This article is part two of our three-part series on “How to build a committed worship team.” One of the most difficult challenges worship leaders face is building and developing a team of volunteers who are willing to put in the time and effort to achieve excellence in worship ministry. That's why I've created this series. I want to give you actionable tips for building a committed team.
Communicating clearly and effectively with your team is crucial as a worship leader and can make or break whether your band is going to be committed. Here are three actionable ways you can improve communication with your team to increase their commitment.
Whether you are recruiting new volunteers, you have inherited existing volunteers, or you have been working with the same volunteers for years, it is never too early or too late to communicate your expectations. For new recruits, create a list of expectations for being a member of the band. A lot of worship leaders wish that their band members would put adequate preparation time in every week, but most worship leaders do not make this expectation clear, nor do they give their volunteers ideas for what adequate preparation looks like. It is your responsibility to constantly guide them and remind them of your expectations. If you have not already done this, I want you to take 10 minutes and write down your expectations for your band members. Do not be afraid to list things that even may seem like a “little much” for your average church volunteer. For example, what if you had the expectation that they memorized their music every week. A lot of worship leaders think that is too much to ask of their musicians. I would argue that putting limits on your team’s potential is a huge mistake. Setting the bar high is the only way to avoid complacency and mediocrity. So write a list of expectations that reflects your vision and dreams for your team. Then I want you to reflect on that list and ask yourself how often, if ever, you have communicated these things to your team. Chances are you never have. If you want your team to be committed, you have to give them something to which they are going to commit themselves. Make those expectations abundantly clear and always remind your team of them.
Use Planning Center
Thanks to modern technology and the internet, we have access to a plethora of tools to communicate clearly and effectively with our worship team. One tool you must use for communicating with your team is Planning Center Online. Planning Center Online is the premier software service for planning worship services and communicating with volunteers. If you are still planning your worship services and volunteer scheduling with spreadsheets and group emails, you have to start using Planning Center. Go to their website, and you can get started for free. Once your Planning Center account is setup, you’ll be able to communicate effectively with your team. Here are a few of my favorite communication tools in Planning Center. First, you can manage all of your volunteer’s contact information in the people section of the website. It is crucial to have that information in one central and secure location that is easy to access. My second favorite feature is scheduling. Rather than keeping a schedule in a spreadsheet which is prone to errors, Planning Center keeps track of who is playing on a given week and makes automatic updates on whether someone has declined or accepted a request to serve. The third reason Planning Center is so powerful for volunteer management is the ability to setup automated email reminders. If you schedule your musicians far in advance, this is incredibly useful because you can automatically notify them of their scheduled date a few days in advance to ensure they are not caught off guard by a service time they committed to a few months ago. Not everyone manages their calendars, so Planning Center makes it incredibly easy to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
The final tip for improving communication is to over-communicate. I mean this in a few different ways. First, over-communicate the details of your weekly service plan. Make it clear what songs you are doing, in what keys, who is leading, and which arrangement you will play. Planning Center gives you the ability to give volunteers every bit of information they need to know as well as helpful info that might not be 100% necessary but shows how well prepared you are and gives everyone a clear road map. The next way you can over-communicate is by using different forms of communication when necessary. One time I had a bass player who always slept past his alarm on Sundays morning and kept showing up a half-hour late to rehearsal. (Typical bass player, right?) Rather than being frustrated with him, I figured out that every time he played, I needed to give him a wake-up call on Sunday mornings. Not a figurative wake-up call. I called him a half-hour before rehearsal to make sure he was up. If he didn’t answer, I just kept calling until he did answer, while I prepped the sound system for the band. Sometimes it may be appropriate to ask permission from people or work with them to figure out how to best communicate with them. In this case, the bass player was okay with me giving him a wake-up call. The third sense I mean when I say over-communicate is to keep your band in the know about your visions, dreams and where you want to take the ministry. As a younger worship leader, I often had big plans and dreams to improve our ministry. I made sound system upgrades. I switched us over to using a click and backing tracks. I automated our lyric slides, video backgrounds, and lights. While all of these upgrades were beneficial to the ministry, they were sometimes too shocking for people to take in without a prior “heads-up, ” and I did not do a good job at keeping them in the “know.” I have learned that over-communicating your vision is the best way to earn trust with your team and ultimately their commitment.
Communication is key to fostering an environment of commitment from you worship team. First, ensure you communicate expectations to your band. Second, utilize tools like Planning Center to organize and execute clear communication. Thirdly, over-communicate. Clear and regular communication is key to effectively leading your team and getting them to buy-in to your vision as a worship leader. Apply these principles, and you’ll help take them a step toward being more committed team members.