Worship Team Mechanics: Telling the Body That It’s a Body

A couple of days ago I shared some thoughts on how to set yourself up for effectively auditioning prospective worship team members. Today I want to share the number one way to keep your worship team functioning healthily, and that is to tell the body that it’s a body, and to treat it like one.

Far too many worship leaders are tolerating a level of dysfunction on their worship teams that is completely unbiblical. There will always be different dynamics and personalities for worship leaders to learn how to navigate, and it won’t always be easy. But the body of Christ, and by extension its worship teams, isn’t supposed to have diva singers, superstar drummers, unqualified and unskilled electric guitarists, and carryovers from the previous worship leader whom no one can question. 

In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 Paul sets the stage for how the body of Christ is to function: like a human body does. One body with different members, each member with a different function, no one member more or less needed, and each member arranged by God himself.

When certain parts of the body think they’re not needed, or think they’re more important than others, the body starts to get dysfunctional. The same principal applies to worship teams, part of the body of Christ. With scripture as a basis, there is ample justification for maintaining a healthy worship team by keeping its members mindful of the fact that they belong to a body.

Unity must be maintained 

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…” (1 Corinthians 12:12)

Your body, your human body that is, is most effective when it’s in one piece. When members of your human body start falling off, you’re in trouble. The same is true with your worship team. The unity of the body must be maintained. When we are in Christ, we belong to each other. We are different members of the same body.

So if you have members of your worship team who don’t talk to each other, or don’t get along, or are not all Christians, or think less of others and think more of themselves, as a worship leader you have a responsibility to call this out and address it and work to fix it. Sometimes you have to do surgery in order to make sure your body/worship team is unified.

Many members

“For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” (1 Corinthians 12:14)

This is why your worship team should always be looking to add more members, rejoicing in new members, and not be threatened by new members. When we belong to Christ, we can exist in unity with many members. This is a good thing.

If your bass player is threatened by a new bass player who joins the church, if you have a singer who is resisting stepping aside from time to time to allow other singers to sing, or if you are threatened by other gifted worship leaders in your church, you have dysfunction and you have some work to do.

Interdependency 

“If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’… or “if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.” (1 Corinthians 12:15-16)

I didn’t think about how much I used my left hand until I fractured my left wrist several years ago and couldn’t use it for six weeks. When that cast was removed I was so much more grateful for having it back!

It’s cliché to say that we all need each other, but it’s actually a biblical truth. In this passage Paul paints the ridiculous picture of if “the whole body were an eye” or “if the whole body were an ear” to make it plain to us that every member of the body needs the other members. Your drummer, even though he might play every Sunday, needs your middle schooler electric guitarist, even through he only plays once every six weeks. Your singer needs your bass player. We must foster an atmosphere in our worship teams that keeps us mindful that none of us are more or less needed than any one else.

God is the One who does the arranging

“…God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.”  (1 Corinthians 12:18)

This should be incredibly freeing and empowering for worship leaders. You don’t have to give the same position on a worship team to a drummer who is skilled and a drummer who can’t keep a beat. You don’t have to add singers to the team who are tone deaf. You can look someone in the eye and tell them that, in your view, God has a different place for them in the body.

This is what I mean by “telling your worship team that it’s a body”. It is inevitable that at some point, you will have an eye come up to you and tell you it’s an ear. Or you will have a foot come up to you and ask if it can be a hand. You’re going to be tempted to agree because it won’t hurt their feelings. So in the short term you’ve made your life easier but in the long term you’ve set your team and its members up for dysfunction.

If scripture is true (and it is!) that God arranges the members of the body, then you can be honest with those members about what their role is. This, by the way, is why worship leaders need to be prayerful, careful, and Spirit-led people, as we need to be able to discern where God is placing people.

Being honest, but being honorable

“…the parts that seem weaker are indispensable, and on those parts… that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor…” (1 Corinthians 12:22-23a)

“God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” (1 Corinthians 12:24b-25).

So here are the facts:

– Your worship team, part of the Body of Christ, must be unified

– Unity doesn’t mean uniformity. Members of the same body have different roles.

– If you don’t like your role, take it up with God. He does the arranging.

– There will be some members who are weaker and some members who are stronger.

– We must show honor to the weaker members.

The only way my 23-month-old daughter learned to walk was by slowly building up her leg muscles. She fell a lot at first, and still does from time to time, but she’s pretty much gotten the hang of it.

My 5-month-old daughter can’t walk yet. She can hardly sit up on her own without some help. But she has an awful lot more strength now than she did when she was a baby.

The only the weaker members of the body are going to grow is if we show them honor, if we give them opportunities to grow, and the safety to do it. It won’t honor a young drummer to make him play a whole service before he’s ready. But he might be able to do one song. It won’t honor an untrained bass player to make him play a difficult song and embarrass him. But with some practice and a few month’s notice, he might be able to do it.

Worship leaders can’t just sit back, set an incredibly high bar, and only allow really strong members to join the team. Yes, you need strong members, but you also need weaker members. Show them honor, help them grow, and your body will be stronger as a whole because of it.

3 thoughts on “Worship Team Mechanics: Telling the Body That It’s a Body

  1. Chris Gambill August 26, 2011 / 10:01 pm

    Excellent thoughts. Thank you for sharing them. I would thing I would add, especially in regards to the idea of interdependency, is that the musicians and the tech people also need each other. I think that is an important feeling and respect to foster.

  2. Trish November 10, 2011 / 8:25 pm

    I really appreciate it when you say we honor the weaker members by not letting them play beyond their level. Sometimes, we think it might offend them, but it’s good to point out that it’s a way of honoring people too if we take into account their skill and experience and help them avoid embarassing themselves.

    Thanks.

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