How To Change The Bad Habits In Your Worship Team, Part 1


That word for the longest time had only a negative connotation for me. I’m not naturally wired to crave routine, focus on details, or have any discernible self-discipline whatsoever.

Whether I was being chewed out by my mom for my “habit” of leaving the kitchen cupboard doors open after looking for a snack or chiding myself for not having better study habits in college (the last minute and I were very, very well acquainted), all my habits seemed bad.

But then along came Stephen Covey with his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and (much later) Charles Duhigg with his book, The Power of Habit.

So it turns out, we can have good habits.

I guess I probably knew that to some extent.

  • Brushing my teeth. Good habit.
  • Entering all my appointments into my calendar. Also a good habit.
  • Telling my wife I love her. A great habit.
  • Exercising regularly. A very good habit (if I’d flippin’ just do it).

But it didn’t compute with me that teams and organizations had habits. That is until I started leading worship vocationally in a church. I realized my worship team had habits.

Unfortunately, most of them were bad:

Show up late to rehearsal. Without practicing. Or printing their music. Or even knowing which songs were scheduled.


Calling off at the last minute without any regard for who would cover them.


Adding harmony to every note in every song of every set. Admit it, altos: you don’t even KNOW the melody of 90% of the songs your church sings. 🙂


Burying their heads in their music stands.


Not bothering to play in time with the drummer.


Treating the platform as their personal stage for musical expression.


Preparing musically, but not spiritually.


OK, I’m depressing myself. You get the picture; let’s move on.

So with my current ministry, I walked in over seven years ago facing a lot of these bad habits. And unfortunately, my action (or lack thereof) as a leader kept too many of them going.

But I started to recognize and tackle some. And as I learned more about organizational and team leadership, I realized a humbling truth:

I am ultimately responsible for my team’s habits, good or bad.

Now, that doesn’t mean I have the power to directly change people’s poor behavior. And it REALLY doesn’t mean that I get to take credit for every good thing my team does.

But as the leaders of local church worship ministries, you and I are called to lead our teams out of unhealthy habits and into healthy ones.

I know, you didn’t sign up for this. You and I both thought we found a sweet gig to marry our musical talents and our love of worshiping the Lord. “Hey, what could be better than being a worship leader?!”

And we do get to have the amazing experience of using our talents and gifts to lead people in worship. But if you’ve worn the mantle of ministry for more than 11 seconds, you know that leading people in worship is only about 30% of the job. If that.

But if you’re truly called to this, you’re going to find that the journey of developing a healthy worship ministry is just as rewarding as those amazing moments of leading gathered worship. Maybe even more so.

And you know why?

Because the work you’re doing as the leader of a local church worship ministry is every bit an act of worship as what you do on Sunday mornings.

Let me say that again:

The work you’re doing as the leader of a local church worship ministry is every bit an act of worship as what you do on Sunday mornings.

So back to being responsible for your team’s habits, good or bad. What does that really look like? How do we do it?

Habits Create Culture 

First, let’s define habit.

Merriam-Webster’s simple definition is this:

a usual way of behaving : something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way.

So applied to your team, it’s any way of acting or functioning in a regular or repeated way. It’s ingrained. It’s natural. And it then becomes a part of yourculture.

And that’s key. To have a healthy team culture, you need to have healthy habits. Habits aren’t the only thing that shapes the culture of your team, but they’re a big part of it.

So how do we change team habits? It seems overwhelming, doesn’t it?

It can seem like an insurmountable task, but I know you can do it!

I’m going to give you a drive-by version of a step-by-step a process to lead change. All the steps are there, but we don’t have time in this post to go deep on any of them. But these steps will help you change your team’s habits from unhealthy to healthy. One habit at a time. One good decision at a time, made over and over (and over) until you see the desired change.

Ready? We’ll get to that in Part Two. [Go here for part two]

Talk to me below: What are some of the most frustrating bad habits of your team members?


Jon Nicol