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How To

Worship Team Training: An In-Depth Guide For Worship Leaders

Worship team training can be a little daunting. Not all of us worship pastors were high school band teachers, so the idea of having to train worship team members can be a little overwhelming.

Perhaps you inherited a worship team that is struggling or has little training, or maybe you want to spruce up the team you have now with some extra mentoring.

This article will take you through some worship team training ideas. 

In this article I will talk about:

Why Do We Train Worship Teams?

Putting together a worship team is an important task. You are essentially creating a worship ministry that will take the local church on a journey with the Holy Spirit into the heights and depths of the presence of God. 

Think of this “bike analogy”: You can’t steer a bike unless the bike is moving. If the bike is staying put, you can move the front wheel back and forth, but that bike isn’t going to move! There needs to be pedaling and momentum to get the bike to steer in the direction you want. In the same way, our worship team needs to be moving and going forward as we lead worship. 

Also, if there are parts of the bike that are not working properly or cohesively, that bike journey is going to be tough, and you may not get far. Likewise, for our worship teams, if everyone on the team is an expert at their instrument and has amazing skill, but they don’t have purity of heart, humility, or integrity, that team won’t be able to take the church anywhere.

Or the opposite can happen. They may have hearts pure and ready for worship, but they continually play wrong notes or sing off key. This can be a major distraction for church worship and cause a lot of road bumps along the journey. 

Need help coming up with guidelines? Check this out: How To Create Worship Team Guidelines (with examples & template)

Non Musical Training vs Musical Training 

We have to remember something important with our worship teams. Not all worship team training is about the musicianship. Although playing the right notes or electric guitar riffs is important, we need to also talk about the non musical aspects of the worship team, like our passion and spiritual growth. 

Leading your local church in worship is a sacred, holy responsibility that God has entrusted us with as we partner with him. Whether you are a worship pastor, back up vocalist, electric guitar player, bass player, or on the visuals team, the church is led into the Presence of God not just by that person’s instrument, sound, and skill, but more importantly, their heart. 

Non Musical Training

Here are three tips for non-musical worship team training.

1. Be Encouraging  

Encouraging your worship team can be super powerful. As you know, Sundays can be draining, and even preparation throughout the rest of the week can be hard or discouraging.

A weekly email or text out to the team might seem like such a small thing, but it could be a huge motivator to them. Be genuine in your encouragement, even pointing out specific things that you appreciate about the team. 

For example, my team has a WhatsApp group chat where we send encouragement to each other and funny worship YouTube videos. It’s been a great tool to keep the team connected and encouraged throughout the week. 

Creating a culture of encouragement will be an asset, not only for your team, but for the wider church. This culture of encouragement can be a great foundation for the worship team. If members are feeling encouraged and loved, this will help the team in their growth. 

When the team feels encouraged, this will also help them to receive any training or correction with love. Your team should never feel like you are judging them, especially in this very vulnerable area of worship. Applaud the efforts you see in them, and make sure that you balance your critiques with lots of love and encouragement. 

Tell them often that you’re proud of them when they take steps in the right direction.

2. Instill Passion In Your Team

This can be a tricky thing sometimes. How do you train your worship team to be full of passion? The first thing to do is to teach what the bible says on “expressive worship”

  • Psalm 47:1 – “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.”
  • Psalm 63:4 – “I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands.”
  • Psalm 95:6– “Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”
  • Psalm 149:3 – “Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.”

It’s also important to encourage your team to feel “released” in their worship. Continue encouraging them to feel free to worship expressively, even right before the team is about to go on stage.

It’s also important to model this. Your team should be able to look to you for what’s appropriate for the platform. Make sure you’re walking the talk.

Another great training tool is to record your Sunday morning services. We once set up an iphone to do a wide shot of the stage, and afterwards as a team we did a playback and watched it together. Many musicians were surprised to see how “miserable” they looked; they had no idea what their faces looked like.

Often you won’t need to point it out or say much. The goal is that they see the difference between what they think they are projecting and reality. This often is enough for them to change on their own. 

