One (1) Utility Player
The Utility Player is a worship team member who can fulfill multiple roles on the worship team, which likely includes a number of instrumental roles and, quite possibly, sound tech and/or vocalist.
Instructions for use:
Congratulations! You are the fortunate recipient of a Worship Team Utility Player.
Lost your bass player this week? He can cover it.
Got a drummer shortage? You’re in luck! He used to play in college.
Need a warm pad underscoring “Good Good Father”? He’s on that like a rat on a Cheeto.
Now that you’re full of giddy delight, it’s time to schedule him.
Proceed with caution.
Your natural inclination will be to schedule him for every open spot on every Sunday between now and Christmas 2032. If you do this, the endless stream of Sundays will suck his soul dry rendering him useless (except for the occasional living room performance of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”).
It’s also important to note that many Utility Players also come equipped with the spiritual gift of helps. This gift makes them almost incapable of saying NO.
So remember, available shouldn’t always equal scheduled.
Here are some other things you’ll need to know about your Utility Player:
They DO Have A Primary Instrument
Regardless of what he says, he does have a primary and favorite instrument to play. Find out what that is and intentionally schedule him there as often as possible. He’ll appreciate it.
Even with the utmost scheduling restraint on your part, your Utility Player will find himself scheduled more often than the average worship team member. While burnout is a potential risk, there is another danger lurking for this musical Swiss Army knife.
As Your Team Grows
As your team grows and you have fewer holes to plug, your utility player will begin to play less often. He may take this scheduling downturn as personal and feel unwanted. You’ll want to make sure he understands why and reaffirm his value to the team.
Finally, the jack-of-all/master-of-none role can be exactly what you need for a certain season of your worship team’s development. But eventually, your minimum standard for some instruments may surpass this generalist’s ability.
For example, someUtility Players can drum in a pinch and keep a reasonably steady beat. But ask those same players to hold their own on a tom-heavy, driving anthem (while staying steady with a click track), and you’ll find they just can’t hang.
So encourage your Utility Player to grow in his primary instrument as your team develops.
Here are the final two things you need to know about Utility Players.
First, despite the moniker, he’s not a tool to be used. Schedule him with restraint to ensure a long and happy life on your team. And make sure he knows that he has value and worth beyond his contribution to the team.
And second: No. Human cloning is NOT a viable option, no matter how much you’d like have three of him.
This article first appeared in Worship Musician Magazine’s July/August 2016 Issue.