I was thinking today about the idea of worship teams. I don't really like that word "team" when it comes to music. I can't think of very many instances where the word team is used in relationship to a group of musicians? Isn't band a better word? I like it better. Here's why...
At Our Place, I have a worship band. It is a group of musicians who always play together. Week after week we rehearse and play on Sundays together. We have a distinctive style. We are very used to playing with each other. We gel. We work out new material together and introduce it over time. We jam together and collaborate. We have a catalog of music that we play very well together. Other things we are still working on and improving together. We have a creative direction. We know what we like. We know our limitations. We have experienced a lot of music and worship together...
That is what a band does.
The word team brings other thoughts to my mind. Perhaps it is a group of people who only play together occasionally, perhaps on a monthly rotation, or even less. Perhaps there are a few key players, but others may rotate in and out as their schedules allow. The team therefore never really gels together. It is always a new set of people, usually based on who the leader can get scheduled to show up that week. The music always seems new, even if it isn't, because the new team members that week need to rehearse more repetitively than those who have played it before. And the drummer this week isn't playing it the same way as the drummer last week did, so the bass player has to figure out a slightly different groove. And no one knows where the accents are, where the stops are... when is the bridge again?
However, a team can involve more people. If the goal is to get more people involved, then a team approach can work well for that. However, quality may be sacrificed in the process.
How important is quality to you? How important is involvement? How do you balance the two?
For me, I try to allow for more involvement by working at developing MORE BANDS.
Rather than have a pool of musicians to pull from and then schedule a different team of them each week, I would prefer to have a pool of bands to pull from. For one thing, it makes each band that much better because they can improve from week to week as they play together. But also it removes me from monopolizing the music and worship leadership role. When my band plays on Sunday, WE lead. When a different band plays on Sunday, THEY lead. So in this sense, a band approach creates MORE involvement, and involvement on a higher level, on a leadership level. It allows me to raise up and send out music leaders by providing opportunities for those potential leaders to actually do some leading on a regular basis. That's huge!
Plus worship band just sounds cooler than worship team.