Category Archives: church

A capella Life in a High Arrangement World

A dynamic drumbeat.  Fat, full bass.  Screaming electric guitars.  Soaring vocals.  Expansive effects boards.  MIDI players.  Three or more part harmonies.  Synthesizers.  Keytars (if you’re super cool).  Tambourines.  Trash cans.  All of these are typical must-haves for all churches today (right???).  singing

Ok, maybe not all of these things, and of course, not all churches . . . . But, for the most part, depending on the specific church tradition and setup, we (worship leaders) work hard with their teams to have what we perceive as “high quality” and “dynamic” times of musical worship.  We look for full arrangements and a lot of dynamics.  We want there to be a consistent movement and build from intro, to first verse, to first chorus, to second verse, to second chorus, to bridge, and so on.  And, none of that is wrong.

In fact, I think it’s great.  Music is proven to have an impact on human beings.  It stirs.  It moves.  It draws us in.  And, hopefully, when it comes to worship, it helps us amplify the praise we are lifting.  “Dynamic worship” is definitely a buzzword, and is often both scoffed at and criticized in many circles.  But, regardless of personal taste, it makes perfect sense to do our best to have creative arrangements and utilize this tool of music to the best of our ability when leading God’s people in praise.  You know what else makes perfect sense?  Throwing it all out the window.

Say what?  Didn’t see that coming, did you?  Now, this post is not necessarily about full a capella worship services, although those certainly are valid and are wonderful.  I wanted to take this time to merely point out where some a capella moments could be useful in a worship service.  Primarily, I’ll look at two good uses/reasons to incorporate some a capella into your worship services.

First, have you ever struggled with a transition between two songs in different keys? Sometimes you can work out a nice walk or transitional chord sequence. Sometimes you may just force a hard ending on the first song because you’re not quite sure what to do. Other times, you may have actually thrown a song out because the transition wasn’t working right (even though you may have been led by the Spirit to do that song?).

Transitions can be difficult and sometimes even more so for others. I propose that a great solution is to incorporate some a capella singing as your transition. At the end of the first song, bring it down (or keep it up, whatever works) and let the voices ring out – alone. Drop all the instrumentation and take the congregation through the chorus again (or whatever part is fitting). Dropping the instrumentation, followed by perhaps a nice open moment or two at the very end, allows you to go into the next song pretty easily, even if it is in a different key. It also provides another cool benefit . . .

Have you ever really heard a group of voices singing praise to God? I mean really heard it? Not just a crowd singing with a band. Not even a congregation singing along with your band. But I mean, really, really heard a group of people, with no instrumentation, lifting up worship to the Lord? It’s amazing! It’s pure. It’s passionate. There is just something about hearing that sound that is so fulfilling and wonderful.

As a worship leader, there is absolutely nothing better than hearing the people of God worshipping their Creator. And, it’s cool for those in the congregation too! There is something to be said of the benefit of corporate edification. It’s uplifting to know you are in the midst of a group of people, joining in with them in singing praise to the Lord.  It’s a powerful, wonderful thing.

Now, I am not suggesting that we give up working on transitions. A great transition is super cool and can certainly add some great energy to a song change. It’s very easy to overuse the a capella approach.  But, it’s also possible to underuse it.

It’s a great tool that provides both a practical function and a great opportunity for the people to lift up their voices in unison, unhindered by rhythms, guitar solos, or high Dbs. In a world of big time arrangements (which are super cool), it’s good to strip it down every now and then and let the people worship loudly and clearly. After all, our voices are the instruments that God built into us – let’s let them shine through every now and then!  (Yeah, I know that’s a bit cheesy, but you get the idea.)

-Mark Logan

Introducing A New Song in Church

As we begin the new year, you may have some new songs in mind that you can’t wait to introduce to your congregation. There are so many great corporate worship songs out there these days, but how you introduce them to your congregation can make all the difference in the world!

Here is veteran worship pastor, Paul Baloche, sharing how he typically introduces new songs to his church.

What have YOU found works best?

Your Visitor’s First 7 Minutes

I’ve heard about a recent study that showed that most visitors decide within the first 7 minutes of their initial visit, whether or not they will come back to your church. That’s starting from when they drive into your parking lot. If you’ve ever visited another church before, you can probably relate.

This is pretty significant. So, how you can use this information? In the next few weeks, try an experiment. Go to a worship service at your church with the point-of-view of the 1st time visitor. Better yet, convince someone you know who hasn’t been to your church to do it for you. Maybe give them a questionnaire to fill out.

As you drive into the parking lot what do you see? Does the parking lot look crowded? Unkept? Or even unsafe?

Are there any parking lot volunteers to help guide you? How far did you have to walk from your car to get to the church building?

When you get to the building is there anyone greeting you with a smile? Or, are the greeters too busy having a conversation amongst themselves? Or even worse, is there no one at the door?

Once you’re inside what do you see? What do you smell?

I recently heard that there are companies overseas that blow the smell of fresh, new cash into their vents and it actually increases the workers’ productivity. I am certainly not recommending blowing the smell of cash through the vents of your church, but we often dismiss the importance of smell. Yet, it is such a powerful sense that all of us have.

There are so many more questions we can pose. But, for the sake of keeping this from becoming a book, I would like to end with this thought:

When is the last time you got together as the church leadership team to discuss the first time visitor’s experience?

It is a valuable investment of our time and resources to do all that we can to make the first time visitor feel at home. Whether they are non-Christians or Christians looking for a new church home, God is giving your church the opportunity to reach out to them. And, we are called to be good stewards of that opportunity.

-article by guest blogger, Wisdom Moon
Wisdom is the Founder of AllAboutWorship.com

Skip ahead with these bookmarks: