I recently had a worship leader ask me how I disciple my worship ministry. It’s a great question and one to which I’ve floundered quite successfully over the years. There are a surprising number of ways that we can gently and consistently disciple our worship ministries over a period of time (here I mean all of the volunteers that serve, not necessarily the congregation which is a different question).
Here is a list of intentional actions I have used over the years.
1. Meet first thing to pray on Sunday mornings before set up or rehearsal
– Read a psalm, pray through the service.
– Some churches have a pastor or elder serve communion to the musicians if that is a difficulty during the service.
2. Help your musicians understand how music serves the whole liturgy/gospel story
Dedicate some time each week whether at rehearsal or on Sunday to explain the gospel flow of your churches liturgy. Help them to understand how music fits into the larger story that is happening. The details and demands of playing and performing can often distract us from the biblical narrative that is unfolding week by week.
3. Have monthly/quarterly music gatherings where you intentionally shepherd
Every three months I have a potluck for all of the musicians where we meet for a time of fellowship, teaching, prep for the next sermon series/ season, and learn new songs.
4. Meet regularly with sound techs
I take my sound techs out to lunch every month or so. Sound techs are your most important volunteers and often the least positively attended to. They work incredibly hard to support all of the staff work that goes into church servies and they should feel loved. Their work on Sunday supports every level at which we want the gospel to be clearly proclaimed (music before and after services, preaching, prayers, scripture, music, etc). Make sure they know the spiritual impact of their technical work.
5. Consistent time with leaders
I plan to spend one-on-one time with my band leaders every three months and general musicians every 6 mo’s. This is time to check in with them and see how they are doing spiritually, with their service in the music ministry, etc. I also hold a yearly retreat in August for the whole worship ministry to talk over the year, teach, fellowship, etc.
6. Rehearsal time that is more than just music time
It’s amazing how difficult it is to commit to spending a portion of rehearsal time to teaching and prayer. We all want to get to the music as quick as possible. Often If I can get a good prayer off myself for the group time then it is an accomplishment. During better seasons I will read from worship books, creeds, hymns, etc. The key here is to mix it up and keep it varied. Brainstorm a list of easy devotional resources that you can use to focus your rehearsal time on Jesus and the gospel.
7. Make sure your musicians have access to and participate in all the Sunday liturgy
At CTK each musician has a booklet for rehearsal and Sunday that includes not only the music but also all of the liturgy and prayers. I want the musicians to be able to participate in as much of the service as possible. I do this by running 81/2 x 11 sheets through my copier and creating 11×17 books. It is important for the church to see your musicians engaging in all aspects of the service…not just the music. Nothing is a greater disconnect for communicating the gospel than to see (for e.g.) a drummer wailing through a song and then not participating (and looking bored!) during a liturgical reading (call to worship, confession of sin, etc). This kills me every time. Your musicians HAVE TO be so careful to communicate that every aspect of the service that is corporate is just as important as the songs.
8. Provide worship resources for the greater church
A various points throughout the year I provide blog links, printed bulletins, and other resources for our church to grow in their daily worship habits. Have your musicians help create these, contribute to, etc. Give them intentional places to serve the church outside of just playing music on Sunday.
9. Have a thoughtful and consistent audition process
Some churches have a highly structured process for welcoming musicians into their ministries with regularly set yearly audition times. At other churches its more laid back. When someone expresses interest, or I pursue them to be a part of our worship ministry – it involves a lunch, a time to hear them musically one-on-one and sitting in on at least two rehearsals. I also expect them to be regular attenders for at least three months before letting them join one of our worship teams.
10. Encourage (require?) your musicians to be involved in other areas of the church
At CTK every regularly involved musician has to be a part of a small group. Some churches require their musicians to be members. On the flipside if you have any musicians who lead small groups then take care that they don’t burn out!
Here’s some more great resources on Discipleship from The Resurgence.