In our 2nd Listener Q&A Bonus Episode, we answer a question from podcast listener, Brian Johnson. Brian is a new worship leader and will be taking over an established youth worship ministry. He asks for advice on how to lead a band, and how to do his best as a new leader in a youth group context. Justin Bell and I answer.
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Alex Enfiedjian 00:03 Hey everybody, it’s Alex Enfiedjian here with the short bonus episode for you. Like I said last month, we are now going to be answering listeners questions on the podcast probably once a month or whenever we get some. So today I have a question from Brian Johnson. And I have my good friend Justin Bell here to help me answer the question, Justin, thanks for being here. Thanks for having me, Alex. All right, Brian, I’m going to read this question for our listeners. And then Justin and I are going to give it our best shot. Oh, and by the way, for the listeners, if you have a question that you want to send to us, you can do that. Just email me Alex at worship leader training calm, or you can even call and leave a voicemail, the number is 831607 w l t 1831607. w lt one. Okay, here’s the question from Brian Johnson. I am 20 years old, and I’m about to take over a youth worship ministry have about 50 to 60 kids, and we have a full band minus a bass player. This will be my first worship leader role. And I’m kind of nervous, because I have never led a band before. Now my question for you is simple. How do I lead youth? Well, how do I lead youth? Well, I know it’s just youth, but I still want to treat it with excellence. Because my worship life was changed when I was in youth worship. Any advice for me? All right, Brian, this is such a great question. I’m gonna answer first, and then Justin’s going to answer and then we’re going to kind of see if there are any thoughts that we left out. But first of all, man, this is so exciting. I’m so excited for you to have your first worship leader role. And I just want to encourage you, God entrusted you with this role. Because he has found that you are ready to the point that you need to be to take this role on and that you’re going to do a great job. And he wouldn’t have put you in this role if you were the wrong guy. So just take heart in knowing that. And secondly, I want to say you are right to want to do this with excellence, because truly youth worship band is so important. And so many worship leaders, including myself, got their start in youth ministry worship teams. And so it’s exciting that you want to do this with excellent. So those are the two quick little thoughts that I had up front. So how do you do a youth worship ministry? Well, well, I would say this, I’d say number one, the same thing that builds a healthy worship ministry for adults will work in youth ministry as well. That means, you know, you want to have clear expectations for your team members, you want to have good communication, you want to have discipleship, meaning training, spiritual training, musical training, you know, those are all the key ingredients to building a healthy music ministry, whether it’s for youth or adults. So this might look like a document for the kids that kind of lays out the expectations. And I have a document that I’ve created for my teams, and I can even put a link in the show notes for our listeners, but having these key ingredients are going to be helpful to doing youth ministry. Well.
Alex Enfiedjian 03:10 depending on the age of the youth, this is the second thought I would say depending on the age of the youth, adjust your methods. So I think that sixth graders have a lot harder time focusing and worshiping Jesus through music, then maybe seniors in high school do. And so I think it depends on the age that you’re leading. But if you’ve got these really young, like 11 year old kids, I think it’s okay to do some fun, wild or even Goofy, God honoring songs like, I like bananas, I know that mangoes are sweet. I mean, if it’s a sixth grader that might be good for them, you know, or like when I was in eighth grade, one of our favorites were undignified and dignified. I don’t know if you know that song, but check it out. So you know, again, depending on the age that you’re leading, adjust the method accordingly. The third thought that I have for you is probably the most important one, and that is to teach. I think we are fighting an uphill battle for our youth. Because there are so many distractions and idols that are battling for their attention. You know, there’s cute girls at school, there’s video games, there’s pornography, there’s a school or family problems, and there’s so many other things that are fighting for their attention. And so I think that in order to battle for their minds attention and their hearts affection, that you need to take the time to teach them what it is that they’re doing, like what is worship, and why is it important and what does God want from us during musical worship? So I would say that take some time to teach them whether that’s in a small group setting, you know, teach the youth band that you’re leading Yes, and also teach the youth group. So maybe before a song or in between songs, do some teaching, some refocusing and some re centering, and I really think that’s the only way for youth to grasp what it is That’s happening. When you’re standing on a stage with a band, like we need to teach the youth what worship is. So that’s probably a huge thought. And then the last thing is, beware of shallow songs. And I know that I told you in in point number two, that it’s okay to do goofy songs, and I think it is. But what I’m talking about is avoid vague songs. Because there are so many worship songs that are just vague and they lack power, and they lack clarity, and they lack deep truth. And it’s kind of like the Keith Getty interview that I did recently where he said, he said, if we want our kids to have deep faith, we have to have them singing deep songs. And so just make sure that you’re looking for strong songs that have clear gospel truths, and not just vague, scattered lyrics. And I actually just posted a blog about this at worship leader training calm, so I’ll put a link in the show notes for you. But those are some of my initial thoughts. Justin, what would you say to Brian?
