Worship Team Expectations

Discussion in 'Worship Service Players' started by Handley, Aug 19, 2014.

  1. Handley

    Handley Tele-Meister

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    New worship pastor looking for a bit of help in this area...

    What are the expectations for being on the worship team at your church?

    Are the expectations written out or just verbal?

    If someone does not meet those expectations are there consequences?
     
  2. praisebass

    praisebass Tele-Meister

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    I serve on worship team of about 20 or so in rotation in a church with about 1000 in weekly attendance. The expectations are not formal our written. In my view that its not ideal. I have encouraged the WL to make expectations explicit and to have all team members to adopt a covenant but we have not done so at this point.
     
  3. SynMike

    SynMike Tele-Meister

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    Our leaders of the worship team audition all new members. We hear them sing or play to make sure they are musically capable. Then we also talk with them to find out their spiritual state, make sure they are believers, make sure they understand and agree with the goals we have set for our ministry. We also have a small handbook that outlines all expectations.
     
  4. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    What do you mean by expectations? Punctuality, virtuosity, dependability, commitment, etc.etc.etc.?

    I'll share an experience I had with a church that was part of fairly prominent church planting network. After the church had been in existence for about 4 or 5 years, the worship leader announced that the church was going to require all volunteers to sign a contract of commitment. This contract spelled out the churches expectations and clearly stated that the volunteer agreed to serve under its' terms for a period of one year. I had a long discussion with the pastor and had a few questions that he could not answer satisfactorily. Most importantly, he could not answer whether breaking this contract was grounds for church discipline. I wanted to know what would happen if God were to call one of the volunteers into something entirely different in the middle of the agreed term. Would the contract govern, or would God's call?

    I and two other musicians pre-dated the worship leader and had been leading worship since the birth of the church. The other musicians were all committed, stable and regular. There was no need for a list of expectations, or for a written commitment. Ultimately, I told the leaders that I simply could not commit to only a year because I was committed to serving for as long as God had me there, could be 6 months could be 20 years. Their response was, sign or don't serve. The result was the disbanding of both bands and a complete restart for their ministry, because most people left. I took it as a sign that God was no longer calling me there, and took my family out of bad situation.

    Long story short. Man has his plans, and if we rely on our plans and our flesh, we don't rely on God. Lists of expectations, and contracts and commitments are an excuse and a crutch so that lazy leaders don't have to truly get to know the people who are rolling up their sleeves and carrying a big part of the load. When people sense that the church leaders are more interested in working their plan than they are in knowing and loving their people, the exodus is not far off. My advice for those considering formalizing expectations and requiring formal commitments is to NOT TO. God will call the people HE wants to do the work. It is not the Leader's duty, and if the leaders don't like it, they need to take it up with HIM and not try turn HIS people into the people that they want.

    Expectations can be modeled and communicated directly, but it takes commitment on the part of the leadership and courage to not shy away from the occasional conflict. When leaders go the easy route of citing written expectations people discern immediately that it is a cop out and an abdication of the responsibility that is given to leaders to shepherd the flock that God has given them. Everybody likes authority, but too few embrace the responsibility that goes along with it. Those are only my .02.
     
