When I arrived at my church five and a half years ago, I inherited a worship team of about 15 instrumentalists and singers. Since then, some have remained on the team, some have transitioned off either because of other commitments, moving away, or having children, and some have been asked to step back. New members have been added as well, and now the worship team looks very different than it did in 2004.
Adding members to a worship team is one of the most important and consequential jobs of a worship leader. It requires patience (when no one is stepping forward), discernment (whether or not someone is gifted), wisdom (is this person suited for a leadership position in the church?), and leadership (am I building a team or expecting it to fall into place?)
I have made some wise decisions regarding who to add to the worship team, and I have made some not-so-wise decisions. I’ve learned that there are some things to look out for (i.e. red flags) when considering whether or not someone should be asked to join the worship team.
Here are ten red flags to be looking for (in no particular order of importance):
They speak bitterly about former churches
You will not break their cycle of joining a church, being on the worship team, and then leaving and trashing that church to the next church. Instead, you will probably end up joining the club.
They “need” to be on the worship team
Be wary of someone who approaches you about joining the worship team after only weeks at the church, someone who seems overly eager to sing or play an instrument on the team, or someone who is putting pressure on you. Instead of looking for a place to serve, they are looking for a source of self-validation. Watch out.
They really just want to play music and leave the worship leading to you
I tell my team quite often that I am not looking to build a team of back-up instrumentalists and singers. I am looking to build a team of worship leaders. If I’m auditioning someone and they just seem to be interested in playing music and unable to articulate a passion for helping people encounter God in worship, I would be hesitant to add them right away.
They aren’t committed to the church
Before someone is in a position of leadership at a church, they need to be committed to that church. Set a high bar of expectations for the members of your worship team. You won’t regret it.
They say something like “I worship most easily when I’m leading worship”
This is usually code for “when I’m not up front I’m uncomfortable because I’d rather be up front”. People who really want to be up front shouldn’t be up front. (See my post from August called “Do You Worship When You’re Not ‘Leading Worship’?”)
They can’t articulate a vibrant faith and trust in Jesus Christ
Before you ever hear a potential singer sing a note, a potential guitarist play a chord, or a potential drummer hit the snare, ask them to tell you their story of how they came to know and trust in Jesus Christ.
They are over-confident
I once had a woman come up to me after a service and say “I would love to join you on the worship team some time. I used to sing many years ago. Feel free to call on me anytime. I don’t need to audition or anything like that. I’d be fine.” Pass.
They are already over-committed
I’ll always ask a potential worship team member “do you have space in your life for another commitment?” Then I’ll tell them what is expected of worship team members. If they seem excited about making this commitment and able to fulfill it, that’s an encouraging sign. If they seem burned-out just thinking about it, that’s a red flag.
They don’t enthusiastically participate in singing from the pews
Look for them on a Sunday morning when they’re in the pews. Imagine they’re the one leading worship and you’re the one looking at them on a platform. Whatever message they’re sending in the pews will be greatly magnified on stage.
They take it lightly
I remind my team quite frequently that being on the worship team means being in a position of leadership. Make sure that any person you add to your worship team feels that weight and takes it seriously.
Add to your team slowly, intentionally, and wisely. Look for red flags and don’t just hope they’ll disappear. They hardly ever do – and they’re a whole lot harder to handle once you’ve already taken the plunge.