I recently had the daunting task of pulling together a worship team to lead at a conference. Praise God, the event was fantastic: things went pretty smoothly, people connected with Jesus in the worship gatherings and workshops, there was a great sense of community among the conference participants, and together we heard and felt in a fresh way God’s call to join with Him in His mission.
From my perspective as the one charged with the task of coordinating the music for three of the four main gatherings, I was absolutely stoked with quality and teamwork displayed by the members of the worship team I recruited for the event. We came together from 7 different churches around our city to lead worship at this denominational conference. The singers and musicians had never played together as a group before, and yet they served each other with humility, worshiped with creative excellence, demonstrated sincerity and spiritual maturity in their conduct, and they displayed both genuine of love for God and respect for each other as they led worship together.
So I started thinking, what made these team members so great to work with? Having the right people in a team is tantamount to achieving the results you hope the team can produce. In this case, I feel we had a winning combination that was expressed as harmony among the team members, a real sense of unity and togetherness, low stress in the face of unexpected circumstances, and a high level of creative excellence. Ultimately, all of these factors combined to create what I feel were significant opportunities for people to connect with God as we worshiped Him together in song.
After taking some time to reflect on this positive team experience, I identified what I think are the 7 most important traits of great worship team members. These are the kinds of characteristics that I think are essential to consider when recruiting worship team members for a conference or special event. The 7 key traits that seem to be consistently present in great worship team members are:
- Character – With any worship team member, you want to look for a sincere faith and genuine humility. A growing walk with Jesus should also be evident in their language and lifestyle. A good indicator is whether or not this person has a solid reputation among those who know them well, and that they are committed to growing in their faith and serving the Lord.
- Chemistry – Potential team members must be able to “play well with others” – that is, they need to be a great team player. The worship team should be a healthy model of what it means to be the Body of Christ and this means that every person plays their part, honouring and respecting others as they serve, deferring to one another while making a significant and active contribution to the team as a whole.
- Consistency – A good worship team member is dependable and reliable. They are in the right place at the right time, both geographically and musically! They come to rehearsals prepared (the songs are either memorised, or the charts are in hand) and they’re consistent in how they play the song. This helps build trust with the team both musically and personally, lowering stress and uncertainty in the team.
- Communication – Great worship team members are excellent communicators. They read emails and texts, and respond promptly when required. They are able to digest the information about the event and keep track of the important details. They are able to manage their information and set aside time for preparation. They make it a priority to communicate with the leader if there are any questions or problems, and they are able to effectively articulate their ideas or concerns.
- Commitment – Great worship team members see their commitment through to the end. You need to ensure that your players are up to the task in terms of the time they can commit to rehearsals, sound check and personal practice, as well as their availability for the event itself. Be sure to communicate all expectations up front in order to minimise confusion, frustration or disappointment later on.
- Competence – For a conference, the larger congregation and venue size implies a raised bar in terms of the level of excellence that is expected. For conference delegates and organisers, there is usually a higher sense of anticipation around the quality of the music and production than what would normally exist for most Sunday church services. So, while you don’t necessarily need the best players (because the best players don’t always necessarily exhibit the other traits you need in your team), you certainly want your team members to be able to deliver the goods or, you need to believe that they can rise to the challenge given the opportunity.
- Charisma – 55% of all communication is visual, so even though you might sound great as a team, you also need to look great in order to lead effectively! By looking great, I’m talking about communicating genuine joy, appropriate emotion and sincere engagement with the congregation through the way you appear on the platform as you lead in worship. This includes simple things like eye contact, posture and culturally appropriate movement on the platform. The more engaged (and engaging) the worship team appears, the more the congregation will be released in their own authentic expressions of worship. Worship shouldn’t become a show, but there are certainly legitimate and important aesthetics of performance and presentation that can be employed to assist the worship team in leading effectively so that the congregation connects with God through the songs used in worship.
That’s a pretty impressive (and daunting) list, right? How might we go about finding people like this who could serve in our worship teams?
PRAY: Prayer is your most powerful recruiting tool! Ask God to provide a great team and don’t try to do it all in your own strength. Ask Him to give you wisdom in the recruitment process, and trust that He will guide you to the right people at the right time. Don’t be anxious if doors close or if someone you’d really love to have on the team isn’t available. Continue to trust God throughout the entire process (which is easier said than done!) Ask friends or leaders you know to support you in prayer. Don’t hesitate to ask for wisdom and advice if you need it.
IDENTIFY: Look around at who you know. Who already displays the 7 traits of an ideal team member? Just because someone has played at a big event before doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the right person this time around. Be discerning, but see the opportunity to invite people you already know onto the team as a chance to disciple them more closely. After all, you’ll be spending more time with them than you perhaps normally would due to extra rehearsals and the event itself.
CULTIVATE: Once you have a list of experienced players who you could ask to play on your team, look for who might you be able to call up to the challenge. By placing some less experienced team members with those who are more experienced, you will create a natural learning environment for all because even the more experienced players will be keen to learn from others if they display the traits listed above.
OUTSOURCE: Finally, ask trusted friends or leaders from other churches if they could recommend people to you. Then, you could meet them, audition them or do some research to help determine their suitability for the team.
In conclusion, it is important to recruit well when putting together a worship team for a special event, because people are your greatest asset. Find the right people, lead them well, and together with the Lord’s help, you’ll faithfully and effectively lead worship with a high level of excellence and creativity. Most importantly, you’ll be helping people to authentically connect with God in worship.
Which of the 7 traits do you think is most important when pulling together a worship team for a special event?
Are there any traits on this list you would be willing to overlook?
Are there any important traits you’d add to the list?