I have been trying to figure this out for awhile now. I have basically right now, one intrumental team. In other words just enough instrumentalists for one team. I have 4 vocalists and we try to use 2 per week.
I have been trying to work on our schedule for the upcoming year. My quandry is, I would like to rotate everyone to sing with everyone. So far that isn't working out. I have always tried to rotate everyone once a month. Rotating every two weeks is that too quick of a change?
What do you do in your church?
I don't think we have room for 3 or 4 vocals on the stage at a time with the band too.
Lee, I would ask why you want each of the singers to sing with someone new on a rotating basis. You might find that it's easier for two singers to lock into each other's style, rather than trying to figure out how to sing backup with three different people.
Singing harmony isn't the easiest thing for some, and if you don't know what your partner is going to do each week, it makes it harder. Why not try pairing your singers up, even for a four or six month stint, and have them rotate as a pair one week on and on off (or two on and two off). That way they get to nail down their parts, and work as a team.
Also, you'll find that some people appreciate being on two weeks and being off two weeks - helps with their personal schedules.
Once in a while bring everybody on stage for a mini-vocal choir, as a special treat.
I agree that most stages (especially in smaller churches) just don't need more than two BGVs.
In regards to having only one team of musicians, I'd suggest that you starting to work on that. If you don't, you'll run the risk of burnout for your band. Why not purposefully advertise for another drummer (guitarist, bass player, etc) on a regular basis until you get somebody to step forward and take up the challenge.
Sometimes people feel that the regular band is so "tight" (either musically or relationally) that they wouldn't be welcome as a newcomer. I think it's good to actively let people know that if they have the gifts and the spirit, that they would be welcome to come out for an audition (yes, I used the "A" word!).
Training new people isn't always easy, but I think the job of equipping the saints applies to us worship leaders as much as it does to the pastor!
There is a lot that you can do with your team right now, now is the time to create your DNA and base line. I do agree with the other comment that you need to rotate the BGV's every two weeks. As for your band, it depends on the instrumentation that you have as to how you would need to choose to rotate your band. I know that you do not have a lot of options if you only have enough for one full band.
For instance we worked with a church awhile ago that had almost 7 active BGV's every week. They had a piano only, and 90% of the team only sang the melody. In that instance I suggested that they split their BGV's into teams of harmony, and rotate the Melody singers into the mix with having no more than 4 BGV's at one time. 3 basic harmony's and one Melody singer. Especially if you or your other leaders are vocal response leaders. Vocal teams can get you caught in to a team A' or B' scenario, and you might not want to do that, just be careful that it does not become the mentality of the team. We are not team A or team B, we are all on the A team, we need to place people where they can shine the best and work with the people that work well with them.
Rick was right when he said that you need to make a real consequence effort to intentionally advertise for musicians and vocalist's all of the time. I would bet that their are some people in your church that have hidden talents that maybe for one reason or another have chose to do so. They may have had a bad experience in another worship team, or maybe they feel that they lack experience, or maybe because of other experiences they would not know how to go about feeling safe to belong to another team. That is why is so crucial that you advertise and have open door policy for your worship team, but not a revolving door, if you know what I mean?
One of the things that we encourage worship leaders to do is that every quarter having a musician jam and invite everyone that you know that plays an instrument in your church or friends that you know are looking for a place to belong. And make sure you intentionally invite or say "Open to the novis and experienced player, we just want to have some fun". Integrate your Youth, sometimes the Youth are should I say, very good, but need a little experience, especially in the media area.
Yes, keep in mind the people who really work well together. Also, try to really have a lot of diversity with your styles as well as mixing your age groups, the style of your vocalists really make a difference, keep like styles together. Worship is for all, and you don't want to get into the "Old Team" and the "Young Team" if you know what I mean, so just be wise.
In everything you do keep a good base line, and always raising the bar, and what I mean by that is, make sure that teams that you put together are well integrated. If you have a weak bass player, then you need to have a strong drummer, if you have a weak drummer, then you need a strong bass player, if you have a weak rhythm, guitar player then you need to compensate by having a good lead keyboard. Those are just some things. Same goes with the vocalist. We have all learned by singing or playing with best players, and in a few months your team will get stronger. You will see the difference even in the excitement of the team if they know that we are going in to a teaching phase to raise people to the level of their personal best.
I guess I should have been more informative on the band part of my post. I didn't say much about it because the band part is not a problem. I do have one band, but we are constantly looking for more instumentalists. Had a new guitarist begin sitting in on practice tonight by the way. In our small church we are limited in the number of musicians in the congregation, but the radar is constantly scanning for hidden talents. I will say I do agree with both of you as far as your advice for the band and always looking and training.
I was just wanting to try something different with the vocals. We have been rotating once a month. We started with three singers so the rotating schedule was easy. Then one quit the church because her family left. We picked up a guy to replace her. That worked for a while, then the girl got old enough to choose the church she wanted to attend on her own and she came back. We didn't plug her back in at first, but in due time she came asking and I was looking. You see another one of the singers needed some time off for a play he was in. He wasn't going to be able to practice with us, and I am a little bit of a stickler about attending practice. So I plugged the girl into his spot.
Well now we are finally to where all four are plugged in. We are going to do the two week on two week off thing for a while, but I was just wanting to give them a chance to sing with each other like we have always done. We are going to go to two of them singing together for a while and maybe later changing it up a little.
Once again thanks for the advice, I've been doing this for about 12 years so I have been in several different situations. I'm always just brainstorming.