Apart from the role of leading in corporate gatherings, I think one of the most important investments of time a worship team can make is in rehearsal.
Rehearsal time is not only important to work on the musical components, but is also valuable in building relationships and growing spiritually. Search the internet, and you can find all kinds of tips and thoughts on the how and why of rehearsal in worship ministry. A team that doesn’t rehearse together is a team that doesn’t grow together.
That being said, as important as rehearsal is, it can also become the tail wagging the dog.
Rehearsal is a tool to that helps a worship team minister well together. And it’s simply that – a tool. It isn’t the end goal or the most important thing. And if your rehearsal system is becoming more of a hindrance to ministry than a help, then it might be time to reevaluate how you approach rehearsal with your team. Because, while it is important, there is more than one way to skin that cat.
That’s the situation I found myself in recently in my ministry context.
For a while, we’ve been doing rehearsal on Wednesday evenings, and then a run-through on Sunday mornings before the service. Yet, we’ve been having a hard time landing on a consistent, productive time on Wednesdays due to a variety of factors. These include stage of life issues, other ministry involvements, and general church dynamics.
In fact, during the month of July, we had not met on a Wednesday evening except for one week. The other weeks we did all of rehearsal and run-though on Sunday morning.
And to be honest, it was working. Our team is small right now. The people who are serving consistently are committed to leading with excellence. They are good musicians, and we are working well together.
But they are involved in other things, too. And this is just the summer. My thoughts began to turn to fall. We began looking at what we were hoping to accomplish in different ministry areas and the impact those goals would have on different people. I realized that we had to come up with a new approach, otherwise frustration and burn-out were real possibilities. I want rehearsal to be productive, beneficial, and enjoyable, not a weekly drudgery to get through. (Admit it, you’ve had rehearsals that were little more than that.)
Because of where we are and what we can do well in this season, we are going to approach rehearsal differently than in the past. We will meet earlier on Sunday morning and do our rehearsal/pre-service run-through at the same time. It will be inherent on the team members to utilize Planning Center Online and to come prepared.
But what about the other important aspects like team building, learning new songs, and spiritual growth? I’m not forgetting about those, or lessening the importance of those aspects. As a “trade-off”, we are committing to meet together as a whole team once a month for a couple of hours – probably on a Saturday morning. We’ll eat together, study together, pray together, and learn music together. This won’t be an optional thing, but held at the same level as any other rehearsal.
Will this be how we do rehearsal long term? Probably not. A new season will mean a new approach. That new season could be triggered by growth in the church, growth in the team, or other factors. For now, though, this seems like a good approach all things considered. And we will continue to evaluate and refine as we move forward.
Being more relaxed about rehearsal doesn’t mean that people have the option to come or not come and still be able to serve. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t intentional about the time we spend together. It doesn’t mean that there still isn’t responsibility to sing and play well in leading.
But it does mean that we work together to find the best solution in light of our unique set of circumstances.
Is this what you need to consider for your ministry setting? Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know the dynamics you are facing. But I would encourage you, no matter where you are, to consider, along with your leadership and team, what the best way to accomplish the goal, build the team, and involve people in ministry over the long haul might look like.
It might just surprise you what develops. I know it did me.
And I’m ok with that.