BUILDING GRACE Connecting relationally as a Worship Team


Connecting relationally as a Worship Team]

By Timothy J Miller

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Copyright 2016 Timothy J Miller. All rights reserved.
Distributed by Shakespir.

BUILDING GRACE: Connecting relationally as a Worship Team

It’s core. Relational Grace enables team members to tolerate each other long enough for respect to develop. Relational Grace helps team members willingly set aside their own expressions so someone else impacts that moment of worship in a powerful way. Relational Grace builds a reserve that teams can draw on to cover the multitude of errors members each make while learning whatever it is God is teaching them at the moment. It provides team leaders a safety net to survive the learning curves while becoming more effective – curves the teams and congregations pay the price for. It also allows leaders the opportunity to develop vehicles for passing new ideas to the team. Only with Relational Grace can a worship team reap a wider, deeper harvest of God’s fruit than individually possible.

You’re don’t really even have a worship team until you’ve begun building Relational Grace.

But how can it grow?

Building Relational Grace

Two of my worship leading positions began with fragmented teams which had experienced disastrous turmoil. The members were suspicious, defensive, discouraged. They talked about walking on egg shells and feeling burned out. But we went from “the only reason I’m here is that God makes me” to “My joy has returned!”

I’ve used the following 14 approaches to help unite the teams and spark their ability to succeed.

#1 Plant contagious confidence: Take every opportunity to identify specific key successes of your musicians. Be specific and focus on fruit. “Did you notice when you nailed the harmony on the chorus of ‘Oceans’ – how it really raised the song’s intensity? That was great!” The feedback must be real and earned, not contrived or trivial. Know areas your musicians are working to grow in and look for key successes there. Reinforce the verbal with occasional postcards or emails. Not only does positive feedback communicate that they impacted the worship, but it helps them receive more difficult comments. It enables musicians to risk admitting areas of struggle – which in turn allows us to observe and celebrate one another’s growth. Positive feedback also raises members’ awareness of accidental successes which you want to repeat deliberately. Instead of feeling criticized, members will be thankful to know what is and what isn’t working so they can focus on being fruitful.

#2 Discuss measuring sticks: Take 15 minutes to discuss with the team how they identify when the team is being successful. What cues help gauge whether the congregation is engaging rather than observing? Is this measuring stick accurate? Are our assumptions and motives correct? Is it based upon observing the congregation’s expressions or on some kind of fruit? What is fruit? These discussions can go a long way in reminding the team that the incredible price we pay to do what we do – the investment of our lives – is worthwhile. Following a Measuring Stick discussion, one team member commented, “I thought we were all over the page when it came to our goals; now I see that even though we go about it differently, we really are here for the same reasons.” Finding common ground helps musicians set aside areas of contention to pursue common values.

#3 Create A Value Statement: Creating a common values statement helps pull the team together. Divide this activity into two sessions. Taking a dry erase board or large sheet of paper, have the team begin listing important foundational truths regarding worship. Avoid discussing the details of each suggestion or prioritizing them. Just jot down as many ideas as possible. Try to incorporate everyone. Wrap up the discussion by stating that you’ll organize and condense the ideas for later. Distill key concepts from the list before the next session, when you’ll go around the room taking turns reading the values. Discuss your document. Listen carefully and be ready to incorporate what team members add. Ask how the team can better pass these values to the congregation. Give everyone their own copy and post it as a reminder. Review periodically. You may be surprised how this helps generate a sense of ownership in team members.

#4 Pass the glory: Turn complements you receive into an opportunity for team building. When you hear, “I really loved the way you do the song ‘Cornerstone.’” Respond, “Oh, thank you. That song really expresses my heart. One thing I think makes a difference is how Steve captures that keyboard sound to carry it through.” Even if your team isn’t within hearing distance, you’ve communicated that they make a difference. It never hurts to honor others instead of yourself. When you receive thank you cards, encouragement emails or plates of cookies, share them with the team.

#5 Surprise them with a goodie: Have donuts or other treats with a “for the team” tag awaiting the team’s arrival at practice. Not announcing that it was from you may help minimize suspicion that you’re bribing them for kudos. But if you’re asked, have fun getting caught. Who knows, someone else may follow your example another time. Food can be a great way to say “You matter.”

#6 Slay a giant: Once the team is ready, ask them to do something risky. Trust them to stretch and rise to the occasion. Choose the challenge carefully! Select an attainable challenge they can meet if they push their envelope. Provide ample preparation time and assistance. Then when you’ve pulled it off, praise them. They’ve earned it. They trusted you by stepping out on a limb and it worked. Ensure they know they were successful. And if it blows up in your face, take full responsibility and thank them for supporting you in your colossal blunder.

#7 Provide a buffer: Rather than using the team as a scapegoat for your own weaknesses in leading, accept responsibility, even if you are not totally at fault. Fearing accusations, especially false ones, quickly destroys team unity. Musicians caught in blame games cannot focus on worship. You’ll go much farther in developing your role as leader when your team knows you willingly place your neck on the line for them and accept responsibility for your leadership.

