Growing Your Music Team
Some practical ideas of gathering and recruiting people to your church’s Music Team.
A few years ago, Cornerstone Church sent a large group of adults to start a church plant called Redeemer. They had several excellent musicians and worship leaders, but their music team was still quite small.
Upon my first visit to Redeemer I was somewhat taken aback when I saw several people in their band who had never played or sang whilst they were at Cornerstone - and what’s more, they were great!
I learned an important lesson that day which I suspect will be true in many churches: there may be more musicians and singers in your congregation than you think.
I’m sure that in many of our churches there are people with great voices, or who play an instrument, who might not put themselves forward if you were to make an announcement from the front. But they might be willing to sing or play if they were approached personally.
So how do you identify the musical or singing gifts in your church? Here are some ideas:
1. Keep an ear out
Sometimes when I’m sitting amongst the congregation, I hear someone singing behind me whose voice is particularly good. Perhaps they naturally harmonise, or their voice has a quality or tone that’s particularly pleasing.
On such occasions I find out more about them and, if it’s appropriate, I ask if they would consider joining the music team.
If you also encourage the other members of your music team to listen out for someone singing nearby, you multiply the opportunity to spot people’s gifts.
Ask your team to engage in after-service conversations with people that might naturally lead to the question “do you play an instrument?”.
When you’re tipped off about someone who plays an instrument, then you can make a beeline for them next week.
2. Make use of your home groups
One of the places that you might uncover hidden musical talents is in the home groups at your church. Perhaps there is someone who plays the piano or guitar in a mid-week home group that you never knew about.
It’s worth asking home group leaders if they know of anyone in their group who might be gifted on an instrument or as a singer that you should be picking up on.
3. Encourage a past talent
There are a surprising number of people who played an instrument whilst at school or university to a good standard but dropped it later in life. Often, it’s because there wasn’t the time, inclination, or the opportunity, so it fell by the wayside.
Perhaps your church might do a push to encourage folks to dig out their flute, guitar, or whatever, and start relearning it. This could produce a small crop of fresh talent.
Start by encouraging people to play in their home group settings or at a prayer and praise evening. This might feel less daunting for those reviving a past talent than if they were asked to play in front of the whole church on Sunday.
4. Grow talent in stages
It’s important that churches try to grow the next generation of musicians.
You might want to start a youth band who could play for the other young people at their mid-week club. This could be a mix of experienced players, with a few up and coming younger players accompanying.
If you spot potential in someone who just needs to build up their confidence, then try getting them to play a couple of the songs you use in your service. Get them to practice those really well by providing them with the sheet music a week or two in advance.
By using this method they feel less overwhelmed, plus you enable them to gradually build up a portfolio of songs which they know well.
5. Take auditions
I once inherited a music team at a large church I worked in. However, it seemed that the only requirements to get into the team were that you were keen, and you were saved.
There didn’t seem to be a robust check as to whether they actually had the musical ability to be effective. As a result, the church had to live with a music team where there were some varying, and at times distracting, levels of ability.
For churches with a large selection of musicians keen to serve, an audition process can prevent a whole host of heartache - and ear-ache!
Look out for a future resource coming soon on the FIEC website which provides some checks to help you run an audition process.
At the end of every service, I make a point of thanking each of the musicians (and those on the sound and visuals desk) and make note of where they played well in particular.
You will find that encouragement goes a long way in boosting a person’s confidence, as well as motivating them to keep serving in the church with their ministry in music.
Constructive feedback enables a person to blossom.
This is part of a series by Colin on leading a Music Team, including advice on introducing new songs and leading sung worship in small churches. You can find more leadership resources for Music & Singing on our resources page.