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Four Behaviors of Thriving Worship Ministries

Mike O'Brien

Mike O'Brien

Worship Leader, Vineyard School of Worship
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We want to create worship ministries in our churches that are healthy and growing. Over the past 18 months, I have served over fifty churches as a worship team trainer and guest worship leader. In doing this, I have noticed some interesting trends in worship ministries that are thriving. This post has little to do with the quality of the congregational worship experience, but it’s more a peek under the administrative hood.

I suggest considering these four behaviors as you work to create thriving worship ministries in your church plant:

Schedule your volunteers consistently and uniformly
If you don’t have a consistent way of administering bands, you will drive your volunteers crazy. Using one system will allow families to serve in multiple areas of the church without confusion.

To create this consistency, find a system that works for you. Some churches use Planning Center Online. Worshipteam.com is another (if you’re a church planter, contact us for your worshipteam.com discount), but there are plenty of tools you can try. You might use a mix of online tools and simple PDF attachments in emails.

Your system should have a way to communicate seasonally (1-4 months at a time), weekly (hey, you’re on this week), and the day of service (hey, you’re on today). I suggest you provide schedules at least 1 month before the start of the schedule.

Once you find a healthy method for communication, don’t constantly change your methodology. You will build trust with consistency, which is measured in years, not months.

Consistency breeds faithfulness.

Raise heck when your system is ignored or amended by well-meaning, creative people. Consistency breeds faithfulness (and more drummers).

Have a system for your songs
In this day and age, the song is a prominent means of gospel delivery and discipleship. There is a sea of thousands of worship songs to choose from. Instead of pulling from that potential sea, have your worship leaders select and work from a pool of songs.

New songs should be added with care and intentionality. Your pool of songs can live on a Google drive or a similar online database. It should be editable and list active, potential, and retired songs.

Churches that sing the same songs over and over again have a more active engagement in worship than churches that have no congruent songs week-to-week. Keep in mind;  many people only come to church once a month!

Create organized environments
Where is a sharpie? Are we seriously out of 9 Volts? My mic stand is holding on by a prayer.

Stage, backstage, and soundboard areas should be clean and labeled so a variety of workers can function with ease. Growing organizations like church plants are constantly inviting new people to “play” and there should be physical spaces that are hospitable to them.

All areas (seen and unseen) should be stripped, cleaned, and reorganized throughout the year. Old cups of coffee and nests of cables communicate that you don’t care and this will repel some creative personalities.

Say “Thank You” in a variety of ways
In the heart of every volunteer is the question: “Does what I do matter?” Great leaders are consistently encouraging those that are serving on their teams. Everyone has a different love language. You might need to ask your volunteers directly, “How can I say thank you?”

Great leaders are consistently encouraging those that are serving on their teams. 

Here are some potential methods:

  • Public Praise from the pulpit or on social media
  • Written Notes
  • Thoughtful Gifts
  • A Gathering (quality time and fun)
  • A Specific Word of Encouragement

Healthy volunteer cultures are immersed with recognition, thanks, and encouragement.

This list is not exhaustive, it’s just a list of markers I have noticed support and nurture worship leaders and create growing worship ministries that lead churches in experiencing God’s presence.

Calling all Sound Techs, Worship Leaders and Musicians!

Attend the Vineyard Worship Sound Summit in Seattle October 11-13

Mike O'Brien headshotMike O’Brien has served as a worship pastor, speaker, record producer and songwriter for Vineyard USA for two decades. He has trained up hundreds of worship leaders and musicians and founded a creative common called Poured Out Like Wine which has released hundreds of songs used in local churches. Mike also sits on the Vineyard Worship advisory council and has produced the albums “Shine On Us”, “Miami Vineyard Live”, “Not Be Moved”, and “Is God Listening?” for Vineyard Worship USA. He holds his Masters of Worship Studies from the Webber Institute of Worship and is currently serving the church at large in worship team training and worship leader mentoring. Mike, his wife Susan and their son Ezekiel live in Atlanta GA. You can find out more about Mike at themikeo.com

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