3. Foster Spiritual Growth Among Your Team

If the members of a worship team do not have a healthy relationship with God, they will not be able to effectively lead worship – no matter how incredible of a musician or singer they are. 

The best thing you can do as a worship leader is lead by example. Dedicate yourself to spending time with God and His Word daily. Your worship ministry will be inspired by your faith and joy, and you can begin mentoring them in this area. 

Other ideas for sparking spiritual growth in your team: 

  • Start a devotional with your team
  • Spend time at your rehearsals praying for the church and each other 
  • Spend a good chunk of your rehearsal time worshipping; you can’t lead people where you haven’t been
  • Start a team night once a month where you not only spend time learning new songs but spend time as a team praying and worshipping together 

Musical Training 

Here are some notes on training both instrumentalists and vocalists.

Training Instrumentalists

Getting a great rhythm sound from part-time musicians can often be challenging, especially if you have a band where instrumentalists are changing every Sunday as the schedule changes. 

Here are some practical skills you can work on as a team to help you get to the next level.

  • Make sure everyone is listening to each other when they play.
  • All players need to develop a good sense of time. Practicing with a click track can really help. If you don’t have access to click tracks, there are online metronomes you can use. 
  • Decide which instruments will be the lead sound on the different songs you practice, and run through those songs, choosing a different instrument each time.
  • Each instrumentalist should learn or know how to read a basic chord chart.
  • Practice playing by ear.
  • Regularly give the team new songs to listen to and learn. This will help them grow in their playing and stay challenged.
  • Practice how to play spontaneously. This will help in the flow of your Sunday morning worship, and with transitioning between songs. It can be as simple as deciding on a 4 chord progression.

Training Vocalists 

Investing time into your vocalists is so important. Sometimes we tend to focus on musicians only as they do carry a lot of musical responsibility. When we focus on training our vocalists to sing with excellence, they will be more equipped to lead with confidence and sing from their hearts. 

When you work with vocalists, here are some skills and abilties to consider working on:

  • Correctly singing harmonies and melodies
  • Properly listening to and blending with other voices
  • Staying on tempo without rushing or lagging
  • Breathing in the same place
  • Holding notes the same length
  • Memorizing the lyrics and enunciating properly
  • Singing into a microphone properly
  • Body language, like smiling when singing
  • Vocal warmups they can easily do at home

Lastly, make sure to encourage singers to still worship as they sing, which is of course the most important part!

Here is a great vocalist training manual to give you some more tips. 

How To Raise Up New Worship Leaders 

Having someone you have mentored rise up and become a worship leader themselves has to be the most amazing thing. It’s my absolute favourite thing to see. 

Mentoring a team member to become a worship leader takes time. It also takes commitment on their part and yours. But I can’t say it enough — it’s absolutely worth it.  

Raising up worship leaders is a major part of strengthening your worship ministry. There are 4 major steps in this process.

1. Find Team Members With Potential 

Always be on the lookout for team members who may be potential worship leaders. Do they have strong musical talent? Strong leadership skills? A strong worshipper with a heart for serving God? If so, encourage them to think about or try worship leading. 

2. Give Them A Song To Lead During Rehearsals

Find a song that they love to sing, and have them lead the song during rehearsal.  This helps them get the feel for leading a song and gives you an opportunity to observe.

Then, when they become comfortable with that, encourage them to lead the band during worship rehearsal, and encourage them to lead the team like the worship pastor would, to see their comfort level and ability.

3. Co-Leading

Once you feel that they have become confident in song leading, it’s time to get them to lead people. Organize a service for you two to co-lead. Invite them to work with you on building a worship set list. Get them to welcome everyone or to pray. This will help the church get comfortable with being led by a new worship leader. 

4. Let Them Lead

Finally, let them lead. Be gracious with their mistakes. Understand they may be nervous, but let them lead. Encourage them to go for it, and remind them that you are there to jump in if they need help. 

