No one would argue that music is an important part of the Christian church. Worship almost always includes congregational music of some kind. But what if your congregation feels like it’s lacking musicians? Here are some thoughts – specifically for a worship leader who is trying to grow a worship team.
Name your current assets?
You may not have an entire band, but do you have a pianist? Are you able to play an instrument? Is there anyone in your church who has an instrument or used to play? Excellence is described as “doing the best with what you have.” Since every church has what it needs to accomplish the mission in their corner of the world, what gifts do you have in yours? You must be faithful in the small things. Take a moment to make a list of your current assets and it may surprise you. Don’t start by thinking about a weekly worship team, start by thinking about on Sunday coming up and the people who can help now!
The possibilities of hiring someone to serve in church music ministry is numerous, so don’t feel stuck in one mode. If you have a strong volunteer vocal leader, consider hiring an acoustic guitar play or keyboard player to get the ball rolling. A small amount of money each Sunday to a young adult ministry minded musician who may like a simple part-time income could be a huge blessing to the musician and the church. You still want to set high expectations, but it doesn’t have to be a huge financial investment. Often, as you get the ball rolling – hiring a guitar player, or a drummer or whatever you may need for a bit – can roll into others being attracted to serve in worship ministry. Musicians flock together – so if you can just get things moving, it may open up other opportunities. Money invested in music almost always will boost the worship and growth of a church.
I ask almost every new person I meet at church if they are a musician. I just want to know if someone is great at sound, guitar, dums, vocals or whatever. The best way to uncover a new musician is to always be on the lookout. Once you discover someone, invite them to participate in a one-time thing. If you say, “Why don’t you join the band?!” it’s too overwhelming, with no end to the committment. It’s better to say, “Do you think you play on this song on this Sunday next month?” There’s a better chance to get them involved.
Backing tracks are potentially a great way to help fill in the musician gaps. From my experience, these work best if you already have the core instrumentation there (bass, drums, keyboard or guitar). However, these could also work with a vocal team alone, or just a vocal team and a couple instruments. Backing tracks are set up so you can turn on the extra electric guitar or turn it off if you don’t need it – and same for all the other instruments. The key to this is having someone who enjoys working with the computer program. Multitracks.com is a place you can start – you can purchase tracks and easily use their free “playback” app feature on an iPad or another device. From there, you can eventually upgrade to other programs that allow all the songs to be set up together in a set list. There are lots of upsides to tracks, but downsides include the cost to get started initially (each track can around $30 -$40) and the tech needs that may accompany using them (clicks, in-ear monitors, etc). If it was just a vocal team using tracks, potentially, just one person would need to have the click / guide in their ear to lead the others.
Vocals and video
There are numerous videos or worship songs with lyrics already embedded. You can search almost any song and find it on youtube. I’m thinking of student worship times, smaller churches or small groups, but I’ve seen it used and done well – it requires a sound system and a computer, but a team can energetically help lead the congregation in live singing with the help of videos.
Include other forms of art for worship
If you’re struggling to find musicians, experience with other forms of art for worship. Is there a student who can dance? A painter who can paint while a song is being played? These forms of worship can enhance, and also included pre-recorded music as a part of it. This can help pave the way toward including more creative forms of worship and can introduce modern worship songs to a church without singing them the first few times.
Invite a guest or a friends
If you need musicians in your church, one ways to get it going is to invite your musician friends to come share for a one time thing. Just pick a regular Sunday and invite someone to come help lead, play an instrument or share in special music during the worship time. I have, on numerous occasions, invited someone from outside our church to come play bass or drums with the band. I sometimes would do this just for fun and connection, but other times, because I couldn’t find a drummer or other instrumentalist that week.
Focus on the next generation
If we’re struggling to find musicians in the church today, we need to raise up some kids who can eventually fill those gaps! This is a long haul solution which won’t pay dividends for several years, but needs to be done. Plant seeds in the hearts of kids by having special worship times where kids can come up and sing one of the songs. Figure out ways to encourage kids who are learning instruments to play during worship. Set up a time in the summer to host a worship band camp. invite (pay if you need to) some music leaders to come teach kids about drumming, guitar, keyboard and/or vocals. Show videos of modern worship bands. Get the bug in their hearts and minds that they can be worship leaders and team members.
It’s ok to be simple. I have seen lots of heartfelt, passionate worship with one instrument playing. It doesn’t have to be a huge production, but you want to do your best. You also don’t have to apologize for simplicity. Get a vision, begin asking, praying, talking to people, but until then, use what you have to lead worship well. Trust God to work through your planning, prep and prayer as you humbly and confidently serve the church!
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