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Team Motivation

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  • Team Motivation

    Hello All.

    I have been leading a worship team of about 20 members(guitar,bass,drums,keys,singers) and am at the point where I'm about to do some "spring cleaning" and fire the majority of the team and lead worship by myself. Despite my pep talks, scripture quotes, giving out of sheet music, individual counseling, reminders, text messages, phone calls and corporate team meetings where I give my expectations, 80% of the team will come to practice(usually late by the way) having not learned the new songs that I ask them to learn. Our pastor has asked me to have my team learn at least 2 new songs per month, and that is the direction I have given the team. This issue has been going on ever since I took over as worship leader a couple years ago, and I've been struggling with it ever since. The previous worship leader is a singer on the team and we often talk about how she struggled with the same issues when she was leading, with the same team members. Here's and example of what I'm talking about:

    We have a website where my team is supposed to visit to see which songs we are playing each week and any other important information I need to pass along to the whole team. I update this site weekly. It has our practice scheudle which shows who's playing, the key of the songs, practice time, etc. I decided to give the team more time to prepare posted 6 new songs on our site on the 7th of February and specified who was playing them and when. Keep in mind that the first time that any of the new songs were to be played at a service was March 18th. This was plenty of time to learn the songs. During the practice for the March 18th service, the team came unprepared and didn't learn the material. This happened at yesterday's practice too, unprepared again.

    I don't know what to do at this point. I understand that these are not paid musicians, but at what point do I say "enough is enough" and eliminate this major source of my frustration?

    Your help is MUCH appreciated.....scott

  • #2
    Wow... my initial take on your post is you are in a really toxic situation. I would encourage you to take a deep breath and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you before you take the extreme of "cleaning house."

    Next, focus on your charge as a worship leader. This IS NOT a musical endeavor. Rather, it IS a LEADERSHIP endeavor. As a leader, what is your vision/mission? Do your pep talks include a discussion of why having a team is important to your church and do you specify what these people bring to the table (both their gifting and the qualities beyond their gifting)? Is the sole focus of your mission to introduce 24 songs to your congregation every year? Why is this the highest priority for you and your pastor?

    Cutting an entire team loose may indeed be what needs to happen, but it needs to be thought through from a leader's perspective. Gutting your ministry may temporarily solve an immediate source of frustration, but it won't strengthen your leadership skills and may prove only to be a fleeting toxic solution to a long-term toxic situation.

    Please give our brother Scott both peace and discernment for his leadership and guidance for his ministry. I pray that you claim a victory when his leadership vision is defined and effectively communicated to his team; that his team will be united under that vision and be energized to help carry the load that Scott seems to be carrying alone today.

    In Jesus' name,
    "Rock On" (Matt 7:24-25)

    Dave Brown


    • #3
      Join the club. This is something many of us wrestle with and solutions are only easy under certain circumstances (example, churches with large teams to create a healthy, unspoken "competitiveness" for lack of a better word, so members who want to be a part come knowing that should be prepared or won't be asked to play as frequently). This eliminates the mentality that a player is "doing you a favor" by playing for you. If you only have one drummer and you're begging him, he has YOU over the barrel. Anyway, I'm rambling so here are some of my possible suggestions.

      (As it sounds like it is a majority of your team, I will speak as if all of them have the issue)

      Suggestion 1: Prepare to be more gracious. Yep, you are in the right. No doubt. But this is a step-process and you'll have to meet them where they are and bring them along to where you want them to go. It'll take patience and understanding on your church's leadership and you because as you shepherd them along it won't change overnight. Try and force it and you WILL be leading all by yourself. The reason is that your team already has an instilled expectation that the status quo is good enough. If you go in and "lay down the law" putting in place standards that they should hold to but don't, it'd be like throwing a bucket of ice water on a sleeping person, your going to have more issues than just unpreparedness. Your going to make them irritable, uncooperative, and probably create more and worse problems and then YOU appear to be the problem (adios, worship leader.....and remember you were in the right!). Come up with some structure or plan to set and instill goals to be met in the near future (3-6 months).

