Big Music Department Ideas for Small Music DepartmentsMay 01, 2022
2020 did a lot more than keep us home, it made us tune in to other churches' live streams. This gave us more Music Department ideas than we know what to do with!
The way we’re using the internet to get ideas for song sets, medley ideas, stage layouts has its benefits and its drawbacks. As creatives, we’re naturally drawn to church streams with good music, the latest songs and a full band. These streams usually have the latest video cameras, modern livestream software and a sound tech who only mixes the live stream. Oh yeah, it sounds amazing and all of these moving parts are what make it happen. This song took a lot of behind the scenes work so it could flow like this
I totally support you striving to make your ministry the best it can be. In fact, the churches I have linked in this post are a few of the favs I go to for inspiration. Keep in mind, it’s taken them years to reach this place. It’s nice to have this inspiration as a goal to work toward. Here’s my advice….gain inspiration and try a few things that fit your local church. Emphasize on “what fits”! Don’t mistake inspiration for being like another church!
Here’s what we don’t see on a livestream:
- Church culture: Every church has its own vibe. Leadership styles are different. Song styles that go over are also different. You church may respond better to southern gospel and someone else's church may respond better to Hillsong.
- Music department stressors: Trust me, every music department has its own set of issues: someone who shows up to rehearsal not knowing the song, that musician who is ALWAYS late, strong personalities that clash during a late night rehearsal when everyone’s tired.
- Practice and preparation: In order for the music to sound almost flawless on Sunday, there’s a lot of preparation that happens. Right before service was probably not the first time the band and singers heard the song and tried to sing it in service.
It can be very awkward for your worship team if you try to copy an idea that you haven’t worked out behind the scenes yet (shout runs, songs, etc). Nor should we fall into the trap of comparing our church to another one. Remember that everything that you do in a service should be done with excellence so that it promotes worship instead of stopping the congregation in their tracks.
Here’s what you came to hear….THE BIGGEST SECRET to having a dynamic music ministry like this is the amount of people they have involved! Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not promoting a “big” music department above a “small” one. Every ministry is in a different season. In fact, most of my music ministry experience has been with smaller music ministries. Even with a ministry of less than 30 people, I never stopped working toward my goal of getting more people involved.
It’s true, there is power in numbers!
The more piano players you have, the more new songs you can do since one person isn’t getting burned out learning all of the material
(unless they are full-time musicians for the church). Numbers create diversity, creativity and strength.
One of my ministry stents was under a great visionary who knew the art of developing leaders. I was shocked to go to my first staff meeting and find 40 leaders present in a church of approximately 200. That’s almost 25% of the congregation if you’re numbers nerd. This experience made me dive deep into the world of developing teams. To start I had to learn the areas I am strong in so I could surround myself with a music leadership team that could fill in the gaps and carry other areas of our ministry.
Instead of looking for reasons to sit people down I started looking for ways to help them grow! I’m not talking about sin issues here. Although regularly praying for your team and reaching out to check on them are ways to care for their physical and spiritual. I do think if we’re not careful we can take the easy way out as leaders and shut someone out instead of learning to work with them. Every person on your team is a soul. You want them to go to heaven. You want to guide them to grow and reach their full potential! Although you may come across 1 person in your lifetime that is just plain vicious, I have found that most everyone on your team loves God, wants to be involved in music ministry and is striving to do their best! Most conflict comes from different personality styles, various ways of handling conflict or even my own ability to be open to ideas and criticism as a leader. I made a practice of opening up the floor during some rehearsals and asking my team directly what we could do better. Communication, conflict and resolutions will gain respect. It makes your team feel seen and heard and helps everyone feel like they were all important to the team. Having a healthy team is the first step to growth!
THIS IS WHERE IT STARTS!
Your first step to developing a team is to know yourself! Be TOTALLY honest - that’s how you’ll be the greatest leader. It’s going to get a little vulnerable, but I promise it’s worth it! As a leader, I had to learn my weaknesses so that I could know how to work in my strengths!
It may be beneficial to ask someone who knows you well to help you figure this out. You could also take a strengths finder quiz
If you want to shift the feel of your music department the first thing to do is NOT remove the older team members. To grow your team use the rule of adding to instead of taking away. If you want a bigger and better ministry you should ALWAYS be training people! Big music departments have learned this secret and do it well. You will see young and old involved in all of the ministries I have highlighted. See how diverse the First Apostolic Church Choir is….
Building a bigger team gives your music strength and stamina. Let’s talk about ways to get more people involved:
Here are a few ways having more people helps!
- Write a list of everything you’d like done in your ministry
- Now decide which of those can be done by no one else but you. (Now’s not the time to micromanage, someone else can help print schedules and chord charts - that doesn’t need to be you)
- Develop a music leadership team and delegate tasks to your team by knowing their strengths! When you delegate, give that team member “ownership” over that area. For example, if they are buying drum loops - they need to be able to do their entire job without contacting you - show them how or find YouTube Videos to help - encourage them to become an expert in their field, seek advice from them (even if you know more than they do). Then let go of the reins.
- Have weekly, biweekly or monthly meetings to keep everyone on the same page!
If you struggle with finding things someone else can do, that means it’s time to train people!
See if you can point out all of the people involved in making this service happen.
Long story short. It takes a lot of behind the scenes moving parts to build a dynamic music department. Don’t be afraid to put in the work. Use your available resources (teaching videos, examples of other church live streams) to give you team the vision of what you're working toward. Most importantly, don’t forget the why!
We strive for excellence so that in service we can truly lead in worship. The more people you have carrying the load, the more synergy you’ll have to lead. Get more people involved, it will truly make the biggest difference!
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