Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Worship Notes

I don't know exactly how to 'critique' a worship services without a face-to-face forum to do so. I am afraid that doing so by email or by phone lends itself to misunderstanding intentions and motives.

However, it is important that we are serious about our commitment to help each other improve what we do... good or bad... we can all get better and there is never a week when something isn't there to be discussed and dissected so that we can all get closer to the target... a service that is exciting, powerful and potentially life-changing.

    1. Eye contact... Have you ever been to a worship service where the leader and band members never even looked at the congregation? Due probably to their unfamiliarity with the songs... they were all reading most of the time. This left the service feeling very impersonal to the congregation, they were observers instead of being drawn in to participate. It makes it look as if the team is bored. Encourage all leaders and band members to minister to the congregation with their smiles... eyes... talents... in that order...

    2. Song choice... This is one of the easiest issues to coach through and fix... I believe it is important to have a corporate signoff on every Sunday Morning worship set by the worship leadership team. That means submitting ourselves one to another! Nobody's set is written in stone ... we should bounce the set around for a day or two so everyone is comfortable that its the best we can make it. If there are concerns about a particular song it needs to be brought up... or removed. The arrangement itself... service tempo... needs to be open to discussion. If the leader can explain their vision and purpose behind the song's placement then we should usually leave it alone... but if it is inconsistent with the vision the Pastor has laid out then there should be accountability for song and set choices BEFORE we do it on Sunday... not afterward.

    3. Style... this isn't necessarily a bad vs. good issue but if a new leader with a new style is entered into the mix then the team will often appear uncomfortable. This can be improved with practice, practice, practice. They have to play with the new leader to get comfortable. ALSO... what we usually mean when we get to this subject of style is ENERGY... does it move you? does it have guts? Often it is sweet but powerless...

    4. Leadership...It's very common to have an excellent soloist/performer and place them on stage to lead worship only to find they struggle in this group enivonment. People need to be coached into leading... every aspect... tell the vocals what they are to do... and the instruments what is expected. Tell the audience what to do. Back to Eye Contact... Make a connection with the congregation the FIRST PRIORITY... everything else is secondary... the congregation will forgive nearly anything that happens if you have connected with them emotionally... if they are participating with you... they will laugh at your mistakes with you if you will include them... but even perfection without a connection leaves them empty.

    5. Minimize... One of the most valuable lessons I've learned over the last few years is that I don't have to be the musical center of the worship service. I can lead and not even play a note... Most leaders need to rely less on their own instrumentation and more on their band... tie the left hand behind the back if you're a piano player... and focus on fills and pads... Guitarists, simple rhythm... or try not playing at all on some songs... let the talent around you carry the song. Very difficult lesson to learn but will set you free if you get it... opens up all kinds of music and styles that you yourself could never accomplish.

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