This whole process may take a few weeks, or a few months, but be patient. Also, don’t wait until you are absolutely desperate for a worship leader. You don’t want to rush this process either. 

Other Worship Team Training Resources

Here are some worship tutorials on how to lead and play Hillsong’s worship songs. You can also check out this great training course from Bethel Worship on how to thrive as a worship team. 

Shane & Shane started a worship training website with additional tutorials, and there’s also some great podcasts out there for worship leaders.

Make sure to check out my article on holding worship team auditions as well, if you’re looking for new members to join your team.

For more on worship teams and to connect with other worship leaders and church leaders, join The Lead Pastor community here.

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How To

Worship Team Auditions: Step-by-Step Process + Templates

I think most of us at some point may have experienced this:

You’re the worship pastor, the worship leader, the music minister, and you have some people on your team that can’t cut it. Their musicality is not great, they show up unpracticed and late, and yet somehow they have managed time to stop and grab a Starbucks. Their attitudes drain the life out of practice time, and they just don’t seem to take instruction or work with a team very well.

How did we get here? Either we inherited this worship team mess or we created this mess ourselves. None the less, it’s time for auditions!

In this article I will cover:

I’ll also include some templates in a downloadable pack to make the process easier.

The most important thing to remember about auditions is this: it’s always easier to add a member to the team than to take them off. Thankfully, God hasn’t required us to use a specific instrument or vocal part in praising him, so we shouldn’t feel any pressure to add a drummer, guitarist, pianist, or alto ASAP to the worship band.

Auditions will certainly look different depending on the size of the church, the skill level of the current musicians, and the discernment of the leader. 

New Church Or Church Plant Auditions

For a new church, I’d recommend a more casual audition process. 

  • You could invite any musicians who are interested over to your house to play and sing on a regular basis. This way you can see how well they play, get to know them, and their character without any expectation of being included on a Sunday morning. 
  • While the standards may be lower in a new or smaller church auditions, I’d make sure that everyone is skilled enough not to be a distraction. 
  • Finally, look for people who are eager to support your leadership, not people who feel they need to display their gifts. Remember that pride on the team will only cause problems later, and it’s a contradiction to our intentions to bring glory to God, not ourselves.

Below is an outline of how you can run an audition in an established church.

Before The Audition

Here are some things you need to do at least a couple weeks before the audition. You want to make sure you are prepared before audition day arrives.

1. Select A Date And Time For Auditions

The whole audition may take a couple hours. This depends on how many musicians have signed up. It usually takes 10 to 15 minutes to audition one person, so if you have 5 people sign up, you’re looking at about an hour to an hour and a half with transition times.

2. Create A Way For People To Sign Up

An easy option is Google Forms. It’s a free service that Google offers where you can make a signup form and include all the questions you want people to answer before the audition.

If a good old piece of paper is easier for you, then go for it! Get that table set up in the church lobby and have people sign up.

Musicians could also email the worship pastor to sign up for the audition.

Instead of specifying what instrument(s) you are looking for, you may want to just hold an “open audition”. You never know who might walk through that door!

Worship Team Audition Signup Sheet Template

I’ve made an example of a worship team audition signup sheet, which you can download in the pack at the end of this article.

Download Template Here

3. Communicate With People Before The Audition

Email everyone who signed up to let them know when and where the audition will be and what they can expect to happen. People will want to be as prepared as possible, which is awesome. You may want to send the music ahead of time as well. With this email you can also add another form for the potential team member to fill in. This form will give you a bit more information about the person, their desires with worship, and some of their musical history.

Sample Worship Team Audition Email Template

 You can download an example of the email I usually send in the pack at the bottom of this article—copy and adapt for your auditions.

Download Template Here

 Worship Team Audition Info Sheet Template

You can include these info sheets in your email to collect additional information from people who are auditioning for your worship team. Get the download in the pack at the bottom of this article.

