Worship Bands for the Non-Musical Youth Pastor

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Man playing poorly on zither in mountain hut

One of the most common questions I received in college and post college, during interviews for youth minister positions, was, “So, can you play any musical instruments or sing?”  They asked as if every youth minister was musically inclined! That was not and still is not the case for me! I only sound like Kari Jobe to the Lord’s ears! My normal answer for such questions has repeatedly been a resounding, “No I am not, but I do know how to organize and empower other people who are musically inclined!”

I know how it is, and typically in church work, youth ministers are not usually known for their organization. However, I can give you some tips that will help you have a thriving youth led worship band.

1- Look for leaders and THEN talent- If you can find one leader who happens to play an instrument then you’ll be golden. Leaders naturally bring others along side them, as well as want to progress. The talent will follow with a little help. You can always ask a person in the church to do guitar lessons for an hour before youth. Also, partnering the leader up with others who are in leadership in the music department, this creates a mentoring relationship, as well as, helps the student learn skills.

2- Sign ups with a band camp in place- Hold sign ups for youth band.  I know this is scary opening it up. However, you can help train up talent. Contact a youth worship leader from another church or a college student who leads worship and have a band camp! It can three intensive days for a couple hours of camp or one long day, it’s up to you! It’s a great way to create camaraderie, begin with a list of six main songs that they know really well and feel confident about, as well as, gives the opportunity to set the pace. Have a devotional led by youth band leader that’s a student every time you meet.

3- Communication, communication, communication- Have students fill out a form checking off the best days for practice. Then decide on a two hour practice time during the week with the youth band leader. Make a schedule. When we first started at my current church, we had the same two people every week, but now, we have 16 students in the band on rotation.This gives students a break from leading as well as a way to model worship  on their “off” Sunday’s.  It also encourages the students leading to see others who support them and sing out!

4- Create a Band Covenant- Basically the band covenant in so many words says that they will have the best efforts to not “act a fool” at school, home, and on social media, but reflect Christ just as they do on stage. I also like to include a dress code, notification system for being out and on time.I have students and parents sign thus
5- Empower- Every month let the youth band leader decide on which six songs will be played that month, let them print out the charts and music into a packet and pass it out, and let the.m send out the reminder texts and emails. Help as needed, but the more ownership there is then the more flourishing the ministry will be. Proved a special Christmas party and such to help bless what they are doing. Also be present, but don’t hop in the first time problems arise.  This is also about training up the leader. You want them to leave this ministry feeling that they could confidently step up to lead a campus ministry in worship.Lastly, make sure to be on the lookout for the next leader. Let a partnership in leading begin in January of the leaders senior year. This gives a whole semester and summer for the transition for everyone!

Image attribution: kzenon / Thinkstock

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Caroline has served in student ministry for almost 10 years, and is currently the Youth and Young Adult Minister at Destin United Methodist Church in Destin, FL and co-founder of WAVES Girls Event, a conference for girls ages 14-24. Getting a call into youth ministry at age 16 in Nashville, TN led to Caroline getting a degree in Youth and Family Ministry and a certificate through PREPARE/ENRICH for Premarital Counseling at Abilene Christian University in 2009. She got her start in full time student ministry at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, TX. Caroline loves to encourage students in their faith, and see them be lights in their community. Some things Caroline enjoys is time on the beach, reading, sushi, coffee, traveling and time with her friends and family. You can follower her on her blog, called “Big Hare & Big Faith,” www.carolinehare.wordpress.com, or on Instagram and Twitter: @CarolineHare

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