The Multiplying Power of Teamwork

As I reflect on this morning’s worship service, one thought which comes to mind is how much I love my music team. I feel so invigorated each time we serve together. It’s not that we always get the music and arrangements right. But it’s in knowing that it’s not so much about the results – it’s about the journey we share together.

I often tell my team that we aren’t the best musicians in the church. We have really good musicians, no doubt. But what I love about our guys is that we understand what it means to be a team, to bring together our individual talents and efforts and know that, when combined together, we become a lot better than what we could have been individually!

Today’s worship session was a great example of how our team works well together:

  • I’m not musical, but I reckon I’m pretty good at constructing a worship set and to make sure it flows and tells a story. So I communicate my vision to my music director, and he interprets my vision into something which our musicians can understand and follow.
  • My music director is brilliant. Like me, he goes by feel. So what he does is that he goes hunting on youtube for different links and points out to each muso what parts of different arrangements they can play and emulate.
  • Our musos then go off and learn their own parts before we have a rehearsal. I really value this. The preparation means that when we actually gather for our rehearsal, we keep momentum going and rehearsals are fun!
  • Our sound guy pulls it all together and makes us sound great! When the sound sparkles, our own confidence in our playing increases!
  • And our AV person rehearses with us on Sunday morning to make sure that the lyrics follow with the flow of the songs.

This week, we tried pushing the envelope a little by trying a pretty tricky version of “Trading my Sorrows” by Israel Houghton. We don’t normally play gospel. But our bassist spent hours learning to slap the bass; the drummer followed the gospel rhythms; one keyboardist had a computer program which allowed him to capture the youtube recording, change the key on the recording and slow it down so he could play the piano part exactly right; another keyboardist wrote her own charts! Our singers blended well together in three-part harmonies. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by how much ownership we all had of the worship set!

In his book Beyond Talent, John Maxwell says that teamwork multiplies talent! He sets out the following principles:

  • Teamwork divides the effort and multiplies the effect
  • Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships
  • Teamwork is not about you. Maxwell quotes C Gene Wilkes who observed: “Team leaders genuinely believe that they do not have all the answers – so they do not insist on providing them. They believe they do not need to make all the key decisions – so they do not do so. They believe they cannot succeed without the combined contributions of all the other members of the team to a common end – so they avoid any action that might constrain inputs or intimidate anyone in the team. Ego is not their predominant concern.”
  • Great teams create community.
  • Adding value to others adds value to you.

It also so happened that Joe Wee Chuah ended up in my team this week! I’ve got a goal of training and releasing as many worship leaders as I possibly can! I tell people that I am trying to work my way out of the job by training others to replace me. Joe Wee is a great worship leader in the making. So I was really privileged when he agreed to lead half of today’s songs. (I’m actually harbouring 3 other worship leaders in my team!)

Here’s the recording of today’s worship (unfortunately, we missed recording the awesome introduction).

I’m really proud of what our team did today, and I’m generally proud of our team. I know that I can’t do much without each and everyone of them. But together, we can raise the watermark of worship in our church! So, here’s to more culture-defining gigs for 2014!

A Fresh Perspective on Rehearsals

One of the things I really enjoyed from my time at Arrows College was hearing Ray Badham’s fresh perspective on things I had already known and read copiously about.  Such as how we approach rehearsals.

I come from a background where “worship” (in the narrow sense) was the primary call of the worship team: which means (for want of a better term) the worship team must learn to practise the presence of God before they practise music.  So for me, a good rehearsal means one where the musicians and singers at some point will “lose themselves” and “just worship”. (Actually for a team of musicians with varied skill levels, it’s ironically quite difficult to achieve this without the musicians flowing together, which in turn takes practice!)

Ray Badham’s perspective, on the other hand, is that if worship is all encompassing (as it must be), then our rehearsal is our worship. Put another way, our investment in getting the technicalities right (even at the cost of “losing ourselves in worship”) is our offering to God when we function as musicians.

Similarly on a Sunday, when we lead worship, “losing ourselves in worship” shouldn’t be our priority. We should be completely aware of the congregation, what is happening on stage and be continuously communicating with our fellow band members. Because in our function as worship leaders, our leading worship is our worship.

Presumably (and this goes for everyone, whether you are on a worship team or not), we can get lost in worship on our own time, rather than on the time of our team members or on the congregation’s time.

So do you agree? Is there a place for musicians to “get lost in worship” on a Sunday?