  5. Worship Tele 1

    Worship Tele 1 TDPRI Member

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    I have served for five years, our team at its peak was about 15-20, no written expectations, each musician had to try out, no dress code, 2 services w both being recorded as it is televised the following week, while each musician was not required to be a member of our church each had to be a believer and even baptized (I believe this to be true but don't quote me on that one).
    I have seen a few problems over the years and will explain them. Not having proper try outs creates issues when the musician isn't good enough to be on stage. I am playing w a guitarists this Sunday that is one such fellow. He is a friend of mine and used the name dropping technique to get himself in but somehow avoided a true try out (the night of his official try out he didn't bring enough gear with him). It was never dealt with properly IMO.
    Dress code. I believe there needs to be one and it should be explained to each musician. I'm sure that will look different everywhere but whatever your vision is let everyone know. It may be "there is none, wear whatever you like because God does not care" and that is fine but make sure that is explained to each person. If I'm not told I will revert to my personal preference or past experience and wear a tie each week because that's how I grew up. You might hate ties but I was never told that. Hope that makes sense. I'm not picking on what you wear to worship in, just make it known. My church has missed the boat on that one for years.
    Missing practice. Over the years we have had a few musicians that could never make the practice. Except one notable exception, it rarely worked out well. I'm not talking about a player that misses once because of an emergency or something, I'm talking about the one that joins the team but never makes a practice. We've had about 4 of these come n go and miss a lot of notes, chords and tags. I think during the try out they should be asked if they can make your Wednesday night practice session (for example) each week that they play. Simple but again missed from time to time where I play.
    Hope any of this helps. I wish you well!
     
  6. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    I like your style!
    ;)
     
  7. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    Do you yourself play any instruments?

    What do you expect from yourself?

    Stringent expectations are what cause people to
    fall in the first place. But failure in whose eyes really?

    There is no Failure only Forgiveness,
    and the failure to forgive.
    -studio 2014
     
  8. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    My church experience was a bit different, having to contend
    with live worldwide broadcasts and the struggle that we only get
    one shot at making it excellent.

    The pressure one feels when put in that scenario does wonders
    for the focus challenged and the lazy don't last long.


    never the musician but always behind the board was
    a great insight into how musicians respond to someone
    who is their peer musically and also contends with
    production skills and those people.

    We always had some guest speaker, dignitary or
    famous musician who would throw us into action
    and make us work. It certainly built character!

    Frequently, Merle Haggard would play at our
    Sunday Service when he was in town or passing through.
    those were fun Saturday nights man! Preproduction
    with Merle and his group. Puts it all in perspective,
    you're only as strong as your weakest link.
    Those times we felt invincible!

    No questionnaire can decipher that.
    It will raise it's ugly head, and as soon as it does
    you have to cut it down. Eliminate it.
    Your weakest link that is. Maybe your weakest link is a
    misguided set of standards? I dunno.

    you can wear what you want, but all the successful groups
    wore uniforms. KISS, The Early Beatles, lol.

    I kinda like the way Tennessee Ernie Ford used to dress.
    The Statesmen etc.
     
  9. Handley

    Handley Tele-Meister

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    covenant rather than contract

    My answer, "God's call, let me know how i can continue to support you."

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply and I get were you're coming from.
    My goal is to be clear about what we as "lead worshipers" should be able to expect of each other rather than requiring a formal commitment on paper to avoid investing in the relationship. Your experience (definitely a bummer) is a good reminder relationships come first, programs come second.
     
  10. cjrincon03

    cjrincon03 Tele-Meister

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    As a teenager I played rhythm guitar in 4 or 5 separate worship teams over a span of 6 or 7 years .

    The only guidelines I have ever had to adhere to were

    1.) your personal relationship with God , daily walk type stuff. If you weren't livin it , you weren't hard to sniff out and the pastor would pull you to the side and have a come to Jesus meeting , you don't straighten up , you're off .


    2.) come to practice . You don't make it to practice , you don't play . That simple . Our church leaders needed people they could count on . In certain circumstances you can miss , and all is well . These are the same circumstances anyone would expect from you in any environment that you are counted on .


    These are both standards I think every worship leader should ask of their people. If they can't adhere to these, they are not ready yet.

    Rule #1 is what took me out the last time . I was a big shot 18 year old who knew everything and before I knew it, my conscience got to me and I withdrew before my pastor had a chance to.

    Rule #2 is what's holding me back now. I cannot reliably attend. I have a crazy work schedule and at the very minimum can only attend every other week as my days off rotate.
     
  11. 985plowboy

    985plowboy Friend of Leo's

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    Find some reliable folks that love the Lord, can play, are willing to commit to practice together AND on their own, get some tunes and equipment and go for it.

