It’s Time For A Worship Team Evaluation (Why It Matters & How to Do It)

  • Written By 
  • Jonathan Swindal

What’s the point of a worship team evaluation?

Reflection is a normal part of being human. You leave a job and can’t help but wonder how things could have ended differently, or what you’ve done to deserve this new massive promotion. Reflecting and reminiscing is a way of cultivating gratitude and understanding the moment we’re in. It’s also a way for people to bond over shared experiences.

Reflection is a beautiful gift, but sometimes we should move beyond reflection and reminiscing into meaningful evaluation. 

Proper evaluation doesn’t just happen.

It requires conscious movement from reflection into assessment, naming “what happened” and attempting to discern “how” and “why” they happened. This step takes intentional time and space with some kind of guiding rubric. I believe that God means for us to live purposefully, not perfectly. And looking backward, with proper tools, can help us determine where we’re at and how to move forward purposefully. 

Your church, your team, & the Kingdom of God deserve more than auto-pilot

As worship leaders, we’ve been entrusted with an important task in ministry. It’s not enough that Sundays are happening and your lead pastor isn’t displeased with your work. We are called to lead congregations of people in proper worship of the Living God; to encounter God and to be shaped in his image. We should always be seeking to do that as faithfully as possible.

Just as a ship that’s one degree off will be miles off course after days of travel, it’s possible for us to look up one day and realize we’ve been completely missing the mark. That’s why a worship team evaluation is so important!

So, how can we move from reflection into evaluation?

And how can we do it in a way that produces godly fruit rather than shame, condemnation, or regret?

First, a great worship team evaluation requires time and space.

If you really want to dissect and discern where your worship ministry is, it’s unlikely to happen in 30 minutes on one afternoon. Make this a priority early in the year, and let it be reflected in your calendar. Block off a few chunks of time in 1-2 hour segments and try to be distraction-free during your worship team evaluation. Your heart and mind need to be open for the Spirit to guide you to see the things you’ve been missing. And that’s unlikely to happen while you’re checking your email, planning next week’s set, and texting with team members about block-out dates.

Your discoveries in reflection and evaluation will only be as accurate as the priority and attention you give to them. 

Second, be brutally honest and involve others who can help you get the most accurate picture possible.

I recommend either having candid conversations with a few trusted members in your ministry or sending out an anonymous survey to the whole department to gain perspective from the experiences of those who serve alongside you. It can also be very helpful to ask your lead pastor (or an executive pastor who oversees your area) for his or her perspective on your ministry. This kind of exposure can feel very risky – and it is. What you’re essentially saying is: I want another perspective, and I want it unfiltered; I want to know my blind spots and areas of potential growth. It’s like an MRI on your ministry. Of course, not everything you hear back will be objective truth, but trusted counsel will help lead you closer to the truth. 

Lastly, narrow the context and the scope of your worship team evaluation in order to be as specific as possible.

It’s nearly impossible to gain clarity by asking questions like, “How good of a worship pastor am I?” or “How is our ministry doing?” These questions might lead you to some good discoveries, but you’re more likely to come up with vague amorphous feelings with no clear path forward.

Limit the time and scope of what you’re evaluating and ask specific questions like:

How well did I care for the 15 individuals under my care in 2022? Or How did my spiritual (or emotional) health trend through 2022? Or In what ways do my voice and musicianship need to improve in 2023?

Be narrow and be specific, and where possible, ask questions with measurable responses.

Such as: How many people joined the worship ministry this year? And how many left? Or Did we have the quarterly trainings that I scheduled in 2022? And were they attended by more than 50% of the department?

There are dozens of helpful analytic strategies and tools out there. If you already have something that works, keep using it!

For those who feel overwhelmed, I have found that breaking up the ministry into these four categories is a good place to start. 

Health & Culture:

What we’re really hoping to discern is: How are you? And how are the people that you’re leading? Are you giving the appropriate time and attention to the things that matter most? In what ways do people change upon joining the worship ministry? These are difficult to measure because they’re somewhat intangible and unquantifiable, but if you look at “what is happening” (“fruit,” outcomes, recurring problems) you can often infer backwards to make discoveries. 

Systems (Scheduling, communication, preparation)

Think about how you utilize PCO, Asana, email, etc. Are your systems working? What is creating more work or frustration than it should? What systems need improvement? Are there resources you need to draw upon that will help alleviate unnecessary work? Systems, in any industry, are purposed to facilitate desired outcomes with increasing ease and efficiency. Every church will have different needs and it’s your job to figure out what systems work for you, your team, and the other ministries that are impacted by yours. 

Content & Substance:

It can be helpful to think of health & culture as the bloodstream of the organization, systems as the skeleton, and content & substance as the muscular tissue. This includes the content of the songs you sing, but also the substance of your meetings, rehearsals, and training events. Do you need more practical music training? Or do you need more time together building relationships? Or do you need more teaching on worship and why it matters?

There is no such thing as a “perfect balance.” People and organizations live within specific contexts and the question you should be asking is: What do we need *right now*? And are we getting enough of *that*?  

Needs:

Lastly, what do you and your ministry need to thrive this year? Think up (boss), across (colleagues), and out (those serving in the ministry you lead). Do you need more funding? Do you need an admin position? Do you need more MD’s? Do you need to plan further in advance? Do you need more guidance or clearer expectations from your lead pastor? This is purposely last, because once you’ve thoroughly assessed the first three areas this area should become clear naturally. The difficulty is asking for what you need and getting creative with solutions when options are limited. 

The goal of a worship team evaluation is NOT only to expose the problems.

It’s also to highlight the strengths and the victories in the previous season; to create space to remember the good that has come from your participation with the Holy Spirit. Hopefully you will discover some wonderful things about yourself, the people you lead, and the ministry organization itself. When you do, you should celebrate them! Reiterate them to your team and the church. The enemy, the world, and your own flesh will resolve to magnify your flaws and minimize the good you’ve done. But know this: your work is good and your congregation needs you to keep moving forward! Let’s resolve to grow this year for the sake of each person that our worship ministries influence.

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