How To Change The Bad Habits In Your Worship Team, Part 2

In part one, we talked about what habits are and why they matter (good and bad) to your team. You’ll want to read part one if you haven’t already.

Let’s dive into the step-by-step process for leading your team towards healthy habits.

How To Develop A Healthy Habit

1. Determine Your Why, What & How

Too often we have an idea that some bad habit needs to change, but we don’t take the time to articulate exactly WHAT that change looks like, HOW we’re going to get there, and WHY it matters that we change.

The HOW and WHY are crucial. Too many leaders stop at the WHAT—they tell people what the vision is, and then expect them to get on board.

But people are so much more willing to go along with change if they understand why they need to make the change and how it’s going to come about. So make sure that BEFORE you go public to your team, you’re crystal clear on the What, the How, and the Why.

2. Uncover The Urgency

The reason people don’t change is because the pain of staying where they are is less than the pain it will take to change it.

So as the leader, you need to accentuate the pain points of staying put. That will create more urgency to make the needed change.

For example, if one of your team’s bad habits is showing up unprepared to rehearsal, lengthen rehearsal and cut out any social time that you might have allowed for. But tell them why:

“Beginning next week, our rehearsals are going to be 45 minutes longer. The reason is, we spend most of our rehearsal learning the songs, and we never get a full run-through of them. If we all start learning our songs before we come in, we can probably avoid this extra rehearsal time.”

The problem was already there (people showing up unprepared). You’re just uncovering and amplifying it by lengthening rehearsal, thus creating some urgency to make practice a priority.

3. Create A Core To Carry The Vision

Before you go public to your whole team with your vision of a new and healthy habit, share that vision with core team members and leaders who will “get it.” John Kotter, a guru of organizational change, calls this core group the guiding coalition.

They need to understand the what, why and how of the change. And be open to their input. You will likely get some wise counsel from them. By inviting their input, you also help foster ownership among this core. They will be even more willing to help champion this change with the team.

4. Shape Your Systems To Support The Vision

Vision is important, but it’s worthless without a great system to support it.

One of the big reasons why a leader fails to change a bad habit in their team is because they don’t change the system that is supporting and perpetuating the bad habit.

First, let me define systems: Systems are simply your or your team’s way of getting things done. (I stole this from Andy Stanley.)

Let’s say you want to your team to show up prepared for rehearsal, but you don’t provide the charts and recordings until a day before rehearsal. Your system of music scheduling and distribution doesn’t support the vision of team members showing up with the songs learned.

Your current system is fostering that bad habit.

So look at every system that will directly or indirectly affect what the habit you want to change and ask, “Does this help or hinder the healthy habit?”

5. Model It

It’s time to go public with your vision to change a habit. But this step is really a “soft opening.” And in reality, you can start this step the moment you determine the habit you want to change.

Modeling the healthy habit by you and your guiding coalition (see #3) is crucial. Your team may not even realize what you’re doing, but when you do Step 6 and unveil the vision to them, it will resonate with them because they’ve seen it in action. So…

  • If you want to your team to come prepared to rehearsal, make sure you are. In fact, work to be the most prepared person in the room.
  • If you want your team members to show up on time, make sure you and your “guiding coalition” are showing up early.
  • If you want your team to be more expressive, you need to be intentional about being more expressive.

And this is something that has to continue throughout the change process. If they don’t see you “walking the talk,” your other efforts to lead them through habit change will be fruitless.

6. Communicate It

Once you’ve intentionally established Steps 1-5, it’s time to unveil your vision for habit change. You need to communicate it to your team. And make sure it’s not just the What, but the How and the Why.

Communicating vision requires both quality and quantity. The What, How, and Why of the vision needs to be crystal clear. But it also needs to be repeated.

A lot.
Over and over.
In writing and verbally.
During formal meetings and in passing conversations.
Again and again.

In fact, when you’re finally so sick of hearing yourself talk about it, you’re team will just then be “getting” it. So don’t get weary and feel you’re overdoing it.

7. Celebrate It

“What gets celebrated gets repeated.”

When you “catch” a team member displaying the healthy habit, make a big deal about it in front of the team.

For example, if a guitarist nails the opening riff of a new song during rehearsal, stop the song* and tell her what a great job she did.

When people see their team members getting props and accolades for living up to a new standard, they will be more likely to come on board.

*[OK, so you don’t have to stop the song, but it adds a nice, dramatic touch. 🙂 ]

8. Expect It

Once you’ve established your intent for this habit to become the norm, it’s time to begin holding your team members to the new expectations.

To help you with this, it’s important to have a written policy (like a team handbook or expectation document) that you can point to. Without a written document, it can feel arbitrary to a team member when they’re being asked to conform to an expectation.

It’s also a good practice to have one-on-one conversations with team members who aren’t meeting the new expectations. Assume the best in your team members and give them some time to acclimate to the changes.

If they continue to behave contrary to the expectations, you’ll need to have a crucial conversation with them about whether or not this ministry is the right place for them to serve.


Unfortunately, I wish I could say once you do all this, you’re done. But to truly change the habits and the culture of your team, you need to work these steps continually. And even after the change is ingrained in the culture, it can easily erode over time.

This is important to note here: don’t try to change every bad habit of your team at once. Focus on one or maybe two, and get some traction and momentum on those before trying to tackle another bad habit.

Be encouraged! If you keep working at these steps, you WILL get to a place where your team is different. And once you’ve changed the habits of your team, maintaining that change isn’t near as much work as getting it there in the first place.

Talk to me below: What are some ways you’re working at changing the bad habits on your team?

Or, do you have any questions about changing some specific bad habits on your team? 

Jon Nicol