Building Relationships in Your Worship Band Rehearsal

By James Brooks 

As a music worship leader, have you ever considered how the pursuit of musical excellence can become an idol? Don’t get me wrong, I believe with my whole heart that every music worship leader should be inspiring their teams to pursue musical excellence and grow as skilled musicians for God’s glory and delight. With the rise of social media, our exposure and accessibility to excellent worship musicianship is as great as it has ever been, putting a tremendous amount of pressure on worship bands to reproduce the same level of musical excellence. 

However, when you look at scripture, it becomes very clear that God cares much more about our relationships over our musicianship. God knew from the start that it wasn’t good for us to live life alone, giving us the gift of companionship (Genesis 2:18). We have been called and encouraged to meet together regularly, motivating and encouraging each other towards acts of love and goodness (Hebrews 10:24-25). In fact, Jesus’ greatest commands to us are to love God and to love others (Mark 12:30-31).

Within the context of a worship band, building authentic, meaningful relationships can help (1) prevent division, discord, and miscommunication, (2) promote unity, chemistry, camaraderie, and trust, and (3) inspire mutual care for the spiritual, emotional and relational health among all team members. With these benefits in mind, what would it look like for worship bands to “practice” building relationships with each other? Here are five practical suggestions for how worship leaders can create space in rehearsals to build relationships within their worship band.

1.Connect with each other.

Before setting up or picking up any instruments, set aside the first 10-15 minutes of rehearsal to simply spend time “being” together as a team. It doesn’t have to be fancy, formal or forced; the goal here is to curate an environment where authentic, organic conversation can happen. A consistent theme may develop over time, such as sharing a life update, personal highs and lows, or a fun fact. The most important thing is to create a transparent space where everyone has the opportunity to see and be seen by their fellow worship band members. 

2. Collaborate with each other.

After connecting with your team, take the next 5-10 minutes to communicate the vision for the music worship set that the band is preparing to rehearse together. As you do so, invite your team members to share their impressions, insight and ideas on the music worship set. Make sure to set clear, appropriate expectations and guidelines on the collaborative process; however, try to be as flexible and creative as possible with how you can empower and delegate to the individuals on your team. This moment is all about creating something together, achieving a shared vision, and instilling a sense of buy-in, ownership and stewardship within each team member.

3. Worship with each other.

As you begin to rehearse with your worship band, remind them that this is an opportunity not just to practice worship songs, but, more importantly, to engage in holistic worship together as a team. Declare a spirit of worship in the rehearsal space by praying, reading scripture or singing through the chorus of one of the songs in the set list as a centering moment. As each song is rehearsed, encourage each band member to sense how the Holy Spirit is moving. Be present in the room, observing your team members, making eye contact and doing your best to pick up on any nonverbal cues. Don’t be afraid to deviate from the pre-planned road maps as you remain sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When appropriate, take time to pause and engage in discussion with your team, debriefing your collective worship experience and determining together if any changes or adjustments should be made. This process of practicing worship not only can help your team anticipate what’s in store for the full corporate worship experience, but can also foster a deeper, intimate spirit of worship and connection within your worship band.

4. Pray with each other.

After you have spent intentional time connecting, collaborating and worshiping together, bring what you have collectively created before the Lord as an offering. Open up a space in which every team member has the opportunity to lift up a prayer out loud. Pray for fresh anointing over each element of the service plan. Pray for the Holy Spirit to call out any details that don’t align with God’s plans or purposes. Pray for the congregation, that their hearts might be open and receptive to the themes and messages that will be communicated through each element. Pray for your team, that each member might engage in a holistic, unified corporate worship experience with their hearts, souls, minds, and bodies. Pray for anything that may have come up during your team’s connection time. No matter when it happens or what the focus is, make room for prayer at each rehearsal; God’s presence and power in our corporate worship is vital and always worth asking for!

5. Encourage each other.

As you get ready to close out rehearsal, ask your team if there are any unspoken comments, questions or concerns. Make sure that each band member is equipped with what they need to retain what has been rehearsed. Communicate your confidence and trust in their ability to show up to the service prepared physically, mentally, and spiritually. Leave the unnecessary burden of worrying about musical perfection at the door as you walk out of the rehearsal space, remembering that everyone is human and that we all make mistakes. As a team, collectively recommit to prioritizing your relationship with God and with your team members above musical excellence.

James Brooks currently serves as the Director of Chapel Bands at Azusa Pacific University, providing oversight for recruitment, student mentoring, and worship design.   

James Brooks, Director of Chapel Bands, Azusa Pacific University
James Brooks, Director of Chapel Bands, Azusa Pacific University