Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Worship Rocks!

The most exciting thing going on right now in my life is the worship ministry. I have been one of three worship leaders here for a year or so and the three teams have all been pretty good with three significantly different and distinct styles. There has been, however, little in the way of a consistent move of the Spirit. I wrote in December about my desire to see more of the manifest presence of God.

One of the things I felt hindered us was a perception of disunity between the three teams. I don't believe there was any real discord but the disparate styles of the groups and the fact that there were three different leaders offered the impression of "each doing what was right in their own eyes." Therefore the first thing I wanted to accomplish was to attack that perception.

Although I have never seen this modeled anywhere I decided to take a drastic measure... I invited 6 senior members of the worship band and team to meet with me once a month to build the sets for the coming month. In this meeting we would bring any new songs we wanted to try and we would all work together to put together each service.

We also pulled together the best of the three groups to form one team that performs every week utilizing essentially the same people week after week. This alone has tightened up the group both musically and relationally.

The very first week after this began we saw a powerful, tangible lift in the spirit of the church, as well as the presence of the Holy Spirit during our worship service. The next week picked up where that one left off and now, 4 weeks into this grand experiment, it is almost unbelievable how dramatic the change is that has taken place.

People in the congregation are commenting on the sense of "unity over the church." The power of God has prevailed over the worship. The band is invested in the service... I have noticed the musicians singing while they play... that's never happened... and they feel empowered... they are already holding the bar a little higher for each other. After this week's meeting (planning March) they requested a weekend practice to work on "their new songs." I have asked for weekend practices in the past and nobody was willing... now they are the one's calling them.

The leaders had to relinquish some of their authority... it's hard to have a song you have always loved doing get voted off the island. I brought a new song to the meeting this week... I had listened to it all week and it always moved me... I wanted to do it next month. I was the only person who voted to do it... everyone else was very ambivalent about it... therefore we canned it. On the other hand, in one of our first meetings someone else brought in a song that was unanimously agreed on. It proved to be one of the most powerful songs we've done and was immediately received by the congregation. What has happened is that there are no weak songs in any of our sets. Every song is powerful because I have 6 people bringing the best to the table and I'm not throwing together a set on Saturday evening.

And, preparing the sets weeks in advance gives ample time for me to get cd's and chord charts to everyone giving them plenty of time to listen and work on the songs.

The downside is that I have a handful of singers and musicians that have been on the platform occasionally that are no longer used. In order to include them I am having a choir sing on the final Sunday of the month... although I am not calling it a choir... I prefer "large vocal group." I am focusing the music that week to music that is served by the big anthem vocals. We are preparing for our first big vocal weekend now. I will still lead the worship and use the choir much like I currently use backup singers.

Oh, yes... of the other two worship leaders... one has left the church for unrelated reasons and the other seems to be enjoying the changes... and we are letting the vocal lead float between 4 or 5 vocalists. We have also stepped up the training on a couple of young vocalists that will one day lead worship... and they are getting more lead opportunities.

I will keep you posted as this grand experiment continues

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