Download Template Here

4. Assemble An Audition Panel

An audition panel is one of the things that will separate a formal audition from just listening to someone play. It’s probably best to have three or five people on the audition panel (preferably an uneven number). Your audition panel should be other worship team members, like worship leaders, vocalists, or instrumentalists who are either on your team or others you know and trust. You don’t want the decision to lay only in your hands. There is safety in numbers, especially when it comes to having someone fail an audition and you need to communicate that with them. 

Day Of Audition

The day of the audition is finally here. Here are some ideas on what to do the day of the audition.

Auditioning Singers

  • Ask them to come with voices warmed up and ready to sing.
  • Have them sing a well-known worship song that you will pick for them.
  • Take some time to figure out their vocal range and decide on the best key for them. Make sure it’s a key they feel comfortable and confident in.
  • Be on stage playing the song during the audition, and callout different parts of the song to see how they flow with the music.
  • Ask them to sing a spontaneous song or even a bible verse over a chord progression of your choosing. This can test their ear and their flow as a singer.
  • If there are any weaknesses or mistakes, kindly point them out and have them play the song through again, and see if there are any improvements.
  • Encourage them with the strengths you saw in them after the audition.

Auditioning Musicians

  • Give them a few minutes to get their gear setup and prepared, whether this is an acoustic guitar, electric guitar, drum kit, or another instrument.
  • Lead them through a well-known worship song, watching that they confidently follow the chord charts and make smooth transitions.
  • Have them play the song in different keys, transposing in their heads.
  • Have them play lead-line melodies or a spontaneous song.
  • If there are any weaknesses or mistakes, kindly point them out and have them play the song through again, and see if there are any improvements.
  • Encourage them with the strengths you saw in them after the audition.

When auditioning a potential team member for the worship team, remember that you’re not only looking for technical ability, you’re also looking at their musicianship. Pay attention to how it felt playing with them. Was it smooth sailing or did it seem like they were struggling or fighting the flow of the music?

It is better for your worship team to consist of you and a keyboard player than a worship team full of musicians that can’t play or worse off, don’t care. I am quite happy to have a smaller worship team that is tight than a huge team that doesn’t know what they’re doing. It’s ok to build your team slowly over time. 

Make sure that you and your audition panel have a plan figured out. Try to establish exactly what you are looking for, and the type of standards you are expecting. Are you looking only for perfect pitch and tone? If they make a mistake, are they out? It’s best not to be too picky, but you also don’t want to be too lenient either. 

Worship Team Audition Scoring Sheet Template

This is a really useful sheet you and your panel can use to score the auditions. Download this and the other audition materials below.

Download Template Here

After The Audition

The auditions may be done, but the tough work is just beginning. Here is what you should do after the auditions.

1. Confer With Your Panel

Chat with the panel immediately after the auditions, assessing each person’s strengths and weaknesses in a way that honours their audition.

2. Send An Email With Your Decision

When you and the other leaders have figured out results, send an email letting people know the results within 3-5 days of their audition. One of the best ways we can honor those who audition is by following up in a clear and timely manner.

The email can be simple but should include: encouragement on their audition, whether or not they passed the audition, and the next steps in the process.

Remember that sometimes instead of “no” we can respond with “not yet”. Are there some tips you can send them? Perhaps it’s a suggestion of lessons? If the musician does put in that work you have suggested, this shows not only that they are teachable, but willing to put in the work and effort.

If you feel that they will be better suited for another ministry instead, suggest that to them as well.

Worship Team Audition Templates

Download all the templates mentioned in this article here:

Conclusion

It may sound cliché to say, but prayer is also a big part of this audition process. Ask the Lord to direct you in this decision process as well. As worship pastors it’s our mission to not just lead our worship ministry well, but to lead the worship team in submission to the Holy Spirit. He will be your best friend when it comes to building your worship team.

I have had incredible musicians audition, but after praying I had a sense from the Holy Spirit that it wouldn’t be a good fit. Later on, things came out that confirmed this decision. Going through the worship team audition process gives time for both you and that musician auditioning to get a feel for whether this is really going to work.

