It doesn’t matter where I go, but people always ask me, “How do you start a youth band?” Many people want to have a group of teens lead worship, but they rarely feel qualified to actually gather the necessary resources to get it going. If this is you, then this article should really help.
I am going to take a risk and state the obvious: Sometimes it is best to start with the end in mind. If at all possible, think about what your expectations and desires for the group will be. What kind of music will the group play, what level of musicianship should they be, when will they practice, who will lead rehearsals? All of these questions help in the beginning of starting a new group.
This is the first part of a three part series How to Start a Youth Band
Attracting the Right People
There are many ways to find musicians in your group. There are almost definitely people who already play. You could have a talent show, hold auditions, or just have a concert (people always come out of the abyss when they see others doing something they like). Another idea is find someone who gives lessons and ask them to come for a meeting. They will get some new students and you will get a resource for your teens. This could even work into a situation where they give lessons at the church before or after your meetings. Churches usually have empty classrooms during the week. Why not put them to use?
Attracting the RIGHT People
Once you have identified some people who might be able to play music, it is time to pursue them for worship. Here is a common mistake. Joe Schmoe plays guitar so let’s get him to come lead worship next week. There are many inherent problems with this scenario. How well does Joe play? Is Joe a guy who can play and sing? Is he the kind of guy who can LEAD worship? Could he be able to learn and rehearse enough to begin next week? All of these questions define the problems of starting.
The most important quality of a worship group is that they have a heart for worship
You will fight against the people who don’t really want to worship, but would rather play music in front of people and try to look good. The right people will be willing to put themselves in the background. I recommend a written application and interview for each member. This helps qualify your expectations and shows their commitment. If you can do auditions, then do. This again will qualify a lot of details in the beginning. It also implies a sense of worth to the people auditioning. It says, “This is important.”
Practice, Practice, Practice
Once you have found the right people, plan on several weeks (if not months) of practice before you actually play in front of anyone. Professionals who play for a living know the necessity of practice, especially learning to play with other people. Even the best musicians that have never played with other people have to learn to play with a band. Plan on a time of practice for the group to learn new music, get used to playing together, and learn what they can and can’t do. This will benefit you in the long run, even though everyone’s excitement will demand playing soon.
All of these tips will help you begin. The beginning is usually the most important step in this process, so don’t get frustrated with small problems. Remind yourself often that this is the beginning and that it does get better. Most bands start out very bad and get better and better as they get used to each other. BE encouraging and keep at it. Most of all, remember your goal: Bringing others into worship.