      Suggestion 2: Do they read music/charts during worship or have it memorized? If not memorized, let them know that you're going to be enhancing the worship by having everyone memorize the music. If they aren't reading, the playing becomes second-hand and they can engage in worship rather than have their nose stuck in a music stand. It will eliminate the "cardboard cut-out" image of them just standing there, rather than being physically engaged on any level. Let them know that in X amount of time they'll be both performing AND rehearsing from memory. It may be rough to begin with. You...AND YOUR CHURCH LEADERSHIP...are going to have to allow for that, and let your people walk through it. Don't be scared of mistakes, miscues, and stuff. Have long term vision, not short. It will improve.

      In both of these suggestions above, think about when you came to Christ. There were things in your life that God didn't immediately point out and have you deal with. Some stuff yes, but others took more time. He was gracious and patient with you. As the old adage says: "Be patient, God isn't through working on me yet". And then, He didn't zap you with lightening when you messed up and made mistakes, or even broke down completely. Grant your team the same space. They will grow and get better though the road may be rocky.

      Suggestion 3: Dumb it down. You read that right. So in order to make some strides forward, you may have to take a stride back. Memorizing the stuff for example: songs follow the same patterns over and over again. You'd think we would have run out of different ways to string them together by now. Prime example is my Easter worship set. "Salvation Is Here" and "Rise and Sing" are both in the key of B. And both chord progressions use B, G#m, F#, E. After you've done that 200 times, you kinda start knowing what to expect. We also did "Overcome". Guess what key and what chords! Key B, chords B G#m, F#, E. Same for "Glorious Day" and our new song "The Same Love". We only had one song that wasn't in B. So half of the memory battle is done it is just knowing the changes. So how would I dumb it down even more. ELIMINATE THE FLUFF. Axe the odd bridges and long instrumental interludes. Don't ask for a B/D# or a D/F#. Just ask for a B or a D. This is not the culmination, it is just a starting point. Once they've come along with you some, then bring back the complexity if you feel it is necessary. I'll usually eliminate the bridges and instrumentals because that is usually an odd time for the congregation and they don't' know what to do or what is expected of them so they just stand there just a bit uncomfortable and that KILLS the worship atmosphere. But it will also give your band less "stuff" to navigate and make shifting into your expectations easier.

      So I've written a novella here and may have some other suggestions but I'll do some more thinking and post again.

      DISCLAIMER: As I said at the beginning, these things are rarely formulaic and there will be so much stuff that is driven by your individual circumstance. In fact, these suggestions I've given here may be a death nail to other places and not work at all. Keep seeking counsel and be in it for the long haul. This isn't easy but this is where you rise up and be a leader of more than just music. Lead these people where you want them to go. Just remember, you can't push a string. Lead and let them follow.


      • #4
        After reading Dave's post, it occurs to me that I eluded to this but probably didn't say what came to mind after reading his post. I agree with him but even go farther than him. I don't think you are in a toxic situation unless it is deeper and worse than you've posted. I think you are in a normal situation. We may not have the musicians we want, we have the musicians we have! God has given you THAT particular situation and has charged you with the responsibility of shepherding it. Do your best. It can be frustrating, discouraging, and all that stuff but it is where God has placed you. How will YOU learn from it and how will YOU lead? It may be the sandpaper that smooths out your rough edges and creates in you the worship leader that God has in store for even more awesome things later in life. OR....you could win the lottery, get rid of them all, hire session musicians every Sunday and just have a Hillsong type of thing every week. But that ain't gonna happen, so bloom where God has planted you. I dare say this has as much to do with Him teaching you about being a leader than it has about you teaching them to be on time and be prepared. That could be strong medicine but I say it to encourage you! God apparently wants to make you into quite a Moses or Joshua. So be STRONG and COURAGEOUS!!!

        ...and again I say rejoice!


        • #5
          I really appreciate the comments I've seen regarding my situation. This forum has been a blessing to me and one of my first points of contact when I have questions regarding leading worship. I will try to digest all the great information you all have posted and listen to what God is telling me. Thanks again brothers.....


          • #6
            It's a tough spot to be in.

            You definitely have an opportunity to succeed really well or fail really well.

            My suggestions-

            1. Involve senior church leadership in decision making, especially when it comes to having people step down. You have to know they have your back, and they have to know what's coming. You don't want the church leadership getting blindsided by a bunch of angry congregants.

