Red Flags

Adding members to a worship team, a choir, or really any volunteer 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 whom 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 some 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. They really “need” to be up front. 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 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 maybe shouldn’t be up front as much as they’d like, for their own good. (See my post from a very long time ago: “Do You Worship When You’re Not ‘Leading Worship’?”)

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.” You might want to encourage that audition.

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.

12 thoughts on “Red Flags

  1. Dominic Stockford October 18, 2017 / 9:32 am

    What is this ‘worship team’ thing? Surely the whole congregation is the worship team, and they worship together, lead by the pastor.

    • Jamie Brown October 18, 2017 / 10:24 am

      “Worship team” is a commonly used term to describe the musicians who are serving the congregation by leading them in sung worship.

  2. Carlos October 18, 2017 / 9:36 am

    I totally agree with all your points. I would point out that there’s a problem with you only associating worship with the music in church. You use terms such as worship team and worship leader. Isn’t all of the service considered worship? Aren’t we worshipping God outside the four walls of the church building daily? Growing up, we called t.he leader the choir director or music minister/pastor/leader and we talked about the choir or the praise team. Nowadays, we’ve reduced the entire worship service down to music. That’s worship and everything else is just something that’s not worship.

    • Jamie Brown October 18, 2017 / 10:25 am

      Carlos, thanks for your comment. This post is directed at those who help lead musical worship in the church. Of course worship is broader than Sundays. This post is directed at those who are involved in a 90-minute slice of that.

  3. Josh October 18, 2017 / 11:25 am

    Read it. Appreciated it. Forwarded it. Helpful. Thank you.

  4. Andi October 20, 2017 / 2:11 pm

    great article Jamie. as i read through the list i was like ‘yep, yep, yep..’, then i had to read through with the finger pointed at me too. a good leadership and heart check.

  5. Rev jim October 21, 2017 / 12:18 pm

    The red flags you highlight apply to many more than just musicians. These warnings should be considered at all levels of engaging.

    In addition I believe you are teetering on the edge of the problem of entertainment and consumer centered worship that is more about engaging a congregational audience than it is about glorifying Him.

    • Dominic Stockford October 23, 2017 / 4:54 am

      Your second paragraph hits the problem nail smack on the head.

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