Is Your Worship Team The Most Immature Ministry In Your Church?

By Jon Nicol

In too many churches, the worship team is the most spiritually immature ministry.

That sounds harsh, I know.

But think about the two-fold purpose of the worship ministry: To worship God and to help others worship God.

Now think about some of the issues that can plague the typical worship team:


 

Talent often trumps character.
In our healthy desire to have a great sounding team, we prematurely bring in people who are musically gifted but aren't yet qualified spiritually or relationally.

 

Platform worship without private worship.
Too many team members experience worship only when they’re on a stage. It’s not an outpouring of a deep, spiritual pursuit of Jesus. But truly, our platform worship will never exceed our private worship. 


Tweet: Click to tweet:  "Our platform worship will never exceed our private worship."


 

People worship “worship."
Too often the average worship team member is biblically illiterate when it comes understanding what scripture says about why we worship, how we worship, and even WHO we worship.

As a result, it becomes more about the experience of worship, not the One we’re worshiping.

 

Entitlement and transaction-based ministry.
Too many team members treat the worship ministry as a transaction:

"I practice and give my time. As a result, I’m entitled to MY ministry."

Entitlement is a heart issue. When this attitude seeps in, you see jealousy, envy, gossip, bitterness, disrespect of leadership, and even divisiveness within the team.

 

Just-get-by musicianship.
There are those team members who only give the minimum—just enough to avoid a worship team train wreck.

It may sound like just a musical problem, but at the heart of it is a spiritual issue: they don’t understand stewardship and investing in the kingdom. (Matthew 25:14-30)

 

"Age and experience" fail to become "wisdom and guidance."
Too often, our older and more experienced team members fail to grasp the 1 Chronicles 25 concept of “young and old, teacher and student.” This issue has a double edge:

  • On one side, you have experienced team members who don’t step into that guide or mentor role, so young musicians and techs are left to find their own way.

  • The other edge is uglier. That’s when these older musicians get territorial, holding on to their positions not letting younger team members have a chance.

 

Holding Back The Church

So I’ll return to my original statement with an addendum:

In too many churches, the worship team is the most spiritually immature ministry—in relation to the purpose to which they’re called.

Their equipping doesn't yet match their calling.

In too many churches, emotionally and spiritually immature people are attempting to lead the congregation into worship.

I’ve worked with some leaders whose ministries are riddled with all those issues. Yours probably isn’t nearly that bad.

But even if one or two of these problems are present with a few team members, it’s hurting the spiritual and relational health of your team. And it’s also holding back your church’s worship.

And even if a team has impressive talent, before long, these issues will affect the quality of music, too.

So what’s the answer?

 

Disciple-making Worship Ministry?

For too long as a worship pastor, I resisted the notion that it was my job to "disciple" my team spiritually:

We have discipleship efforts in the church that the team should be involved with. That’s where they need to go to grow spiritually. I’ll just worry about their musical growth.

Besides, I thought, I can’t possibly disciple every single one of my team members.

I was right about that last point. But I’ll come back to that.

There are three big problems with the worship leader taking a laissez-faire attitude towards the spiritual and emotional growth of team members:

 

1. Unfortunately, most churches DON’T make disciples.
The programs and classes that the typical church uses don't focus on the intentional and relational discipleship that Jesus modeled.

Do people still grow and mature in churches? They do. Mike Breen of 3DM calls this creating “accidental disciples.”

 

2. Many worship team members don’t serve/connect outside of the worship team.
Ideally, all our team members would be a part of a small group and actively pursuing a deeper relationship. But they aren’t. People are busy. They're probably giving the worship ministry the last bit of margin they’ve got.

So even if your church has terrific discipleship efforts, chances are that too many team members haven't plugged into it.

And the last big problem with taking a "hands-off" approach to your team’s spiritual and emotional development is this:

 

3. The worship team is a highly specialized ministry with potentially profound pitfalls.

First, when I say highly specialized, I’m not saying "more special” than other ministries in the church. It's just that it takes a particular skill set to serve in the musical and technical areas of the worship ministry.

But the fact that it’s a highly specialized and highly visible ministry also makes it a dangerous one. There are so many traps that worship team members can fall into. (Just go back and reread the list of issues at the start of this article.)

So a few years ago I changed my thoughts on discipling worship team members. But changing my mind turned out to be the easy part.

 

The Real Versus The Ideal

How does one leader disciple an entire team? Even in a small to medium size church, there are too many people to lead effectively. And in a larger church? Forget about it.

The answer, of course, is he or she doesn’t. It takes a team of disciple-making leaders to disciple team members.

And that’s where the “real" gets in the way of the “ideal."

The "real" is this:

  • People are busy.

  • The planning, prep, and execution of Sunday service after Sunday service can be exhausting.

  • And creating an intentional process to train team members and develop leaders takes serious time.

That’s the reality that was kicking me in the teeth for too long. So I decided to do something about it.

A year ago, I started creating a resource that I, and other worship leaders, could use to develop their team members intentionally.

There’s other great content out there, and I even tried a lot of it. But nothing did what I wanted it to do:

  • Intentionally move team members along a pathway that equipped them musically, relationally and spiritually.

  • Fit within my full schedule and their full schedules.

  • Hold team members accountable without eating up all my time.

  • Develop leaders who could mentor and influence others on the team.

 

Worship Workshop

What came from that is WorshipWorkshop.com.

It’s a site that will help you and I transform our team members into team leaders, mentors and role models.

I encourage you to watch this video to see how it can help you develop your team members and raise up leaders.

And just so you know, we're actually launching the first phase of Worship Workshop right now. So make sure you check out this enrollment session.

We’re offering a team membership at a low price that will cost way more when we launch later phases.

 

Going Alone...
So I believe you can develop your team members and raise up leaders WITHOUT Worship Workshop.

But consider exploring WW. Because without it, you won't have the...

  • time-saving, ready-made training content, or the...
  • accountability structure, or the...
  • intentional equipping pathway, or the...
  • encouragement of other leaders leading their teams through the same stuff.

This early phase enrollment is going to end this week, so head over there right now.

And even if you miss this deadline, get your name on the list for future enrollment sessions, so you don’t miss out the next time.


And let me hear from you below: What’s your biggest frustration/challenge when it comes to developing team members and raising up leaders?

 

If you enjoyed this, please tweet or like it. Thanks!

Originally written: October 10, 2017
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