(This article was originally published in Worship Leader’s May/June 2016 issue. Subscribe today for more great articles like this one.)
How many times have you had a church member come up to you and ask, “So what do you do for the rest of the week?” To the average churchgoer, it looks like the weekend “just happens.” We’re glad it looks like that, but … if only!
Relentlessly, the worship service comes every six days (less for those with Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday services—then there’s Christmas and Easter). And there is a lot that goes into making our gatherings seem to “just happen.” Some people have four weekdays to play with others only have three. Some take Monday off, others Friday. Here’s a rough general plan on what a workweek can look like. If you are a volunteer worship leader, you deserve more praise than can be expressed here, since you do all of this in your “free time.”
Day One: Review
Spend time going over the past weekend. What went well, what didn’t, what can we celebrate, what can we learn from, how can we grow? Who needs to be thanked? Do we need to follow up with anyone, pastorally? Day one usually involves a bunch of church staff meetings (creative people love these, thrive on these—not). But they are vastly important for the vision of the church, so join them enthusiastically—go to your happy place, be a contributor, and be thankful that we also get lots of creative time, too.
Day Two: Rehearse
Preview and prep the upcoming weekend and prepare for that night’s rehearsal. This involves lots of practice (so we are ready to lead the rehearsal process and be the most prepared person in the room). The art of great rehearsals is a whole other conversation, but in short, we can’t underestimate the value of the rehearsal process or the preparation that goes into leading it. We need to be prepared spiritually and practically. We also need to be ready to lead our teams spiritually as well as musically. Providing the opportunity to worship and receive teaching from the Word allows the team to be ready for the important role of leading the church body in corporate worship.
Also on day two, final tweaking of all the supporting technology happens—pre-production in Ableton (or whatever platform you use), working in ProPresenter, checking charts and flow in Planning Center, working through any spoken word transitions that need to be written, and so on.
Day Three: Plan
When/if you have a mid-week rehearsal, and assuming it was the previous evening, spend the morning responding to any changes that came out of the rehearsal process. This could also be the day to have a creative planning meeting and discuss upcoming weekends and events, even taking time to put orders together for those services. It’s healthy to work at least a month out to allow for scheduling personnel, working on unique creative elements, and song set creation. It’s important to have a matrix for how new songs are introduced, mapping the flow and energy of the service, and tracking how often certain selections are played and repeated. It’s a given that all of this should be covered in prayer and with an openness to the Holy Spirit moving in and through the planning process.
Day Four: Prepare
This is the day you take care of the final tweaks for the weekend—making sure you know everything. This includes the service order (so you don’t need a piece of paper on the floor), words and music (so you don’t need an iPad or music stand), and spoken transitions (so you’re not stumbling or over-speaking). Being this well-prepared allows you to have the best possible connection with the room as you worship together horizontally and removes distraction enabling you to personally worship vertically.
Day Five: GAME DAY!
We don’t have to do this; we get to do it. At the end of it all, remember what an awesome privilege it is to lead people in worshiping our Creator, and give thanks for that.
Day One: Start the process all over again.
So next time someone asks what you do with the rest of your week, you can spell it out for them.
Tim Foot leads the Worship Arts division at Slingshot Group. He’s been a local church worship pastor for over 20 years in his native Australia and in the Denver area. In this season, he loves building healthy teams, coaching leaders, and helping churches find their unique worship language that best connects them with God and his story. Visit, slingshotgroup.org/worship-arts.