Plan for the Weakest Link
I used to work construction for a living. Chains were a tool that we would use on a daily basis. We used chains to lift, pull, or hold items as we worked, and I found out quickly that a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. You could only lift, pull or hold items that the weakest link could handle. If the weakest link of the chain was pushed beyond it’s ability, everything came crumbling down!
I think it is helpful to consider this basic concept when leading a Worship Team: plan for the weakest link.
This concept may sound derogatory, but it is not meant to be. It is meant to be exceptionally helpful and loving.
The reality is that many of us Worship Leaders are working with volunteer musicians. Perhaps you are in a situation where you are working with professional musicians who are being paid, but most of us are not. We may be tasked by church leadership with the responsibility of providing musical worship for the congregation, but that is actually not our primary calling. Our primary calling comes straight from the Lord Jesus, and it is to make disciples!
When you realize this, it becomes imperative that you plan for the weakest link.
Practically speaking, I mean to say that the songs we select and the arrangements that we put together should be considerate of the actual musicians on our Worship Team – especially the member with the lowest skill level.
We may be blessed with an electric guitar virtuoso on our Worship Team (or maybe we are the self-proclaimed virtuoso, ourselves), but if our drummer is struggling to keep a 4/4 beat, then it really doesn’t matter how amazing the electric guitar sounds when it is played over a groove that is simply too difficult for our drummer to play well. If the weakest link is pushed beyond their ability, the whole song will come crumbling down!
If the drummer is your weakest link (just for example), intentionally select songs that they can play well. Make sure that those songs are used often when that particular drummer is on the Worship Team (even if that is every week!) so that the drummer can build on their previous work and not have to learn brand new songs every time they are on the Worship Team. In this way, you will be building them up and helping them grow as a musician all while serving the congregation with songs that are played well.
The same could be applied to every member of the Worship Team. We need to plan for the weakest link. We want to set people up for success, not failure.
Remember that we are called to play skillfully unto the LORD (see Psalm 33:3), but the Bible doesn’t explicitly say what level of skill is necessary. I would suggest that playing skillfully means playing to the best of your ability. When musicians are asked to play too far above their skill level, it is neither loving to them nor helpful to the rest of the Worship Team or congregation.
Give them a chance to play skillfully. Plan for the weakest link.