What type of guidelines do you recommend for the members of our worship team?
I highly recommend having some type of written guidelines for the music ministry of every church. Many problems could easily be alleviated with proper communication. Written guidelines can help immensely in this regard.
I suggest having guidelines in two categories. The first section would be what type of qualifications you are looking for in new team members. This could include things like (though not limited to):
- membership at your church – If this is important to you (it is to me), then emphasize that someone passing through or just checking out the church is not eligible to be a part of the music ministry.
- spiritual maturity – Again, if this idea is crucial for you church, then be sure to include it, although an exact definition for this may be difficult.
- musical ability – What level of expertise are you expecting?
- adequate free time – Having enough time to commit to the music ministry may seem obvious but is often not considered.
- support of family – Spouse, older children or parents approval can be a major factor in whether or not the person will be part of the team for very long.
The second section would include your expectations of people once they are a part of the music ministry. This might include:
- probationary period – This can help the person learn to flow with the rest of the team and give you a chance to work carefully with them in a non-ministry situation.
- rehearsal attendance – Do they need to attend every rehearsal? Is punctuality a necessity?
- ministry – Are they expected to minister at every regularly scheduled service? If not, how often? What about special services?
- spiritual preparation for ministry – Music is not the first priority, worship is. Emphasize this early and often so people understand.
- musical excellence – Do you expect them to practice the songs on their own? What about improving their musical skills (i.e., lessons)?
- spiritual growth – A commitment to continued maturing in their Christian walk should be a high priority
- appropriate dress – What do you consider acceptable attire for ministry? Does it vary depending on the meeting? Does weather make a difference?
(For a more detailed list of these guidelines, with more complete explanations, see my book Developing an Effective Worship Ministry.
All of these things should be carefully considered and addressed. These ideas are certainly not meant to be an all-inclusive list. They are simply thought-starters. There may be other considerations depending on your situation and your specific congregation. You may want to include your pastor or other church leadership in the process of determining what guidelines are right for your church.
If you are just starting a worship ministry at your church implementing guidelines right from the beginning is best. However, if you already have an existing music ministry, it would probably be best not to hand out a list of new guidelines at a rehearsal without any prior warning. I suggest that you discuss the guideline idea with your pastor first. With his approval, inform those involved in the music ministry that you are considering implementing guidelines for everyone involved. After they have had time to think about this concept (4-6 weeks or so) let them know that you are working on actually formulating guidelines. Again, after they have had time to contemplate that announcement (another 4-6 weeks) share a couple of the guidelines you are considering. Give them time to recognize the importance of these ideas (yup, you guessed it, 4-6 more weeks), before actually handing out the final guidelines. This may seem like a very slow, drawn-out process but it will minimize fall-out over the long haul. People do not like change and the more you can prepare them for any changes the fewer problems you will encounter.
Clear communication in the form of written expectations will help strengthen your church’s music ministry.