Worship Leading Essentials #15 – Band or Rotating Musicians?

 Last week a worship leader emailed me and asked for some advice. His church is about 500 people. They have been using the same worship band for ten years. He is wanting to go to a pool of musician’s that rotate each week. He asked me if it was the right thing.

Is it the right thing? Absolutely. Some churches have limited musicians and cannot form more than one band. In that case, you work with what you have. However, if you have multiple musicians, I would make the switch to use many musicians. At exchange we have a group of about 25 musicians and vocalists. We call them the “musician’s pool.” Each week we pull from that pool to create a totally new band. We do not have set bands (band A, B, or C), we create a new band each week. Early in the ministry of exchange, we had a set house band. True, there are several advantages to using the same musicians each week. In my opinion, using multiple musician’s is much more healthy. Why?

  1. It allows people to experience the gathering from both sides of the stage. If your only experience during a worship gathering (service) is leading worship, it is easy to become one dimensional. We can minister more effectively when we have the perspective and experience of worshipping with others as well as leading.
  2. Playing in the worship band is seen as a privilege, not a right. Once a band is established, it is easy to become territorial. “I am the guitar player at this church.” Everyone else is locked out of this ministry. It is unhealthy on both sides.
  3. Burnout is less. Let’s face it, you can’t play in a band every week without it eating on you. Among other things, you will likely suffer spiritually. I have seen it several times. Musicians play every week hoping that nobody finds out that we are spiritually bankrupt. Eventually something gives. Sometimes it gets nasty.
  4. Creativity is higher. When there is time away from the weekly schedule of rehearsals and Sundays, there is more room for creativity. Some of my best creative ideas have been when I am on a break from weekly leading.
  5. More people are able to use their giftings. Like I said, we had a house band in the early days. They were a group of exceptional musicians and we made some great memories. The downside was that we locked some people out of using their giftings. There were several musicians that could have used their abilities on the worship team, but we simply didn’t have a slot for them.

I have been on both sides of the fence on this whole issue. There are positives and negatives for each side, but I can tell you one thing: unless it was a small church with limited resources, I would always opt to use a pool of musicians.

Drop in next time when we explore the how-to’s of going from band to pool.

What has been your experience? What do you use in your community?

[tags]worship-leading, bands, musicians, pool, burnout, leadership, musicians[/tags]

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2 thoughts on “Worship Leading Essentials #15 – Band or Rotating Musicians?

  1. You didn’t really comment on why you use a pool rather than multiple bands. Is it ok if I comment on our church’s experience?

    We started with one band, then started rotating in and out, and finally went to a multiple band format. For us, this seems to be the best of both options. You get time away from leading, you get the musical consistency and team-building of playing with a common group, and you have more available spots for alternate vocalists or musicians to plug in when there is a schedule conflict or just for the sake of rotating.