How To Lead Your Worship Team During a Crisis

Your Team Will Not Be Unchanged

Once upon a time, the world turned upside down. For everyone. And we’re still not sure what happily ever after looks like.

But here’s what I do know: you and your worship team will NOT come through this unchanged.

As the leader of your worship ministry, it’s up to you to determine if your worship team will return from this crisis stronger or weaker.

Here at and, one of the tools we use to teach worship ministry leadership is our Worship Leadership Roles. We’ve identified that a healthy worship ministry needs six crucial leadership roles. 

One of those roles is more critical than ever. It’s the Shepherd role.

The Shepherd Role

The Shepherd Leader

Some worship leaders have a personality and gift mix that makes them ideal shepherds. While other worship leaders have a gift mix that makes them the Worst. Shepherds. EVER.

But right now, you must be a shepherd to your team.

  • Even if it’s not your primary gifting.
  • Even if it’s emotionally draining.
  • Even if you’d rather sit in your home studio and write music.

Your team members need a shepherd.

I know you still have administrative, production, and worship leading responsibilities during this time. But if you fail to shepherd your team during this COVID-19 crisis, your worship ministry will languish. 

Why Your Team Needs You

Your team needs you right now for a few reasons:

They’re disconnected.

For many of your team members, their primary connection to your church is the worship ministry. That’s all but gone now. Most churches are using solo leaders or a skeleton crew to produce the Sunday service.

They’re scared. 

Some are worried about getting sick. Or about a loved one getting sick. Some have lost their jobs. Others are worried the layoff is coming.

They’ve lost purpose.

Most team members wouldn’t explicitly say this, but they’re probably experiencing a loss of purpose and direction. Regular church attendance, worship ministry, interaction at work, extra-curricular actives, social events—they’re all gone.

They’ve got added family stress.

Everyone is at home. All. The. Time. While this can be a blessing, you know it’s adding stress. And many of your team members have been “voluntold” to be homeschool moms and dads. We’re walking through this right now. It’s stressful!

So what can you do as a leader? Let me give you some practical ideas and tactics.


Practical Ideas to Shepherd Your Team

1. Create a temporary rallying cry for your team.

Create a short, memorable statement or phrase that your team can cling to during this time. Maybe it’s “We’re still the worship team”—pointing them to the idea that they can worship privately and lead their families in worship.

Think about your vision for the team and how you want them to return after this crisis. Use that to help you craft a rallying cry.

[Note: this “temporary rallying cry” and other ideas came from Pat Lencioni. See bottom of this article for more details.]

2. Remind them of the little things.

During a crisis, our attention gets hijacked by both the events of the situation and by questions about the unknown. As a shepherd leader, don’t be afraid to say stuff you think people already know. They do know it, but they just need to be reminded of it. For example…

  • “Limit how much you watch the news channels.” 
  • “Don’t fall into a social media hole.”
  • “Continue (or start) a daily time of listening to God and personal worship.”
  • “Create a rhythm of required ‘alone time’ each day in your home to give each other space.”

If it feels like you’re being Captain Obvious, just frame it like that. “Hey guys, I get that you all know this stuff already. But at times like this, it’s good to be reminded of some things…”

3. Create regular check-ins.

It won’t feel as “real” as in person, but meeting on Zoom or FaceTime is still a personal interaction that your team members need. Find reasons to get small groups of your team members together on a video chat regularly.

4. When you offer help, be specific.

We’ve all told this to people who are in a crisis: “Whatever I can do to help, please let me know.”

People appreciate it but usually don’t respond. In the middle of the mess, a person doesn’t often know what they need, or they can’t think of it in the moment.

If you know that a team member has a specific need, offer to help with that need however you can.

5. Challenge your team.

For a shepherd, part of caring for the flock is moving them to the right pastures. So figure out some ways to challenge your team to grow and feed themselves during this season of isolation.

Also, encourage them to find other ways to enrich their life within the confines of sheltering in place. It will help keep their focus on positive things.

Another Big Reason to Shepherd

So your team needs you to be the shepherd during this crisis. But there’s another critical reason why you need to actively shepherd your team: 

YOU need it. 

During this crisis, it will be easy to slip into an unhealthy “minimum requirement” mode. That is, you do what you need to do for Sunday service, and that’s it. 

But as a leader, you also need a purpose and a challenge. Otherwise, you could slip into complacency or even despair. 

I want to be transparent for a moment. During the second week of March, when COVID-19 got “really real” in the States and the market crashed, I spiraled into despair. 

Several people canceled their Worship Workshop membership. Sales of courses and products stopped. I had some consulting gigs vanish. And my wife no longer had substitute teaching income.

I gave into despair for a time. Thankfully, I was still listening to the right voices. Eventually, I crawled out of that pit and committed to this: 

I’m going to do whatever I can to serve worship leaders and teams in my sphere of influence. 

Have cancellations stopped? Nope.

Have sales restarted? Not much.

But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I have a purpose. I have a big challenge in front of me. 

You need the same thing to keep from going into an emotional tailspin. And as you rise to occasion to be the give your team needs, you can’t help to emerge from this crisis a stronger leader.

Also, because of your commitment to intentional shepherding, your team will also rise from this season stronger and healthier.

A line we often hear during times like this is, “This too shall pass.” It will. COVID-19 won’t keep us isolated forever. But we have to choose how lead during this season. Don’t waste a good crisis. Use it to grow as a leader and build a stronger team. 

Major credit for this article needs to be given to Pat Lencioni. Many of the ideas in this article came from a webinar that he offered recently for consultants. Pat is a team and organizational health guru and the author of books like The Ideal Team Player and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

We have used his material extensively in our Worship Workshop training. Thanks, Pat!

Jon Nicol