By Andre Kazadayev and Derek Fekkes
Do you want your worship team to love serving with you? Here’s one big thing to pay attention to—rehearsals.
Since a worship team spends so much time rehearsing, how your worship band, A/V team, and vocalists feel about rehearsals can push their feelings about serving on the worship team from one side (loving it!) to the other (shall we say, not loving it).
Find out five things to avoid during your worship team’s rehearsals, then explore four things to do instead.
5 ways worship team leaders ruin rehearsals without knowing it
My first few years as a worship leader were tough. Rehearsals felt stagnant, even counterproductive, and I always ended up bitter and annoyed with my team. Looking back, however, I realized that the problem wasn’t the team, the problem was me.
Here are 5 ways you can ruin rehearsal:
1. Not being in the Word
When you’re not in the Word, you’re not helping your team grow as worshipers. Take time to start practice with a prayer.
Everyone on my team is a volunteer (myself included), and laying down our weekly cares before we start goes a long way. Set aside time to discuss what God is doing in your lives. Not only does this encourage spiritual growth, it also gets the “chatties” out of the way before rehearsal begins.
2. Not appreciating what you have
Not having professional musicians or the most organized people shouldn’t be a reason to take what you have for granted. Instead of constantly pointing out shortcomings, focus on people’s strengths.
Also, be as specific as possible when giving compliments. Simply saying “good job” is great, but it’s lazy. Work earnestly to make everyone feel welcome and appreciated. Chances are they sacrificed something to be at rehearsal—don’t make them regret it.
3. Not equipping your team
Do everything in your power to provide the necessary tools for your team to do their best. Chord sheets, tempos, tutorial videos, arrangements, MP3s, whatever they need!
Be approachable and make yourself available during the week to answer questions and help your team prepare for the rehearsal. Make sure everyone knows you care, and are willing to do what it takes to help them succeed. Don’t let a lack of effort on your part hinder someone’s ability to practice!
4. Being underprepared
Be the most prepared person in the room. Take extra time to check that the resources you’re providing are accurate.
Rehearsals shouldn’t be proofreading sessions. Catch your mistakes before someone else does, and don’t forget to practice on your own. Even if you’ve played the song hundreds of times in the past, don’t let that be an excuse to be lazy. Practice, practice, practice.
5. Confusing perfection with excellence
Don’t get hung up on perfection. Excellence is maximizing what you can do and being eager to improve. Insist on excellence, but don’t let that take your focus off the heart of worship.
4 tips for getting your worship team to love rehearsal
Worship practice has always been one of the things I most look forward to in a week. I enjoy gathering together with musicians, vocalists, and A/V technicians, polishing our sound, working out the technical kinks, and just sharing life together.
While it’s tempting to be singularly focused on getting the songs down for service, it’s possible to make worship rehearsal a really fun experience while still getting prepped for the weekend.
Here are four tips for getting your team to love rehearsal:
1. Prioritize people, not just production.
Of course no worship leader or pastor would ever say it, but sometimes we value what people can contribute more than the people themselves.
So you’ve got a killer new lead-guitar player? Do you know anything about his family, or only about his sweet pedal board? Most people love opportunities to use their gifts, but what they want more is to know that they are valued as people, and not just pawns. Take time to get to know the people on your team—either during or outside of rehearsal, and people will enjoy being there much more.
2. Learn a new song together.
I’ve not found a worship team that didn’t love learning new songs. Part of this is because worship teams tire of songs much quicker than congregations. While a congregation may still be digging “This Is Amazing Grace” on the fourth time singing it, the worship team has gone over it 35 times now and is ready to mix it up.
Even if it won’t ever make it into a worship set, take some time to learn a new song just for the fun of it. For me, this practice has been a beneficial filter for gauging a song’s reception and whether it’s worth introducing to the congregation.
3. Help people improve their skills.
Most people get excited when they learn to do something new with a skill they enjoy. I love seeing the joy of an A/V tech learning what an until-now-mysterious knob does, a vocalist gaining some strides in singing harmony, or a pianist picking up a new rhythm.
A great way to provide training is to enlist more experienced members or even outside talent to sit in with more novice members in rehearsal, allowing time for short teaching moments when they arise. If you don’t have a way for your team members to improve their skills, you’re missing out on much of the joy of music ministry.
4. Show grace, don’t just sing about it.
Overseeing a music ministry presents innumerable opportunities to get frustrated with people: the song slides got off, the lead guitar channel was muted during the solo, the drummer didn’t end with the rest of the band, etc. While it’s perfectly natural to want everything to go smoothly, it often doesn’t.
In these instances, we can either make people feel worse than they already do, or we can show the grace of which we so often sing about. This doesn’t mean we don’t care about mistakes or sloppiness, or don’t try to correct repeated mistakes, but it means that we are quick to forgive, slow to get frustrated, and show others the same grace that we are shown on a daily basis.
We should be concerned if we preach grace as central to the Christian life, but then present a ministry environment where little grace is actually shown. Team members that aren’t afraid to fail will have more fun, and will likely perform better too.
And there you have it—five things not to do and four things to definitely do.
Here’s one more thing that can improve worship team rehearsals: collaboration. You can play it by ear to see how much proves productive for your team, but everyone likes a chance to be heard.
To collaborate with your A/V team on your song slides even when you’re not at rehearsal, take a look at Faithlife Proclaim. It’s simple to use, cloud-based, and costs the same amount no matter how many volunteers you have. Plus, you can give it a try for 30 days free!
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