#8 Laugh: Lighten up. Relax enough to get to know one another as people. Laughter lowers defenses. Occasionally design a song set your team already plays well so that you can afford to spend some valuable practice time just being people. Play a game. Go paintballing. Show a “Worship Leader’s Bloopers” video to celebrate your own mistakes – demonstrate that mistakes are often the best teachers for growth. Because you arrive early to practice fully prepared, leave after everyone else, and handle your role responsibly, they’ll be able to accept the fun stuff without sacrificing the principle of excellence. So breathe.

#9 Provide continuity: Ask the team how you as a leader can reduce or eliminate hindrances which distract them from doing their job. Are their lead sheets legible and in the correct key? Are the musicians scheduled consistently so they can get to know one another and flow musically? Do rhythm musicians have enough time to jell and create a groove on new songs? Will adding additional vocal cues clarify unexpected changes in a song’s direction? Stability provides a calm center amidst the weekly craziness.

#10 Impact the music: Instead of emulating the CD version of a song, make it your own by identifying the specific functions of each instrument in the song’s texture, then free your musicians to accomplish their assigned role in their own way. You may be surprised to discover some of the hidden talents coming to light. Follow up your discoveries by making space musically for that addition to be heard. Or try this: Do a standard song, but have everyone swap instruments. (It’s OK for one song to end up with 1 bass, 3 egg shakers and 6 vocalists!) The key is that you’re interested in the team’s musical development and in exploring new ways to express your hearts to God. Discover together the gifts God has given you.

#11 Wreck a train – on purpose: Develop a plan to follow in worse case scenarios. It’s amazing how much people willingly stretch when they feel confident that if they blow it someone will catch them. Things to practice:

• Leader’s instrument malfunctions

• Drummer and primary instrument getting out of sync

• Half the team goes to the wrong section of a song

• Someone’s strings break

• Someone starts a song in the wrong key

• Leader needs to stop a song half way through


You’re teaching them that you’re not going to leave one another hanging. You’re building a safety net of trust.

#12 Hello, hello?: Meet one-on-one to discuss how things are going for each team member directly under your leadership. Pay for the coffee. Discover how it’s going for that person on the team. Ask if you can provide training materials to address areas of growth. Hear suggestions for your leadership style. Learn what’s working and what’s not. Listen, then follow up.

#13 Clarify roles: If you’re a leader, lead. While good leaders willingly receive and apply good input, because of the scope of their leadership, they must also make and stand behind decisions. Communicate to the team which musical role you expect each to play in a song. Sometimes that means making hard choices and expending some of your earned Relational Grace by taking someone to task or asking someone to sit out for a song section. If there’s conflict, find and address its root immediately.

#14 Oh, so that’s what you were doing: Initially your team has to follow you at least a little bit because you have the Worship Leader name plate on your door. But before you start piling all you require from your team to accomplish your grand vision, be transparent. Model, model, model. They must taste your heart to sense for themselves that something very real is going on behind this worship thing. They need to learn that it isn’t about the show, the music, or the leader’s getting strokes. Then they’ll be a little more willing to invest a bit of themselves – then with some fruit, take the next step, and then the next. So rather than start by announcing my grand vision, I start with specific-but-basic goals based on common values, modeling the areas I personally want to target, and establish a foundation of relationship. A team member came to me excited about the response to her leading a small group exploring worship. I asked how she did it. She replied, “I did what you do – I modeled worship, and got to know them. Then I shared my heart – and it worked – they got it!” Without my even realizing it, she picked up on a technique she saw working, and incorporated it fruitfully into her own life. That’s exciting!

You can do it!

Yes, there’s a cost to building a reserve of Relational Grace. And it can develop slowly on its own over time. But a deliberate investment exchanges time for growth and success. In the long run you’ll be much farther ahead. You’ll actually make it to the long run! One of the greatest delivery systems God created to supply our needs is the Body. Grow your team through developing Relational Grace and you’ll reap a harvest.



[Thank you for reading my white paper. If you enjoyed it and found it helpful, would you please take a moment to pass it on to a friend? I’d love to hear from you how you applied this info and how it impacted your team.
Timothy J Miller]

Timothy J Miller spent over 30 years in worship ministry, serving in small, medium, and large multi-site churches in volunteer, part-time, and full time positions. He thrives on helping worship leaders and musicians develop fruitfulness. He’d love to hear from you by [+ email+], twitter, facebook, or you can check out his worship e-material and author page at [+ Shakespir+].

BUILDING GRACE Connecting relationally as a Worship Team

These 14 tried-and-tested techniques will help you build connections of trust, ownership, and unity between your worship team members. The excercises in this FREE 1,884 word white page are drawn from over 30 years of working with musicians and broken teams by author Timothy J Miller. You'll see how to develop a common sense of values, ownership, and contageous encouragement with these easy-to-follow steps. Download now and start building a cohesive team right away!

  • ISBN: 9781370315826
  • Author: Timothy J Miller
  • Published: 2016-10-27 20:50:09
  • Words: 2052
BUILDING GRACE Connecting relationally as a Worship Team BUILDING GRACE Connecting relationally as a Worship Team