For those who aren’t worship pastors or leaders, but rather band members and vocalists, it’s important to realize the significance of your role on the team. Even if you’re not the person actually leading everyone, speaking over the congregation during worship, selecting music for next Sunday’s set, etc., you still play a part in leading people into the presence of God. Your participation is setting an example for the congregation to follow. You are leading too. Once you begin to realize how important your contribution is, it’s good to know how to steward that responsibility. I thought I’d share a few tips with you on how to best support your worship leader and fulfill your role as a member of the worship team:
1. Show Up On Time. Ever heard the phrase “Early is on time. On time is late”? It seems like a simple thing to do, but your promptness will not go unnoticed. Your worship pastor is either a full-time staff member, who’s been at the church all day, or a bi-vocational who just came straight from work. They want to get home to their families as much as you do. If everyone shows up on time ready to go, you’re less likely to have any stress or tension at the front end of the rehearsal, which will help the practice time flow better.
2. Come Prepared and Ready to Work. It may seem silly to “practice” worship, but if you’re given music in advance, take some time to listen through it, so you can become familiar with the songs you don’t know. For instrumentalists, playing through the songs a few times on your own, can make a world of difference come rehearsal time. Don’t hesitate to jot some notes on your music. And, if there’s a place where you’re getting stuck, or you’re unsure how you should play or sing it, write yourself a reminder to ask the worship leader about it at practice. When rehearsal starts, it’s time to focus and get down to business. While it’s great to catch up with the team, practice time is not social time. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have fun (see point 5), but just try to reserve the chit-chat for before or after the rehearsal.
3. It’s Not All About You. Okay, that might sound harsh, but it really isn’t all about you. We’ve all had encounters with divas, even on worship teams. Those who need their vocal turned up in the mix, those whose mic isn’t the mic they wanted, those who insist that they should stand on the right side of the worship leader, not the left, those who think they’re Mariah Carey. Yes, worship divas…they do exist. Sometimes, this is unintentional. During rehearsals, we tend to forget that there are 10 or so other people standing on the platform, trying to get situated. Usually, there’s one or two sound guys running around like crazy people, trying to check everyone’s levels, fix people’s mics, replace faulty cords, figure out PowerPoint, tape down wires, etc. So, if you have to wait for a minute until you can get a new mic stand that doesn’t wobble, just take a deep breath and remember why you’re there…to serve. In fact, if there are ways you can help out, don’t hesitate to do so. Something as simple as offering to bring out music stands and pencils for everyone can really help.
4. Follow the Leader. We all played this game in grade school. Whatever the “leader” did, the class did the same. If the leader hopped on one foot while scratching their head, so did we. The same is true with the worship leader. Some leaders are very consistent with how they lead. They will tell you upfront what order they want for the verse, chorus, bridge, etc. Other leaders may feel led to switch it up, so it’s important to follow their lead. If they want to speed up the tempo mid-song, it’s less likely to become a train wreck if everyone is alert and watching. Take some time to learn their cues, such as hand signals and nods, so that you know what they’re wanting and where they’re going.
5. Be Patient. Congratulations! You’ve followed steps 1 and 2. Not only did you arrive to rehearsal 10 minutes early, but you practiced for hours the night before (or at least in the car, on the way to the church). But, Chuck the guitarist had a pretty crazy week, and since he didn’t have time to practice the new communion song, he now needs a little extra help from the worship leader. You might find yourself a little frustrated towards Chuck, because it doesn’t appear he’s put the same amount of prep time in as you. But the reality is that life happens to all of us. We all have weeks where things fall through the cracks. And it happens to all of us. Just be patient. Extending a spirit of grace will go a long way in relieving any stress or pressure on that person as they work to catch up with everyone else.
6. Have Fun! Rehearsals can be draining, especially mid-week, right after work. I’d encourage you to enjoy that time of being in community with your fellow musicians. Music is an awesome gift from God and something that is meant to be enjoyed. Don’t take yourself too seriously and just remember why you’re there: to serve the body of Christ and to worship our Almighty God!