Written by: Scot Longyear
During the Experience Conference I was discussing worship with a new friend. We had just finished lunch where he had met my team. “Scot, your team really seems to get along. It’s like they actual like each other. I wish my team was like that.” I was both excited and saddened by his comment. I was excited that he had sensed a deep level of teamwork within our leaders. I was saddened that he did not have it with his team.
What if you could have a team with a deep sense of teamwork? Before you shake your head and say, “Not my team,” know this: teamwork is possible. However, teamwork does not just happen. Teamwork is developed intentionally. Here are six steps to turning any group of people into a team.
1. Pray. You are going to need the leading and work of the Holy Spirit.
2. Establish leadership. Flat out, there HAS to be a leader. I have been a musician in bands where there was no leader. It is uncomfortable. Band members need someone to take the lead, establish direction, and make decisions. Leadership frees up the team to do their role. We tell our team members that we all throw creative ideas into the arrangements, but someone has to be the one to make the final decision. That is the job of the leader. Leadership is an essential in teamwork.
3. Establish expectations. When we audition potential team members, we lay it all out. We expect each team member to be Life Journaling. We expect them to model their personal life after Christ. We expect them to be proficient at their instrument. We expect them to show up on time. We expect them to be a team player. We try not to pretend that everyone knows the expectations. On occasion, I have had to have conversations with members of the team to gently say that some expectations are not being met and find out what is happening. Sometimes this goes well, other times, and other times not so well. We use a huge amount of prayer, honesty, compassion, and love.
4. Establish the win. What does a successful worship gathering look like? This must be answered early on. Because there are many different ways to define a win, the leader has to make it crystal clear.
5. Care for your team. Recently we had a leader, Floyd, come in and observe our rehearsals. He wanted to get a behind-the-scenes look at our worship ministry. He wondered how well we got along. That’s when it dawned on me. As I looked around at our team that night (they were packing up), I was struck with how good of friends I am with the team. I have been in most of their homes. I know their families. We share experiences outside of worship leading. We live life together.
You must see your team as more than musicians filling a slot. They are people. People with hurts, disappointments, and untapped dreams. It may be that the songs you play are less important than the people you play them with. Care for them.
6. Play. The bestselling book FISH! (by Steven Lundin and others) is a great resource which, among other things, challenges us to play and have fun with our teams. Great team leaders play with their teams. It doesn’t take much time for our team to start verbally slamming each other, throwing jabs back and forth, all in fun. As a worship leader, you have one of the most enjoyable roles on the planet. Relax and enjoy it! Teamwork can not only make or break a worship gathering, it can make or break a worship leader. If your elementary report card continually said, “doesn’t play well with others,” you better get a grip. Fun is critical to worship leading.
Take heart. Establishing teamwork is possible. Be patient, it will take time. Be prayerful, it will take the work of the Holy Spirit. My hope is that one day people will look at you and say, “Wow! Your team really seems to get along. It’s like they actual like each other.”