Unknown Speaker 05:55 I guess the first thing that that I would say in answering your question, and Alex talked about a lot of these things. But I would definitely focus on raising up student musicians within your youth ministry. And I just want to take a moment to kind of talk about that, because sometimes I’ve seen in youth ministry, people can take that for granted. I’ve seen worship leaders before that come into a position where they’re leading for the youth ministry, and they bring all of their musician friends who are in their 20s and 30s, to come and lead for the students. And what happens there is that you can have a really great quality off the bat as far as worship, but the kids are miss out on being able to be trained up and to be able to be a part of the worship ministry. So I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever bring in adult musicians, but I do want to say that it is going to be very important for you to focus on students. You know, I don’t think it’s a good ecclesiology for us to bring in outside people to do the work of ministry, but to raise up the people that the students that God has already brought to you and that’s going to mean that it’s going to get messy sometimes sometimes you’re gonna have a seventh grader on a go home that is just playing a different time signature and a different re you know, rhythm than the rest of the man but but that’s okay, you can spend time pouring into them, the dividends or that you’re going to get in return down the road are going to be so much greater than if you just brought in your buddies, who are you know, really, already very good at music I know at our church, many of the musicians in the worship ministry today, and for the main church, they started in youth ministry. And I like Alex got my start in youth ministry, leading worship. So you know, we hear today of so many kids leaving the church and I think part of the reason that kids can leave the church is they don’t get to discover their gifts and start to walk in them. Second thing I would say to you is, leaders are learners, continue to learn and grow yourself as you’re in the ministry. Something that’s talked about in a book I really enjoy called the E myth principle is he says that business owners can have the tendency to work in their business and not on their business. And the same is true with with leaders or ministers, it’s very easy to get busy working in our ministries that we can forget to work on our ministries or to work on ourselves. So take the time to get somebody who can maybe be a worship mentor to you and pour into you and teach you what it means to oversee a worship ministry, spend time reading books, go to conferences, listen to great podcasts, like the worship leader training podcasts, so that you can continue to grow. Leaders are learners. Third, I would say min Alex touched on this a little bit but contextualize. I think we’ve all seen worship leaders that think that they are the Jesus culture cover band. And I think it’s important for you to contextualize worship within the ministry that you’re overseeing. I would oftentimes when I was leaving for youth, I would just stop playing in the middle of worship. And I would just take some time to educate the students because they’re a lot of them aren’t believers yet, or they’re very new believers. And they need that you as a worship leader to teach them what worship is. Finally, I would just say that it’s so important as you’re embarking on this new ministry journey to stay connected to Jesus. One of the things that I’ve discovered being in vocational ministry for over 12 years is that it’s really easy to confuse working for Jesus with being with Jesus and it’s so important being in ministry that we stay connected with Christ putting together your setlist you leading worship that’s working for Jesus. You praying you spending time in the word, you spending time fasting in solitude, that’s that’s being with Jesus. That’s the fuel that’s going to get you through your ministry time. And I would also just encourage you to have healthy rhythms in your life, work hard for the church and for the work of the ministry, and then rest hard, play hard get hobbies ministry is a terrible hobby. Go do something that’s actually fun and going to give you life. And that’s going to be able to give you the endurance to continue for the long run.
