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How to run a battle of the bands

Battle of the Bands is an evangelistic youth event where school or youth group bands play a short live set to an audience who vote for their favourite band. During the evening an evangelistic talk is given to those who have come to watch. This article presents a nuts-and-bolts guide for how you might put on a Battle of the Bands.

Who’s it for?

This is a great event to target at 14-18 year olds, although there’s the potential to open it up further to parents of teenagers. The event can also work well in collaboration with a number of churches or youth groups.

What happens?

Bands are recruited from local schools or youth groups and each band plays a short (2 or 3 song) live set. At the end, the audience votes for their favourite. The winning band performs the closing song and is awarded a prize or trophy. During the evening a 10 minute gospel talk can be given. The best time to do this is after the bands have played and the audience has voted, but before the winner is announced.

What do you need?

  • An engaging evangelistic speaker who can relate to teenagers.
  • A minimum of three bands to take part.
  • A suitable venue (bear in mind noise levels, capacity, etc.).
  • Staging/lighting/PA equipment/larger instruments (e.g. keyboard, drums).
  • Band correspondence such as letters explaining the purpose of the night and how the bands fit into that, rules and regulations, equipment requirements sheet, parental consent for band members.
  • Print materials such as fliers for young people to use as invites, voting cards, talk feedback forms.
  • Wristbands/stamp for proof of entry.
  • PA/sound expertise on the night.
  • MC for the night and a brief to help them.
  • Refreshments/ticketing/float.
  • Volunteers to man refreshments, ticketing and stewards (inside and on the door).


It’s worth advertising the idea to other local churches as early as possible. Local buy-in and communication are essential if you want to get a good crowd to the event.

It’s worth advertising the idea to other local churches as early as possible.

The other thing worth thinking about is how you’re going to manage the audience, particularly for when the time comes for the gospel talk. Only allowing people in who have a personal invitation will mean you get fewer people through the door, but it will also mean a more manageable environment for the MC and speaker. It will also help enable follow-up to be more effective. On the other hand, a wider invite (through social media and local schools) will mean an increased audience but less control of the environment. 

It’s also worth thinking about how you will gear change from the live music to the gospel talk. The talk needs to be very clearly linked into the theme of the event and some kind of media or video presentation helps capture the attention of those attending.

Here are some further points to consider:

  • Teenagers tend not to do ‘feedback cards’ so alternative ways of feeding back and follow-up may be more effective.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to recruit bands – use youth group links and local school links.
  • Logistics for up to four bands playing on one stage, one after another, are difficult to manage well. Therefore provide as much equipment as possible so that set up time is kept to a minimum (get an expert in sound/PA to help).
  • Allow bands time for a sound check before the event.
  • Control the lyrics and behaviour of the bands in the rules and regulations.
  • Protect yourself against ‘competitive’ parents in your rules and regulations.
  • Consider inviting guest Christian bands to add to the line-up.
  • Consider ticketing and cost and whether tickets can be bought in advance or on the door.
  • Consider venue capacity as it’s better to have a crowded smaller venue than a half-empty big venue.
  • Lighting and staging makes a big difference to the atmosphere of the event – invest if you can.
  • Check with the police/council to see if any permissions are needed and it’s worth flagging the event with the police so that they’re aware of it.
Simon Martin

Simon Martin is the Senior Pastor of King’s Church Walton, having graduated from Oak Hill Theological College in 2012. Prior to his time at college he worked first as an apprentice at Dundonald Church Wimbledon and then as their youth worker. Simon is married to Nicola and they have four boys.