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Seasons Greetings!

worshipplanning christmas 2015

Worship leaders and team members, we know that Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year for you. We pray that in the midst of the busyness, you can find a moment to breathe and meditate on His Word and sit in His presence. In the midst of working hard and serving selflessly, may you rest in His peace. May you find a moment to reflect back on His faithfulness in 2015 and look forward to all that He has in store for the New Year!

Merry Christmas from all of us here at WorshpPlanning.com!

I Don’t Need to Practice

i-dont-need

Alright, all you amazing, awesome, worship team members & leaders – I’m talking to you! You are, quite literally, God’s gift to me. The ones who can just always pull it off, no big deal. You can improvise on the fly, you can play by ear, you can pick up the musical theme in a heartbeat – you are flipping awesome. I love ya. And I love having you on my team. I love how easy it is to play with you, how easy it is to get our band gelling with you around, and how fluidly you pull it all together.

But.

I’m so sorry to say there is a “but.” BUT. I’ve known so many of you. I AM you. I am not being boastful, here, just honest. I can realistically walk into practice completely unrehearsed and pull it off, no problem.

But there is a problem. Just because we can technically “pull it off” without practicing, does not mean that practicing is unnecessary. Let me reiterate here – I am you. I am all of these things below. I did not read this in a book, I learned it from my own mistakes and frustrations by being you. So, calm down, Stevie Ray.

1. Practice makes perfect

Is there anything more cliche in the music world? Probably not. Does that make it less true? Definitely not. I’m sorry, but neither I nor you are being recruited to go on tour with or BE John Mayer so I just see no reason to assume that we don’t need more practice. If I’m wrong and you’ve got that offer coming in the mail, then this doesn’t apply to you because you already know this simple truth: John Mayer and those like him did not get that way by accident. It was… you guessed it… practice. More practice. And then once they got it perfect, they kept practicing. When John stops practicing, you can stop practicing.

2. Whoa, didn’t see that coming

Yeah, but you know who did? That guy on the other side of the stage who practiced. I have seen this countless times (me). One of us (me) is just cruising along, doing what everyone else is doing, until that one part. The part that everyone else listened to a hundred times and mastered and therefore played in sync. But you (I) didn’t. You (I) breezed right over it in your (my) practice time and so you (I) forgot just now when they all played it right. I don’t care who you are (I am), if you (I) don’t know the song inside and out, to a band, you are (I am) useless.

3. The band always knows

You know how your mom always knows when it was you? Your bandmates can always tell when you haven’t practiced, when you’re making it up as you go. And more often than not (especially for those of them who had to practice relentlessly to get where they are) – they are not impressed. It is uncourteous to show up unrehearsed, no matter how “good” you might be. The reality is without practice, you won’t be as polished as you should be. No ifs, ands, or buts. Honour your leader and your band by showing up prepared.

4. Your version isn’t the same

Most of the time, worship teams are learning from a recording. That’s what everyone else in the band is listening to. Unless your worship leader has given you all instructions to come up with your own version, you have to be familiar with whatever arrangement everyone is learning, otherwise its going to be difficult to play cohesively with your team.

5. Honor God with your gift

Practice is intentional. It means time playing and thinking through the songs you’re learning. It is a sacrifice of time. Taking the time to practice, especially when you don’t need it, says to God, “I want to offer you the absolute best possible that I have to give” as opposed to, “that’s good enough, right, God?”

Someone reminded me of the parable of the talents, once (found in Matthew 25). Talents back then referred to silver but the parable is about abilities, interestingly enough. A master was going away and left three servants in charge of his property. One servant received five talents, one got two, and one received one. The first man doubled the talents by trading. The second also doubled his talents, though he had less. But the last man dug a hole and hid his master’s money. When the master came back, he rewarded the first two and said, “Well done, good & faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much.” To the lazy servant, he showed disappointment and cast him away. He basically says, “you knew I was coming back, you could have at the very least invested the money in a bank so I would get interest” (Matthew 14-30 paraphrased).

God gives us gifts and talents which he has left to our safekeeping. He doesn’t want us to squander them, we are to grow them. Going back to the first point – there just is no point at which we are off the hook – there’s always room to be better when it comes to music. Shouldn’t we be setting an example to those around us that we A) do not take our gifts for granted B) do not think we have musically arrived and C) believe God is coming back to claim our grown up gifts for Himself? The parable explains to us that when our talent grows, God’s glory grows. He expects us to steward our gifts well, not hide them in the ground and say “that’s probably good enough.”

If nothing else, make practice your humble response to God’s gift of talent to you. Steward the gift well and he will set you in responsibility over more and more.

-Molly Broomer (originally posted on itsallrighthere.org – used by permission…Thanks Molly!)

