The bar for the average Sunday worship team continues to rise as modern worship artists keep pushing the bounds of recording, arrangement, and performance. While artists have dedicated music professionals to work with, local ministries are often led mostly, if not completely, by volunteers. The good news is that you don’t need to sacrifice great-sounding worship music when you lead a volunteer team.
Start with your people
Everything starts with the people God has given us to lead. I’ve seen churches invest thousands in a room and sound system but it wasn’t until they started investing in the people playing through that sound system that worship ministry began to grow. While we might wish to have John Mayer on lead guitar, the reality is that we don’t. We have Carl and Carl works a nine-to-five, has 2 kids, and only switched from acoustic guitar to electric when we asked him to do it for the worship team. He has a great heart, but no amount of prayer is going to turn Carl into John Mayer overnight. So we need to adapt our music to Carl so he can learn it and play it with confidence on Sunday.
It’s all in the arrangement
A quick glance at a multitrack of the latest Brandon Lake song is likely to reveal 6 electric guitars, 7 keyboards, a drum kit, loops, bass, synth bass, choir, and a myriad of other instruments. I don’t know about you, but the idea of six guitarists on stage is enough to make me want to leave ministry altogether. So why are those tracks there? The simple answer is it takes more to fill out the sound of a recording than it does to fill a live space. Studio recordings don’t have a room and a congregation in the mix and those two things dramatically affect sound so the first step to creating a workable arrangement for your team is identifying the parts in each song that matter for each instrument and removing the ones that don’t. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as picking “Keyboard 1” on the track and going from there because “Keyboard 1” might play the lead on the intro but it’s likely to be superseded by “Keyboard 2” on the verse or “Keyboard 6” on the bridge. Quality arrangements take both skill and time that volunteers don’t have. Asking Carl to pick apart, arrange, learn, practice, and master his own part is an unfair ask and is only likely to lead to burnout and frustration from everyone involved. Fortunately, there’s an online tool that’s done most of the work for him.
The right tool for the job
Worship Artistry was designed to meet the needs of volunteers and professionals alike. Every one of our 650+ song tutorials starts with an arrangement for a five-piece band (drums, bass, acoustic, electric, keyboard) and a three-part harmony that matches the album recording. That arrangement is then broken up into bite-size sections that include detailed teaching, practice loops, and play-along videos for each instrument as well as transposable chord charts, sheet music, and tablature to cater to every learning style. Worship Artistry’s song tutorials go beyond just creating great-sounding song arrangements for your team. They meet your team where they are and equip them to play and lead with skill and confidence.
As a worship pastor at a small church myself, I’ve seen the impact that equipping my team can have and I promise you it’s worth the time and effort! I also know what it’s like to have a tight budget so we’ve made every effort to make it available and affordable to everyone.
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Jason Houtsma is the co-founder and guitar teacher at Worship Artistry, where he is helping musicians of every level answer the call to worship with passion and confidence. Jason has been leading worship and writing music since he was 15 years old and currently serves as Worship Pastor for Mosaic Church in Bellingham, WA. He is husband to Alli and father to Bjorn and Asher.