Ok so I’ve been a travelling worship leader for over 18 months now, I have the privilege to go into a number of churches across different denominations and encourage and build into worship teams. Some of them are a full band with multiple instrumentalists and vocalists, others more intimate. Whilst they’re are all so very different in their own right, many of them have a similar thread of quandaries.
Finding Your Unique Voice
This concept is universal: we all want what we do (in this case, our ministry) to be successful, so when we see what someone else has we try to acquire it identically and well most of the time, it doesn’t work. That’s because none of us, including the modern day Church, were designed to be cookie cutter replicates or a copycat of another church. No church I have come across has been the same, each has its own unique sound, it’s own unique set of circumstances, it’s own history and it’s own voice. I’ve been really encouraged to see how different bodies do church uniquely. The Bride is this beautiful mix of expression and I have noticed a new uprising of worship, and an eagerness to find a way to explore that through word, music and prayer in a community setting. It inevitably is never the same expression or setup which brings me to my first point: Don’t settle to be anything other than who God has called you as a church to be, God hasn’t called you to be identical to the church down the road or the church across the world. I served six months with a group of house churches who gathered for a large celebration service once a month. Noticing over the initial months the people weren’t regularly engaging in our worship times, yet knowing this environment to be really open to corporate worship I was surprised. In talking to their worship pastor he said he wanted to try making worship circle instead of platform based for a long time. So we trialled it and instantly people connected in new ways. It worked for them because their celebration services were now just an extension of what they were already doing in their individual house churches. Ultimately we’re there to bring people into the presence of God, so be true to who God is calling you to be, continually seeking His face, always be growing (not in a bums on seat kind of way!), always be finding new ways that are relevant to you people to articulate Heaven’s language and story. Be ever focused on God. These things are central to church life: Prayer, Worship, Word, Community, Sending out, bringing in – how you do it is the variance! Find your voice as a church and let Heaven’s roar be heard.
Clean Your Microphones
Do you know how much bacteria is in a microphone head? Let’s have a little think about what you had for lunch, or the lipstick you wear… combine that with the residue of halitosis, spit, coldsores, coffee breath.. well you name it. The foam inside the microphone collects it all in the grill over time and not only does it block the sound quality – its SUPER GROSS!!! I was visiting a church and the mic I had was not only very old (which is fine, I’m okay with that), it had been dropped a gazillion times and every breath I took to sing was taken away by the presence of mould. I have a mould allergy so I instantly picked it up, persevered for a few songs and then I actually asked how often they cleaned their mics. To which they responded never. I know they aren’t alone in their response because it isn’t the first scungy mic I’ve come across. Look after what you have, repair broken leads so there’s no cracking, replace dinted grills and clean your microphones! Steward your gear well and take the time to find the resources to give them a quarterly clean. Here is a video on how to clean you might find helpful.
Practicing with a Metronome
I’m a trained musician, but even I still struggle with rhythm. Not long ago I served with a team who could not hold to the drummers very steady tempo: The classical pianist played to her own beat and the guitarists shied away from strumming rhythmically because he didn’t know where to sit. So whilst I led this team and spent most of the rehearsal encouraging them to listen to each other, there’s only so much you can change in the hour prior to a service!!! There was still three different tempos for most songs and to be honest it was off-putting for everyone (including the congregation). Rhythm though is a common issue – keeping tempo. Whether its slowing down, speeding up when the song gets emphatic, or keeping a unified rhythm, it really comes down to what we’re used to doing behind closed doors. How you rehearse effects the way you will play on Sundays. Find a way to get practicing with a metronome, granted it’s uncomfortable at first as you fight the steadiness, but after regular use you will only notice the metronome if you’re out of rhythm. I encourage all drummers to have a click (in-ears or visual) where possible so they at the very least have a constant beat keeping us all on track throughout the service, if wearing headphones this can incorporate the bands fold-back so the drummer can still hear everyone too. I also encourage every team member – including BV’s – to get practicing with a metronome (we use this) regularly. It’s helpful as a worship leader to know how fast songs are, so get familiar with what BPM (beats per minute) apply to each song so you can encourage your drummer to set a tempo, bring the team in together and stay on track.
Stay tuned for part two…
until next time… xox