3 Indispensable Strategies to Build a Spirit-Led Worship Team

Worship team
Have fun with your worship team. Be a family. (© iStockphoto/poba)

Worship leaders who try to keep up with today's modern-worship sensibilities have a challenge on their hands. After all, not all churches have the same musical and financial resources as megachurches do. With a few obstacles to overcome, church worship leaders must look to build a worship team that sounds great, carries spiritual authority and operates in unity for the glory of God.

In the last issue, we looked at three points to consider in achieving these goals. In this issue, we'll wind up with three more tips to guide you as you aim for excellence:

1) Build with the right people, not just the right musicians. Imagine you have access to the best drummer in the world. He played on Michael Jackson's greatest record—Bad, toured with U2 while Larry Mullen Jr. was sick and taught Hillsong everything they know about drumming. Say this drummer is willing to play for your band.

He can't make it to rehearsal, however. Also, he will be out of town a couple of Sundays every month. And he's not totally sold on the whole "God" thing. He likes church but is still not sure if it's for him. His drumming style is more jazzy and hip-hop than what your team is aiming to sound like.

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This guy doesn't exactly seem like the greatest fit, does he? Do you think it would be worth playing with him simply because of how awesome he is on drums?

Even though the person in this example doesn't actually exist, this elaborate picture gets across a simple point: Look for the right people first. Obviously, the individual needs to have some musical inclination to be a member of the band. But more importantly, it's critical to find someone who aligns with your ministry vision, looks to serve God before serving himself, is trustworthy and reliable, and looks to grow with you.

In the long run, you will have a band with far superior chemistry, flow and spiritual authority if you choose this approach rather than a band full of musical all-stars who play different styles, do not serve the Lord and have no loyalty to the ministry or team. If this means you have a team that sounds a little rocky, remember what I said about excellence: When your people have confidence, play within their ability and are teachable, they are winners!

2) Set goals and take risks. At the core of every individual, there is the desire to be great. Unfortunately, few have developed a vision for how to achieve greatness or have received the support to go after it. As Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish; but happy is he who keeps the teaching."

So as a leader who is building a team in a small church, you may not have all the resources to chase after every dream, but you can have a goal in sight to share with your worship band. Set some goals and work toward them together.

Here are a few examples of such goals:

Goal 1: Write original songs. Co-write original songs and then give your team members the excitement of playing their songs for the church. Build cool arrangements and take risks. Be willing to take chances to achieve some awesome goals.

Goal 2: Record an album. Don't promise anything you can't deliver, like a budget or timeline, but if it's in your heart to record an original worship album as a group, let them know! Let them be a part of your dream. Set some achievable markers that can help you realize that dream.

Goal 3: Engage in travel opportunities and itinerant ministry. Start small. Play youth retreats and local worship nights. Play for free. Wherever you start, it will build excitement for the future and give your team a vision. It will motivate them to become better because they will see their dreams are not as far off as they may have thought.

You and your team may never aspire to any of these things, and that's OK. I simply want to stress the importance of vision and goals. Always remember, every goal and aspiration of your team should support, first and foremost, the strength and building of the local church. We want churches to be healthy and thriving and, out of that, see goals and dreams realized.

3) Have fun. The foundation upon which you must build your worship team is community and camaraderie. Encourage each other, pray for one another and laugh together. Be sure your team knows how much you genuinely care about them. Otherwise, they won't care how awesome your team's potential is. Be connected. Be loving. Be family. Be a team.

These points will help you achieve the impact you desire with your worship team. Rehearse a lot. Pray big. Take risks. Pursue excellence. You can do it. God will always bring the right people across your path. Be open to building new relationships and discovering the hearts of the people around you. This is going to be fun!   

Joshua Mohline is director of WorshipU (worshipu.com), the online school of worship from Bethel Music. With a background as a worship leader in settings from small to large, he has been a part of the Bethel Church worship teams since 2012. He facilitates the worship school as it equips and empowers thousands of worship leaders and teams worldwide.

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