Guest post by Spencer Cormany
Most people who get into worship leading get into it for the musical aspect and for the purpose of leading their church. They spend their first few years getting better musically and growing themselves spiritually so that they can lead their church better. A few years in, they realize that they've got more than just their church following their lead - they've now got a group of musicians who are looking to them for guidance.
It's easy to feel unequipped in this situation because you've worked so hard to improve your musical and worship leading skills but you haven't developed your team leadership skills.
This is something I had to wrestle with as I started my full-time position as a worship leader and started to grow my team.
I want to share with you five tips on how to lead your worship team well:
1. Have a plan.
Leaders always have a plan. If you want to lead your worship team well, you've got to know where you're leading them.
This is true for all facets of leading your team:
Rehearsals - What are you trying to accomplish? What musical parts do you want people to play?
Spiritually - Where is your team at spiritually and how can you stretch them to grow closer to God?
Culture - What do you want the culture of your team to be? What's your plan for building that culture?
Leaders don't just have a plan, leaders articulate the plan. Don't keep it a secret. Let your team know "this is where we're going and this is how we're going to get there."
This is particularly applicable to worship team rehearsals. Leaders who don't have a plan for rehearsal end up frustrating their team because they waste their time. Before you start practice always answer the question: what do I want my team to accomplish?
2. Do what you say you're going to do.
It's not enough to just have a plan, you have to follow through with it. Following through with what you said you were going to do is how you build trust and influence as a leader.
People like other people who do what they so they're going to do.
One practical way to cultivate this is to start and stop your rehearsal on time. If you tell your team rehearsal starts at 6pm - start at 6pm.
This does two things:
1. It respects the people who show up on time.
2. It recommunicates what your expectations are.
If you don't do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it people will not trust your leadership.
Don't just start your rehearsals on time, take your timing to the next level and commit to ending practice on time too! Pick an appropriate amount of time (my team practices from 6pm-7:45pm) and stick to it.
This forces your team to work efficiently because you only have a limited amount of time.
3. Set clear expectations.
It is your job to clearly communicate expectations.
Teams often have unspoken expectations that leave team members anxious and frustrated.
"Why won't they just learn the part from the original recording?"
"Doesn't she know practice starts promptly at 6pm?"
"Why doesn't he have the words to that song memorized?"
You can only hold people accountable to expectations that you have clearly communicated.
The next time your worship team rehearses have a conversation around expectations. Come in with a list of your top 3 expectations and ask your team what expectations they feel are unspoken and should be added the list.
This exercise allows team members a platform to have questions answered and uncertainties clarified.
Then hold them accountable to the expectations (we want to be leaders who do what they say they're going to do after all). That means next time someone is late to practice you have the authority to have a conversation with them and say, "a few weeks ago we talked about expectations and one of them was how practice starts at 6pm. You weren't here at 6pm. Is there something I can help you with that will allow you to get here on time?"
Set clear expectations and communicate them to your team.
4. Provide valuable feedback.
Let me let you in on a secret: your worship team members long for feedback. They want to know if that drum beat they're playing sounds good. They want to know if the harmony they are singing is what you have in mind.
So give them feedback.
Make it more than just "That sounds good!" or "Can you work on that?" That's not valuable.
Valuable feedback is specific feedback.
"I love that high harmony part you sang with me in the bridge! Your timing matched me perfectly. Keep up the good work!"
"I understand what you're trying to do in the verse 2 but could we try simplifying that drum beat a bit? I think it might serve that section of the song better."
Feedback helps your team improve so honor your team by providing it!
5. Set them up for success.
Your job as a leader is ultimately to make the people around you look as good as possible!
Set them up for success.
Provide them with the chord charts and lyrics that they need.
Give them ample time to practice the song list for Sunday.
Hold training sessions where they can get better at their instrument.
Whatever it takes, make sure your team has no excuse to not perform the best they possibly can.
True leaders make others look good - set your team up for success!
Spencer Cormany runs leadingworshipwell.com which provides a daily dose of practical tips to help you lead worship well. Spencer graduated from Liberty University with a degree in Religion and a minor in Biblical Studies. He’s currently the Worship Pastor at Merge Community Church in Chambersburg, PA.