Creating a desire for growth on your church worship team can be tricky. Those who don't understand the heart behind a growth initiative often resist and mislabel it "performance." But as worshippers, we should always seek to bring the Lord our best, so growing in our skills is a necessity.
Stewardship is at the heart of excellence. Like the servants in the Parable of the Talents, being faithful with what we have been given should be our priority. God gave us all gifts and abilities so we can use them to their fullest. When we hone and refine our abilities, we are good stewards.
If we want growth to happen on the worship team, setting goals and evaluating progress are necessary. But not everyone will want to grow. Some people are content with their skill level and aren't interested in practicing or learning something new.
As a ministry leader, you can't force growth, but you can create incentives to encourage it. Consider the following:
- Create "growth plans" for your team members. Sit with each one and find out what their goals are. Why did they join the team? What ways would they like to serve? How can you help them reach their goals?
Once you know these things, you have what you need to tailor growth plans as team members pursue their dreams and desires. Once plans are made, check back from time to time to find out how team members are growing and how they feel about their progress. Partnering like this helps create "buy in" because team members know their leaders are supporting them and pushing them forward.
2. Establish service tiers. This may not be an option in smaller churches, but the idea is to have low-pressure opportunities for ministry before volunteers are brought on for the main services. The tier option can be adjusted for your particular church and needs, but here's an example of what it might look like:
Have potential members help after a service with wrapping cables or cleaning up the stage. After they've done those things for a predetermined amount of time, promote them to playing in home group settings. After that, they could be moved to youth group or similar service before being assigned to one of the main services.
The idea behind this approach is to create an opportunity for you, as the team leader, to see how the volunteer handles serving and progresses musically. In addition, this process introduces them to the culture of the church and team, and gives them a goal to aim for, namely, main services.
When practice and service are rewarded with affirmation, promotion and more exciting opportunities, they throw fuel on the fires of personal resolve.
Ideally, you want the members of your team to know where they are headed musically. If they grasp how they are or are not progressing, they can better understand their strengths and weaknesses and the best way to focus their efforts. Giving healthy and well-thought-out feedback is a great way to do that.
This is where having growth plans in place proves invaluable. Knowing the goals you set together will help the team member when it's time to review because you both understand what you're aiming for in that member's growth.
Keep things positive during growth conversations, even when progress is slow or not evident. You never want anyone leaving the conversation feeling worse than when he came in for review.
Always let the team member know what he is doing well. If he isn't growing, ask how he has been pursuing his goals. Has he been practicing? Has she started taking those voice lessons yet? Asking such questions will help team members refocus their goals and shed light on their process.
Overall, keep these few thoughts in mind:
People are always the most vulnerable after a set, particularly when something didn't go over well or mistakes were made. Wait until a day or two later to give constructive feedback.
The point of leadership is to help your team thrive. Your goal should be to see team members encouraged and excited about the future. Keep their growth and well-being top of mind.
Often someone's personal life plays a big part in their growth—or lack of growth. When someone has played poorly, talk to them. You may discover, as we have, that they were going through something difficult personally.
On the other hand, if someone doesn't want to grow, your team might not be the best fit for that person. Ultimately you only want to work with people who are willing to grow and receive feedback. People who are stubborn and set in their ways are difficult to work with and rarely bring life to their communities.
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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