Thursday, September 8, 2011

10 Thoughts For And From A Worship Leader*

A friend recently recommended this post, "12 Thoughts For and From a Worship Leader", and asked what my thoughts for worship leading might, I thought I'd write a post about that.

I've been around the church long enough now to have heard my fair share of "The 7 Secrets To Success" and "The 3 Things Every Leader Should Know"...everyone has their two cents, their catchy one-liners, their $200 DVD series that they live and breathe and Tweet by...

...but what I found so refreshing about Carlos' list (see link above) is that these 12 things we're practical, unpredictable, original, and clearly coming from personal experience. So here's my stab at such a list. If you're a church musician, I hope this helps you to look at things in a new way...if you're not a church musician, my hope is that this list will help you understand your friendly neighborhood worship leader a little better...

1. Your band-members are people first, and musicians second. Treat them accordingly.

2. Learn how to talk to drummers.
Your drummer probably doesn't know what to do with advice like "more tom stuff" or "more energy!" Know what you want from them and how to communicate that to them before they show up for practice.

3. Communicate with your vocalists.
As an instrumentalist, it's easy to overlook vocals in an attempt to lock in the instrumentation. Make sure your singers feel like an important part of the band. Otherwise, during that big instrumental breakdown you rehearsed, instead of engaging in the music, your vocalists will stand there, feeling excluded, until the vocals kick back in.

4. Work closely with your pastor.
The best church services are the ones where the music and message support each other. Make sure you have harmony with your pastor on a relational level and with the subject matter of the service you're leading together.

5. Never lead a song "just because".
If you can't tell me why you chose the songs you did, then you haven't thought enough about the importance of what you're leading me through.

6. Get inspired.
Figure out what inspires you and do that before every practice, service, and songwriting session, especially if that's listening to good music. (Heresy alert: "secular" music can inspire you to worship just as much as "Christian" music...but that's for another post)

7. Re-Arrange!
If you're
getting sick of or bored with a classic song, so are your people. You don't have to be a master song-writer to re-arrange a popular song- it's amazing how the littlest things can breathe life into a dull or dying arrangement: change the tempo, change the key, turn an anthem into an acoustic tune, or a hymn into an anthem, have a female lead a usually-male-led song, or visa versa. Do not be responsible for burying an important song underneath an outdated, predictable, or too-familiar arrangement.

8. Get feedback.
Find someone you trust, give them permission to tell you what you're doing well and what you need to work on, and then listen to and learn from them when they offer advice or criticism.

9. Expect big things to happen.
Every time you gather with your congregation. Every time. Do not let your lack of imagination limit what the Spirit wants to do.

10. Take this seriously.
This may seem harsh, but here it is: You are an artistic ambassador of the Creator God. Make music that reflects that. Please don't embarrass me and my church family by making mediocre art about an amazing God.

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What are your ten?

**photo taken from here

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Musician or Worship Leader?

-For those of you who don't know, when I'm not singing or writing in my living room, I am singing and writing at my church. This is a post about that-

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A man who is much smarter than I* once wrote:
The word “Christian,” I imagined even then, was probably best understood as a kind of verdict, a compliment even; not an adjective to be presumptuously self-applied or ever broadcast as a boast. I could aspire to be someone upon whom the word might be suitably dropped as a descriptive term, but doing so myself would be horribly tacky, akin to the cart before the horse.
The proof is in the practice.

You are a Christian when the world sees your life and considers it Christ-like.


What about taking it a step further?
How does this apply to your label as a worship leader?:

Are you a worship leader
because that is the title lent to you on Sunday mornings?
or are you a worship leader
because when you enter into an atmosphere of worship,
people follow you?

There's a line in the sand:
on one side, there is reciting church songs,
and on the other side, there is leading worship.

The first is typically performed in a way that is either
uninviting to the congregation
or too much of a solo act for anyone to join in on.

The latter is verbally and musically engaging,
inviting, and understandable to the average congregant.

As church musicians, we are called to LEAD people to and through the songs we are singing. That means that our congregations find us musically inspiring and easy to follow, and spiritually encouraging, inviting, and trustworthy...

So what are you...a Musician or a Worship Leader?

*David Dark, in his review of Rob Bell's 'Love Wins' -

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Take off your shoes.

Well hello's been awhile.

-For those of you who don't know, when I'm not singing or writing in my living room, I am singing and writing at my church. This is a post about that-
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“Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!" - I Samuel 12:16

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Picture this:

A fugitive murderer is herding sheep in the desert...
Good start, huh?

While in the far reaches of the wilderness, he comes across a bush, burning with fire, but not being burnt- out of the bush, comes a Voice, and the Voice knows his name.

Here I am...
Take off your shoes. The place where you stand is Holy ground

Moses does so. The Voice speaks:
My people need rescuing. I want you to go to them.

Moses fights with the Voice:
Me? How could I possibly do this? Do you know who I am?

The Voice answers:
I will be with you...and I AM WHO I AM.

He is The Answer to the question we are all asking.
Why me? How can I possibly do this?
I AM WHO I AM...that's how.


Every once in a while, I show up on Sunday morning to sing, and I feel like I've just wandered in from the wilderness, and the Voice of God meets me there.
He says:
This is a sacred place. Can you feel it?

God wants to do amazing things with His people.
He wants us to experience Him. He wants us to hear His Voice,
and see His Hand moving in our lives...
Not once in a while...
not just on "Worship Nights"...
not just on Thursday night of camp...
Every time we are together.

What would have happened if Moses would have ignored the Voice in the desert? What if he hadn't followed the divine longing in his heart to see what made the bush burn the way it did?
Would God still have found a way to save His people?
Yes...but Moses wouldn't have been a part of it.

Is it possible that we are missing great things because our expectations are not high enough for what God wants to do with our Worship? Do you believe that the simple act of recognizing that you are standing on Holy ground can open up the door for the Voice of the LORD to speak?
Stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!

Our Sunday gathering can be the place where God speaks to us and tells us of the great things He wants us to be a part of. Moses took off his shoes- he heard the Voice, and the Voice used his bare feet to change the world.

Are you listening? You are on Holy ground.
Take off your shoes.