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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.

By Ashley Vaughan

Since she began leading worship at the age of 15, Ashley has always been passionate about supporting the local church and leading others into worship. For the past 10 years she has been leading worship teams and finds much joy and fulfillment in empowering and raising up other leaders. Ashley is a song writer with Worship Central Canada and has had the incredible opportunity to travel and lead worship, while collaborating with other worship leaders.

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