I think one of the hardest things to impart to worship teams, especially volunteer teams, is how to play with passion. So often they are concentrating so hard on playing the right chords at the right time or wondering if the worship leader will repeat the chorus (maybe even do a song not on the list??:) that playing with heart is not even on the radar. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a service and everybody’s just playing along like no one’s listening. Not to mention trying to follow!
As a worship leader I often try to make up for this by playing with extra passion as if I can force my team to “up” the energy a bit. This is not the way, I think. (I tend to do this with a congregation who has the same sentiment — also not the way)
If not, then what is the way?
One practical thing is to somehow get the team to learn the music better. You can get it to them more in advance, but the key to this is encouraging them to practice on their own. People live such busy lives that it sometimes seems impossible. But it’s not! A relentless focus and lots of reminders are the key here. You can also refine your rehearsal skills. People have different styles, but what many teams do is not rehearsal, but just running through songs.
Running music is for after you’ve rehearsed and learned it. Running unrehearsed music again and again is just reinforcing and solidifying the mistakes.
Another approach is to focus on the spiritual. You can’t read the psalms of David without encountering passion and exuberance in worship. The Scripture says David was a man after God’s own heart. Again and again he says shout, sing, dance, clap. It’s difficult not to have passion when you’re participating in these activities! Read these Scriptures with the team. Talk about them, dig into them…do them.
Before you can lead worship you must learn to worship.
Finally, another way to lead your team to more passion in their playing is to show them great examples. Thankfully YouTube and the rest of the Web are filled with videos of wonderful worship teams and leaders. Start your rehearsals watching a song or two and then discussing how what you just watched was different than what happens in your worship times. You don’t need to copy these examples…use them as inspiration.
What are some of the things you do to encourage your teams to play with passion?
It took me a long while to get used to playing/singing with in-ear monitors (IEM). I’m sure part of it was my own slow adapting, but there’s still part of me that goes back and forth on their usefulness. As a worship leader, I believe one of my jobs is to respond to what is happening among the worshippers I am leading. The IEMs cut you off from hearing them. Sure, you can have audience mics, but they’re never going to be anywhere near perfect and they are the first things that get cut in a “crisis” situation (you worship leader out there know what I mean).
I remember I was having a conversation with an experienced engineer and he told me that hearing the congregation was not important – that it did nothing more than to build up the leader’s ego. I completely disagree!
There are not many greater privileges than hearing the people of God sing to Him. To hear them cry out to Him. It moves me and I believe it moves the heart of God (See Genesis 18:16-33 (Abraham); Exodus 32:7-14 (Moses)). Why would I want to do anything that impedes this?
All this said, IEMs can be a good tool. You can definitely hear yourself better and if you use click tracks or loops they are an absolute necessity. They can truly improve some musicians’ playing and/or singing. Wedges can make getting a good house mix difficult (especially with an inexperienced engineer) – I am well aware of this. But, there is a lost art to getting a good wedge mix AND a good house mix.
A good balance is to use one ear. You need to trade ears often as you don’t want them to wear unevenly :). I know many don’t advocate this, but some find it to be a good compromise.
The key is not the choice between IEMs or wedges. It is the worship leader/team’s ability to hear and respond to those they are leading. That should have higher priority than the technology we use to hear ourselves.
I hope everybody’s ready for a great weekend…I am! This has been a long week…
Just wanted to update everybody on what’s going on these days and ask you for your prayers.
If you follow our journey, you know that I have been seeking a new position as a worship leader at a church. While I’ve been waiting on the Lord, I’ve had a temp job at the NFL. It’s been such a blessing and a lot of fun, but it’s coming to an end sometime in November, so I’ve been asking the Lord what’s next.
I’ve interviewed with a church in Long Island and am going to lead worship at one of their campuses this Sunday. In addition to the possibility of the position, I’m also just excited about leading worship in a corporate setting…it’s been awhile.
There are a couple of other possibilities if it’s not the right place, but I would appreciate your prayers!
Olivia and I are also trying to decide whether to move closer to Midtown. It’s a long commute to her current job (in which she was just promoted!!) and, if I get the LI position, I would need to be closer to Penn Station for the train.
This obviously involves moving (which is always a big deal) and paying more in rent. So we’re just laying it all before the Lord.