Standards for Music Teams

This question was sent to me a while ago, but is relevant to many of us.

“What do you think of asking music team members to adhere to stricter/higher personal standards re: dress, devotional life, testimony, etc than members of other “teams” in the church because of the public, “up front” nature of the work?”

Serving in the church of Jesus Christ is always a privilege. “The greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Mt. 23:11) While there are many ways to serve “behind the scenes” in the church, the music team isn’t one of them. For that reason, I think holding musicians to higher personal standards is wise for at least two reasons.

First, the maturity of those on the team affects the church. Throughout Scripture, those who lead are held to a stricter standard for character (Titus 1:5-9, 1 Tim. 3:2-12, James 3:1). Whether someone is actually speaking or not, their presence in front of the congregation week after week implies that their life is worthy of emulation – not perfect, but showing evidences of the Gospel’s fruit in their lives. Our heart for God’s glory should be seen not only when we sing on Sundays, but in the way we relate to our spouse, children, friends, and others. Otherwise it’s easy for the church to think worship is more about singing than the way we live. If a leader learns that one of the musicians is living in unrepentant sin, they should either speak to them personally, or ask a pastor to get involved. If there’s no change, the member should be taken off the team, and helped in the process of Gospel-motivated sanctification. The goal is not simply keeping the team “pure,” but helping every member of the church grow into maturity in Christ.

Second, members of the team affect other members. If one of your musicians is given making divisive comments, or often complains, or engages in self-promotion, it will weaken the unity of the group. I remember trying to keep a guitar player on the team who consistently struggled with receiving correction and wanting to be used more. Rehearsals were a challenge, and we had numerous painful conversations. In hindsight, it would have served him and the other musicians if I had taken him off the team until his heart was in a better place.

It’s wise to make standards and expectations for heart and behavior clear before someone joins the team. When I first came to my current church eight years ago, I took time to set clear standards for participation. We revisit that every few years for the sake of new members who have been added. It’s always easier to remind someone of what you’ve already told them, than to think they’ll adhere to unspoken expectations.

You can e-mail any questions regarding music and worship in the church to bob@worshipmatters.com.

May you find joy in God’s relentless grace today.

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6 Responses to Standards for Music Teams

  1. Bruce McKanna December 2, 2005 at 10:08 AM #

    Thanks for taking the time to write this blog. Would you consider posting, or making available as a file download, your church’s standards for those who participate “up front” in the ministry of worship?

  2. Matthew Westerholm December 2, 2005 at 10:37 AM #

    How would you respond to people (not me!) who would suggest that involving an unbeliever in the worship band can lead to their salvation?

    In addition to the points in your post, it also seems dangerous since (usually) an unbeliever is trying to “earn” favor with God, and playing music in church seems to contribute to that mentality.

    I am aware of several churches who practice this. It seems to be noble, but perhaps their motives are more along the lines of getting a good bass player . . . betraying the mentality of “WORSHIP=MUSIC”.

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  3. jon December 2, 2005 at 3:17 PM #

    Excellent points. What are some ways you have cultivated humility and servanthood among the musicians that serve your church?

  4. Stephen Williams December 3, 2005 at 7:55 AM #

    I just stumbled upon your blog recently and really appreciated some of your last few posts. Being involved with leading worship myself, it was a blessing to read some of your wisdom. Regarding standards – I agree with the previous poster – could you provide a list of the standards you prescribe for worship leaders in your church?

  5. matt blick December 5, 2005 at 6:14 PM #

    I agree with making your team aware of your expectations upfront. It’s a lot easier to lay on hands than to “lay off hands” later on. I’m not sure how helpful it would be for Bob to print a list of standards – it could become legalistic. lists are not as helpful as developing relationships which are open to challenges on character issues not matter how small. sometimes it’s just a comment or attitude you want to query that’s often hard to pin a commandment on!
    Worship teams definately need a high standard because although the carry less weight (responsability before God) than say a cell group leader, they have more “visibility” and seem to be representing the church.

    that’s just my 2 cents anyway

    thanks Bob

    • Leslie Ben October 3, 2019 at 1:24 AM #

      Is it adviceable to list out leaders who will play a role up front , what happens if you’re pianist, bass guitarist or the appointees ment to play a role absent them selves on the service days, an practice don’t take place before hand.(2) if the co leaders are oppressing their overall what would be the solution to maintain unity and a successful standard in this praise and worship group.

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