    That said, we are expected to dress conservatively. Don't wear anything that would draw attention to yourself and away from worship. You have the final say on that.
    We signed a "contract" once. It made NO difference and caused much resentment. I think it's ill advised.
    Audition required to play in band or sing on "miked" praise team. Worship choir is open to all who are interested.
    This may be a gray area, but the folks you let on the platform represent the Lord to the congregation and visitors. Choose wisely.
    We are all unpaid volunteers (is that redundant?). We don't really have a large pool of talent to pull from. Some folks have moderate skill, but a large heart to serve. You can work with that scenario easier than you can a very talented Diva. We try to be helpful, kind, patient, and forgiving to one another and it works out pretty good.
    People who prove themselves unreliable should be let go.
    Your version of this should be written down, posted on the website, etc... for all to see up front.
     
  12. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    Handley,

    In contrast to the unfortunate story I shared above I would encourage you, and any other worship leaders (that includes everyone with an instrument or mic on stage) but especially those who make the decisions, to be constant in prayer. God is concerned with our hearts and his relationship with us.

    I think the biggest challenge for the worship pastor, or band leader etc etc is not what music do we do, or how should we dress, or how often should we practice etc. The biggest challenge is relationship; building it, and maintaining it. Invest your time in your people. Live out grace, mercy, and forgiveness with yourself and those in your charge. When someone skips practice, don't simply cut them from the team. Go to them and find out what is going on. I've seen this scenario a number of times, and almost every time the root cause was disconnection. The band member felt disconnected from the team and the church. Relationship was failing. I've seen guys cut from the team for this, but I've also seen great stories of redemption when the worship leader dug in and would not let go. Teams who walk through fire together and for one another are immediately recognizable when you're standing out in the crowd. You might not know what it is, but people know when the Spirit is at work in the worship band. They also know when it isn't. Be humble, strong, forgiving, and constantly give grace. Sometimes you'll have to make a hard choice and call someone out for how they're living, and keep them off the stage until they repent. But, if you love them through it, most of the time great things will happen and many will be blessed. I'll be praying for you and the other worship leaders here this week.
     
  13. Handley

    Handley Tele-Meister

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    Thanks for the great words of encouragement and for the prayers.
    I've spent most of my time on TDPRI in the amp builders section and it was always helpful. Experiencing a sense of fellowship in this part of the forum was an unexpected delight.
     
  14. bikeracr

    bikeracr Tele-Meister

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    Capn has some good points.

    I have had a great experience since I joined my worship team 4 years ago. I go to a large church (~4500/week over 3 services) that has set high expectations in regards to preparation & musicianship. We have two full time worship leaders & are blessed with a relatively large roster of volunteer musicians with most persons filling in once a month. Each musician had to audition. When we went through the audition process, the expectations were laid out as part of the audition packet. There was no contract, however. To Capn's point, after setting the expectations, the leaders & other musicians /volunteers live them every week.

    Music
    We are given music 10 days prior to the service, including demo tracks, roadmaps, & charts in the given key.

    Rehearsal
    Saturday afternoon ~4 hours prior to a 5 pm service. We are expected to be ready to come in to rehearsal with parts prepared, but to be flexible enough to make changes on the fly either in the roadmap, interpretation, & rarely, key.

    It really is a professional environment. That being said, both the camraderie of the team & the leadership always makes it fun. And at the end of the day, it is not about us, but for His glory. If you would like to talk with our WL, please let me know. If you would like to see the end product, I can send you a link.
    Kerry
     
  15. javacaster97jc

    javacaster97jc Tele-Meister

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    Sorry for the long post. You hit on one of my passions. Just take the bits that speak to you from below ;-)

