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“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

How often do we miss opportunities to coach our teams spiritually? Sure, just about 100% of the time we’ll coach them musically. We can’t get around that, but what about spiritual learning? Should that just come from the pastor? Along with self-study?

Devotions or pre/post rehearsal meetings or whatever we may call them may be an after thought for you or your leader, but they might be the most important link to spiritual success that your team members can be driven by. We might be on a team where we hate those 15 minutes of “encouragement”, but it may be that our attitudes and understanding of what those few minutes are all about are wrong.

I’ve surmised over the last few years that those minutes spent coaching my team as a whole are all about their edification and their education. The devotion, as it is referred to in our part of the country, is meant to be a time of preparation. An attempt to become aware of the heartbeat of what our organization is living by. Most everyone who joins a worship team is by their very nature in to worship and music. What is less apparent is that they are also some of the most visible folks in your church and possibly the most likely candidates to be approached with spiritual questions from our congregations.

A great devotional time should be planned out in advance. What course does your team need to be developing this year? What steps need to be designed in order to walk out that plan? Does your team have a “we’re all in this together” mentality? These are some of the things that should be discussed weekly or at least monthly during your meetings. Are your teammates participating in rehearsals for the music alone, but perhaps not growing spiritually? This isn’t okay with us. I’m assuming because you are reading this that you want the very best for those you lead.

One of the best ways that I’ve seen devotions played out are when the leader comes ultra-prepared to lead the group in case no one talks, but fully prepared to let anyone talk. Because you know your teammates it might be easy to assume that everyone is “okay” and only focus on the lives of those who call attention to themselves. While those folks are extremely important, they are also low hanging fruit for you as a leader. Your job is to care for your team, so of course you are going to bandage up someone who is saying they are wounded. On the other hand, it’s quite important that you assess even those that appear to be healthy or uninjured. Their condition may not scream “help”, but most people, when asked, are carrying a burden. As a staff member, or leader, it’s our jobs to make certain that even the quietest member of our team functions at peak performance.

It’s very important to encourage those whose lives are getting along well to continue to grow. They are the ones who are healthy and can begin to help those who aren’t. If we spend time encouraging our team members who are strong, it will only make them to grow stronger still.

Those who need immediate attention should receive it. You may want to set up a structure leadership under you so that anyone coming who is emotionally unprepared to participate in rehearsal can receive time with a leader before everyone else is subjected to their need for triage. Remember, your attempt as a leader is to move forward, with a plan, and attempt to help your team grow.

So, why is personal assessment important during devotion? The answer is simple. You cannot love someone (or a group) until you know where they are at. Once we have properly evaluated our team it’s time to be purposeful in our time spent growing our team.

Always start with a time of thanksgiving. Celebrating God’s faithfulness in our lives sets the perfect tone for the Holy Spirit to move [Psalm 100:4]. Do not force this effort each week, but rather leave it up His Spirit’s prompting to remind people of where God has been faithful this past week. Afterwards make sure that you have a lesson or edification planned out so that you have the end in mind when you begin. Please, please, please do not attempt to ask your team to decipher your message under some guise of well crafted theological treatise. Make your points obvious, intentional and full of compassion for your hearer. When you’ve made your points (or perhaps during), make sure to open up the topic for some sort of discussion. Whether that be long or short form. It’s important to you to be able to see how your team responds to the subject matter. You need to assess their growth. You need to know if you are doing a good job, so to speak.

Finally, never go longer than 15 minutes. If you can’t get out what you want to be said in under that amount of time then split the topic into two sessions. No one coming to rehearsal wants to be lectured. The goal of your time spent should be to encourage, to educate and to lift up. Anything longer than 15 (or maybe 20 minutes maximum) has the possibility of being viewed as obstinate. You don’t want that. Put a button on your message and point and move on to music.

Well crafted devotions are supremely important. Do your best to implement great ones! Don’t give up until you feel like your team is ready to lead a devotion themselves. Then let them! But until then, but diligent in preparing your team for greatness!

How does your team do a devotional time? Do you create a different atmosphere during that time? Are your team members open and honest during those times or do they seem reluctant? I’d love to know what you do or plan to put in place at your church. Comment or private message.

-Micah Brooks