5 steps for making your worship team’s time more productive
Worship team volunteers give their personal, family, or recreational down time to the church for rehearsals and services. We need to respect that. I wrote a blog a few months ago about the value of a volunteer’s time.
I’d like to take that thought a step further, and give you some practical ways that you can respect their gift of personal time and also produce the best results with the time they give to worship ministry. I recognize that we are all at different skill levels, but the five steps below can be applied to all volunteers.
1. Send the set list to the team well before the rehearsal (and the service).
This is a courtesy to the team, and ensures that you prioritize your personal prayer and planning time in choosing music, arrangements, and the set for a service.
When you send the set and some type of recording to the team in advance, you are giving them a chance to practice, to get the chord progressions into their fingers, to learn the lead lines and develop harmonies, and to be creative. Your rehearsals will be more productive if your team is not being exposed to the song for the first time during the rehearsal or right before a service.
2. Provide resources.
If you’re the worship leader or music director, then you should be the person responsible for finding the chord charts, lead sheets, and arrangements for your team. There is every reality that your volunteers do not have the time to find the chord charts, etc. in the key you want them to be played. And many volunteers do not play by ear well enough to grasp and remember the chords and arrangements the first time through.
Ask your guitarists and keyboardist if they need chord charts, or simply the words, or a lead line. Give them what they need. And if you can’t find it online, write it for them.
Also, if you have a specific arrangement in mind, communicate it. If it doesn’t exist, write it out for the team.
3. Schedule regular rehearsals.
Volunteers may be of professional caliber, but regular rehearsals turn a group of people with individual skills into a team.
If you can’t rehearse mid-week every week, then try every other week, or possibly after a service to learn new songs and tighten arrangements. Holding your only rehearsal before a service denies you the opportunity to build relationships as a team (see the blog post Building Your Team) and to deal with any issues. It also can overwork your vocalists so they can’t give you fresh voices for the service.
Speaking of which, when you rehearse before a service for that service, I recommend that you simply warm up vocally and instrumentally, run through the intros and outros to the songs and the transitions between songs, talk through the arrangements, and pray together. Then you won’t have overtaxed your vocals, or required that your people have a 1 ½ hour rehearsal before a service. If your volunteers have young children, they’ll thank you for that.
4. Stay on point during rehearsals.
Have a plan on how you will be running the rehearsal and what you’ll cover. Be efficient. I’ll cover more about running a rehearsal in one of my next blogs.
If you plan to do a little teaching to encourage the team because they are like a small group, then keep your teaching brief and to the point (5 – 10 minutes). If you’re going to have team prayer time, stay on point with the prayer.
5. Keep it fresh.
When you rehearse a song at a mid-week rehearsal, and you rehearse it fully again before a service, and then you play it during multiple services, your team can become bored with the song. The congregation will have only sung the song during the services, but your team has been exposed to it during the learning stage, rehearsals, and the services. The song can lose its impact and value in their eyes.
I recommend that you switch up the arrangement when you sense that happening. Change the intro. Change the guitar voicing. Change the tempo or rhythm style behind the song. Maybe sing it acapella. If a song is worth singing, it’s worth the extra effort to keep it fresh.
You have the privilege to work with musicians who are creative people. Yes, as a team you serve God, work with the pastor, and lead the congregation, but as the team’s leader, you have the responsibility for ministry to the team as well.
Honor the team’s time, their talent, and the gift they give of themselves. They’ll appreciate it and you.