Alex Enfiedjian 10:26 That’s awesome. In some of that Justin is kind of just good advice for anybody who’s just getting a start in any ministry in any worship ministry, whether it’s youth or not. One thing that Brian asked that I didn’t answer was he said, You know, I’m nervous because I’ve never led a band before. Like, he’s a musician. He’s played by himself, and he’s sung by himself. But he’s never led a band. I think that’s what he is saying. And if that’s the case, Brian, man, I would just encourage you to learn how to communicate with each of the instrumentalists that are playing with you, that’s going to be super helpful if you can learn how to communicate in ways that they can understand. So here’s what I would encourage you to do something really practical. Go and listen to like 100 albums, and listen very carefully put headphones on and listen to each of the instruments and focus on one instrument per track and go Okay, I’m going to listen to the drums. What are the drums doing here? What are the drums doing in the verse? What are the drums doing in the chorus? How are they making the build feel more like intense? So analyze the drums then go to the guitars, what are the guitars doing? What’s the bass player doing an analyze them like crazy. And pretty soon you’ll learn to be able to describe what they’re doing. And then when you start arranging your bands, you’ll have a good sense of what each person needs to play in order for the band to sound musical. And you’ll be able to kind of have a way to communicate with the players what it is that you want. So that’s that’s a little homework assignment, just go and listen to tons of music and get super analytical about what each instrument is doing. Anything. Any other thoughts, Justin?
Unknown Speaker 11:57 Yeah, I would say that with leading a band communication is so key. You know, as you’re learning those, I mean, what Alex said is just brilliant, you know, picking out each individual instrument, be able to kind of speak their language. And once you can speak their language, you want to be very clear with them what you’re expecting. And I think it’s really important just to just to be really, you know, honest, and speak the truth in love with with the bandage as you’re leading, if there’s a singer who’s there singing a part that’s not really working, you know, deal with it with kids, you’ve got to be a little bit more gentle, I think, especially if you if you have a singer who’s singing off key may be talking to them one on one, as opposed to, you know, with the whole band, but the more that you can communicate those things and give feedback, the better. And one thing is you’re giving feedback, the more that you can encourage, in addition to giving feedback, the more kind of emotional currency you’ll have in the bank with those people, if you’re telling the singer, you know, all the time, that they’re doing a great job that you appreciate them being there, you appreciate them being prepared. And then you meet with them to tell them that they were a little off key in that song, you have the emotional currency in the bank to be able to do that.
Alex Enfiedjian 13:13 Yeah. And the other thing that I was thinking too, you know, using the musicians that you have, using the youth that you have, like, truly look at this as a training environment, like you are training future worshipers and future worship leaders. And that means you might, you know, pick one or two kids who have a lot of potential and meet with them before youth band, and like, hey, let’s practice some guitar stuff. And, man, those relationships that you’ll establish with those one or two or three young people will affect them far into the future. And who knows they might be, you know, the next Chris Tomlin. So just just invest, like Justin said, invest in the youth, love the youth, encourage them, keep pointing them to Jesus, and you’re going to be a super successful worship leader.
Unknown Speaker 14:00 Yeah, I think I would also add, you know, one thing that one of my old youth pastors used to tell me is, it’s a lot easier to put somebody on the worship team than it is to take them off of the worship team. So there’s nothing wrong with if you’re just kind of getting that that funny feeling inside that man, I just don’t think the students ready spiritually or musically or maybe both. There’s nothing wrong with just telling them hey, let’s defer this three months. I want you to get lessons I want you to get a mentor, whatever it may be. It’s it’s better for you to do that work upfront, rather than you have to have a hard conversation down the road.
Alex Enfiedjian 14:42 Yeah. Awesome. Well, Brian, I hope that helps. And again, for the rest of our listeners, if you have a question you want to submit go ahead and email me Alex at worship leader training comm or you can call and leave a voicemail 831607 wl T one Justin, thanks so much for being here. And guys, I will see you on the first of the month. Our next real episode. In the meantime, God bless and have fun leading your teams. Bye