(Creative Commons) Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contemporary_worship

This post is part of the Guidelines to Evaluate Worship series. It covers musical nuts and bolts for the worship team.

1. Coach ’em up

Musicians and creative personality types are sensitive souls. Feedback should have the the objective of coaching our teams up, not pulling them down.

Offer a “feedback sandwich”:

  • Point out what was good,
  • then show what needs improvement,
  • End with an encouragement and your appreciation of their gifts.

2. Differentiate between objective and subjective criteria.

  • Subjective is based on somebody’s opinions or feelings rather than facts or evidence.
  • Objective is free of any bias or prejudice caused by personal feelings, based on facts rather than thoughts or opinions.

The line can be blurry. Subjective is related to style, preference, etc. Objective is specific and measurable.

3. Objective musical criteria for Singers and Musicians

Note: You may break this down by song.


Vocal technique and quality:

  • Did we know the song and the melodies well?
  • In tune?
  • Good blend?
  • Pleasant tone?
  • Phrasing tight?
  • Harmonies right? Not crossing parts?
  • Good breath support ?

Vocal persona:

  • Did we emotionally connect?
  • Overall, how did the congregation experience our singers?
    • Stiff and afraid?
    • Overly dramatic like a Vegas-style top 40 band?
    • Appropriate stage presence or distracting?
  • Did we project confidence, authority, and creativity? See this post by Tom Jackson on Expressive Worship.


  • How did the congregation experience our band? Are they:
  • In tune?
  • On-time?
  • Tight?
  • Sensitive?
  • Showing off?
  • Bored and inattentive?
  • Inspired?
  • Creative?
  • Original?
  • Listening to others ?

 4. Transitions

Did the musical transitions and other elements flow well? Were the key changes smooth or jolting? We want to avoid awkward moments.

Pay attention to the leader for endings and beginnings. Listen to the other musicians and not get lost in your own world.

5. Technical issues

Also be aware that some elements may not be directly under a musicians control. For example,  his volume in the front-of-house mix is usually the sound man’s domain.  So don’t tell the bass player – “you’re too loud in the house” when he has very little to do with it.

However, the player may be directly responsible for the quality or level of his on-stage sound. The most difficult area to control typically is acoustic drums in a small or very live room. Drums will win volume wars every time, so drummers have to control the desire to bash the snare on 2 & 4 and play with sensitivity. Otherwise it’s a barrier to worship for a lot of folks if drums dominate the room. Not cool.

The worship leader is responsible for planning the content of worship, however it’s up to the worship team to lead people with their voice or instrument. Our goal is to facilitate worship moments of emotional connection and spiritual depth.

If we do our part, God will do His part. Then the experience of worship is one that will change and transform the worshiper.

Question: What criteria for musical evaluation would you add or change?