(guest post by Chris Gambill)
Think about all the bands you’ve listened to over the years. You probably had a couple of favorites along the way.
Remember when one of your favorite bands broke up or significantly changed its makeup?
Usually when that happened, it was because of a relational breakdown. Maybe that’s not how it was announced, but it eventually was revealed to be the reason.
Or maybe you’ve been in a band. Even though you loved playing music, you hated being a part of the band. It just wasn’t enjoyable and you couldn’t wait to be done.
Why do these things happen? The simple truth is this:
Music making and relationships go hand in hand.
You may be investing time in creating and rehearsing great arrangements, developing amazing visual displays, and recruiting and equipping excellent musicians and techs. But, it will be very difficult to maintain this for the long haul if relationships are dysfunctional and/or non-existent.
As much as we desire to develop good musicians and play good music in the context of worship, we must also have as a priority the development of godly, Christ-centered relationships.
Here are six reasons why.
- The kingdom of God is about relationships. It is more valuable to have quality loving relationships with other Christians than to have the most rockin’ band in your town. Jesus said people would know we are Christians not by the excellence of our music but by how we engage with each other in love.
- Developing relationships will facilitate a common bond, unity, and purpose beyond music. Your worship team shouldn’t be only known for the quality of the music, but for their bond together with Christ.
- When relationships are a priority, then you are less likely to deal with jealousy, anger, misunderstandings, and strife. And when those things do develop, you have a strong relational base to address them from. Truth can be spoken in love because you’ve already established the framework of love.
- When relationships are a priority, you become more than just a band. You are a small group (or groups) doing life and ministry together. That’s a win.
- Let’s be honest. Your team will play better together when they know and care for each other. A huge part of this is because your members will be looking for ways to look to the interests of others before themselves.
- David, a leader of worship leaders, reminded us in Psalm 133:1 how good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.
Developing relationships is a key part of leading a worship ministry. And while it is vitally important, it can also be very hard. I’ve served in a number of different ministries. In some cases there’s been success in this area. In other cases, not so much. When I stop to reflect, the difference between ministries with strong relationships and those without is obvious.
Not everyone will want to develop relationships. Some may already have enough relationships. Some may just be there to play music. Some may not want to invest the time because of busy lives. But as a leader, you must persevere in this area for the health of your team members, the worship ministry, and the church as a whole.
So, what are some practical ways you can work at developing relationships within your worship ministry setting? Here are a few suggestions:
- Begin by praying. Pray for the members of the team to want to care for and get to know each other. Just like Jesus instructed us in John 13, prayed for us in John 17, and Paul reinforced in Ephesians 4.
- Make sure that you are setting the example of engaging in relationships. If you’re not doing it, not one else will either.
- Have everything ready for rehearsal before people show up so you can be available to chat with people.
- Take members out to lunch or coffee as appropriate. Be conscious of gender issues.
- Invite more than one team member to have dinner at your home at a time.
- Schedule regular worship team get-togethers. Some can be for the purpose of study or training, but be sure to have some just for the purpose of hanging out. These could be cook-outs, game nights, themed food nights (like Mexican), sports events, or a trip to a concert.
- Related to the above, if you’re traveling somewhere together, be sure to car pool instead of everyone driving separately.
- Also related, engage some other team members in the planning and executing of these events. Especially if it’s not your strength. I’ve found that involving others helps to increase participation.
- Spontaneously invite people to go for lunch, coffee, or ice cream following a rehearsal or special event.
- Surprise your team with food during a longer rehearsal or between multiple services. Food is a great way to foster spontaneous conversation and caring.
- Make regular time for team members to share about personal needs in their lives and then provide opportunity for other members to pray for them. Don’t do all the praying yourself.
- Be clear on your expectations. Let the team know this is a priority and that everyone has a part to play. It’s not fair to get frustrated that your team isn’t connecting if you haven’t communicated the importance.
Ultimately, you have to consider the context of your ministry setting. What are the constraints people have on their lives? How many people are a part of your team? Even if your team is small, start doing this now. It’s a lot easier than trying to retrofit when the team gets larger.
The important thing to remember is that this cannot be ignored. It may be hard and there may be resistance, but it is vital to push through. In the end everyone will be better for it.
Your congregation is watching the worship team. It’s obvious when a team gets along and loves each other and when a team is filled with strife. Which type of team do you think will be more effective in leading people to worship Jesus Christ?
And it will be a good way to make sure your team doesn’t become one that implodes on itself and people talk about at conferences for years to come.
If your worship ministry is struggling, maybe it really doesn’t have anything to do with how deep or talented your bench is. Maybe it has everything to do with lack of relationships among the ministry team.
For Discussion: How have your intentionally fostered relationships in your worship ministry?