There’s so little time to make an impact during rehearsal. Before you know it, the time has come and gone. It’s easy just to survive practice, and miss the opportunity to invest in your team. But improving in just one of these areas can make a huge impact.
Here are five common mistakes worship leaders make when rehearsing with their teams. I’ve been leading worship for 18 years, and still see these often—both in others and myself.
1. Coming Unprepared
If you build your set list an hour before your rehearsal, you aren’t setting your team up for success. Occasionally this happens, when there’s a natural disaster or some major emergency. When it does, the team understands and you flex together. But if this is the norm for you or if you are blaming God to justify your laziness, you might ask God what he thinks about that. Shoot to have your set list done a few days before rehearsal. This gives your team ample time to acclimate themselves to the set. There’s more than one way to go about this, so know your church culture and don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself or your team.
2. Negativity and Pride
There once was a staff member in a position higher than me, who I don’t report to, that would come and sit on the back row during our team rehearsals. He would walk into the sound booth off and on. I didn’t know what he was saying, but I assumed the worst. I concluded he was making negative comments about things. Occasionally, he did, which only fueled the internal bonfire. It drove me crazy! This is all a result of sinful, disgusting pride. Once, during rehearsal, I let my frustration get the best of me. Rehearsal wasn’t going well, my monitor mix sounded terrible, I was making mistakes, some of the media technicians were making mistakes, someone in the band copped an attitude with me, and someone was incredibly late. I didn’t explode, in fact I didn’t say anything. I quietly walked off the stage leaving everyone clueless to what was going on. They knew I was upset, but didn’t know what they’d done to frustrate me. Pride and negativity took over.
When I came back a few minutes later, the negativity had crept into every song and everyone there. I had to apologize to them and confess my pride. I was convicted for my anger, so I confessed my sin to this guy and asked for his forgiveness. A lot of negativity has its root in pride. Someone hits a bad note so they start to dog themselves, which is pride. Pride is just a self-obsession. You think you’re so worthless for making a mistake, you start to get negative. You pout or dig on others to deflect. There’s no room for pride in our worship of God. Andrew Murray once said, “Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.”
No one is more important to the direction of a team than its leader. If you’re the worship leader, you are responsible to run the rehearsal. You can’t delegate that responsibility to a band member or a non-musician. It doesn’t work. You can’t ignore the necessity or your role and contribution. If you’re the leader and you don’t like something, you communicate. Conflict can be difficult, but it comes with the job. You have to coach your team. When there’s conflict between other members, you have to lean into that. When someone makes a mistake and you don’t communicate, you’ve just set a new standard. Perfection is impossible, but mistakes are inevitable. Don’t be a blowhard and don’t be a pushover.
4. Not Collaborating
Let’s say you are a musical genius. You need to collaborate with your team so they will feel a part of what you are trying to produce. On the other hand, if you’re like most people who aren’t prodigies, your team will improve by collaboration. You’ll be better for it. Of course, collaboration can be defined multiple ways in this setting. You just need to find what is best for you. Maybe you ask for input after each song, but you must ask specific questions. Open ended questions like, “Hey guys I don’t know what to do here..uh..what do ya’ll think…uh…” don’t tend to go well. Most of the time, they’ll look at you like, “You’re in charge – you tell us!” Set the pace for collaboration. Welcome it. Invite it.
5. Not Serving
In John 13, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Elsewhere, he talked about becoming great in the Kingdom by becoming like a child. There’s just no other way to succeed than to emulate Jesus. Most rehearsals are ritualistic mechanics. The rookies will miss the opportunity to make a spiritual impact during this time. They’ll run the songs, then quickly rush back to jump on their phone. The ones that are really making a difference think about opportunities to serve their teams. Praying together as a group about personal needs after a rehearsal, looking for ways to make their jobs easier and more enjoyable. Do you need new equipment, new cables, a new drum throne, picks? What can you do to help them improve as a worship leader and musician?
Your rehearsal is more than just a time to keep you from being embarrassed during your services. It’s an opportunity to make deposits into your team. Be sure you take every opportunity to do it. That will take you from being a rookie worship leader to a world-class one.