I’m Playing at Someone Else’s Church

Daniel Crawford offers tips for being the best sit in worship musician you can be.

At one time or another, every church gets in a pinch and needs a musician to come sit in. Regular worship team members might be on vacation, suddenly ill or just unavailable, so they bring in someone from another church. These opportunities are sometimes paid and sometimes are just volunteer-based. Whatever the situation is, sitting in at another church is a great opportunity to build new relationships, gain experience, and participate in the church body on a bigger level (and yes, even make a bit of money, too). Here are 5 pointers to be the best sit in worship musician you can be.


The key to really excel as a sit in musician is to be informed. Contact the worship leader, and grab as much information as possible. Write the information down so you don’t forget. Here are some key questions to ask:

  •  When is rehearsal?
  •  Do you practice another day of the week in addition to Sunday Morning?
  •  When do I need to be there?
  •  What is the set list?
  •  Do you have charts/audio/lyrics that I can access online?
  •  Can you add me to your Planning Center/WorshipPlanning/WorshipNext account?
  •  Do you run in-ear monitors or floor wedges?
  •  Are you able to run guitar amps? (It’s very important to work this out ahead of time to avoid frustrations on both ends)
  •  What’s the dress code for the service?

Also, if there is pay involved, it’s a good idea to square that away with the worship leader ahead of time. Some churches require you to fill out a W9 form before they can cut you a check, and many churches prefer to mail out their checks, so you might want to give out your address ahead of time to expedite the process.


This is absolutely the most important part of sitting in. Nothing can be more frustrating for a worship leader bringing someone in than having them be sloppy and unprepared (especially if you’re being paid). Get the set list as soon as possible, and practice thoroughly before you show up for rehearsal. Make sure you are practicing the right song and the right version (there are at least 4 songs titled “You are Good”, and you don’t want to show up playing the wrong one). Pay attention to the guitar parts, roadmap and dynamics. Get your tone set before hand. Put the songs into a playlist on your iPod and listen to them while you’re in the car. Try transposing and practicing songs just in case something like that happens when you show up for practice. Show up early. By taking the time to prepare for the service, you are valuing their time as well as their ministry.

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