• Nathan

How to Grow a Worship Team God's Way

Some time ago I had to make a difficult decision. A worship ministry I led was going to have a retreat. From experience, I knew this retreat was important to building culture. We would teach and model the values we wanted to grow for the rest of the year. We would focus on understanding each other’s gifts. I was looking forward to it.

Just before the retreat my leadership informed me that one of our most talented members might not be able to make it. This person had an opportunity to attend an event that promised to be beneficial to their music career. But we had been clear to the group that this retreat was a priority, and that if they didn’t attend the retreat, they couldn’t be part of the team.

My leadership and I went around and around trying to figure out what to do. We all would hate to lose this very talented person, and we considered giving them grace, letting them miss the retreat, and still participate. But we also knew what kind of message that would send to the rest of the group. We didn’t want people to think we had a double standard for “the really talented ones”.

I held fast on my decision not to let things slide. This person chose to skip the retreat, and we started our year missing an important piece.

As we began, I had to teach someone who had never played a particular instrument what to do. I'll call him Ryan. I showed Ryan the basics, and stood back. I was astonished. He was born to play this instrument. He had a natural feel for it, and started to do things I hadn’t taught him. He still made mistakes, but he grew by leaps and bounds and was joyful in the process. I still get misty thinking about it. He discovered a new part of his design over a weekend.

I had no idea Ryan was born to play that instrument. He didn’t either. But God did. He had a plan to move a few people around and get them in the right position for the next chapter of their lives. He just didn’t tell me. All I got was a feeling and a conviction. My job was simple. I had to stand on His principles, listen to His voice, and trust that even if our team was hobbled in one area for the whole year, it would be better than breaking the trust of our team by instituting a double standard. God gave me more than a hobbled team. He gave someone a new way to worship Him.

Not only that, my hunch about the retreat being important was correct. At the end of that year we had a wrap-up. More than one of the members said the retreat was their favorite memory of their time on the team. I saw how they grew and learned to honor themselves and one another in the way God made them throughout the year. That started on week one.


1. If you are a worship leader struggling with a decision about your team- choose culture over talent. Stick to your values, even if it costs you something. Things like trust, belonging, and joyful teamwork matter more than playing the changes.

2. If you have two bad options to choose from- stand on principles. Then consider that God might have a third option that will floor you. But even if He doesn’t, He is still good.

3. If the cupboard looks bare and you feel like you can’t afford to let a talented person go- decide that you will receive from God and not people. God’s choice might be waiting for you to make the hard call.

4. Finally, if you want to grow your worship team- be intentional about what you want to grow. If you want to grow the numbers, or the production value, then go for it. But don’t assume that grows the people. The only way to grow the people is to model the values you want to see. It cannot be an afterthought. It has to come first, even when it is painful. But guess what? The Kingdom is made of people. So guess what you’re building…

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