This article was originally published in Worship Leader magazine (Jan/Feb 2013). For more great articles like this one, subscribe today.
I recently spoke to about 20 worship leaders at a lunch gathering. Trying to determine what I could say that would be the most helpful, I landed on this: A huge miss in worship ministry is the quality of rehearsals. I told them, “Rehearsals are so important that you should ‘rent a tux.’” They all laughed but got the point. In fact, afterwards, one of the guys told me that he was actually going to rent a tux for his next rehearsal just to make a statement to his team. I guess you could at least wear a bowtie.
When rehearsals happen at your church, are the musicians and tech people motivated? Has the rehearsal been prepared in such a way that everyone involved feels valued and it’s been worth their time? Have you really considered what it would take to make rehearsals a wonderful experience for every person involved? I can assure you that a commitment to having great rehearsals will revolutionize your ministry. Here are some pointers.
1. Choose songs carefully, with intentionality. Don’t assume your personal song choices are always the right ones. Recruit a “song team” of three people who will help you find great songs. Those people are just waiting to be asked to get involved.
2. Develop a creative music production process to determine how the songs should sound. Don’t assume a song should sound the same each time you use it in worship. There are reasons to change the sound of a song depending on the context. This in itself is why the music in many contemporary churches sounds the same. If this step is omitted from the process, welcome to sameness and eventually boredom.
3. Keep the congregation in mind when creating the musical styles, especially when considering key choices. If you expect the congregation to sing, make it easy for them.
4. Give your musicians and tech team enough time and the necessary resources to be prepared for the rehearsal. Don’t underestimate how much volunteers are willing to invest given enough time and the resources.
5. Give attention to the musical transitions before and after songs. Note: Not every prayer or serious speaking requires background music. Background music doesn’t always add to the emotional impact.
6. Rehearse the rehearsal. Write out the plan. Rehearse each aspect in your mind. Rehearsals offer the opportunity to experience the impact of what is already planned and prepared.
7. Give thought to what you will say during the rehearsal about each song and the other elements of the service. Pacing of a rehearsal is so important.
8. Prepare spiritually. Plan the spiritual footprint for the rehearsal. The rehearsal prepares the team for the worship service but is just as much an opportunity to bring Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father to the team. Rehearse worship.
9. Don’t start on time! Starting on time really won’t give you traction. What will give you traction is an attitude and a culture of people arriving early, prepared, excited to be there and to have confidence that this rehearsal is going to be one of the most enjoyable experiences of the week.
10. Anticipate your drive home from the rehearsal with a sense of, “This was so enjoyable. God, thank you for the amazing opportunity to prepare our worship with these great people.”
So, I’ll say it again … “Rent a tux for your next rehearsal!”
Rent a limo if you have to! Whatever it takes to commit yourself and your team toward better rehearsals. Will you join in? Comment below and please let me know if you intend to “up the game” for your rehearsal.
Stan Endicott is the founder of Slingshot Group (slingshotgroup.org), a nation-wide staffing and coaching firm that helps churches become remarkable. He is a deeply respected and beloved worship pastor, music producer and mentor to hundreds of young leaders.