            2. Maybe start off with a 'shot across the bow'- something like, if they don't know the song, they don't play/sing that week. My worship leader now was part of a touring choir outfit, and the leader had a rule that if someone didn't know the song, they had to step down for that song. By her account, that was great motivation to know your stuff. So if you worked in a requirement where they don't have it by 3 times through at practice, they don't play it. You could do the same thing with practice times. If you are going to be late call, If you are late, no communication, you don't play that week. Remembering you have people with lives, there is a certain amount of flexibility to have, but the ones who are chronically late should get a hint after a couple weeks of 'sorry, you missed practice-. Or incorporate it with the first one. Start practice on time, and those who are late do not get to sing the first few songs.

            3. The main thing you want to remember is that you need people in the boat rowing with you. This might be an issue of the carrot or the stick approach. I am a firm believer that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Like moosicman said, the leadership part of it is more than the transactional aspects of 'laying down the law' to meet this expectation or be gone. That needs to be balanced with the transformational aspects of leadership, where you take a motley crew and develop them into strong contributors. That part involves understanding your team and where they are at musically and spiritually. Not everyone is at your level, or the level of professional musician. Part of being a leader is helping to develop the team so they are not in the same place they were 6 months ago. If you take a genuine interest to develop the team and motivate them, they will likely be more self-motivated. That's not to say you can't have expectations, but there is a point where volunteers are what they are, and there needs to be a balance of a tight ship with the patience to understand the people are people and some need more work than others.

            4. If it gets to a point where you have to have people step down, talk it over with leadership, get their buy-in, so when they get the call from the disgruntled person, they know what the story is.

            Hope you can resolve it with positive results and preserve your leadership, as well as bring God the best team you can get.

            If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.


            • #7
              For the motivational purposes i will recommend you to read and watch Robin Sharma's books and videos.Because that man really boosts up the confidence and makes the determination more strong.So i must say that if you are aspirant to be motivated then you should study Robin Sharma.


              • #8

                Our worship band is named "Just In Time". I think I know where you are coming from. Lack of prior preparation is a very stressful risk factor from a musicians' standpoint, but the real question is whether or not you and your 20 member team are able to effectively lead worship on Sunday morning. Are you a limiting factor to worship, or is the Lord using your "weakness" to demonstrate His power? I would focus more on Him and the end result, than your concern about the risks. If you truly are inhibiting worship, significant changes may need to be made. If not, a more gentle, loving approach may be what He is asking of you. You run a ministry first, and second a worship team. Each person is beloved of the Father. You need to reach out to each of the 20 people, and connect with them. I would encourage 20 one on one sessions, and spend enough time to get to know them better, and pray with them.

                Blessings and best wishes...


                • #9
                  Practice goes slower when people don't learn the songs in advace...

                  I know your frustration - yet people are imperfect, and don't always listen to the CD or go to the website to prepare before practice. So maybe your Pastor needs to dial back his expectations to 1 new song, and when that is learned by the team, introduce another.

                  Something that has helped me with our choir is to practice the song we are going to do the next Sunday, then review another for the Sunday after that, then introduce (even a bit) of a new song we will do in the future. That was they will have 3-4 rehearsals of a song before they have to do it....if they listen to the links or the CDs that's a good extra, but I have learned not to count on all doing that...


                  • #10
                    It's a battle we all fight!
                    A lot of the above is great stuff, here is what has worked for me (Some has already been said above sorry)

                    1. Have a team meeting. Give everyone a written copy of all your expectations. Be detailed both in what it is you want them to do, and what happens if they don't (exercise some grace here, don't cut people on first offense). Have each of them sign it and keep a copy for themselves. I've found that if they have a physical copy of written down rules, with their signature on it, they are more likely to comply. Give a copy to your pastor, make sure he/she approves of your expectations and consequences.

                    2. Be ready to enforce consistently. It seems your team has learned some bad habits. The way the have been doing things is the way that they will keep doing things. If you tell them they wont play Sunday if they are unprepared, enforce that even if it means playing without a drummer. When people learn you are serious they will get serious.

                    3. Be ready to live with the consequences of your consequences! As stated, you may have to play without certain musicians, but in the long run, it will make your team healthier!

                    4. Make it matter. Ask yourself, why does worship matter? Why does preparation matter? Communicate that to your team. Not only tell them, but show them. If it isn't blatantly obvious that it matters to you, it wont matter to them. Communicate it over and over again. If you are annoying yourself, they are still probably not hearing it enough! If it becomes clear that it just doesn't matter to one of your team members, they may be in the wrong ministry.

                    I could go on for a long time! This is a rough battle, but it's worth it!