How to Start a Praise Band in Your Church

praise-bandFrom time to time, we are asked how to start  a praise team to lead music during worship services in churches. Below are seven lessons Dwayne has learned from several years of leading praise teams in the churches where he has served.  He has been involved with starting two successful praise teams from scratch as well as four choirs. He has also recruited and led several traveling praise bands that he has taken on the road with him to his many intinerant events across the country.

Please note that the methods and approaches Dwayne has used may or may not work for you — and certainly won’t work in every situation. However, we believe that the guiding principles highlighted below can be applied any where.

1. Is there really a need? The first question that must be answered is this one. If you already have a powerful and effective choir, why do you feel you need a praise team out front? Be careful not to think you need one just because it’s “the thing to do now.” Evaluate your present leadership style and effectiveness carefully. In most cases adding a small ensemble and band will greatly enhance your corporate worship. Nonetheless, don’t just assume that. Ask your pastor and other ministry leaders what they think. Ask yourself what you could do better or different with what you already have before you start something completely new. Know why a praise band approach is needed within your particular congregation.

2. Pray for wisdom constantly and fervently. There are many decisions and variables when recruiting a praise team, so stay on your knees for guidance!

3. Recruit carefully and slowly. Never lock yourself into people immediately. You need time to get to know them. They may have a reputation as being a “great guitar player.” But if you haven’t heard them play, how can you know for sure? And even if they are extremely talented, they may not be dependable and committed to rehearse from week to week, or they may have negative or arrogant attitudes. True, we all need to improve, but you have to decide what standard you will set up front. People you invite to be on your team must be team players in every respect.

4. Tell them up front what is expected and required to join. What I normally do is talk with a prospective team member and give him or her “the ropes” before they are even considered for our team. I explain our requirements and standards to them about anyone who joins our PT. Sometimes that explanation alone regarding their responsibilities  is enough to screen them, because they may just walk away on their own. NOTE: For a list of our requirements to join our praise team, click here.

5. Try them out before making them permanent. Once we have done the initial screening and explanations, what works well for us is to ask a prospective new team member to come to a rehearsal and practice a song or two with us. We keep it casual and simply say something to the effect, “Hey, I heard you like to play the keyboard. Why don’t you come play a song with us next Wednesday night during our rehearsal? No commitments on our part or yours. Just a great opportunity to use and bless us with your talent!” We find this approach works much better for us than the traditional “auditioning” process of a typical high school chorus!

6. Have other avenues available to those who can’t or don’t make your team. Just because people can’t participate regularly on your praise team doesn’t mean they should never have a place to use their talents for the Lord. At our church, for anyone who enjoys singing, we assemble a special volunteer choir about four times a year — a couple times for special holidays, but sometimes for special praise services that feature them. For more talented “solo” voices who are also passionate in their worship and devotion, we sometimes ask them to sing a song with our band as a featured soloist. It is a little more difficult to plug in instrumentalists. For example, we can only utilize one drummer during any given song! And most drummers don’t like to “switch out” in the middle of a service because of their personal settings and placement of the drum set. So, to allow other talented drummers to take part, we look ahead to when our main drummer will be out of town and we ask another drummer to play in his stead that day. Or for a guitarist, we might ask them to play one or two songs with us during a particular service, making it clear to them from the beginning that this is a unique opportunity, not a permanent position.

7. Finally, be sure to begin rehearsing several weeks in advance of when your praise band is to make their “debut.” This is very important for a couple reasons: First, by reheasing several times together you will learn each other’s playing styles and also become closer as friends and ministry partners. This will be very evident the first time you step onto the stage to play. Second, you want to set a quality standard from the very beginning. That first time to play for the congregation must be a win for your praise band. Do not allow them to play if they feel unprepared and uncertain of themselves. You will more quickly gain their respect and followship that way. Remember, leadership is earned, so earn your influence among them by properly preparing them each and every time they play and sing.

