in mind. The session in August has one space left, but we’ll be starting a new group in the early fall, scheduled with the UK time zone in mind. You can learn more at

Jon Nicol is a worship leader and teacher who loves helping people use their gifts and abilities to worship Jesus. Having served in both smaller and larger churches, including a few years at a multi-campus ministry, he has a heart for leaders with less-than-ample resources and volunteers. He lives in Lexington, Ohio with his wife, Shannon, and their three kids. You can connect with him on Twitter – @jonnicol.


Other posts you might like:

Six tips for scheduling in a small church – supplementary article by Jon Nicol to this one!

Coping with overload – 10 tips for getting more done in less time

Worship Team Rotas Made Easy With Free Google Tool

Worship Team Dynamics – the phases a new team must go through