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Category Archives: Worship Team

Infuse

We picked up a fantastic idea from Church of the Highlands in Alabama this past year. They have 10+ campuses, and struggled with filling all of the incredible number of volunteer slots that they had. They also found that they had many volunteers who were willing, but not quite up to speed to be able to step directly onto the worship team.

One of their volunteers came up with the idea of doing a weekly “bootcamp” of sorts for the worship team, and they named it Infuse. Instead of going directly onto the worship team after an audition, volunteers now go into Infuse. They are given a few songs to work on each week and come together with coaches to learn how to play as a team, how to visually lead, etc… We took the general idea and created a 6-week version for both worship and production team. We beta tested in the fall of ’14, and are now in our 2nd 6-week run of ’15. It’s been a great tool to help train and prepare volunteers – a highly recommended idea!

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Keep Your Eyes Open

NOW FEb 2014

Read this quote from Lorie King: “Keep your eyes open. Watch the congregation. Shocking, I know. In order to lead well, however, you need to know what’s going on around you. You may notice that people aren’t singing along, but rather look confused or perplexed (or bored). Hmm…maybe they don’t know the song? Maybe they don’t know they’re supposed to be singing? You can invite them to sing with a statement like, “Now that you know it, let’s sing that again together,” or simply “Let’s sing that truth/prayer together again.” You have not only let them know that participation is encouraged and expected, but you’ve pointed them to the content and substance of what is going on.”

I agree – and I mean it literally. Keep your eyes open. If you are leading, it doesn’t mean making music with your eyes closed. It’s not your private time of worship – you are leading, and that means interacting with the people you are leading. It’s easy to hide behind closed eyes – I’ve done it many a time. Every so often it’s appropriate, but not as your norm. And now…stepping down from the soapbox… : )

 

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What To Wear…What To Wear?

NV Christmas

So, worship leaders – do you have a dress code for your team? It seems like a minor issue, but it sometimes can become a surprisingly big deal. Style of dress is a form of personal expression, and some people get irate when they are not allowed to express themselves in their preferred fashion (pun intended).

What it comes down to, though, is that a worship team’s purpose is not as a forum for personal expression. The very nature of personal expression is to say, in effect, “Look at me. See how I want the world to view me. See the subculture I wish to identify with.” If the style of dress – be it too formal, or too casual, or too flashy, or too risqué, or too whatever – draws attention to itself, rather than to worshipping God, it’s a miss. In the same way that an 80’s metal guitar solo doesn’t fit in a Tomlin song, a hawaiian shirt or backwards baseball cap might not fit in a suburban church setting largely populated by professional people who live, eat and breathe business casual.

It’s not that we want everyone to be part of the same club…it’s that we don’t want the style of dress to scream “Look at me – and look at what club I’m in!!!”

 

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On Time

Playing With Passion

We require everyone on our worship team to be on time, every time. A “no show, no call” and you’re done, unless somebody is in the hospital… In all seriousness, everybody has a lot going on – the only way to make sure that the services are top quality is to set the bar high. People will generally rise to the level of the expectation – if they feel that the leader thinks that it’s not really critical that they be there prepared and on time, they will act accordingly. So – if the practice is set to start at 6:30, make sure that the drumsticks click off the first song at 6:30 (unless you’re using fill tracks – then the drummer presses “play” at 6:30)… : )

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Uncategorized, Worship Team

 

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Transitions

One thing that I learned during my time at Willow Creek was the importance of transitions. It’s very easy to get so focused on the content – the various bits and pieces – of what we’re doing on any given weekend that we neglect look at how they all fit together. You can have a great song, or  moving video, or some other very profound service element – and an awkward transition can drain the impact from the moment, sometimes completely.

We make sure that we do two complete runthoughs each weekend (actually three, since we do an abbreviated one on Sunday morning, as well). The first one has every single service event, in order, with every single element, including announcements. The only thing that we don’t do as part of that is the message. In addition, we run through all of the lighting, where everyone is staring, the lyrics and Scripture verses, etc… each Thursday at 1:30pm.

This takes planning. I do think that our worship leaders have to have a certain amount of freedom to react to the moment. However, I also know that sometimes freedom can be an excuse for laziness. The people of our churches that God has entrusted us to serve deserve the best we can bring, and like anything else in life, planning, practice and preparation help us to be able to bring our very best!DSC_0002-X3

 

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Getting Things In Focus

What are you doing when you’re not singing or playing?

My role these days is usually as the worship service “producer” at Northview. It’s my job to lead the planning process. It’s also my job to make sure that all of the elements are solid, and that they fit together and flow well.

We work on transitions a lot – we don’t just need great worship music, videos, etc… – the service elements all need to flow well and fit together in a way that makes sense. We also take the visual into account. I’m a musician by background, and I know that one of the weaknesses of my kind is that we tend to focus on the music – only. There’s so much of an emphasis on making it sound great, that we completely ignore what it looks like. We lose focus of the fact that a big part of communicating is visual. And that’s our job. To communicate. To communicate God’s love to His people, and to communicate our thanks back to God.

So back to the visual side of things. Keeping the focus where it should be is critical. All it takes is someone messing around with an effects pedal, or scanning the congregation for friends, or – and I’ve seen it happen fairly regularly – scratching themselves, and you’ve just pulled people’s attention away from the elements that you worked so hard to put together in the first place, or – even more seriously – away from focus on God.  Focus on God if it’s a song to God. Focus on the congregation if it’s a song designed to encourage each other in following/serving Him. Between songs, vocalists and band members should be looking at whoever is talking or leading a moment.

More in the days to come on focus..

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Communication vs. Manipulation

Any time that you deal with people, things get messy…

There really is a fine line between communication and manipulation – actually, a very blurry fine line, if that’s even possible. In fulfilling our job to lead worship (to really help people engage in worship), there are two primary schools of thought. Let me use their extreme examples to highlight the difference. One is the “I’m worshipping God privately here, and everyone can watch me doing that, and that that will inspire them to do the same, because I’m so worshipful.” The other is the “I’m a worship cheerleader, hey I can’t hear you, you’re not singing loud enough, hey, I’m talking to you, person in the 5th row!”

I don’t have the perfect answer. I’ve headed too far in both of those directions at various times over the years, but my gut feeling is that there really needs to be a balance. It’s kind of a representation of the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, if you will – a call to worship God above all, and a call to care for those around us. It also is a call to be a part of a community. I really am kind of distressed how attached to our gadgets we are, and how alone we can be, even in the midst of a crowd… Worship in community – praising God, encouraging each other – is better than that. It’s good for our, souls, and is just – well – right.

We need to communicate God’s love to each other, to support each other, and to help each other walk away from our pain, temptations, weaknesses and hardships (even our boredom). This takes worship leaders who will look us in the eye and show God’s love, all while actually showing love back to God. Not put on a show (i.e.. manipulate), even though everything in our culture pushes us in that direction. Not close off the world, because that locks out the very people God wants us to show His love to. It’s not easy to get it right. In fact, it’s impossible to do without God. But we all need real worship leading – and leaders – desperately.

Raised Hands

 
 

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