In the end it’s important to emphasize that musical skill is not the most important thing. Character and skill must go hand in hand when finding a team member.

For more on worship teams and church planting, sign up for The Lead Pastor community here!

Other Worship Team Audition Resources

Read about Bethel Church’s worship audition process.

See an example of a worship audition application from Elevation.

Check out Hillsong’s great article on building a worship team.

Categories
How To

How To Create Worship Team Guidelines [Examples & Template]

You’re probably here because you need to create or update your own worship team guidelines.  We’ve got you covered. In this post, we’re going to provide an overview of:

Not sure if you need all this? Well let me share a story – and let me know if it sounds familiar. 

‘James’ wants to join the worship team—but is he a good fit? You kind of know James, you have seen him around the church, seems like a nice fellow. You take James for coffee and realize his expectations of being on a worship team are a lot different than yours. 

Perhaps James played the guitar as a teenager, he thinks he can play, and likes the idea of playing again with others. But does James really understand what it means to be part of the worship team and the expectations of being on the team? Does he know the importance of rehearsals at church and at home? 

If only we had all this written somewhere—a document that outlined everything needed and expected from a member of the worship team! We do. Enter one of the best tools for Worship Ministry Leaders, the Worship Team Guidelines.

So keep reading to learn more about worship team guidelines and get set for a smoother worship team management with your own guidelines for your worship services, worship team and worship ministry.

What Are Worship Team Guidelines?

I hope by now we’ve explained it but, simply put, worship team guidelines are a clear code of conduct outlining the vision, values, expectations and responsibilities of being part of the worship team or music ministry. 

Sometimes they’re called a worship team code of conduct – and they’re exactly that. They make sure there’s clarity and everyone has a shared understanding of the expectations of joining and being part of the worship team.

Why Worship Teams Need Guidelines

Worship team guidelines enable us to communicate clearly to the team members what is expected of them. 

So back to our friend James. Why do we need guidelines? Let me explain. 

The guidelines are an easy tool to help guide and develop a worship team. It’s a clear communication tool where everyone can be on the same page, thus being able to focus on the main thing, which is leading worship and to lead others into worship!

If we don’t have guidelines, we begin to rely on assumptions. I don’t want James to just assume that he can play whenever he feels like playing, or have him just showing up on a Sunday without attending rehearsals. I also want James to understand that he needs to be proficient in his playing. 

I want others like James to have a well-defined understanding of what is expected of him and what he can expect from being on the team. 

If we are not clear, it may result in awkward conversations for worship pastors, hurt feelings, and frustrations.

What To Include In Your Worship Team Guidelines

Here are some topics you could consider including in your worship team guidelines. 

How Does Someone Become Part Of The Worship Ministry?

This is a great time to clearly outline the process for joining a team. 

Being on the worship team is a privilege, and a blessing. It’s not something to be taken lightly. Which is why when we communicate to our friends, like James. We want them to understand that this is something to be taken seriously.

Yes, being members of the worship team is fun and rewarding, but it’s also hard work, so it’s important to see that people are committed, not only to the church, but going through the process to be considered for the worship team.  

  • Are team members expected to be members of your church?
  • Do they need to attend a small group or church bible study? 
  • Do they need to be attending the church for a certain number of months or years? 
  • Is there a membership course they need to complete?  
  • Do they need to show that they can proficiently play or sing?

It’s important to set the expectations clearly on how to join the team. It also might be worth having a worship team application form to make these expectations clear. You can find a great example from the Bethel Worship Team.

What Is Expected Of A Team Member?

Personal Standards

This is a great place to highlight the importance of the personal walk with God. I would also say that this is probably #1. It’s also important to regularly encourage your worship team in this area. Challenge them on their own personal worship, what does that look like for them? 

Remember, first and foremost, all members of the worship team are worship leaders, they are  not just playing music or putting on a performance. This must remain at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Be clear about this expectation before asking volunteers to commit. 

It’s important to remind the team members that our Sunday worship is our overflow from worshiping during the week. Our own personal worship at home with God is so important before coming and leading others. 

