Set Band or Anyone & Everyone?

335599_street_musiciansI go through this dilemma about every 2 years or so.  Do I go with one band that plays every week or do I use anyone and everyone that has an interest in our worship ministry?  Well, it’s been almost 2 years now and I’m having that conversation with myself again, so I thought I’d let you in on it.  I’m sure that some of this conversation is fueled by the incredible time I had playing with a pretty amazing band at the Church Planter’s Forum a few weeks ago.  Check it out here.

At my last Church I spent the first 3-4 years learning how to be a worship leader.  That means that I was constantly developing teams, which means that anyone and everyone was involved in the band.  There are definitely some benefits to that.  For example, as a Church Plant you don’t have a lot to choose from so by opening the band to anyone it really broadens the pool of players.  It also allows you to develop musicians who otherwise wouldn’t get a chance to play on stage… anywhere!  I can think of a few that are playing on a regular basis right now because of that.  Also, by using less developed players it allows you to sculpt them (most of them) into the type of musician that you desire for your team.  Not a bad thing at all.

On the other hand, by using anyone and everyone the quality of music does suffer somewhat… who am I kidding, it suffers a lot!  And the task of scheduling 30-50 musicians in a way that no one feels left out is daunting in itself.

By using a set band you potentially get a higher quality band (not guaranteed) and usually a more committed band as well.  But then you run the risk of burning them out.  And when that happens you have the task of finding replacements or simply playing without them.

I spent the last 1-2 years of my time at that same Church with a set band (or set bands).  I have to say that it was nice showing up on a Sunday morning not worrying about whether someone was going to nail a lead or stick a fill.  And yet, here I am in that anyone and everyone scenario again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working with young musicians and I love developing teams.  I was called to a little Church Plant here in town that had one band.  Half of it left when I showed up almost 2 years ago so I’m really excited that we now have so many people involved in the worship ministry today.  It means that God has been able to raise up some talented musicians in our Church.  And the cool thing is that I’ve been able to help them find their sound and their place in the ministry here.

Needless to say, there are positives and negatives to both approaches.  I’m just reevaluating them right now.  So let me lay it out clean and clear and then I’d love to hear your input.

Set Band Pros…

Higher Quality Musicians
Stress-less Scheduling
More Intimate Relationships
Tighter Sounding Band
Less Stress on Sunday Mornings

Set Band Cons…

Burn Out
Scheduling when they’re not available
Smaller Pool of Musicians
Potentially Robbing people of the opportunity to use their gifts

Anyone and Everyone Pros…

Larger Pool of musicians
More people serving/using their gifts
A more moldable team of musicians
More “Teachable Opportunities” 😉

Anyone & Everyone Cons…

Looser Band
Scheduling Nightmares
Lower Quality Musicianship
Having to say ‘no’ to someone if they’re just not cutting it (with a set band, you have an excuse).

At first glance, it would seem that the larger your Church is, the more people you’d involve in your worship ministry.  However, I’m not sure that’s really the case.  What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Set Band or Anyone & Everyone?

  1. bobby says:

    I think there’s an option between 1 band and anyone/everyone. I’ve been meaning to post about our process for a while now, but we have an audition process we just recently implemented and now have 2 rotating bands, and we have a couple alternates as well.

    One other thing to consider is the level of spiritual maturity and leadership you want from your team. That often isn’t looked at when you just need people to play at the beginning, but I got to the point in 2 churches where we felt like the worship team also needed to see themselves as a sort of leader in our faith community. People see their faces leading them onstage every single week and can sometimes identify them before they can other staff members.

    So I’m a big proponent of being somewhat selective, but I think that can look a like a lot of different things. Don’t know if that helped any at all, but those are my thoughts for now!

  2. Larry says:

    i like the audition thing mentioned above. However, we let people sit in on our practices and give them the sheet music to play along with us. That way they get the feel and can practice. Then when auditions come up, they know how we work and can play along. It works great, and people kinda know before hand if they can cut it. Plus if you are review old songs at practice, you can use that as a teachable moment time as the regular band is usually ready to go.

  3. Angie says:

    It touches my heart that you’re using dad’s positive / negative strategy for problem solving:) As for worship teams and organizing I found an article using google that might be useful to look at
    After reading this it confirms the conviction that worship is a serious matter (only the men in the past were the worshippers, women were more for festivals with their tambourines), not to be taken lightly by any means. It requires much devotion to prayer first and a heeding to the Holy Spirit. I know the Lord has called you to your position for a reason and whatever you hear from Him can be trusted.
    As a fellow worshipper, seeing the same worship band weekly is somewhat comforting and it’s nice to be able to really belt out a song of praise to a tune that you know. On the other hand, it can be boring to see the same band doing the same thing every week and in my opinion this is not Spirit led worship, just fearful musicians that don’t want to make a mistake! SMILES…I would propose a consideration of having a regular worship team 2 to 3 times a month, ready to go for fill ins as well. This would be supplemented with others that feel led to worship and provide for that teaching that Lord has called you to and growth in your church as ALL parts of the body need to be used to glorify the Lord. Most of the time if people know they’re being used for the Lord, they’re encouraged by the Spirit for their act of faith and want to share more of the Lord with others, which obviously is a win-win situation for Jesus and His chruch!

  4. team4given says:

    Great stuff guys…

    Bobby, I always struggle with auditions. I mean, what if I have to tell someone, “you’re not good enough”. I’ve never had to do it, but it still haunts me. I know, I know, if they’re not good enough, they need to know it! And we run 3 different teams, but they almost always get mixed up somehow because someone can’t make it. That’s what causes all the turmoil.

    Larry… I love the idea of letting them practice with the band before you audition them. What a great idea! That way, everyone already knows what to expect when it comes time to audition. It’s almost more a training tool than anything. I love it!

    Angie… Yes, I believe that worship is a serious thing. And finding the balance between monotony and creativity is always a challenge.

    Great stuff!!!

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