Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

What to Do with a Musician Who Isn?t Making the Cut

A few years ago, I was responsible for taking a group?of young musicians and turning them into a worship team. To be honest, they weren?t amazing. But we gelled together enough to create some pretty solid worship sets. And through intentional training and development, I saw these young musicians turn into legitimate phenoms. In fact, many of them are now full-time worship leaders or traveling with well-known bands in Nashville.

But while some seemed to blossom into incredible musicians, I had a few others who just weren?t getting any better. And they were holding back the entire band, either because they weren?t practicing or weren?t getting it?getting what it took to make the band better with their instrument.

I?m sure I?m not the only person who has experienced this. In fact, you might be experiencing this right now. So what do you do in this situation? How do you deal with this in a gracious way, instead of just giving them the boot and looking for someone new at your local Guitar Center?

Here are a few steps that helped me.

Step 1: Tell them what is wrong.

One of the easiest things to do when someone disappoints us is to tell everyone but the person who actually needs to hear about it. If you don?t tell the musician what?s wrong, they?ll sense something is wrong but not understand what it is. That eventually leads to frustration. It often even leads to a diva attitude.

Once the situation has devolved to that point, there?s no gracious way to deal with it. So tell the musician what?s wrong, ?Hey bro. You just aren?t developing like we need you to as a bassist.?

Step 2: Tell them how they need to improve.

Step 1 is the painful part. Step 2 is where you start getting to the good stuff. If your bass player has bad rhythm, let them know they need to work on that. If your drummer hits the cymbals too much, tell them. If the guitar player doesn?t know how to tune his guitar, tell him.

This gives them hope. If you critique someone without giving them a vision for what they need to change, you?re just criticizing them. We don?t need any more criticism within the Church; there?s plenty of that already.[quote]If you critique someone without giving them a vision for what they need to change, you?re just criticizing them.[/quote]

Step 3: Give them tools/resources to help them improve.

Now empower your musician to get better. Get them vocal lessons. Give them a tuner. Send them to a conference, or pair them up with a musician who?s better than they are.

This is where you insert love into the whole situation. You love them enough to help them improve. You actually want them to stay on the team. You aren?t just trying to take away the main way they feel like they?re contributing back to their faith.

Step 4: Give them a timeline for the improvement.

Tell them the level you want them to reach for. Then give them a timeline to reach it.

If you?re removing them from the worship team while they?re learning to improve, let them know when you?ll re-audition them. This gives them hope for the future and something to aim for.

If you aren?t removing them from the worship team, let them know what you expect at the end of the growth period. And let them know they won?t continue on the band if they don?t improve to a certain level by that time. This isn?t about punishment; it?s about setting clear expectations for your team.

Step 5: Be gracious and courageous.

This confrontation will probably be one of the most uncomfortable experiences you?ll have as a worship leader. So be bold.

But also, bathe everything you say and do in love for your team. Your volunteers (or even paid) musicians aren?t tools for you to use and abuse. They are individuals made in the image of God. He loves them and wants them to be properly cared for. Be sure you?re layering loads of grace in everything you do. It?s even okay to fudge on the rules a bit if you see them making forward?progress.[quote]Your volunteers (or even paid) musicians aren?t tools for you to use and abuse.[/quote]

While this type of confrontation is uncomfortable, it?s necessary. And you?ll be glad you did this, because 9 out of 10 times you?ll see your musicians rise to the occasion.

Now ask yourself, who do you need to confront?

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