When building a worship team, what are the things we should look for in a leader and musician besides talent, and how picky should we be? Last year at WorshipU On Campus, Jenn Johnson shared about building and pastoring a thriving worship team with integrity and character.
Sometimes good musicians are hard to come by when building a worship team, especially if your church community is on the smaller side. As musicians, we want to have the best sounding worship out there, and we are easily drawn to people with amazing talent. It would be a lot easier if we could hire any musician regardless of their personal character. Skill and talent are great things to have, and it should eventually be the goal. But we should never sacrifice character and integrity for a great sounding band.
Choosing a person with character and purity of heart should be our first priority.
Leading worship is a sacred, holy responsibility that God enjoys entrusting us with as we partner with him. Whether a worship pastor, singer, drummer, bass player or sound guy—the room is led into the Presence of God by that person’s instrument, sound, skill—and most importantly—their heart.
One of the biggest assignments from the enemy against musicians, singers, and worship leaders is to attack their purity of heart and mind. When our hearts and minds are pure, what we create and the sound we release is holy. It has the power to break strongholds, set people free, and reveal the nature of God in a new way.
If we want to take ground during worship and lead people into the Holy of Holies, we have to go in with clean hands and pure hearts.
When choosing a worship team, we are creating a vehicle that will take our congregation to new heights and depths of the presence of God. In order for this trip to go well, every part of the car should be working correctly. If we are driving a beautiful red Ferrari but the tires are blown out and the engine doesn’t work, that Ferrari won’t take us anywhere. If everyone on a worship team is an expert at their instrument and has amazing skill, but they don’t have integrity and purity of heart, that team won’t be able to take the congregation anywhere.
We can’t lead people anywhere that we haven’t actually gone ourselves.
A worship leader should be filled with the Spirit of God and know how to follow His voice. Skill is easy to acquire, it can be learned and taught. Humility, integrity, honor, and a heart that is teachable are the things that cannot be acquired through theory, lessons, or Youtube videos. These are things that grow as fruits of the Spirit living inside of a person over time.
It’s okay to be picky—this is a sacred mission. Fight to find people with integrity and character on your worship teams, who are willing to follow the Holy Spirit with you.
One way to cultivate a culture of purity on a worship team is by letting them know that your door is always open.
Everyone deals with temptation and goes through hardship. Although we want our team members to live pure lives, we can’t expect them to be perfect. Rather than asking for perfection, create a culture that invites your team to be open with you about what they are going through. Exposing sin to the light kills it faster than hiding it behind a leadership role or title.
You can set the example by being open and honest with your team about the journey the Lord is taking you on. We don’t have to create a therapy session, and we should definitely set boundaries about how much we share, but showing people we’re human gives them permission to be real with us as well.
Your team will be given an opportunity to grow in humility and purity of heart as they realize they have the freedom to be honest and vulnerable.
Be prepared when your team comes to you with things; correct them with gentleness and encourage them to seek the Father’s heart.
If you are struggling to find the right people for your worship team, come to God open-handed and trust Him. Maybe you chose someone on your team that you know isn’t teachable and doesn’t have integrity, ask God to clean house. That might mean it will just be you and your piano for a season, and that’s okay. Trust that God cares more about your congregation than you do, and He has a plan to build a beautiful and balanced team that becomes a family encountering God together.