How to Kick Someone Off the Worship Team

  • Written By 
  • Josh Kluge

How to Kick Someone off the Worship Team

Let’s face it; there are times in leadership when we have to do some very uncomfortable things. The most painful of them all, having to kick someone off the worship team. I’ve had these conversations before, and they are incredibly uncomfortable.

In fact, you’ll never find a leader worth following that isn’t pained by kicking someone off the worship team. (side note: if you have a leader that isn’t pained by this, they might not be a leader worth following.) This is an uncomfortable process. However, although uncomfortable, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to approach it.

Obviously, the ultimate goal here is to resolve the issue at hand so that removing someone from the team doesn’t have to happen. This is our number one goal in leadership. But there are times when that isn’t possible. 

So, how do you know if it’s time to remove someone, and how do you kick someone off the worship team in a healthy way? That’s what we cover today.

By the end of this blog, you will know when and how to kick someone off the worship team.

It’s not an overnight decision. It’s a long, delicate process. Although it may be easier to cut ties quickly and move on, the way of the Kingdom is to journey with people. 

Here’s how we believe that journey should look.

1. Communicate your team values on day 1

Many of the issues that cause conversations regarding kicking someone off the worship team are not unique. 99% of the time, it’s for 1) continual tardiness/cancelations, 2) extreme lack of preparation, 3) disrespect and dishonor, and 4) lifestyle choices. In light of that, the moment you onboard someone to the team, you need to communicate your expectations of them. 

The first person you need to communicate your team values to is yourself.

Others will not honor your team values if you aren’t upholding them. If you want your team to take them seriously, you must embody them. Not kind of embody them, either. You must embody your values to the point where they become character traits. People mirror what they see. 

Not only should you embody your values, but you also need to talk about your values. The best time to do that is when onboarding a new team member.

How to have the day one conversation

In your onboarding conversation, share your values and ask, “Do you foresee any of these values being difficult for you to uphold?” If someone says, “Yeah, I really struggle with time management. I’m going to be late here and there.”

Then you can communicate, “Thanks for bringing me in on that. I understand time management can truly be difficult. However, it’s really important that we figure it out. With this being a volunteer ministry, it’s extremely important to us to honor people’s time and not take up more than we need. I understand sometimes things are out of your control, but there’s obviously a difference between circumstance and habit. Should it get to where you’re consistently late, we might need to talk about how to fix that. How can I help you with that here at the start of this? Let’s take a few minutes to brainstorm.”

Communicating like this day one establishes the depth of the value.

Imagine having this type of conversation with someone the first day they join your team. You are establishing a relationship with someone anchored in accountability and high standards. Plus, it allows you to communicate the why behind the what. This is always crucial.

People will work for what’s and will die for why’s. Bring them in on the vision behind the value.

Personally, I don’t have the best time management skills. Matt Redmond once said this about himself that I identify with very deeply, “It’s not that I don’t value other people’s time. I overestimate what I can do in a short amount of time, which often leaves me running behind.” However, I no longer struggle with time management like I used to because it’s something I’ve aggressively worked at. 

If I can do it, if Matt Redmond can do it, so can you, and so can your team member.

You have a role to play.

Good leaders walk alongside people in their struggles. As a leader, you are first and foremost called to disciple. A part of discipleship is helping people grow in their areas of weakness. Notice the last few sentences in the example conversation above. Good leaders don’t stop at “You need to fix this area of weakness.” Good leaders say, “How can I help you grow in your weakness?” Walk with them on the journey.

2. The Warning Phase

The warning phase is the period of time when issues need to be addressed, but it’s not yet time to kick someone off the worship team. Moreover, your goal here is to hopefully resolve the issue. That’s our ultimate goal: to see people grow! Kicking someone off the team is our absolute last result. 

Here in this period, two crucial conversations need to occur. First, with your leadership oversight. Second, with the team member.

First, talk to your direct oversight.

In corrective conversations, it’s vital to have covering. I can not stress this enough. It’s important to have the support of your leader when approaching correction. Additionally, having their input, should their wisdom reveal that your approach isn’t the healthiest, is crucial.

Story Time

I was once seconds away from having a corrective conversation with a team member. And on my way to having that conversation, I ran into my direct oversight. I filled him in on the conversation I was about to have, and he completely redirected my approach. In fact, he actually said, “what you’re about to do is definitely not how you should handle this situation.”

And now looking back on it, he was 100% right. If I had done what I planned, I’m confident I would have really hurt that team member. After taking my leader’s advice and changing my approach, I saw growth in that team member; our relationship is still strong to this day. 

It’s so so important to seek wisdom and wise counsel. I can not tell you how many times I’ve made necessary course corrections following conversations with leaders. Corrective conversations surrounding whether it’s right to kick someone off the worship team must be supported by your leader. 

Now that you have the support of your leader, it’s time to talk to the team member.

Your first corrective conversation

Notice the word “first” in the above header. Correction should always take place in a series of conversations. The first conversation should rarely contain the announcement that someone has been kicked off the team.

A leader in my life once shared this with me, and I believe it wholeheartedly, “No one should ever be surprised that they are fired.” Removing someone from the team should always be a journey – hence the warning period.

The warning period should contain 2-3 conversations with the individual.

Initiating this conversation needs to be approached delicately. You can not come out the gate with accusation and finger-pointing. Again, the goal here is not to blame someone for their wrongdoing. The goal is resolution and growth. That’s the undertone that must exist throughout all conversations surrounding correction.

How your first warning phase conversation should go

Here’s an example of how to introduce the discussion with a team member.

