Below is a step-by-step plan to help your worship team members flourish in three fundamental areas—as worshipers, musicians and mentors. This approach can change the culture of your worship ministry and help your team grow spiritually and numerically—no matter the size of your church. I’ve seen firsthand the impact it has made in smaller congregations I’ve served in the past, and this same intentional process is making an impact in the megachurch where I’m worship pastor now.
Please note that these methodical steps may take you months to complete. Be patient, and don’t rush through them—and be sure not to skip any as you move along. Each step is crucial to your success in training your team to be ministers through music.
Step 1: Confirm your vision, values and philosophy.
Through prayer and Scripture. Your first and most important task should be to nail down what you value and what your specific convictions are for the ministry God entrusted to you. No vision, no values and no approach to ministry should be formed outside of clear scriptural confirmation and God-given direction.
Through careful research. Talk with other worship leaders and pastors in your area to learn what they do. Also, take a look at quality worship ministries you know are committed to discipling and training their teams.
Through godly counsel. Proverbs 11:14 reads, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (ESV). Before you go public with your ideas, explain your vision and plans to people you trust to give you sound feedback and advice.
Step 2: Consult with key influencers within your church.
Educate them. The philosophy and systems you introduce may be a major shift from what your church has had in the past. You are hoping to change the culture of your worship ministry—and that change must begin with your key influencers.
Inspire them. Your dedication to work through these eight steps and your enthusiasm will be very important as you talk with key leaders. Know what you need to present to each influencer. Trust God to use your words to help inspire them to want to be on board with your ideas and dreams for the worship ministry.
Trust them. Ultimately, you need to remember that God has placed your key leaders in their places of influence for a reason. Listen to your pastor and elders and to the suggestions they give you. Pray for them that God will illumine their hearts and minds to see what you’re trying to do. Then trust and submit to them—even when they don’t fully agree with you.
Step 3: Commit to your development process.
Budget for it. David said, “I will not…offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (1 Chronicles 21:24, ESV). Offering God our best costs something. It’s all just a big pie-in-the-sky idea until we have to pay for it. Then it becomes reality. Plan ahead for the materials your team will need and for training events they need to attend. If possible, place line items into your church budget like “leadership development” and “mentoring.”
Broadcast it. Habakkuk 2:2 says, “…Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it” (ESV). There comes a point when you have to make plain to your entire team what you are doing, why you’re doing it, and how you plan to do it. Share it over and over in various and creative ways. It’s also helpful to have a graphic image which illustrates what your vision and plans are. My worship staff and I developed a carefully crafted process that’s simple to explain and follow.
Belabor it. Anything worth doing can be difficult. Go ahead and plan now for obstacles and challenges from people who don’t get what you’re doing and don’t like it. As you begin to make adjustments to weekly schedules and long-standing traditions, you will get some push back. Handle it prayerfully and carefully. Don’t take it personally. Keep reminding your team of what you’re trying to do and why.
Step 4: Lead your team to grow as worshipers and musicians.
Lead them in Bible and book studies. This is where the “water meets the wheel.” Everything you’ve said and done thus far has basically been rhetoric. Talk is cheap. Now it’s time to actually dig in and start growing. The best place to start is with heart-training. After all, worship starts in the heart. Worship leaders should learn to worship God themselves before they lead others in worship. To help accomplish this, we require our leaders to complete Pure Praise: A Heart-focused Bible Study on Worship.
Provide opportunities for music training. The best worship leader development involves not only character training (for the heart), but also competency training (for skills). Psalm 33:3 exhorts us to “play skillfully.” Look for ways to coach up your vocalists to be better singers. Challenge your musicians to set goals for themselves to improve their playing. Partner with a local college music department or music store to provide discounted lessons for some of your singers and band members. Line up technical training for your sound and production folks.
Model personal growth. No matter your age or educational background there’s always room to sharpen your musical skills and leadership ability. If you settle for stagnation and mediocrity, those on your team may also.
Step 5: Mentor individual members in character and competencies.
Identify them. Not everyone is ready and willing to be mentored. Mentoring requires face-to-face interaction and an invasion of some personal space. Much prayer and discernment is needed to know who should be mentored and by whom.
Challenge and teach them. Mentoring is a step above classroom-style teaching or discussion groups. Mentoring someone means investing your life into that person for a period of time and intentionally helping him or her to grow.
Hold them accountable. In Proverbs 27:17, Solomon wrote, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (NLT). Help those you mentor to set goals to grow spiritually, in leadership, and in their skills development.
Step 6: Empower and expect your overseers to mentor others.
Give them guidelines and parameters. Mentoring is the most important part of this entire process. It will be your key to years of continued growth and ministry success. To be most effective and enthusiastic, your overseers need to know your expectations and where their boundaries are regarding mentoring. Carefully explain what you need them to do and not do.
Encourage them. Most likely, many of the overseers in your ministry have full-time jobs, families and tons of other responsibilities. Be patient with them and empathetic to their full schedules and life-pressures as they carve out time to pour into others.
Continue to coach them. Many churches tend to place someone in a position of leadership, and then leave them to their own devices. It’s like we barely teach them to swim before we throw them into the middle of the lake to survive alone! Check in with your leaders occasionally, and keep an open door of communication in case they need your help or advice.
Step 7: Evaluate your team’s progress and adjust as needed.
Compare your ministry’s values to your activities. To keep yourself and your ministry on course, it’s imperative to take time to step back and see where you are. Have you made any real progress? What have you done up to this point that directly supports your stated values?
Assess individual skills and accomplishments. After months into this growth process, you now need to assess the skills of your band members, singers and tech team members. What has each one learned? How have they improved? Are they still enthusiastic about growing and about serving the Lord in the worship ministry? One way to know is to schedule time to sit and talk with them.
Innovate for more change. Think creatively about ways to improve your process and better serve your team and church. No matter how much you may have honed your plans, be willing to change them. If some part of the plan isn’t working well, then do something different. Constantly ask yourself, what can we do to better to reach our goal of growing our team?
Step 8: Repeat these steps again and again.
Recognize that real change takes time and patience. There is no cookie-cutter approach to discipleship. And there are no instant, out-of-the-box solutions for helping people grow as worshipers, musicians and mentors. It will take time–lots of time.
Refine your vision and never lose sight of your calling. It’s not ultimately your job to help someone mature. That’s God’s role as the Author and Finisher of our faith. Just keep faithfully repeating these important steps. He’ll do the rest.
Realize people need constant reminding and reshaping. Paul said in Philippians 1:6, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (NLT). Learn to look beyond the warts, issues and imperfections of your team and know that God is making them–and you–into His perfect image. Never give up on them. Pray for them and show to them the same graciousness they show to you.
Building Strong Worshipers is a regular column presented by Pastors.com, in partnership with Next Level Worship, a ministry providing quality training resources for churches and church leaders. Go to NextLevelWorship.com for free materials and coaching for the Pastors.com community. The articles in this series are written by church leaders committed to intentionally training people about worship. Their churches are reaping the benefits—and they gladly pass on ideas and suggestions of how your church can too!