Youth Bands 101: Selecting and Recruiting or Hiring Musicians

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Concert stage

My musical ability can fit on the edge of the fingernail on my pinky, so I have always had to rely on others with phenomenal gifts to help lead this critical component of youth ministry. Other recent articles have great advice on how to start a youth praise band. This time we’re talking about musicians and bands for worship that are not from your ministry.

Begin with the End in Mind

When you begin the search for musicians, you should begin with the end in mind. Start with what you hope the students will take away and then, what your intentions are for tying the music to the rest of your event. If you are looking for a person to lea at your weekly worship, you may be looking for something very different than if you are trying to find a musician for a fellowship-based retreat, a week-long work camp, or Easter Sunday.  

Think about the Logistics

The budget of time, distance, and money, is going to factor into your band as well. These are questions that you need to have answers to before you begin reaching out as they are going to be factors that will determine whether musicians will accept your gig. The location of where worship will take place is a major factor as well since you don’t want to have a five member band that requires electricity for all their instruments playing out by the lake or crammed into a Sunday School room for six year olds. Finally, have a ballpark of how many times you’d like them to play and about how many songs.

Start Early

Finding musicians to lead worship can be tough, so you need to start early. You should have your calendar planned far enough in advance that you know your fall retreat is six months out and you are going to either need a band or end up YouTube videos. This will also give you and the musicians time to collaborate on the worship. A good number of the folks I know either are or have been involved in youth ministry, and are usually uber-creative, so allowing them to assist in crafting the worship services will only enhance these opportunities.

Communicate and Plan the Details

The details are just as important as the notes played. As the one who is hiring the musicians, you need to be as clear as possible about all the expectations. You need to be the one who makes sure that they know when and where they need to arrive. You need to make sure someone is responsible for the song order, the lyrical slides, and other audio and visual components. You need to make sure that they have an adequate location to rest, and not expect them to be thrown into being the cabin counselor of seventh grade boys. If transportation and meals are involved, you need to make sure that there is clarity around these issues. Finally, you need to make sure you have the agreed upon payment ready for them when they arrive for the event. Nothing will cause relationship to hit a flat note faster that telling the band that you will have to mail their payment.

Image attribution: DenKuvaiev / Thinkstock

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Eddie grew up in Houston,Texas, graduated from the University of Oklahoma, and has his Certification in Youth Ministry through Perkins. He has been involved in student ministries for over 20 years, serving at Lakewood United Methodist Church in Houston, since 2004, currently as Director of Student Ministries. Eddie and his wife Emily met at the OU Wesley Foundation and have been blessed with 3 beautiful children. You can follow Eddie on Twitter: @ELE_IV

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