Heather has experience leading and singing on praise music teams, and wants to pass along her insights.
A praise team adds energy and depth to a church service. It's main job is to invite the congregation to worship God through music by leading them in a set of songs, hymns or a combination of the two. Ideally, this time will help all ages in a church family to enter into God's presence together.
When I became involved with my church's worship ministry, I didn't know how much planning was actually involved in the week-to-week running of the team. After attending a worship conference, I understood more about effectively starting and running a praise team.
Putting a praise team together is more than finding some people to play and sing. The same care should be taken in creating a team as in starting any other ministry. It calls for a lot of thought and prayer and needs a strong vision to guide it. The other pieces will fall into place as you step out in faith.
Write a vision and mission statement for the team
Though these two are different, they are meant to connect to each other. The vision describes and defines the ministry, to show its purpose and personality. A mission statement is more practical and action-oriented, telling what the ministry will accomplish and how it will reach the goals.
The team's statements need to go together and to align with your church's core beliefs. You might even include the pastor or church board in on the process to help ensure consistency.
You can add other sections into your statement as you feel led. Listing Principles (general guidelines for running the ministry) and Core Values (truths about worship based on scripture) also helps clearly explain to you and others what you will accomplish for God through the team.
These are some excerpts from the Mission and Core Values statement we drew up in our church several years ago. Anyone who expresses an interest in joining our team gets one to study.
"God has called His people to worship Him by singing, playing musical instruments, dancing, shouting, standing in quiet awe, raising hands, clapping…God created us in His image - that means He created us to create. The variety in these (9) groups in intentional in order to draw you into one of them…"
"To enhance the worship life by providing for our services a rich variety of high quality music, reflecting traditional and contemporary styles…The worship team leads worship for all services, prayer meetings and special events…"
#1 - We value worship as the highest calling that God has given to humanity (Ps 73:25-26)
#6 - We value kindness, compassion, forgiveness, patience and cooperation in our interactions with one another. (Eph 4:32; 5:19)
#1 - Practices are on Fridays at 6:30 unless arrangements are made otherwise.
#2 - To participate in leading worship, attendance at the preceding practice is necessary.
Recruit personnel for the team.
If you are starting a team, chances are good that you already have even a small core of interested and talented people. But you'll want to find more. A larger pool of musicians gives you more flexibility, and allows for a rotation so no one gets burned out participating every week.
At our church we put an insert in our bulletin at least once a year that invites musical people to consider joining. But the most effective way to pursue people usually is one-on-one. People like being asked directly.
Keep your ears and eyes open for a spark of interest in a congregation member. Even if they don't want to perform, they may have a musical ear and want to help with the sound board.
Listed in our principles is a set of prerequisites for team members. To qualify, a person must be:
- a member of our church or regular attendee
- have taken the first of our church membership seminars
- be musically gifted.
Most teams consist of three kinds of members
Regular team members - instrumentalists or vocalists, or sometimes both. They need to show commitment, a willingness to submit to leadership, and a heart for their congregation to grow in worship.
Worship leader - the person who will actually lead the congregation through the songs. Many teams have a separate music leader who takes care of the arrangements and leads the music rehearsal. This person must be spiritually mature enough to be a role model and facilitator, as well as organized.
Sound team members - people who understand running a sound board and setting up microphones and amps. Another aspect is loading song lyrics onto and running a computer so that people can follow along easier. They need to have a combination of musical and technical skills so they can support the musical team.
Call a meeting for the team
Hold a general meeting. Hand out the vision and mission statements, and expectations of members. Give a chance for people to ask any questions.
Get everyone's contact info and schedule availability as well as any other pertinent info, like other instruments they play or music teaching experience.
Run a short brainstorming session, taking down ideas for songs or hymns. Aim at first for more familiar songs to encourage the team and the congregation.
Gather music for the team
Decide on a starting batch of about a dozen songs to work on. Think about incorporating some well-loved hymns - they can sound updated simply by playing them on electrified instruments.
Make sure you are using songs legally. Get software such as SongShowPlus - for a yearly fee you can download and print copies of most well-known worship songs and hymns. You choose between formats, like lyrics with chord names or an actual melody line with piano accompaniment. You can also transpose a song to another key if needed.
Start rehearsals for the team
Special and intimate times of worship can happen using vocals and just one instrument, such as piano or guitar. I've led some weeks when no one else was available, and the quieter sets brought out a sense of thoughtfulness to the singing.
But most weeks, you'll have a band that will probably include:
Accompaniment instruments - piano or keyboard, acoustic guitar
Rhythm section - bass guitar, drum set, bongos, tambourine, shakers, etc.
Lead instruments - lead guitar, violin, flute, brass, etc.
Vocals - ideally both women and men, but at least one strong voice to carry the melody
Adding New Members
As you go, you'll want to make a set process for bringing on new members. This demonstrates to them that this commitment is serious. It also gives potential members a chance to experience being out front with the team before plunging into leading a Sunday service.
I've seen people who seemed confident in their abilities suddenly get nervous when put behind a microphone. I've heard people say, "This is not what I expected". They might mean that the pace is fast for them, or they're not used to learning new songs.
In my church, the first step is a beginning interview with the Pastor or Worship Arts Committee Chairman. They share a little about themselves and what is drawing them to the music ministry. Next, they attend three rehearsals with either of our two teams. If everything goes well for them (and the team), the final thing is a second interview.
It's a little involved, but people who make it all the way through the process really understand what is expected of them and what they can expect. They, and we, know for sure they want to be a part of the team.
Offer learning opportunities for the team members
Once your team is up and running, you don't want the momentum to slow down. There are lots of ways for your team to grow in musicianship and worship.
