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5 Ways To Value Your Worship Team

5 Ways To Value Your Worship Team

By Erica Boutwell on October 18, 2018

One of the battles that every worship leader faces, and will face until their time in ministry comes to an end, is that of valuing and expressing said value to the members of their worship teams. I know some of you are probably thinking, “Battle seems like a strong word,” but trust me, I used it for a reason. The battle is not whether it is essential and vital to the growth and strengthening of a ministry, rather the struggle lies in being intentional on a week-to-week basis when every moment of your day is already spoken for. There’s no doubt that the vast majority of you hold a deep appreciation for those who serve on your teams, but let’s face it, sometimes demonstrating that appreciation can start to feel like a chore when time is limited and funds are even more scarce. 

The people on our teams give and give of themselves and their resources, most often uncompensated - sometimes once or twice a month, sometimes weekly, and sometimes multiple times a week. We get our systems in place for how things operate so that hopefully no one is stretched too thin, then before we know it, it’s been 3 months since we displayed any form of gratitude. So how do we approach valuing our team members in a way that is genuine and effective, but doesn’t take up so much of our time and energy that we start to lose the heart behind it?

I’d like to put 5 ideas and strategies on the table. Some of them at first glance might not seem like a direct form of appreciation, but the result is still a well-valued team member with a desire to serve as faithfully as ever. Some of these systems, once they’re in place, still have the same punch of esteem but don’t require as much from you as you might think, which makes for a win-win if you ask me. Let’s dive in . . .

 

Foster Community

This is the single-most important thing you could do for your team in order to produce longevity and an all-in attitude. There is only so much bonding and knitting-of-hearts that can happen in a 1-hour rehearsal and 30-minute sound check. But creating opportunities outside of a Sunday morning for your team members to be together and get to know each other can cultivate a depth of relationship that will translate onto the stage in a powerful way. And what’s great is that it doesn’t have to be a lot of work on your part. It could be a family meet-up at a local park one Saturday afternoon, a potluck at the church one evening, or reserving a big room at a restaurant where everyone goes dutch. Maybe planning things like that aren’t in your wheelhouse - that’s okay - tap a couple of team members or their spouses and let them run with it. They’ll love owning a special piece of the ministry and you just get to enjoy loving on your people. Another great way to foster community is to do projects together. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a recording project either. It could be a special Christmas or Easter production. Some of the most memorable and team building times for the worship ministry I served on staff with for 12 years before moving to Nashville were our productions and live projects. You’re all there working together, rehearsing, fine tuning, tweaking . . . then the day comes where all your hard work pays off. And what you’re left with is a new depth of relationship and trust that wasn’t there before. The old saying is true . . . “the family that plays together, stays together.” You’ll be amazed at how far such a small investment will take your team.

 

Dive Deeper

While relational community within your team is critical, the other side of that coin is depth of spiritual community. If you are relying on the lyrics to the songs you lead each week being the sole source of spiritual development, you will be left sorely disappointed. As their worship pastor, you are not just their team lead, you are a shepherd. It is imperative that you seize or create opportunities to pour into their spiritual well-beings on a regular basis. This doesn’t have to be super time-consuming. it can be as simple as a 5-10 minute devotional at the start of rehearsal or a once-a-quarter time of worship and prayer together. Whatever it might look like, just make it intentional. The return on investment will be a team of people who are not just helping lead songs on Sundays, but are actually living them out daily. This will undoubtedly take the effectiveness of your ministry and its influence to the next level. 

 

Create Accountability

This falls into that category of “how exactly does this show value?” But I promise it will set your team up for success you didn’t know was possible. Within a worship ministry this can look several different ways. It can be as simple as having a set of requirements regarding church attendance and membership, small group participation, or reliability. Beyond that it can look like expecting continued growth in skill, willingness to serve where needed versus where preferred, and expectations regarding behavior outside of church. I know that it can seem sticky when you’re dealing with a team of volunteers because if you’re not paying them, it feels awkward imposing and enforcing a list of requirements and expectations.  BUT it is hard-wired into our DNA that when we are held to a high standard, we will work harder to rise to the occasion and do so with pride. In my experience, a huge shift took place within our ministry when we began setting up systems of expectations and disciplines for not meeting them. Our team members began stepping up and serving in ways we didn’t know they could. Musicians began growing, vocalists became more confident, tech volunteers started serving with a deeper since of honor. Why? Because they had an understanding that they were part of a team that not just anyone can walk onto. They were part of something that, if accepted, means you have something important to bring to the table. So as their leaders, we should have no qualms with holding them up to that standard. 

 

Expect Excellence

Excellence does not equate to perfection. I realize that seems like an obvious statement, but sometimes we can unknowingly heap undue pressure onto our team members rather than push them toward a new level of mastery in their particular skill. That’s where expecting versus demanding comes into play. To demand excellence communicates that 1) they’re playing for you and not for the Lord and 2) their place the table is contingent solely on their performance. To expect excellence from your team members forces us as the leaders to share in bearing the responsibility. If there is a certain standard of skill you need on the stage each week, then it’s your job to make sure your audition process is streamlined in such a way that only certain levels of players and singers make the team. ** Side note - if this is the case, then it will behoove you to make sure you have other opportunities for those not quite ready for the main stage to serve. This will set your worship ministry up for years of success. ** Once your team is in place, it’s also up to you to make sure that your set lists each week are in step with the skill level of your band. I’m not saying to dumb down songs for certain players and save the big ones for others. But I think there is a fine line between challenging your band and setting them up for failure. If we are going to expect excellence of our teams, then it is our job to make sure that the songs we choose are able to be executed well and with confidence. When we hold up our end of that bargain, then we should be able to expect nothing less than excellence. In return, your team members will feel valued because it will be clear that much thought and consideration has gone into the preparation and choices for that week. 

 

Communicate Appreciation

I specifically chose the word communicate here because this gives us a blank canvas to work with when it comes to conveying how we value our team members. Most of what we’ve talked about up until now have been passive means to show your appreciation. This piece is a proactive, intentional effort to express your gratitude and regard for the work your volunteers put in weekly. It can be as simple as we follow up email to those who served that week letting them know how much you appreciate the time and energy they gave or as personal as a phone call expressing something specific you value in that volunteer. Even as personal a touch as a hug on Sunday morning followed by a specific word of encouragement will fill up a volunteer’s tank for weeks. If you’re part of a church that has a decent budget, then putting your money where your mouth is speaks volumes as well. Again, the range for how this looks is wide. It could be anything from donuts and kolaches before sound check on Sunday morning to a quarterly dinner with the whole ministry team where you take the chance to express how thankful you are for each of them. However you approach it, the only essential key is communication. Our words are powerful and directing them toward building up our teams will bear immeasurable fruit.

 

At the end of the day, valuing and expressing that value to your worship team will set your ministry apart in the best way. It can seem daunting to some, but it doesn’t have to be. Eventually, after some practice and with a little creativity, it becomes a natural overflow because you see the effects of it almost immediately. Not to mention the fact that in just about every case, that same value and appreciation will be reciprocated back to you from your volunteers, so everyone wins! 


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Erica Boutwell

Erica Boutwell

Erica Boutwell is a wife, mom, and worship leader. While her first love is leading others in authentic times of worship, one of her greatest passions is developing and equipping the next generation of worship leaders. She is the Director of Operations for songwriter/producer/artist, Michael Farren, and recently joined the Here Be Lions team. 

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