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20 Comments

  1. I’d like to start a praise band. Do you have any idea regarding stipends, salaries, etc.? Thanks so much!

  2. Ethel, thank you for your question. We are asked this from time to time. In a sentence, I would say don’t offer them pay–especially not up front. And don’t make any promises for it to come in the future. The scriptural principle is 1 Chronicles 21:24 where David said, “I will not sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” Your praise team members will have the privilege to offer a sacrifice of praise to God as they use their gifts from week to week. They should be willing to “pay” through their time and efforts for the opportunity to play and offer their sacrifices. The most important quality you must have in your players is a heart that loves God and understands that their music is a ministry to God and others. What better way to test their motives than by seeing if they are willing and wanting to play without financial renumeration?

    I have found that quality draws quality. Great musicians love playing with other great musicians. Rather than enticing people to come and play for money, play with excellence and effectiveness each and every Sunday –even when you only have 1 or 2 players. Word will spread about how God is using you and about how “tight” your musicianship is. In time God will bring you the other musicians you need. And they will be more than stoked to get to play with your group.

    That said, let me include one more directive: If your group gets paid to play, then you need to “share the love.” In other words, if your group goes out and does concerts for a love offering or an honorarium, then you need to be good stewards with the income. You can either divide it equally among your members, or you can place that money in a fund to help you purchase sound equipment and other needed items for your group. Or you may want to donate that money to your church or some other worthy cause. Just be sure you talk about it openly among your group and make a decision about how the money will be distributed before you go out to play.

  3. I have been doing the Praise & Worship music now for close to two years, and recently approach by the pastor about someone else doing the music. This person is good and is better. I was told this person is just coming out of the bar scene, and God is doing great things in his life. I do not know this person very well. And the pastor is wanting to pay this person. I have been very commited in doing the music and enjoy doing it. I have never ask for anything in return. What do you recommend?

  4. Kenny Clower

    Ann , I do not agree with your pastor…..we have the same problem in our church. We have been doing praise and worship for 18 months. We are pretty good band. Now, a guy that comes to church about 6 times a year is all of a sudden the greatest.All his music styles are blues, no matter what the song.He is a good piano player, but stuck in the sixties. We have been faithful to the extreme. I say from human and bible standpoint both of our pastors are dead WRONG. These people haven’t even paid their dues in the church yet……another worldly situation…..good luck

  5. Ann Milam

    We have started our own praise team. Things are looking good so far. I believe the hardest thing is learning to play together. But we are still a work in progress.

  6. Wonderful Ann! Let us know if we can help you. –NLW team

  7. Hi. I am starting a praise team in my church and I need a drummer. What is the best way to go about finding one?

  8. I’m just starting out as the lead worship leader in a new church and I’m getting ready to set my standards and build my team. I’ve never had my own team and it’s a beautiful season of depending on God for everything. However, when it comes to building and managing a team, I don’t want to recreate the wheel. I also don’t want to lose originality by copying and pasting what someone else has done into the team I’m getting ready to build. I want to be unique, original and think outside of the box, but I also want wisdom.
    Any suggestions on how to keep that balance? Or while being in my very early beginnings of creating a team, should I let God be my only source for ideas for now?

  9. Jared, I recommend looking among your own members first. Often if God is initiating a praise band he will have already put key players among the congregation. This person or these people may be hidden and undiscovered. But just because you aren’t aware of them doesn’t mean their not there. Ask around. Keep your ears open to hints people may drop. Granted you may need to help train a person and have patience as they develop their skills. But if they have the heart and desire (and the raw talent to keep a beat!) then in time they can be strong players in your band.

  10. Becca, you are wise to seek advice and ideas from others you trust. Of course ultimately you must follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. I appreciate you not wanting to simply copy other’s ideas and make them your own! Please keep that maverick spirit always! God loves when we allow him to create through us! So how do you begin to shape your team? By looking at how God has already shaped your team members God has sent you thus far. What are their strengths, their backgrounds musically and spiritually? Those are the sort of questions that will help you uniquely design the songs you sing, who leads what, and the “sound” you create.

