I’ve had the pleasure of working among musicians and worship teams in a variety of contexts. One of my favorite roles is actually as a coach rather than as a team member.
If someone comes to me asking for my help with their worship team, many times, in their minds, they have this idea of a new, dynamic worship leader, coming in, taking the captain’s wheel, setting a new course, and saving the day — creating a fresh and exciting worship environment. This is not the way I approach coaching worship teams.
When I sign on to work with a team, my primary objective isn’t actually to make them better — competence comes in time — but there’s another place I prefer to begin. I’ll gather this team of musical people and ask them who plays what. I’ll listen to them as they share their favorite bands and music styles and help navigate the right people into the right places. And, I’ll take a little time to observe the feel of their community. And then… my job is to affirm them. A worship team needs to hear that the sound they create together is meaningful to the Lord and that they are who their community needs. If a team is comprised of an acoustic guitar and a washboard, praise God. What a gift to a community of believers. If a team happens to be made up of professional musicians, fantastic. What a gift they are as well!
There’s a pressure in America, to always be the biggest and the best, often at the expense of authenticity. The worship team of the western Church is by no means shielded from this pressure.
The small rural church community doesn’t need to feel pressure to have the Nashville rock band — pull out the acoustic guitar and the banjo and let’s do this! And on the other hand, for the the Nashville rock band, playing in clubs six nights a week and dragging out of bed after a late Saturday night to worship Jesus with spiritual family on a Sunday morning, beautiful!
Communicating to a worship team that they have everything needed to lead their community in worship is one of my favorite moments. Sure, there are places we can all improve, there are wild musicians to reign in, there are quiet bedroom musicians to infuse with boldness, there are stray notes and wrong chords, and all kinds of other things. But, let’s make sure that we are starting with who we are and with what we have. And let’s commit to growing from that place.