Is Your Team Full of Renters, Squatters or Stewards?

I rent my house.

So I have the right to be there. I earned it through paying rent. I treat it decently and call it my own. But when the bathtub started to sink into the floor, I did not pay to have it fixed. Nor did I care to assist the carpenter my landlord hired. Partly because I have no discernible mechanical, plumbing, or carpentry skills whatsoever. But also because…

I’m a renter.

I’m convinced there’s a cat that lives under my deck. I think it’s my neighbors’ cat. They throw food scraps out into their backyard to feed their cat. The one that lives under my deck. (And those food scraps…yeah, those also feed the skunks, possums and raccoons. But that’s a different story.)

I’m also convinced the cat uses my landscaping mulch as her restroom. I don’t like that cat.

The cat’s a squatter.

I think one of the marks of unhealthy worship teams is the presence of renters and squatters.

Let’s start the squatter.


The squatter is on the team, but no one’s sure why. His heart might be in the right place, but his gifting and talent isn’t. He not only doesn’t contribute much, but his lack of ability can be a liability.

As a squatter, he’s flying under the radar. He maybe even knows he shouldn’t have a spot on the team. But he likes the camaraderie and the chance to play. Pity is probably what’s keeping him on the team.

How did he get there? You likely inherited him from a previous leader (or lack thereof). He’s not a bad person. But through a bad system* of invitation and qualification, he landed in the ministry. And he’s not leaving.

You, my friend, have a squatter.

Then there’s the renter.


The renter pulls her own weight. She’s got gifts and talents and happy “using them for the Lord.”

As long as things go her way.

For the renter, the worship team is a transaction. She pays with her talent, time and energy. In exchange, she has her ministry. And since it is her ministry, she is entitled:

  • Entitled to be scheduled as much, if not more, than the others.
  • Entitled to take the lead on Revelation Song.
  • Entitled to act miffed when someone else gets it.
  • Entitled to miss rehearsals occasionally because, “hello, I already know the music…”
  • Entitled to have at least one spot on the special music rotation.
  • Entitled to voice her opinion on all changes and decisions, and believes her voice carries a lot of weight with the team.Unfortunately, sometimes it does.

She is a renter.


Renters and squatters are marks of an unhealthy worship team. There’s a time and a place (and a proper procedure) for eviction. But we’re not going to talk about that right now. Sometimes, the best way to begin to remove squatters and renters is to crowd the worship team house with stewards.

A steward knows his place. He’s entrusted with opportunity and position, but also knows they aren’t his. There’s a sense of ownership, but not entitlement. He knows what he possesses has been given to him to care for the Master’s house and further His Kingdom.

When a steward is given something, he plans to return it one day – only with more. It is not his to guard, but his to grow.

You get enough stewards on your team, the squatters and the renter’s will start to feel out of place. They’ll either move out or start acting like, well, stewards.

If they don’t, then the eviction process may need to happen. That’s another post for another day.

I’d love to hear:

What’s been your experience with renters and squatters on your team?

How have you worked to grow a team of stewards.

*Not having a system is a bad system.

Jon Nicol