“I just wanted to have a conversation about something I’ve noticed. As you know, it’s really important that people on our team ______. It’s something that we really emphasized in the onboarding process. It seems like honoring that value has been challenging for you. Do you see that?”

This is a great way to call out the issue in a manner that seeks understanding instead of starting with an accusation. Once everyone is on the same page, communicate your expectations. “As we shared in the onboarding process, this value is a big deal for us. I want to work with you on this. What can I do to support you in your growth?”

Create a game plan and commit to checking in on that person.

If they are struggling with something, call them and see how they are doing. If it’s time management, text them the day before and say, “Hey, I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you show up on time and ready to go.” If it’s a preparation issue, text them 3-4 days before the rehearsal/service and say, “Hey, checking in. I wanted to see how practice is going. Any questions on the parts or anything I can help you with?” 

Again, your reaching out proves that you actually care to be a part of the solution. It also communicates to the individual the seriousness of the situation.

Overall, the goal is not to kick someone off the worship team. I’ve said it 1,000,000 times already, and I’ll say it another 1,000,000 times if I have to – the goal is resolution & growth!

What if conversation one doesn’t result in the needed change?

If you find yourself at the place where you’ve initiated the discussion of growth and change and that growth and change haven’t taken place, this is where you have another conversation. Voice that you haven’t seen the necessary change. Much like conversation one, seek to understand. 

At the end of your conversation, it’s important to say, “As you know, this is a big deal for us as a team. And I believe that you can grow.”

“Unfortunately, we’re at the point where if we have to have this conversation again, we’ll need to discuss you stepping down from the worship team. I don’t want that to happen at all! But for our team to operate at the standard we expect, the values we have in place must be followed. If that’s something you can’t follow, that’s okay. However, it will leave us in the position of you needing to step down (for a time).”

Again, it’s important to communicate clearly while maintaining a heart of love. This is a really tough one to have, but the hope is things get better from there on. If they don’t, then that leads to another kind of conversation… 

3. When it’s time to start thinking about, “Is it time to kick someone off the worship team?”

Obviously, there are times when talking about it on the front end and giving a few warnings doesn’t solve the issue. In these moments, we have to start preparing for challenging conversations.

It’s important to remember we must approach correction with grace.

If an issue with a team member has brought you to the place of asking how do I kick someone off the worship team, there’s a real issue there. But we must continue to remind ourselves is more than a problem; this is a person.

Before you ever share your decision to kick someone off the worship team, much like at the beginning of the corrective process, you must talk with your leadership oversight.

You oversight should NEVER find out after the fact that you’ve kicked someone off the worship team. This is a delicate process that I highly recommend you have covering involved in throughout. More than likely, your decision to kick someone off the worship team will be mentioned to your leadership oversight by someone other than you. You need firm support and backing from them, especially in these moments.

4. How to kick someone off the worship team

To answer this, I really think a lot of factors should be considered.

Who should be there? 

Depending on the reasoning, you could approach the conversation with just you and that individual or include your leadership oversight. Having oversight involved in the conversation ensures you and the team member are covered. Covering them from any potential errors you might’ve had in your approach to the situation and ensuring you’re handling them with love and honor. Similarly, it ensures that you are covered should anything arise.


It should not happen before or during a service. It really should happen at a time separate from when church services are taking place. This could very quickly turn into an emotional conversation. The last thing you want to do is have the conversation in a place where others not involved in the situation could overhear or see the individual directly following the conversation. 

What should you say? 

How you approach this specific conversation heavily depends on how you’ve approached every other conversation leading up to this moment! This is why journeying with people in the correction process is so important. Overall, the goal here is to help people grow. Sometimes that growth can’t occur while serving on our teams, and that’s okay.

Their growth is what you need to focus on, and let drive everything you say in this conversation.

An example

“As you know, we’ve been journeying together and having lots of conversations regarding _____. It seems like we’ve done our best to approach resolution and growth in this. That has been my heart and motivation in this 100%. Unfortunately, it does seem like right now, given the lack of growth in this area, it’s best for you to step down from the worship team. I hate that we are having this conversation, but as you know, our values are really important to us, and your inability to uphold them has led us to need you to step down.”

From there, you can discuss if it is a permanent thing or a temporary thing. Give clarity to that timeline and what you need to see change for readmission. Again, I’m saying this so much in this blog because I think it’s crucial; please ensure that you are leading with love and have proved it in how you’ve approached the entire process.

Finally, commit to checking in.

In fact, I think in that closing conversation, you need to ask for permission to check in on them. 

Check in two days, one week, two weeks, and one month after the conversation and see how they are. Take them to lunch/coffee. Prove to them that they are valuable! Just because the short-term journey resulted in this decision doesn’t mean they won’t grow down the road. Who better to be in their corner than someone already walking with them through their growth areas?

It’s not easy, but it is necessary.

Conversations about how to kick someone off the worship team are not fun. But I do believe that there is a healthy way to approach them. Approaching these conversations about the individual’s growth at the forefront, I believe, allows for them to experience the heart of Jesus during a difficult situation.

Obviously, these conversations have the propensity to leave people feeling hurt. Even Jesus had people that didn’t like him. This is just the hard part of leadership. You aren’t responsible for their opinion of you. However, you are responsible for ensuring that love and growth are at the forefront of your motivation and approach throughout the process. I believe this post helps point you in that direction. 

Overall, this is a highly delicate thing. So ensure you’re prayed up, have support from your leadership, and are dependent upon Jesus throughout the entire process.

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