Tuesday, March 3, 2009

(Bump) New Team Members

It took me several years (note, "several years" to a 20-something may not really seem that long to some of you old people) to finally figure out the need for a very clear and purposeful way to introduce new team members to our band, tech teams, etc. The following is a basic outline of how and why we do things the way we do them when bringing on a new member to our band. Much of this is transferable to any ministry team that I lead.

I never use the word "recruit"...that's a military term, and ministry should NOT be militaristic. I use the word "invite". Ministry should be an enjoyable experience, and I'd much rather receive an invitation to something fun than be recruited for a task. When I do invite people to join our team, I cast a vision of our ministry by explaining the purpose for our team.

You must be a member of our church to be involved in any kind of week to week ministry. I know of some awesome churches that hold to different standards than ours, some are more strict and others are more casual, and that's OK. But, this is what works for us.

We rarely invite brand new church members to be on the team because we want them to get to know us and us to know them very well before we put them in an on-stage, leadership ministry position. I try to remind our team that, because they are placing themselves on the stage, even if they're "just" playing an instument, they are being looked upon as leaders in some way, shape or form by our church, our community and our God. I want to be able to learn at least a little about a person's character before I place them in that leadership position.

Other members on our team can suggest that I invite people to be on our team, but I do NOT allow other members of the team to do the inviting unless they have talked with me first. Because I am on staff, I am more privy to some things (issues in people's personal lives) than most of our team members.

Musicians and vocalists MUST audition for me. One of our values is to do all things with excellence...if it ain't real good, we don't do it. NOTE: We also value people doing their best, but a lot of people can do their best playing an instrument or singing a song and it doesn't come close to what we consider excellence. Every member of our church has the potential to be excellent in at least one ministry, and our goal above all else is to help our members find the ministry they're most excellent in. One of the biggest hindrances to corporate worship is unqualified musicians and vocalists. The same can be said for any other ministry team in our church, which is why I am NOT involved in children's ministry.

I always have what I call the "audition before the audition"...I tell people who want to join our team, "if you want to audition for the band, you must first agree that you will accept my decision with grace and a good attitude, without holding any grudges toward me or anyone else because of my decision." If they can't promise me that, they don't get to audition. If somebody's going to get mad at me, I'd rather them get mad about not allowing them to audition than telling them "no" after they've auditioned.

If an audition goes well, I explain as much as I can about what our team is all about: why we do things, what our purpose is, what our values and expectations are, etc.. If the person is still wanting to give it a go, we then begin a two month "trial" period in which the person becomes a limited member of the team. This period usually consists of the person coming to as many rehearsals as possible to become familiar with our music and schedule and chemistry. The person usually begins practicing with us by singing or playing un-amplified, and is not brought onto the stage for rehearsals or services until I feel they are ready. At the end of two months (sometimes this trial period needs to be extended, sometimes it's shorter) we both get together and assess whether we feel this ministry is the right fit for this person.

The reason I do a two month trial period: if somebody is willing to come but not "preform" for two months, and maintains a positive attitude throughout, it's a good sign that they're in it for the right reasons. Above all else, we're looking for qualified people with servant's hearts...people who are truly wanting to serve God and others by using their gifts to lead in worship. Two months of coming to practice and not being placed on the stage usually weeds out any potential egos and allows the true servants to rise the top.

If, at the end of the trial period, we all agree that this is a great fit in ministry for this person, he/she is welcomed as a full member of the team, put into our rotation, and hopefully, everything goes well after that (and it almost always has). If we decide that the band is not a good fit for their personal gifts, it becomes my priority to help them audition for another ministry team...I will personally hand them off to another team leader. Again, if my priority is to help every member of my church serve on the team God wants them serving on, everybody wins in the end.

Those are the basics for us. How do you bring in new members into your band/worship team?



riverflow said...

"..may not really seem that long to some of you old people" eh? You pointing at me, boy? :-)

Well, if it will make you feel even better, Nate, after all these years, up 'til recently I realized I still hadn't totally covered every base in trying to "finally figure out" all the fine points of recr...um, inviting someone to the worship ministry. Just when you think you have all the t's crossed and i's dotted, up crops another issue in need of a rule.

I like how you say you don't allow other members of the team to invite new folks on their own. This is a HUGE one and if it's not made clear to your team right up front, it can get really messy, awkward and perhaps even embarrassing for one and all.

But here's another one in the same category that we've recently learned the hard way: You've also got to have the same cooperation of your church leadership team--pastor, elders, etc.--that the same applies to them. Well, you know, be diplomatic and respectful about it, but this is a MUST. Twice in the past year, we had well-meaning leaders--once in the middle of a leadership meeting--suggest that "wouldn't so-and-so be a wonderful addition to the worship ministry; I've already talked with them, and they're going to speak with you about it on Sunday."

True, your other great guidelines, such as auditions and other requirements, are still valid, and you can probably cover enough tracks with that kind of awkward invite. But still, there is this presumption on the part of the candidate that, "hey, the elder recommended me, so I'm in, right?"

This brings us back to unified vision, doesn't it? When everyone's on the same page, I suppose these kind of problems wouldn't exist.


MilePost13 said...

Fortunately, I've never had that issue...as fulltime staff under ecxellent leadership, we're usually on the same page with just about everything, or at least we're coming to that point.

I think Vision is one of those few things that just about everything comes back to when talking about church stuff. Just about any church related issue you'll deal with involves vision on some level, usually from the top down.


jordan said...

"try to remind our team that, because they are placing themselves on the stage, even if they're "just" playing the harmonica, they are being looked upon as leaders in some way, shape or form by our church, our community and our God."

A---stinkin---men. We learned that the hard way years ago when I rushed a guy in, screwed up, and a lot of paint got "tore off of the walls in removing him." While I love people bringing me prospective team members, everyone knows we have a process. Each process is different for each level of leadership. http://www.worshiptrench.com/?p=5 for example. However, recently we have re-organic-ized our processes http://www.worshiptrench.com/?p=118 which feels much more NorthWood.

Jim Puckett said...

We had a SP once who tried to get every new convert pkugged into something in the church within the first couple of weeks. We had a strong team and a pretty decent gospel choir (not anthem choir). One girl got thrown into the tasks and responsibilities of leading worship through the choir. She was not spiritually mature or ready for the enemy's battles that would come against her as a new convert. It was too much on her shoulders and despite our efforts, we lost her and her life was worse than before we got her. This was a sobering situation that caused me to take a firm stand on some entrance standards - besides the musical standards. We now require 6 months minimum for a new believer - they must plug into a small group and have new believer discipleship mentoring relationships in place before they can be considered.

Another story is about one girl who wanted on the frontline soooooooo bad - but for all of the wrong reasons. Every relationship she has in the church is strained and bruised. Vocally she could probably to be on the team - but her very presence as a leader would be hugely distracting at the very least.

We have used choir as place to get people on the same page with our goals - to watch them in action in relationships, in submission and, of course, their musical chops. From there people are only brought to stronger positions of responsibility by invitation.

BTW - I have taken criticism across the years for not letting so-and-so sing. I apply the same standards to soloists with the choir and we almost never have the old "special music" before the message. Our team carries the weight of those kinds of tasks when they are used.

MilePost13 said...

Thanks for joining in the discussion, guys!

Thanks for posting links to your resources, Jordan...the beauty of the internet at work again!

Jim...I also use our worship choir as an opportunity to allow people to get their feet wet in our music/worship ministry. Some find their shape fits perfectly with the choir, others find it's a bad fit, and a few may grow to the point of becoming a part of the band.