“Too many cooks spoil the broth.” [A lesson on leadership]

One of the quickest ways for an outsider of your team to know within 60 seconds if you’re a good leader is to watch how you run a rehearsal. They could be watching you, but, maybe more importantly, they could also watch how your team is responding to you.

A good leader sets expectations. You set the tone for your worship services by how you prime the pump (so to speak) during rehearsal. If you come to your run-through time prepared and confident your team members, consciously or not, feel it. When a leader “wings it”, outcomes are usually mixed.

Your biggest strength will be in how you control the team. Think of how a good horse racing jockey controls the course of his horse incrementally and purposefully throughout an entire race.   Good coaches make small changes that create a winning outcome. As worship leaders we have to make sure we are being deliberate with our practice time. Not attempting too much or too little.

Teams with multiple worship leaders have to chose which leader will have final say. Often there are multiple ways to conduct a song. Some songs can end “down” or “up”. They can be shortened or lengthened. Having a solid and clear line as to who has final decision making authority on a team settles the entire group. That person not wielding the authority unjustly keeps his role humble and worthwhile.

Teams that allow all members to speak into song arrangement also need to have one person with final determination. I’ve found teams that allow everyone to “chime in” to be inefficient and sometimes wrought with low-lying dissension or jealously. While I’m certain on a smaller team where every member is a professional or has played together many years this type of inclusion works, but it’s harder to do effectively on bigger teams with less experience.

Structure your rehearsals. People are designed to respond best when order is well defined. Team members knowing what to expect when they come to practice is a worthwhile process to identify. From time to time, being willing to try new structures will help keep your team sharp, but the main thing is that you have a structure. You might begin with prayer, then split out vocalists from band to run your songs, then come together for a final run-though as a whole team. There are several ways to structure a rehearsal, you need to find what works best in this season for your team and stay consistent.

Be careful not to focus too intently too often on one or two instruments, leaving everyone else to wait around. There is an easy “tell” to find out if you are doing this: Do you have to quiet certain members of your team telling them to “cut it out” or “stop noodling” in the downtimes while you work out parts? If that is happening for more than a minute multiple times during a rehearsal then you are guilty of rehearsal inefficiency. If this becomes a persistent issue, build individual rehearsals with those that need the additional attention. It will be worth it. You may also separate rehearsals into vocals and band and then come together at the end for a final run-through (as noted above).

Finally, a good worship team rehearsal should make sure that you are preparing the hearts and minds of your team members for worship, even if you meet several nights ahead of your worship service. Remind them that they are just as strong an example of worship on-stage (and off-stage) as the main leader. Even how you look can be rehearsed without losing it’s spontaneous appearance. You may ask your team to take a pass at the songs and practice worshiping the Lord while you watch. You may notice that some members bring more attention to themselves with their worship posture than is appropriate. Rehearsals are the best times to correct this. Long before your congregation shows up. Take time to rehearse as many aspects of your service as you can. You most certainly should practice what you’re going to say before, during and after the worship set. Why risk it?

One of my favorite quotes from my pastor, G. Allen Jackson, is: “The Holy Spirit knows on Tuesday what He wants to do on Sunday”. Being well rehearsed leaves room for Spirit of God. You’ll be confident, knowing your music and having a good idea where He wants to move. If prompting comes, you’ll be ready.

How does your team rehearse? Are there secrets that you’ve learned along the way? When you participate in other teams, are you aware of their processes? I’d love to hear! Comment or private message.

-Micah Brooks