This article originally appeared on worshipleader.com's online section, but as it turns out they don't have unlimited space to store archived articles, and they publish them pretty frequently, so I figured I'd put it up here as the third entry in my recently renamed Worship Tips series (Part One, Part Two). But hey, if they liked it enough to put it on their website for a brief moment in time, then you might want to just set aside five or seven minutes to read this bad boy! I have altered it ever so slightly to match my current style better, but when I say "ever" I mean it!
Feelings are important to us artsy types, and that's not a bad thing. If it were not this way there would be way more songs about quadratic equations and the beauty of a well-formed tautology. Our society needs songwriters and musicians who feel. A byproduct of this is that our worship teams are full of talented people who feel, and who need to feel they are valued.
All of us worship leaders should be aware of this fact and have a desire to show our people that we truly value them but, with all the logistical stuff we are responsible for throughout the week, it is all too easy to neglect those people without whom the worship leader would be a one-man-band, literally. Following I offer five actions that us worship leader can take to ensure that our team members know they are valued. I have thoughtfully arranged them to follow the handy acronym: THINK.
1) Take an Interest
This should go without saying, but it often goes without happening, so it needs to be said. This will come as a shock to someone out there, not you, of course, but worship team members are more than just emotionless automatons whose singular purpose is to fill a spot on a worship team. Believe it or not, they have lives outside of worship ministry and don't just pop into existence when needed only to fade into the ether until next time.
Get to know them, personally. What do they do for fun? Everyone has a hobby, right? I mean, if it involves bleaching animal skulls and fashioning them into macabre jewelry, I am so sorry, but more than likely, that will not be the case. What are they reading? What do they do for work? Again, these are what scientists refer to as "no-brainers" but we know from the hit television show Friends that sometimes even besties don't know what a friend does for eight hours every day. So ask them questions about themselves and then - this bit is important - listen to their answers. Get to know them. You'll either thank me for it later or not. And if not, well, I'm sorry, okay?
2) Hang Out
A monthly meet up at Starbucks can do wonders for team morale. If everyone can't make it, that's okay, just get a few people together and hang out over a cup of Joe. It's okay to talk shop too. We're all in worship ministry so we don't need to purposefully avoid talking about it.
This next piece of advice might seem strange, but pray before the meet-up. Get there a few minutes early, sit in your car (or on your vintage beach comber, if you happen to be one of our hipster friends), and pray that relationships would be strengthened. Avoiding doing the praying with the team helps to ensure we don't feel like we're just church acquaintances attending another Bible study together. Think about it, when you meet up with your friends to see a movie, or whatever, you don't get in a circle and join hands to pray, heads bowed and eyes closed. Communicate to your team, with purposeful inclusion or exclusion of certain things, that you're just friends hanging out.
Other ideas include having everyone over for dinner, a game night, or even lunch after church. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination... and budget, and time... And again, if dismembered rodents come up in the spit-balling process, you have my sincerest apologies.
Pray for them. "But how will they know I am praying for them and thus feel valued?" you might ask. Well, I'm glad you asked! In order to know their needs you have to ask them first. Once you have asked someone a few times how you can pray for them, they might get the feeling you are praying for them. Be contextual in your inquiries, like, "hey, is your sister still looking for a job? I've been praying and waiting for the good news," or "how did that alligator wrestling match go for your third cousin Tater? I've been praying Philippians 4:13 over that match!" or something like that.
Try to pray for each of them at least a few times per week. Be genuine when you tell them you're praying for them by actually doing it.
4) New Songs from New Friends
Now that you've made friends of our volunteers, why not pick their brains for song ideas? I'll tell you why: If you're anything like me, you have a list as long as a Robertson’s beard of songs you want to introduce, so using someone else's song ideas might rob you of precious opportunities to display those sparkling gems you've been carefully mining but, chances are, each of your team members has their own list. So maybe ask them for the top five songs they'd like to see in a set. Odds are that you'll find a few of their picks on your own list. Sure, they might be down around number 85 or so, but see the cup as half full, buddy! You can then work those songs in as the theme calls for, and the team member who suggested a song you use will immediately feel 14% more valued, guaranteed.
5) Kind Gestures
Simply put, shower your team with gifts. No, not literally, weirdo. That would likely be painful, if not wildly impractical. No, as much as your budget will permit show them you value them by actually purchasing things for them. A gift card for their favorite coffee house is like flat, plastic gold (I should be getting some kind of compensation from Starbucks for how often I mention them). A physical or digital copy of a CD they want is a nice gift for a person who's in music ministry, however obvious that may seem, which is pretty darn. How about a puppy?
These are my five best ideas to show team members they are valued, but they aren't the only ideas, buuuuut they are the best ideas. What are yours? Leave them in the comments, or tweet me, or Facebook me, or send over a carrier pigeon. Just make sure it has used the restroom first.