19 Apr 10 Tips for Building the Best Youth Worship Band Ever!
Are you thinking about starting a youth worship team for your youth group? Or do you have one, but are not sure how to build? Mid-Cities Community Church has the desire that a person could walk into any of our worship venues, whether adults, youth, kids, etc and see excellent, authentic worship throughout. We’ve seen lots of success. I have watched shy 15 year olds grow to become great worship leaders that help plant churches and bands full of high school and middle schoolers that could lead any adult service at our church. My hope is that you may learn from some of our success!
Most students need things spelled out clearly and often. Everything from how to get on the team, how they should be growing musically, to how they should act around the youth ministry, at school, and at home. If you haven’t specified that the expectation is to be at rehearsals 10 minutes early or that worship team members are not allowed to date each other, don’t be upset with your team when those things happen! It’s a good idea to create a document with expectations, and have them and their parents sign to make sure everyone is in agreement.
Character Trumps Talent
I can use a student who is faithful and has a solid relationship with Jesus more than I can use the next American Idol who’s flaky about showing up to rehearsals and has questionable character.
Don’t give up on the “American Idol kid” either. Meet with them to impart vision and disciple them where their character is weak. Make sure each kid is committed to Jesus and to the vision of your church, and then enjoy the talent they bring!
It’s Not a Sprint
It’s a marathon! In all aspects, be patient. So, you found out there’s a kid who started coming to youth that plays guitar like Eric Clapton. Cool. But, DO NOT forego your audition process to get him involved. Pray about him. Interview him. Make him show up for a month just to observe rehearsals and run-throughs. If you’re not patient in this, you run the risk of causing tension within your team and giving a kid more power than he should have.
Also, don’t expect to sound like Jesus Culture or Elevation Worship next month or maybe ever! It takes time, and you’ve got young, relatively inexperienced musicians and singers. Plan on working out kinks. Every. Single. Week.
Have Right-Sized Expectations
Even if your students have been playing their instruments their whole lives, that’s still a relatively short period of time. Don’t get offended if your student band gets totally off, kills an atmosphere with an awkward transition or an awkward prayer, or even if the whole worship set straight up bombs! Don’t allow yourself or your team to be discouraged. Instead, use these moments to grow and learn. Remember, God is ultimately in control. I don’t think forgetting the words to the whole second verse limits God’s ability to renew minds and touch hearts!
Celebrate Small Victories
Make a list of wins for your team. Our team recently had an issue in which a group of students we were leading literally sat down after every song, making it awkward for the worship leader to beg students to stand repeatedly! We clarified a win-“Play a whole set without any students sitting down.” It caused us to work on engaging them and to smooth out our transitions. We did those things, and it worked, and no one sat down, and we CELEBRATED!
Did your team have smiles on stage? Did everyone come in on the right part of the song? Did the drummer keep the same tempo throughout the whole song? Whatever your victories, celebrate those suckers!
Don’t Put Off Correction
The best time to offer constructive feedback is as close to the moment as possible. If you can, grab the team for a few minutes right after the set when everything is fresh. Offer encouragement first-you’ll find kids are often most critical of themselves, so, build them up and make sure they know the congregation won’t hate them or think less of them for forgetting the words or playing a weird note on the keyboard. But, also give instruction about how to fix mistakes.
Practice, Practice, Practice
It’s not just about how to get to Carnegie Hall! Find a time and day that works for your team to rehearse weekly. Take the initiative to choose the time and stick to it. A student who wants to serve in worship ministry will do what they need to in order to make the time work. Be present during rehearsals. Offer constructive feedback and encouragement throughout.
Institute a “no practice, no play” policy. It’s up to you whether exceptions can be made, but make sure they are exceptions and not the rule!
Catch the Whole Church Vision
As much as you can, model your youth band setup, rehearsals, run-throughs, sets, etc after what your adult team is doing. The goal should be both now and future. Youth bands don’t stay youth bands forever, after all! Think about the day in which they will be leading the adults in your church, and help disciple them to become that team in the future! Think about them being in your position one day raising up a youth team of their own!
Resource Your Team
Did you read a good article or blog that could help your team? Send them an email with the link. If it’s within your power and budget, get equipment that will help them sound better, communicate better, hear better, etc. Planning Center Online is great for scheduling in advance, and also allows you to attach chord charts and mp3’s to songs for your team to learn and listen. A multitracks.com account and “Playback” App allow you to add “enhancement tracks” to the sound of your band. Plus, if you have a sound system with in-ear monitors it will also allow you to have a click track and voice guide throughout the songs to help the band stay together.
Be the Biggest Cheerleader and the Fiercest Defender of Your Team
If you hear negativity from outside or inside your team, silence it! Help others, including students, leaders, and even pastors understand the “right-sized expectations” from #4 above. Singing, playing an instrument, and leading worship in front of peers is not easy. Repeat often that what they are doing is incredibly important in the kingdom of God, and that their whole goal is to bless God through songs of praise and worship, and to help others do the same! Last but not least, PRAY for each member of your team often! They need that spiritual support even more than the physical, moral, and emotional support you can give!
Have you had success with your youth band? Is there anything you would add to the discussion? Let us know in the comments below!