How Worship Leaders Can Create a Healthy Team Culture

(Photo by Zach Lucero on Unsplash)

As a leader, there's nothing more important than defining and protecting your team's culture.

A team's success and failure rise on the health of its culture and how well it's protected. But you can't protect a culture if it hasn't been defined. And you can't truly lead unless you've defined what you're leading towards.

Culture manifests itself in many ways. There is macro culture and micro culture. Macro culture is the 100,000-foot view, "big picture" vision that sets the stage for everything else you do. Micro culture includes the processes and systems you execute every day.

For example, your dress code is micro culture. How you develop worship leaders is micro culture. They are both reflections of the values you most hold dear and are a snapshot of who you are as a team and a church.

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Before we dive into defining a macro culture, there's an important step that sets the stage. A worship team's macro culture cannot be defined apart from the large-church vision.

Removing Ministry Silos

Your ministry is not a stand-alone entity that exists within your church. It is a living, breathing extension of that vision. This is where a lot of worship pastors and lead pastors uncover tension: A worship team is operating as a silo within the church.

This can happen because a worship pastor is disagreeable and not a team player. But it also happens when a lead pastor hasn't clearly defined and communicated the vision. Where there's no vision, leaders will perish. They'll either create their own, or they will leave. That is why it's so important for the lead pastor and worship pastor to be in unity, moving together as one.

But don't feel despair or pressure here. Oftentimes all it takes is getting into the same room and having an honest conversation. Commit to working on this together.

Take a look at the diagram below. This is how your worship ministry will make the most sense:

The GLOBAL Church


Your Local Church


Your Worship Ministry

This is the diagram of a healthy expression. There's the global church across the world. All nations. All tribes, colors and tongues. Varied styles and denominations. This is the overall vision of the church: to glorify God by reaching all nations with the message of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.

But what does that look like in your local expression? While all churches subscribe to this vision, each individual community is unique in its expression. If that is clear in your culture, you can move onto defining your worship team culture. If it's not, work with your lead pastor to make sure this is well defined. Get behind it, or get out. Don't push your own agenda in your local community. Get behind the vision and serve it with all your heart.

Once the local expression is clearly defined, it's time to hash out your worship ministry culture. Look at this as a set of values. This is what defines who you are. Once these values are defined, you can filter all your systems and structures through that vision.

What Are Your Worship Ministry Values?

Here's an example:

We are:

  • Discipleship-minded
  • God-centered
  • Excellence-focused
  • Spirit-led
  • Community-driven

This is a well-defined culture. Of course, yours will look a bit different. But that's not enough. Here is where most ministries get off track. They create values and write them in calligraphy on the wall. They create plaques and hang them everywhere. But it never filters down into daily actions.

So here's the questions:

How does this overarching culture filter into your:

  • Audition process?
  • Dress code?
  • Rehearsal?
  • Communication on stage?
  • Team nights?
  • Devotionals?
  • Worship sound (guitar, keys, vocals and so on)?
  • Stage presence?
  • Song choice?
  • Songwriting?
  • Developing leaders?

The list could go on. But this is how you define culture. This needs to be communicated, and it needs to be protected. Otherwise, everyone else on your team will define it for you, and that is called a hot mess.

A well-defined and protected culture creates disciples and removes the wrong people. That may sound harsh. But not everyone is suited to be a member on your team, whether paid or volunteer. Part of pastoral work is helping people find their place. That doesn't necessarily mean it's on your team. Saying no to someone can actually create an opportunity for them to find the right spot. Too many teams are accommodating everyone and destroying their culture. This is the definition of drama.

Connect with your lead pastor. Define the cultural values. Filter your systems through those values. Communicate it. Repeat and protect. Repeat and protect.

How has culture been developed in your context? How connected are you to your lead pastor's vision? What do you need to work on?

I'd love to hear more about this in the comments. Shall we dialogue?

Listen to learn how God is moving in one of the most difficult countries to live in. Tommy Deuschle tells how God planted a dream within him to change Zimbabwe through worship and prayer.

David Santistevan is a worship pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This article originally appeared at

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