The worship leaders' job is two fold; worship facilitator on stage, worship administrator behind the scenes. In order to be confident and effective as the worship facilitator on stage, you have to put in significant time and effort as the worship administrator behind the scenes. Here are four things I do during the week that help me be an effective worship facilitator for my congregation...
ONE :: print out the charts and take notes
Early in the week, I print out the charts and listen to each song - taking notes on dynamics, tricky transitions, timing and instrumentation. This step is the foundation to providing clear expectations for the band and vocalists. This step only takes 30 minutes, but gives me an opportunity to see the big picture and be able to communicate clearly before and at rehearsal. You may want to then sit down with your guitar or at a piano and go through everything to make any notes on changes you'd like to implement that will make the song different from the recording (i. e. ending the song after Chorus 2 at the 5 minute mark instead of going all Jesus Culture and doing the 13 minute version).
|In this chart for "Like a Lion," I've marked up the song order on the right side and then written several "notes" throughout the song to help me communicate my expectations to the band members.|
TWO :: email the band my expectations
Once I have taken the notes, it's time to transcribe them into paragraph form. I've determined the song order, transitions and dynamics as well as identified some parts of the songs that I think will be difficult. I then email those notes with instructions and warnings to the band so they can have some guidance in their personal preparation and practice.
|Now here in the Planning Center email I sent to the entire band, you can see my notes for "Like a Lion" in paragraph form. I'll often use bullet points to help break things up by instrument as well, as I've done here.|
THREE :: follow up and communication
Now that the band knows what I expect them to do in their preparation, I always try to bug them once or twice later in the week to make sure they are preparing. I'll text, email or call the band members (often depending on their track record of preparation) to make sure they remember to prepare and to give them an opportunity to ask questions to help them gain clarity on parts they're working on. Sometimes, a quick reminder can make the difference between someone showing up prepared and not prepared.
|At the end of the day, it's my responsibility that the band members all be prepared. Sending them a text, email, Facebook message or whatever can take just a few seconds, but help remind someone to be working on the music.|
FOUR :: prayer and spiritual prep
In order to lead the congregation on a spiritual journey through the worship set, the worship leader (and everyone on stage) must have had the experience on their own as well. I do this by reading through the lyrics and adopting some of the phrases as my personal prayers and then finding the biblical allusions within songs and reading through the passages that relate to them. Playing through the songs in my personal worship time also give me the opportunity to sense the "moments" I am about to lead the congregation through. There are highs and lows that being aware of will help me lead the congregation through them sensitively.
Solomon (Proverbs 4:23) and Jesus (Luke 6:45) taught us that whatever we put into our hearts and minds will be what flows out of our mouths. How valuable then can it be for us to digest the relevant scriptural truths that relate to the songs we lead?!?! Those passages and the hope contained in them will help us articulate the range of emotions from thankfulness to desperation within a worship experience.