Growing and expanding your church’s worship ministry through strategic worship team training is well worth the effort, albeit not easy in the beginning.
The goal of worship is to praise Jesus, serve God, experience the presence of the Holy Spirit, shout out in praise and thanksgiving, and be refreshed and blessed by the Lord.
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” – Matthew 18:20
The Bible teaches us that if we seek to adore and serve God through worship, we will also find personal fulfillment.
Whether you’re a worship pastor, church leader, worship leader, or a member who’d like to start up a worship ministry in your local church and begin leading worship, let’s begin to walk through what it takes to train a worship team and set up a thriving worship ministry from start to finish.
How to equip your worship team
When diving into the worship team training process, a great starting point is to examine the current goals of your church or worship group. Determine whether a clear and strategic plan for the future of your worship ministry exists. The goal of having a plan is to understand exactly how to equip your worship team with all of the training, equipment, facilities, and personal support they need to practice, play, and sing.
The primary goal with equipping your worship team should be for church leaders to be ready and available to hear the needs of each worship team member and take action on any urgent needs. Open up an avenue of discussion between your church leader(s) and your worship leader(s) to ensure everyone is on the same page, in the loop, and well equipped to be the best they can be in praise & worship.
Set Guidelines & Expectations
Whether you’re a worship leader starting up a new team at your church or simply reorganizing and retraining an existing team, the first step towards setting up your worship ministry should be to set proper guidelines and expectations for all members.
This can be done by sitting down as a group and thinking about questions such as:
- What is everyone’s defined role? Worship leader, vocalist, backup vocalist, musician?
- What are everyone’s responsibilities in their role? (i.e. setting up their guitar or piano for each practice/training session, staging and taking down mics and mic stands for vocalists, etc.)
- How many days a week will you practice?
- What is our regularly scheduled practice time? Are there any times that are more convenient, since we’ll all be here prior to or after a service time?
- For bigger churches with multiple services, who is playing at which service? Is anyone rotating between multiple services?
- When is our time to pray & encourage each other as a worship team? How do we grow together spiritually?
Your worship team is a tight-knit group pursuing the same goal — leading others in worship & praise to the Lord. Keeping everyone on the same page by setting guidelines and expectations will promote discipline among members and keep everyone organized.
Develop a “Core” Song List
In the starting stages of your worship team, it’s important that you only choose a few “core” songs that you’ll practice and play regularly.
This is the best way to create a “foundational set” of songs that everyone on the team knows like the back of their hand.
Sit down with your worship team and let everyone give their thoughts on their favorite worship songs that they’d like to play. You can even play these songs as you’re discussing them, letting everyone hear the music and lyrics for themselves. Decide on the top Christian songs you’d like to place into your “core setlist” with your team, and be prepared to practice them repeatedly in the very beginning.
Once everyone can play and sing your “core songs” without a second thought, you can begin to expand into new worship songs.
Practice Regularly & Stay Accountable
“Perfect practice makes perfect.”
If your worship team is going to lead others into praise & worship, you need to be able to play each song in each worship set in the moment, without worrying about making mistakes and wondering, “What could go wrong?”
The only way to achieve such a level of confidence is to practice, practice, and practice some more!
Remember, however, that the way you practice also has a direct effect on your playing ability. If you practice intentionally and correct any mistakes immediately, you’ll be far more confident and capable when playing and singing in front of others. If you practice the wrong note each time without correcting it, for example, it’s going to take a lot of re-training to erase the mistake from your memory and muscle memory.
Every worship team member is required to practice, show up, and contribute. Make personal accountability a core virtue of your team and discuss it regularly.
Consult Musical Experts as Appropriate
Not everyone on your worship team will be a “professional musician”, and it’s okay to consult outside experts and seek coaching as appropriate.
If your guitarist is struggling with a certain song, for example, you can seek out worship guitar lessons to help them get up to speed.
If a vocalist or singer is in need of some additional training and has the desire to grow their musical talents, perhaps there’s a local vocal coach that can assist.
Don’t feel that your team has to stay within its own “bubble” — this is an opportunity to grow together, attend workshops or seminars as a team, become better musicians, and worship Jesus in the process.
Foster spiritual growth among your worship team
Before anything else, worship is about playing and singing to the Lord to exalt and praise His name.