This can also be a great place to address aspects such as: 

  • Attitude problems
  • Gossip/slander amongst the team
  • Submitting to leadership

Skills & Responsibilities 

Although we recognize the importance of a pure heart, the musicians and vocalists also need to have enough skill so that they can follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Here we should emphasize the importance of practice and preparation. 

All of the praise team should have open hearts to receive advice, correction, and training, and should be committed to becoming proficiently skilled at their ministry. 

Of course, one does not need to be a professional musician to worship the Lord, but we know that God honors the discipline of additional practice and preparation. 

Musicians not only have a responsibility to craft their skill, but to also take responsibility for themselves. Have they brought all their proper equipment and cords?  Have they learned their arrangement properly? 

It’s important to emphasize the importance of their personal responsibilities so that they are prepared and ready for rehearsals and ready to support the worship leader.

Rehearsals

It’s important to clearly outline the expectations of rehearsals and weekly practices. Not only the importance of regular attendance at rehearsals, but also your expectations for their rehearsals at home. 

  • Do you expect the team member to arrive with music memorized? 
  • Is sheet music or chord charts allowed? 
  • Is punctuality important?  
  • If they skip the rehearsal during the week, are they allowed to play on Sunday morning? 
  • Are rehearsals more than doing a run through of the set list,  do you learn a new song, read some scripture from the Bible and pray as well? 
  • What time do they need to be available for sound checks?

Be prepared to make this section of your guidebook clear. If rehearsals are an important part of your Sunday morning preparation, you want to make sure all team members understand the importance of attending them on a regular basis.

It’s also important to highlight how often they should be expected to play. A typical expectation for team members is to play once every three weeks.

Dress Code

Remember that dress codes will vary depending on the culture of your church. Here are some possible ideas for your dress code. 

General Dress Code: Modesty & dressy, culturally relevant style are key.

  • No overly tight clothing.
  • No sleeveless tops (without a covering).
  • No revealing clothing (i.e. see-thru material without undershirt, short skirts)
  • Proper clean footwear
  • Maintain Personal Hygiene ie: Wear deodorant

Technology & Software 

This will also vary depending on what your church does. Is the musician or singer expected to bring their own laptop or iPad? Will they need to have their own in ear monitors (IEMs)? If IEM’s are expected, we usually like to give our musicians a few options if they need to purchase some. IEM’s can range from expensive, to more affordable.

Communication 

It’s important to highlight how communication will be sent to the team. Who will be sending out the setlists? Communicate if you are using PlanningCenter or Elvanto for scheduling and setlists.

Explain the process about how to switch or cancel a shift and make it clear. The last thing you want to do is show up to a rehearsal and find out only then that you have no drummer available for Sunday.

Other Things To Add To Your Worship Team Guidelines

  • Worship team mission statement
  • Worship team vision 
  • Church beliefs
  • Tips for stage presence 
  • Time commitment

Worship Team Guidelines Example

Below we’ve provided you with a simple example of a full set of worship team guidelines. You’ll find it helpful to understand the context of these guidelines so you can adapt them for your own use. 

worship team guideline example 1
worship team guideline example 2
Here is what a typical worship team guidelines document might look like.

Other Worship Team Guideline Examples

Below are some great examples of worship team guidelines. 

If you are needing some more inspiration on what else can be added to your worship team guidelines, check out the resources below:

  • Bethel Worship has some great articles on worship. 
  • Gateway Worship has a resource library where you can log in to review their worship handbook. 
  • Hillsong has a great example of their statement of beliefs. 

Worship Team Guidelines Template

Want to fast-track the process of creating your own worship team guidelines? Download our easily customizable below.

Conclusion

Remember that we also lead out of grace too; the praise team are like family members. Worship team guidelines are just that, a guiding tool. There may be times when a team member will make a mistake or have a misunderstanding. The important thing is to keep guiding them with love and grace, as we all strive to become more and more like Christ.

For more on worship teams, read about worship team training and worship team auditions.