Worship Leader Stage Presence

guitar player on stage
Stage presence is important when you are in front of anyone and your desire is to connect with and engage with them. Whether it’s through music or speaking, there is a basic need for the person on the platform to possess at least a minimal amount of awareness when it comes to stage presence.

Does it mean that stage presence is the end all be all of leading worship? Not at all. Worship is the primary focus of leading worship. Connecting with and engaging with others is part of our desire to be useful in the Kingdom. God has gifted us musically so that we can worship Him and to help others express their worship to Him.

Read the full article over at TheWorshipCommunity.com

Breathing Fresh Air Into Worn Out Songs

Breathing Fresh Air Into Worn Out Songs

Do you have worship songs in your repertoire that need a breath of fresh air?

We all have songs that we love, but maybe sang one too many times. Here are some great insights from David Santistevan:

Oftentimes that older, more familiar song is exactly what is needed because it connects. People don’t have to think so hard. They can be more free to engage.

The truth is, worship leaders and band members get sick of a song much sooner than someone in the congregation. When you combine personal practice, rehearsal, and playing the same song for multiple services on a weekend, that makes sense. But just when the band is getting sick of a song is right when people in the congregation are starting to grasp it.

The problem isn’t with how old the song is. The problem is that we do it the same way all the time. Doing songs like your favorite records is fine, but you need to shake it up from time to time.

Our songlists should be crafted on the foundation of two questions: 1) Are we celebrating and declaring the truth of the Gospel? and 2) Are we helping people engage with heart, soul, mind, & strength?

Cool and cutting edge is great if it accomplishes that purpose. Otherwise it’s just a waste of time.

So here are 5 tips for taking a worn out song and breathing some life into it:

1. Speak in the middle – Sometimes pausing in the middle of the song to either encourage, exhort, or read a Scripture can completely change up the feel to a song. It helps to reconnect with the worshipers in the room as well. For example, oftentimes I’ll tie a particular verse of a song to a Scripture, like the final verse of Cornerstone:

“When He shall come with trumpet sound. Oh may I then in Him be found. Dressed in His righteousness alone. Faultless stand before His throne.”

Before I sing that, I’ll declare 2 Corinthians 5:21:

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

If there’s one thing I know, there’s nothing that lights up a worship service like the Word of God. It is power and when it lands on hearts filled with faith, explosive things can happen.

Try this with your songs. Speak out. Declare truth. Plan your songs to be an experience with the Word rather than just a sing-a-long.

Visit David’s blog to read the entire post.

Humble Victors!

Worship Leader Editors Pick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For seven years (and running!) we’re honored to be selected and featured in Worship Leader Magazine’s 2014 Editor’s Pick Awards, under the Planning Software Category. Thank you to Worship Leader Magazine for this notable distinction.

 

Congratulations to all the Worship Leader victors! worshipplanning.com is humbled to be in your company.

 

Serving with you,

The crew at worshipplanning.com

Are You A Song Leader or A Worship Pastor?

There are a variety of titles churches use for the person who leads the “music” on Sunday mornings. Worship leader, worship director, music director, song leader, and worship pastor, are just a few of the titles you may have heard of.

I think for the most part though, the role can be categorized under these two main titles: Song Leader and Worship Pastor. Your church may use a different title, but you probably fit into one of these two. Let me explain…

A Song Leader is someone who…singer w guitar
-just leads vocally during the corporate worship time
-puts together the setlist each week
-doesn’t do much talking in between the songs
-doesn’t have much interaction with the congregation or the worship team during the week
-spends more time with their instrument and music than with their church people

A Worship Pastor is someone who…
-leads not only vocally, but spiritually
-engages the congregation during worship
-has a shepherd’s heart
-is more concerned about the people they lead than the songs they sing
-pastors people during the week
-trains up other worship leaders in the church

This is obviously not an exhaustive list, but it helps us see the differences between the two types of “worship leaders”. Which one are you? Which one do you want to be? Which one does your church want you to be? And, most importantly, which one does God want you to be?

Maybe you’re a worship leader at a church that sings out of the hymnal, so they just need you to lead vocally with a microphone and a piano. There is nothing wrong with that. However, if you believe God is calling you to pastor/shepherd your people, alongside your senior pastor, you will probably feel frustrated in that limited role.

Take time today to ask God about which type of worship leader He is calling you to be. It’s not about the title that your church puts on your role. That’s not important. It’s about living out the calling God has put on your life. If you feel called to be a “Worship Pastor”, start exploring what that looks like. Start pastoring people. Ask The Lord to give you a burden and a heart for the people, not just a passion for music.

Being a true worship pastor has nothing to do with how skinny your jeans are or how stylish your hair is. It has less to do with knowing all the trending worship songs and more to do with knowing and loving your people. That is my prayer for all of us worship leaders, that we would desire to know and love our people well, and that we would love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

-Mark Logan