Performers on stage, whether actors or musicians, usually have a “Green Room” designated for them to use when they are not on stage. In this room there are comfortable chairs, food and water. It is a place they can escape and be separate from the audience. Many larger churches today have green rooms for their worship musicians. Between multiple services church musicians can relax and have conversations with others on the team. Sometimes it is a place a worship team goes during the sermon portion of the service. This particular arrangement sets a poor model for how a worship ministry should operate. The worship leader and team are servants to Jesus and to the church and should carry out their roles with great humility among the congregation. Using a green room can cause your congregation to see the team as a separate, elite group of performers instead of a team that is serving Jesus and the people.
Yes, the worship team often does need a place to leave their things, check on equipment and seek refreshment, but it is not a place the team should camp out. Even though a worship team member may not be the main worship leader, he or she is still considered a worship leader because they are on the platform in front of the congregation assisting with the worship music.
Worship has a vertical and horizontal aspect to it. Through our corporate worship we offer a sacrifice of praise to our great God. We strive to bring him glory for who he is and what he has done for us. Our services should also have a horizontal aspect where people are genuinely encouraged in their walk with Christ. Hopefully, we are doing well bringing glory to God, but how are we doing in the building up of our people? Focus on the congregation should go beyond what happens on the platform.
What is a worship leader to do with a team that has a green room philosophy on Sunday mornings? Here are a few suggestions on helping your worship team see their role at the church:
1. The worship leader leads by example. If you want your team to see how they should use their “off-platform” time on Sunday morning, you must model that behavior for them.
2. The worship leader should get involved in a small group ministry on Sunday morning if possible. It may mean only being in the study time for 30 minutes or less, but there is a connection with people. Expect your worship team members to be involved in a small group (Sunday school, weekly home Bible studies). Here is where they can build relationships beyond the worship team.
3. The worship leader should organize the rehearsal time on Sunday morning so that there is extra time available before the worship service or between the services. This will allow the worship team to be in the congregation prior to the service to greet and encourage people who are arriving for the service.
4. The worship leader should encourage the team to move out to the congregation once they have finished the musical portion of the service. Rather than going off the platform into a back room, have the team walk out into the congregation and find a place to listen to the remaining of the service. Some may think this is distracting but it shows support for the preaching portion of the service and acknowledges the team’s need for spiritual nourishment just like the rest of the congregation. If your church has multiple services on Sunday, I am not advocating that the worship team should sit in the congregation for all services.
5. Worship leaders should teach their teams the meaning of biblical worship and the team’s role in the worship service. The musical portion of the service is not a performance. I would encourage worship leaders to not use the term “stage” with their teams. It is a platform. Semantics, I know, but it could help with the team’s view of their role.
6. Worship leaders should lead with a great amount of humility, show servant leadership, and teach their teams to do the same.
7. Worship team members should strive to build relationships with many in the congregation on Sunday mornings. Sometimes the worship leader has to strongly encourage their team members to pursue relationships with those in the congregations. Musicians in general can be introverted and often this is displayed the minute they move off the platform.
8. The worship team’s effectiveness in ministry is not limited to their leadership on the platform. Sometimes they are much more effective in encouraging the congregation with conversations they may have before or after a service than in their platform leadership.
Worship leaders, if you currently have a green room, don’t make it comfortable. Take out the chairs and make it a “stopping off place” rather than a “camping out” place. In fact, don’t call the room a green room. Much of worship leadership is about influence. Each week we strive to encourage, edify and admonish the saints through our worship leadership, and this happens on the platform and in the congregation before and after the service.
Dr. Greg Brewton is a professor and chair of the Department of Biblical Worship at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY.