During my 8 years of being a student pastor, I’ve had the opportunity to help start a few worship bands, some successful….some not so much. Some of the things I have learned have become invaluable as I continue to venture into the world of leading others.
Whether you are starting a band for your student gathering, church gathering, or if it’s with adults or students, here’s some tips that I’ve learned from my experience
- Start with Prayer
- Everything has to start with prayer. Before you even begin to look at who will be in the band or what songs you’ll want to play, start by asking for God’s direction and for a vision. Vision goes a long way when you’re trying to reach people for God’s glory. The Bible says that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Without a God given vision, which starts with prayer, just go ahead and wrap it up
- Don’t be afraid to say NO
- Sometimes you just have to say no, and if you’re like me, that can be a challenge. I sometimes feel like I need to keep everyone happy and not hurt anyone’s feelings. But when it comes down to it, the idea may not fit the vision, it might be just totally ridiculous, or the person asking to join in the band has no musical ability or talent…those situations sometimes call for a no.
- Put someone in charge
- I recommend it’s not you if you’re the student pastor. Trust me, I’ve done this before and it’s no fun to have added responsibility. There’s always someone out there that can do it better if you just take your grubby paws off it. If you’re fortunate to have a student leader you can pair with an adult leader/worship leader, I find this to be the best combination. Also, don’t forget to continually mentor that student leader behind the scenes.
- Choose good musicians if possible
- This goes back to saying no if you have to. Sometimes you won’t have the luxury of having the best musicians, but if you do, encourage that person to better their talents before getting on stage. God calls us to do everything with excellence, and this goes for how we lead others into worship as well. If you’re going for a student led band, I understand that the best musicians are probably not there. So if you make do with what you have, call them to do it with excellence. Also, in seeking out good musicians/singers, don’t be afraid to call in a favor to someone who may not be a member of your church or organization. They may come in a raise the bar for everyone else. How bad could that be?
- Establish Commitment
- It’s so important that everyone in the band understands three things; 1) You are doing this for the glory of God. 2) It’s not about them. 3) Everyone has to understand the vision, direction, and be committed to those things. You may handle this in different ways, but bands, especially student bands will not last unless everyone is committed. Issue a contract maybe or just be purposeful in reminding everyone that their level of commitment is of the utmost importance. Besides being committed to the afore mentioned things, band members need to also be committed to being at practice on time, being prepared, growing in their relationship with Christ, and practicing well.
- Practice Well
- There’s nothing more frustrating for good musicians than practices that seem to go nowhere. Always be prepared for practice, especially if you are the leader or lead worshiper. Also, do your best to prepare everyone else for practice. The better you practice, the better you can lead others into the presence of God.
- Start simple according to experience
- Sometimes you just have to start simple to get everyone on the same page. If you have a band full of non-
- experienced musicians, then don’t expect too much at first. Start with songs with simple chordings and structure. In other words, don’t come in on the first night and say "let’s do blah blah blah in the key of Bb instead of G, so everyone transpose." Keep it simple to start. Excellence can be simple. Work your way up.
- Develop and Train
- Take time to learn new music, chords, and experiment with different sounds and structures. The band will only get better if you get better. If you’re leading, take what you’ve learned and share it with your team.