  11. I highly recommend a book by Chris Falson, “Planted by the Water”. It’s out of print, but can still be found on Amazon. I’ve been leading worship for almost 30 years. This book has challenged me to the core. Simply stated, 1) Do not discount anyone from participating. Deal with sin, but do not let prior life-styles disqualify someone from being a part. The gifts and calling of God are forever. 2) Do not be afraid to seek out quality musicians and singers. 3) Be willing to submit to the authority of the pastor/leadership of the church. God always works through His authority. 4) Never stop worshipping!!

  12. Hello…we looking to start a Worship Team that will travel around spreading the Gospel with Worship and Praise songs. We are members of the same Church and have been Worshiping together for sometime. We want to utilise own instrument but we are not sure how to acquire it. Please advise and give suggestion of how to Keep this flame alive

    Thanks

  13. Pastor Patrick

    i want to start a praise and worship band , please advise me on how to go about it .

  14. David Milien

    I have a band at my Dads church. I pay my guitarist, and keyboard player every sunday out of my pocket, my girlfriend is complaining that they should do it for the love of music and God, but it is not like that. I have 4 keyboard players one guitarist, 3 drum players and a bass player, but there is not consistency. I need prayer first, and advice.

  15. Hey David, sorry for the delay in responding. Glad to hear about you leading at your Dad’s church! First of all I strongly recommend you think of it as “your church,” rather than your dad’s. Join the church (if you haven’t already) and fully commit yourself to the vision and life of that church. Second, I agree with your girlfriend. Don’t pay them to play, unless you are asking an enormous amount of their time each week. They should see it as their ministry. If they won’t play without money, then you are probably better off without them. I would go with the most committed over the most talented and build consistency with them first. Let the others be “alternates” but not your core team…

  16. I am in our youth group at my church and have recently been praying about starting a praise team in our church. How would you go about talking to the pastor and committees at our church?

  17. Hey Caleb, first of all, you have the first and most important step down already. You started with prayer. Very wise! Continue to ask God to build the praise team He wants you to have.

    I would encourage you to sit down with your youth pastor or senior pastor and share your heart and vision with him or her first. You will need their support and approval to proceed. Secondly, try having a “jam session” that’s open to any students who want to come and play and sing. Make it fun and don’t let it feel like an audition for anyone. Out of that group you may discover some “hidden” talent and potential–even if it’s just one or two people. Go with what you have.

    Practice regularly with them until you all feel like you’re gelling as a team of musicians and singers. From your first practice, form the habit of taking time to do a devotion and prayer time. Study about worship and what it means to lead others in worship. God will honor your diligence to grow and send you more and better musicians as you need them.

    Hope this helps! Email me dwayne[at]nextlevelworship.com if you want to talk more about this. Thanks.–Dwayne

  18. Some of the most practical worship/biblical advise on the web. I started reading just a small portion at first then read all the readers request notes. I am leading a new church in worship poised to open its doors to the public early next year and found this site to be spot on in worship advise and biblical truth-ism. Bless you brother!

  19. Thanks Frank! I appreciate your comment and you taking time to read through our resources. Blessings on your new church endeavor! I helped plant a church and worked there 6 wonderful years. Loved the time! Let me know if we can ever help you.

  20. James McCluskey

    Hi,we are praying about starting a much needed worship group in an Anglo Catholic Church in an urban priority parish and one of the poorest parts of Essex. Music skills locally are rare and yet I know we need to lift our worship to aid ‘renewal’ in faith and worship. I know we need a Christian singer singer and at least the same for a guitarist or pianist. Currently all our music is MP3 . . . I think I should advertise or speak to other members of other church music groups and ask for advise only. Any of your valuable tips would be appreciated. Many thanks

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