Find local workshops or classes, or online videos that address techniques of playing and singing. See if one of your more trained team members would be willing to do some coaching in their area of expertise. Hold regular critique sessions using recordings of the team set from a previous Sunday morning.
Times outside of the rehearsal can strengthen trust between team members, and build bonds. Consider a team retreat weekend or even just a day. If you don't have funds to go far, meet at someone's house to pray, study God's word, and share fellowship together.
Set regular dates for meetings monthly or every few weeks. These provide an opportunity for team members to voice concerns. They can also be brainstorming sessions. Bring from the Pastor upcoming themes for service messages, plus any special events or holidays. Let those guide you to related music.
New songs ideas should be brought up here, and a plan to introduce them to congregation. Decide when you'll use that song and work backwards, making sure that the team will have enough time to practice it so they'll be confident and able to worship with it.
- The worship leader should choose the song set early in the week if not before.
- Consider the instrument mix you have as you start putting sets together.
- Open and the rehearsal with prayer.
- Rehearse new songs with the team at least a couple of weeks before doing them in the service.
- Plan a 5-minute Bible devotional as part of the rehearsal time - reading a psalm, for instance.
- Lead a prayer time for team members at the end of the rehearsal.
stephen oshiomha on June 25, 2019:
i sincerely appreciate this. it has really addded to me.
Heather Adams (author) from Connecticut, USA on July 22, 2017:
Thanks so much for reading, Leon!
Leon on July 22, 2017:
This is so encouraging! Thanks so much for sharing!!!
Heather Adams (author) from Connecticut, USA on June 17, 2017:
Very well said, Eric! Thanks so much for reading. I agree that worship music serves a unique and important purpose. I look forward to hearing all the different worship styles in heaven!
ericjperry from Cullman, AL on June 16, 2017:
I enjoyed reading your article. Worship is vitally important, and cannot be taken lightly. Worship is the only duty that we perform on earth and will perform in Heaven. That's a big deal! I am so thankful for people that have the gift of music, because I do not. It wasn't until I began attending the church I am at now that I realized the value of worship. Prior to my church, worship was just music like any other. I didn't even understand the term worship. When my ears picked up on worship music and I connected with the Holy Spirit it changed my world. Worship welcomes the presence of God, and allows us to become aware of His presence. I think sometimes we take that too lightly.
worship drummer on May 31, 2016:
Thank you so much for your thoughtful insight, plenty to think about. Hopefully some changes can be made that will benefit everyone.
Heather Adams (author) from Connecticut, USA on May 29, 2016:
Hi to you. That's a great question that I can relate to - we always seem to have a surplus of singers on our team. Too bad we can't do a swap! :)
I understand your frustration. I also decided to take a break when it started to get really crowded on the platform every week. But I'd hate for you to lose the chance to use your musical gift to bless the church.
I know some leaders want to be as "spirit led" as possible. And others want to protect the time of team members. But in my experience, not having a rehearsal before the day of the service often leads to some confusion. It also robs the team members of the chance to get more comfortable with each other on the songs. You can certainly go too far the other way, though, and have two-hour rehearsals that drag on.
All that said, does your team have a set of Covenants? If you don't, it could be a great opportunity for the team leadership and members to sit together and discuss those big ticket issues like the weekly roster and rehearsals. Ideally everyone can be heard, and some general standards can get agreed on.
Sorry to go on so long! But this is important stuff. If nothing else, I'd suggest sharing your concerns with your leader(s) and see where that goes.
All tbe best for your team - God bless!
worship drummer on May 28, 2016:
Hi Heather, when is too many too many? We are blessed with up to nine drummers in our church. Some of us have dropped off the roster to give others more opportunity. I found I was losing touch with the songs as I was playing so infrequently and the worship time was becoming stressful for me rather than joyful. The team don't have a midweek rehearsal just a run through before the service. Love to hear your thoughts....
Heather Adams (author) from Connecticut, USA on January 25, 2016:
Thanks for your note! It's true - different denominations, churches and individuals have different experiences of worship. I think the bottom line, no matter what the style, is making sure God gets the praise. Have a blessed day - great hubs, by the way! :) Heather
IrateOrator on January 24, 2016:
The holy spirit moves in different ways and thank you for articulating your thoughts on how to improve worship for up and coming worship teams.
Heather63 on May 26, 2015:
Hi Animal! Thanks for your comments. I agree with you that there is a balance to be found between structure and being led in the moment.
Animal on May 26, 2015:
I see where the person saying structure can be for showmanship. That's why I as a worship leader emphasize how we will follow the spirits leading always. Unfortunately without a designated rehearsal time it does cause a lot of confusion. That is why where I go we rehearse and practice a general way of the songs noting that it will not always go like that cause we go where the spirit takes us! Whether that be repeating choruses or singing a new song he places on our heart! Real "worship services" need a mixture of both spirit leading with a slight rehearsing time!
Diana Rasmussen from Edgerton, WI on July 18, 2014:
Great post - I am a worship leader and I need to schedule more practice times. Thank you for your insight!
Heather Adams (author) from Connecticut, USA on January 29, 2013:
I apologize if I misunderstood what you were saying. I was trying to respond to what you wrote with my own take on things. But I didn't mean to offend you in any way.
Heather Adams (author) from Connecticut, USA on October 18, 2012:
Thanks for checking this hub out, Ericdierker! I didin't get your whole message, but it looks like you lift them up, maybe in prayer. If so, that's great - we all need prayer, but especially "front line" ministries! God bless.
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 18, 2012:
Wonderful hub! I don't get much say with our worship team, but each Sunday I raise them up and praise their