By James Calkins
Feelings are important to us artsy types, and that’s not a bad thing. If it were not this way there would be way more songs about quadratic equations and the beauty of a well-formed tautology. Our society needs songwriters and musicians who feel. A byproduct of this is that our worship teams are full of talented people who feel, and who need to feel they are valued.
Worship leaders should be aware of this fact and have a desire to show our people that we truly value them, but with all of the logistical stuff we are responsible for throughout the week it is all too easy to neglect those people without whom the worship leader would be a one-man-band, literally. Following I offer five actions the worship leader can take to ensure that our team members know they are valued.
1) Take an interest in their lives.
This should go without saying, but it often goes without happening, so it needs to be said. This will come as a shock to someone out there, not you of course, but worship team members are more than just emotionless automatons whose singular purpose is to fill a spot on a worship team. Believe it or not they have lives outside of worship ministry and don’t just pop into existence when needed only to fade into the ether until next time.
Get to know them, personally. What do they do for fun? Everyone has a hobby, right? What are they reading? What do they do for work? Again, these are what scientists refer to as “no-brainers” but we know from the hit television show Friends that sometimes even besties don’t know what a friend does for eight hours every day. So ask them questions about themselves and then – this bit is important – listen to their answers. Get to know them.
2) Hang out with them.
A monthly meet up at Starbucks can do wonders for team morale. If everyone can’t make it that’s okay, just get a few people together and hang out over a cup of Joe. It’s okay to talk shop too. We’re all in worship ministry so we don’t need to purposefully avoid talking about it. This next piece of advice might seem strange, but pray before the meet-up. Get there a few minutes early, sit in your car, and pray that relationships would be strengthened. Avoiding doing the praying with the team helps to ensure we don’t feel like we’re just church acquaintances attending another Bible study together. Think about it, when you meet up with your friends to see a movie or whatever you don’t get in a circle and join hands to pray, heads bowed and eyes closed. Communicate to your team, with purposeful inclusion or exclusion of certain things, that you’re just friends hanging out.
Other ideas include having everyone over for dinner, a game night, or even lunch after church. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination… and budget, and time…
3) Pray for them.
“But how will they know I am praying for them and thus feel valued?” you might ask. Well, I’m glad you asked. In order to know their needs you have to ask them first. Once you have asked someone a few times how you can pray for them they might get the feeling you are praying for them. Be contextual in your inquiries, like, “hey, is your sister still looking for a job? I’ve been praying and waiting for the good news,” or something like that. Try to pray for each of them at least a few times per week. Be genuine when you tell them you’re praying for them by actually doing it.
4) Ask them for song ideas.
If you’re anything like me you have a list as long as a Robertson’s beard of songs you want to introduce, so using someone else’s song ideas might rob you of precious opportunities to display those sparkling gems you’ve been carefully mining, but chances are each of your team members has their own list. So maybe ask them for the top five songs they’d like to see in a set. Odds are that you’ll find a few of their picks on your own list. Sure, they might be down around number 85 or so, but see the cup as half full, buddy!
5) Shower them with gifts.
Not literally, weirdo. That would likely be painful, if not wildly impractical. No, as much as your budget will permit show them you value them by actually purchasing things for them. A gift card for their favorite coffee house is like flat, plastic gold (I should be getting some kind of compensation from Starbucks for how often I mention them). A physical or digital copy of a CD they want is a nice gift for a person who’s in music ministry, however obvious that may seem, which is pretty darn. How about a puppy?
These are my five best ideas to show team members they are valued, but they aren’t the only ideas, but they are the best ideas. What are yours?
James has been leading worship for over a decade now. He has played at venues ranging from coffeehouses to Spirit West Coast, Del Mar, but his heart is in the local church. He writes songs and other words too, and he lives with his wife and two children in Southern California.