steve ball

personal thoughts on family, faith and work

Archive for the tag “leading”

preparing for worship

How we, as a worship team prepare for worship can impact what happens on a Sunday morning – and importantly, it’s not just the worship leader, but all of the worship team who need to be prepared. Yes, the worship leader may have the responsibility of choosing songs etc, but the whole team should be ready to go from the time they plug in or grab their mic.  If I turn up, late, not ready, no music and my thoughts on anything but worship, how am I going to be able to lead the church to worship?

I understand that every now and then we all have ‘one of those mornings’ when everything that can go wrong does and just getting to church can seem like a bit of a marathon – but if this is happening every week, we should question why!

Preparation style will vary from person to person.  I will generally be contemplating the service coming up; readings, musicians available etc, throughout the week which forms into a pool of songs.  I then put these into a musical order, email out to those playing and go from there. By the time I arrive on Sunday morning I aim to be ready to worship, my focus on what is happening during the practice (we practice before the service) and what could – being open to the Holy Spirit – happen in the service.  Some people find it better to have a set time to intensively organise the service/worship plan.

Whatever our preference, we should be coming to church ready for worship – not coming to church ready for a few songs to get us in the mood for worship.

I am nearly always early or exactly on time for everything (which I’m sure can be annoying for my family when I’m rattling my keys by the front door – sorry!), but I do think it is important that the worship and AV team get to the practice on time.  We have a finite amount of time before the service starts which should be used to maximise our preparation – including running through songs and prayer etc.  I can’t see any reason why we shouldn’t aim to have all of our music ready (and practiced beforehand if we don’t know them) so we can launch straight into practice as a band.

The intention of this post is not to have a moan, but to get us to think about the important job that we do week by week.  I know there have been times when I have not been as prepared as I should be, or have modified an old song set to make life easier.  We have the privilege and responsibility of leading the church in worship, and we should be doing that in the best way possible – which means preparing.

Points to ponder:

  • How do I prepare for worship?
  • Do I take leading worship for granted sometimes and not put the time in to prepare?
  • What does my example look like to others in the worship team?
 
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is worship a performance?

This is a subject that has been discussed for years, and I’ve heard many opposing views on the subject.  In my view, worship should be open, free and lead by the Holy Spirit with the whole church actively being involved.  It should not be a well rehearsed song set which can’t be deviated from.  That said, the question is not nearly as simple as it may seem.
‘Performance’ has become a dirty word in many churches – and not so long ago, I would have taken a pretty strong view against worship being a performance – however, I’ve observed that all worship leaders will have an element of performance when they lead.  The better question is, what does performance mean.

Whenever someone presents or leads something there will nearly always be an element of performance.  When a speaker preaches, they will present in the most engaging way to get the message across.  Just reading, in a monosyllabic, expressionless voice would not change the message, but would impact on how the listener receives it – in this sense, the presenter ‘performs’ their message.  With leading worship, this can be more exaggerated (especially as we work as a group of musicians) as in order to make it easy for corporate worship to flow, there has to be an element of practice, competence and a clear focus on where you’re heading as a worship team in any particular service.  Performance, in this sense, I don’t think I have any problem with.

If we are leading worship, by definition we should know where we want to be going.  Therefore, when leading corporate worship, we should be showing an example of where we want to be – and that includes all of the worship team, not just the leader.  This may not always match up to our own individual preference.  For example – I am comfortable being quiet and reflective, but if we want a more free and exuberant expression of worship at church, I should be setting that example – even if I do find it hard sometimes!  I have plenty of time for private worship during the week when I can be more comfortable in my own ‘style’.

So, for me, if performance means a very slick, well rehearsed song set which is difficult to deviate from; your moving into the area of a concert – performance in the most commonly used sense.  This I struggle with.  If performance means being open to where the Holy Spirit is leading you and being flexible to adapt, but still striving to do that in the best way possible in order to lead a congregation closer to Gods presence – this is a more diluted definition of performance, and one that I can subscribe to.

In the end, I guess it comes down to our focus.  If our main focus is on what our worship sounds and looks like, I want to avoid that like the plague.  If our main focus is on worshipping God, and being good at how we deliver that is important, but secondary – this I where I am (I hope!).

Points to ponder...

  • What does worship look like in our church?
  • If there was a power cut and the PA, staging and lighting went, would our church be able to carry on worshipping – or can we not worship without this?
  • How much is our worship weighted to performance?

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