How are worship team members growing spiritually? Is your worship leader doing anything intentional to foster spiritual growth?
A few ways you can begin to foster spiritual growth among members may include:
- Praying together
- Praying for each other
- Starting a team devotional
- Holding Bible studies
- Attending services together
- Spend your rehearsal time worshipping
- Holding teaching sessions on the importance of praise & worship
Raise up new worship leaders
It takes both time and dedication to be in a position to lead worship, but as current worship leaders, we should always be on the lookout for team members who wish to grow into a leadership role.
Assess their leadership skills, musical talents, and their heart for serving God. If they have the desire, start easing them into leading worship, perhaps for just a song or two to start.
A great way to gradually transition someone into a worship leader role is to give them the opportunity to lead a song during rehearsals and practice sessions. See how they do, what can be improved, and how you can help them.
Once they’re comfortable during your rehearsal times, give them the opportunity to co-lead worship in front of the church. This can be introducing a song or welcoming and praying with the congregation. In time, they’ll begin to transition from co-lead to primary lead.
Raising up new worship leaders can be a long and drawn-out process, so be patient. The key is to get them comfortable with leading worship in front of the church and gradually letting them take on more and more responsibility. This is essentially a worship leader training path that’ll take them from a regular team member to a capable leader, allowing their worship leading skills to flourish.
Worship Leader Boot Camp & Worship Ministry School
If your church or worship group is particularly adept at training others, you may consider setting up either a Worship Leader “Boot Camp” or a Worship Ministry School for more reach and impact. A boot camp would be a shorter-duration (likely a few weeks to a few months) program that would help get aspiring worship leaders and worship team members up to speed quickly. A Worship Ministry School is similar, but would be a more full-time venture and dedicated learning environment where you can teach worship leadership to others.
Becoming ministry leaders, setting up worship ministry training programs, and passing on what you know through worship training is no easy task, but training others to lead in corporate worship and truly praise & worship Jesus from the heart is critically necessary – especially in today’s time & culture where we all need to grow closer to Jesus on a daily basis.
Worship team training made easy
There are a few particular skills you can focus on when training your vocalists and musicians to ensure everyone is on the same page, especially if you’re rotating between worship team members or have several part-time members that come in and out.
Worship Team Vocalist Training (Lead, Background)
Training your vocalists properly will give them the confidence they need to sing from their hearts and lead each person in the congregation into worship.
You can begin training your vocalists by:
- Equip your vocalists with warm-ups they can practice during rehearsals and take home to practice as well.
- If you have multiple vocalists singing the same part, make sure they breathe in sync with each other and on the same beats.
- Practice singing the melody and harmonizing. With harmonies especially, it may take some practice acapella, or with no music, to solidify each part.
- Encourage each vocalist to memorize the lyrics and pronounce each lyric distinctly.
- Practice singing etiquette such as body language, smiling and holding the microphone properly when on stage.
Worship Team Musician Training (Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar, Piano/Keyboard, Drums)
Music is at the heart of worship and training your worship team to be in sync, on rhythm, and in tune with each other during your worship service can be a challenge.
To begin training your musicians, you can:
- Encouraging each member to learn the song and practice each chord chart or piece of sheet music before your first rehearsal. Being prepared is key, even if you’re learning some worship music for the first time.
- Decide on the role for each musician, and assign them a part to play. Chord charts and tabs made for a worship team will typically have each part separated.
- Ensure everyone is listening to each other while playing. This is important to stay in rhythm, on key, and in sync.
- Use a metronome to develop your team’s sense of rhythm. Newer musicians may struggle with rhythm the most, and a metronome can help them hear the beat and follow it along consciously.
Helpful worship team training resources
- Online worship guitar lessons for beginner and intermediate players: Learn Guitar to Worship
- The second volume of “Learn Guitar to Worship“, with more advanced lessons: The Worship Guitar Expansion
- Worship team training course from Bethel Music: WorshipU Discover
- Worship Background Vocalist Guide: The Role of a Background Vocalist
Worship team training podcast list
Podcasts are a great way to learn and get new ideas on the go. For any unused blocks of time, when commuting, working out, or even mowing the lawn, worship leaders can listen to these podcasts to help them grow their worship ministry.