How to Start a Worship Team
You’ve planted your first church and all is well except for one important thing – you don’t have a worship team. Your spouse can’t play an instrument, and you certainly can’t sing. Often when churches are new, and even in the life of an established church, there are times when you don’t have anyone to lead worship.
A few years ago my husband and I were pastoring a church that was blessed to have a young man who was an excellent piano player. A year or so later he left for college. Since we didn’t have anyone to take his place, I had to learn to play the piano in less than two weeks. I had never played before, and the only thing I knew to do was pray. I prayed for hours asking the Lord to give me the ability to at least be able to play a few chords.
The Lord was faithful. Within two weeks I was able to play all of our worship songs. I’m telling you this to give you hope. If you desire to play, and there is a need, God will give you the ability.
It’s helpful to find a piano course that teaches you to play by "ear" or by chording if you need to learn to play quickly. The best one I’ve seen is Pattern Piano by David Sprunger. He quickly teaches you the basics so you can start playing right away. There are also many great guitar courses available online.
If you shudder at the thought of learning to play an instrument, another option is to use accompaniment split-tracks. These are recordings that allow you to mute the vocals and still have the instrument parts to sing along with. You can find split-track CDs at your local Christian bookstore or online at Christian Book Distributors.
If you have a little understanding of MIDI, you can use a software program like Band-in-a-Box to make your own midi tracks. Simply add the chords for your worship song, pick a style, and the program generates a full accompaniment to your song. You can then copy the worship song to CD from your computer.
There are also several companies that sell worship DVDs which include enough songs for a worship service, nice visuals, and the ability to display lyrics if you desire. They can be a little pricey depending upon who you buy them from. These options are great as a backup for those times when you find yourself without musicians, especially when you are in the beginning stages of developing a worship team.
Of course if your church is established, you can usually find someone in the congregation who can play a lead instrument. Be sure to read Worship Leader Guide for Churches, and a great article by Bob Kauflin of PDI Ministries entitled What to Look for In a Worship Musician.
Another way to find musicians is to place flyers on the bulletin boards of local music stores, business and libraries. Also, the Internet is full of websites (local newspapers, community centers, schools) that will allow you to post free ads for musicians and worship leaders in your area.
I think we’ve forgotten in our entertainment era that a person leading their congregation in song, acappella, can be a very powerful thing. Don’t feel like you must have a full worship team in place from the start. Many people expect to be entertained these days, but remember that’s not why we’re here. Do your best to bring to your congregation what Jesus wants. Let Him bring it together in His time and it will be a beautiful thing.