    My experience has been limited to smaller churches, but I think there are some good principles that can apply to all.
    1. Lead Worshiper may be the most important. If it is a performance and the congregation is an audience it kind of misses the point. I have been known to reign in talented players because their "performance" didn't leave room for the congregation to join in. Don't get me wrong; there should be opportunities to showcase talent, but it shouldn't be the focus all the time.
    2. Along similar lines, a theology of what you are doing is important. It can serve better than a contract or mission statement or printed standards because it gives a Biblical basis for evaluating what you do and how people participate. Paul's theology of the body is an excellent illustration. Each part plays a role that contributes to the whole. None is sufficient alone, and none should glorify themselves above others. If you have a talented person who is spiritually committed, it illustrates why there are times to lay back in the mix and times to step forward.
    3. Paul's theology of the body is targeted at how the church works when it is healthy. It makes the point that a worship team can and perhaps should work as a miniature model for the congregation. Members should nurture and pray for one another, protect each other and hold each other accountable. A devotion and prayer are a great way to start practice.
    4. On the accountability front, members should be at practice and show competence in what you are doing before they are allowed to lead on Sunday. It is only respectful and anyone who can't accept that may not be mature enough for the podium.
    5. That said, nurturing can follow from that standard. A player that has missed is not forced to embarrass themselves on Sunday, but they can continue to participate and learn at practice until they are back on track (provided they are not habitual and distracting in their absences and participation).
    6. Cultivate talent. I have often made room in practices for inexperienced or tentative players with no expectation that they would play on Sunday. We would be up front about the primary focus being preparation for services, but after that we are also nurturing gifts and talents. Several ways I have done this: provide stripped down parts they can play so that they can get the feel of playing as part of a team; provide a little extra jam time so they can be mentored and (gasp) maybe have a little fun, trade licks, ask questions, go over things they struggle with, etc. No matter what your ministry, it is good to cultivate your replacement. A healthy church should outlast your lifetime and you should do your part to make it happen.
    7. Have a mature leader who can call the shots. There are always "glory hounds," people who will be contentious about music styles, gossips, whatever.
    A leader will generally have the respect of the other members if they need to confront someone. A dictator will have their fear.
    8. Model all of the above. Step back as needed. Give others a chance to lead, if only for a song or for a Sunday. If you do it intentionally you can really help develop others. Stay and jam and be a learner. Help everyone else sound good and work hard to bring the congregation into what yo are doing.
    One of the best things I ever did was step out of a guitarist spot. We had someone show up with stronger lead skills and solidly developing rhythm work. I moved over and alternated Sundays with the Bassist, giving him the opportunity to learn and work on keyboard. The new guitarist flourished and within six months his rhythm playing was better than mine. I learned a lot more about composition as I worked on fitting into the Bassist role (my style was also a better fit than the other guys byzantine bass playing) and the other guy loved playing keyboard which added new dimension to the music. On my weeks out of the instrumental lineup I could focus on issues with the soundboard, monitors, mics, etc. We never sounded better. No one questioned my leadership or intentions. In fact it probably solidified my standing because I was modeling the body/team concept and was cultivating talent rather than trying to be in the spotlight.
     
  16. cjrincon03

    cjrincon03 Tele-Meister

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    This is the long version of what I summed up as " daily walk and come to Jesus meeting"

    This is how it was done for the most part.
     
  17. ScottLeon

    ScottLeon TDPRI Member

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    Good stuff! Thought I'd add my two cents to the discussion. Some background, our church is part of a historically liturgical denomination, & until the late-90's had only two traditional services on Sunday mornings. At that time an associate pastor was Called & was tasked for starting a "contemporary" service between the existing two, so we would have 8, 9:30, & 11.

    I've been playing in our church 10+ years now, & over that time we've evolved as our Praise Team has changed. Early on we had three or four teams - singers, keyboard, guitar (maybe 1 or 2), potentially a djembe (depending on the team) - that rotated through the month. Drawbacks include if one or two members of a team drop out the team collapses. And the teams schedule their own rehearsals to learn songs picked out by the pastor for their week.

