I was in a discussion with someone about this yesterday and thought I'd drop it here for everyone to chime in on...

What are your thoughts, practices, struggles, etc with worship team members leaving the sanctuary after worship and then just returning at the end when it's time to play/sing again... missing all of the preaching??

I've seen this a lot over the years and have had to deal with people on occasion. Here are some key points from my view / experience:

- Those on the worship team are leaders in the church, whether they see themselves that way or not. They're on the platform... so people view them as leaders. So... that means people watch them. They pay attention. They notice if you leave the sanctuary and don't come back in to hear the Word. They notice if you only show up on Sundays when you're playing/singing. Be a good example... a good leader... and don't make yourself and the worship team as a whole look bad.

- Some do need to be aware that many churches have multiple services, and just because you didn't see the drummer come in for the preaching doesn't mean that he didn't hear the preaching already in the previous service. In most of my ministry experience, I've dealt with multiple services. I always had the policy where all team members were expected to be in a full service... not just the worship. BUT I didn't require that for all services. So some would do first service worship, then go get breakfast, then come back for the full 2nd service. Or, be in the full 1st service, then head home after worship in the 2nd service.

What are your experiences / policies?

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I'd expect the guys in the worship team to be proactively involved in the church (or denomination, if playing in a wider context) they play for, so it's not something I would expect to see regulary unless there was a good reason. In the UK multiple meetings are unusual, but in any case, I'd expect the guys involved to be participating in the meeting and not popping out for a fag & a nap.

The other piece to this is the churches that have paid musicians. I wouldn't expect them to participate in the rest of the service, although I'd highly encourage them. However, I've never used paid musicians for worship. I know some churches do, but I don't think that's the majority by any means. Those are the only people that would "get a pass" in my opinion, but why would you want someone helping to lead your church in worship that clearly isn't interested in what's going on??

but why would you want someone helping to lead your church in worship that clearly isn't interested in what's going on??

One answer is that 'better' worship bands can draw a bigger crowd & more money in the offering = 'success'.

Sensing some sarcasm. :)

Actually trying to give people the benefit of the doubt in my phrasing.  :-(

It has been previously observed on this site in a positive sense that a better worship band brings and retains more people to a church. Size, retention and giving are often metrics of success (the opposite may be seen as failure) for a particular church. An 'obvious' solution is to use very able secular musicians to fill places in the band, and the proof that this is OK is that 'God blesses' the churches that do so with large congregations and healthy budgets.

In a previous church that I helped lead and also ran the worship team, we had people who wanted to come & play in the band on a Sunday, but didn't take a part in the life of the church. There was a tussle between one side that wanted to get people into the church by any means possible so they could 'hear the gospel' and the other side that had a purple fit that a possible non-christian might play in the worship team. Nice.

Toni, yep, I can totally relate to your last sentence and been in that situation.

All situations are different as you have both mentioned eg paid musicians, multiple services and worship leading in the UK.  In my own situation, I find it very disrespectful and discourteous for musicians to leave and not listen to the preacher and the Word.  I have only once had to do leave as I had something important to prepare but made my apologies and reasons clear to the preacher beforehand.  Also, I have had situations where a couple of musicians disappeared into a corner of the same room and talked together during the preaching.  So yes, I've seen this happen but I am not happy with it.  I once refused a couple of musicians to come back and play and the end because they had disappeared throughout the preaching. 

On the other side of the coin though, and more often than you would think, I have also known the preacher to come in when they are due preach and take no part in the worship whatsoever!

That's a MAJOR issue with me too Lorraine... when the preacher doesn't recognize the importance of worship enough to be in the service for that time. My dad is the head of a denomination for his state and I recall him getting on a pastor about that one time. The pastor was new at his church and told my dad "I just get so excited to preach every Sunday! Sometimes I can't wait for worship to get over so I can come out and preach!" My dad asked "You're not in the service for the worship??" He said "No I stay in my office just preparing for the message." He said "Do your preparations before Sunday morning. You are the leader of that church. That includes worship. You should be in there on the front row leading your congregation by example!" Boom. 

I personally would not attend a church where the lead pastor didn't participate in worship. Even if he/she was in the room but just not engaged. I've seen it too many times and it's disappointing. 

WHAT?!!  I can hardly believe that pastor, well actually I can, but to admit it out loud to your dad and not think for one minute he was doing anything wrong, what's he thinking about, how insensitive. Good on your dad for putting him right, you should be proud of him : )

As a rule, I'd be surprised to see this happening. There might be valid reasons once in a while but I'd want to follow up if it was habitual. Anyway, in my present church, the longest block of music tends to be about 3 songs. It isn't quite in the tradition of the hymn-prayer sandwich, where every song stands alone, but music is given liturgical and practical function. We don't have an hour of music followed by an hour of preaching so there wouldn't be time to escape far.

Even when I have been in settings which are more like the latter set up, my experience has been staying in the sanctuary both to keep in the flow of the service and to be ready in case of being called back earlier than expected.


I'm also the church custodian, so from time to time I cut out after our 2 song set to go empty trash, vacuum and take down the tables and chairs I set up for Sunday School so the gym will be clear for AWANA in the evening. If I do not, I don't start dinner with the fam until probably 1:30 or 2:00 and I'm the cook, and then will have to return to church afterwards to get it done by 5:00. So, guilty.

Sounds like you need an assistant.


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