    Assoc. pastor #1 leaves, new associate rethinks the service, with input from the participants, & realizes that because of the rotating teams the congregation was getting inconsistency from one team to another, e.g., the same song might be done two or three different ways from one week to the next to the next. So the model changes, with an attempt to get everyone on the same page & more consistency from week to week. An attempt was made to have everyone meet once a month or so for learning new songs, but that quickly fell apart. However, the new model brings the three or four teams together, along with the three keyboardists, to have a consistent rehearsal night, & songs are selected by a team headed by the assoc. pastor three to four weeks out. Team members are slotted in based on availability, but with a nod toward individuals knowing weeks, if not months, ahead when they were "on". As time progressed, we have evolved into a team that has some consistency of musicians -- drummer, bassist, guitarist -- with three or four keyboardists rotating, & rotating groups of singers. With staff changes over time (assoc. pastor #2 left, worship director came & left), this has also evolved into the musicians being paid so there is more consistency from week to week.

    We have deficiencies: the three week-to-week musicians are the only ones for those spots (though we have found outside drummers), which if one is missing there is a hole. We have no "successor plan" or formal process in cultivating new team members; in the past we have found new musicians as needed, but has been mostly ad hoc. Singers are easier for us to find, esp. as part of a denomination with a rich liturgical history -- read "choral music" -- perhaps that's why we have a glut of them across four or so groups.

    I have advocated for some list of formal expectations, but as issues arise we address them because there is a strong relationship among the members of the team. Regarding attire, because of our church's history we don't have too many distracting outfits, though we have had to say a word or two about the high school girls who have tended to wear short dresses when singing (the team is up front during the entire service, standing to lead & sitting at appropriate times during the service); the [un]spoken expectation is to dress in a way that does not distract the other worshipers. We have had to bring in "hired guns", which leads to holes during rehearsals but not on Sundays. We have tried to educate the team members on leading worship (Paul Baloche's videos are excellent in that regard), & could do a better job at that. We also have team members, esp. singers, who might not know a song (even though our planner sends out YouTube links for the songs) because they didn't attend the service when the song was 1st introduced. And we don't have flexibility on Sunday morning with regard to worship flow because of the time constraints with the three services.

    Yet God still uses us, & we have learned to lean on the Spirit as we try to be "lead worshipers" for the congregation every Sunday. As others have said already, it is the relationship between the team members that, along with God's blessings, that have brought us to this point.
     
  18. FluffyDog6

    FluffyDog6 Tele-Meister

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    Strife in churches often arises from unclear communication of expectations and accountability towards the ministry team, and uneven enforcement of the leadership's expectations.

    Written guidelines, with a supportive rather than punitive tone, can help to minimize these issues over the long term.

    Good leadership seeks to preemptively avoid problems developing rather than solving them once they do.
     
  19. Handley

    Handley Tele-Meister

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    great words
     
  20. Jack FFR1846

    Jack FFR1846 Tele-Afflicted

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    I've left my church's worship band and have been out for half a year. I can say that their expectations were quite clear and well documented to us.

    Show up on time to Wednesday rehersals knowing the songs (from worship planning online site), know your parts.

    Play well with others. We had someone who is leagues better at guitar than anyone in the band but just would not and probably could not back off and be a band player. He'd be great if we needed a solo guy.

    Be dressed appropriately for service. Guys: long pants and a shirt with no logos or writing (anything that someone would be trying to read or figure out). No underwear hanging out, for women, no cleavage or tight clothes (and yes, that was always a problem that had to be addressed).

    In the calendar, block when you can't make it before the leader does the schedule. If you have something come up, find a replacement, and let the leader know.

    That's about it. You did not have to be a church member (I wasn't), and did not have to have commited yourself to what the church stood for (we had Jewish band members who were exploring Christianity).

    You did not have to be an awesome musician. You needed some level of competence but it wasn't a competition. (we had 2 members of nationally known metal bands at different times).

    Lead from the seats. When you're not playing, you're singing. Smile and be engaged. Don't stand out.

    The lead paster didn't get involved with the band. There were no "set" bands. Weeks were built from pools of musicians. Leaders rotated weekly.
     
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