Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Worship Leaders–You’re Killing Us!

The scene repeats itself over and over again every weekend. Perhaps even in your church. It’s worship time, and the band is rockin’. The congregation is singing out as the worship leader leads. Eschewing hymnals as old-fashioned, the words are projected on 2 large screens above the stage. As the worship leader looks out over the worshiping throng, he (or she) internally reflects on the goodness of God, and decides to repeat the verse. Suddenly the congregation appears confused and stops singing. About halfway through they start up again, but the mood of the moment is obviously broken. What went wrong? That darn presentation computer operator messed up again! Or did they?

Now, keep in mind that I’m all about being a team player. I really try to not differentiate between the band and the tech team when referring to the worship team. In my mind, we are all the worship team; band, worship leader, vocalists, tech team. Together we are allowed to lead God’s people into worship. Unfortunately, we don’t often spend enough time learning about each other’s roles, and how what we do affects others. It is in that spirit that I write today’s post.

I would argue that the presentation operator’s job is one of the most stressful in a worship service. They have all the responsibility of ensuring the right words are on the screen at the right time, and none of the control to determine when that time is. Should the worship leader deviate, they have less than a second or two to find the right part of the song and get it to the screen. It’s a huge challenge and responsibility.

It’s not a Word.doc

I think one of the most common misconceptions of worship leaders is that the software used to put the words up on the screen is a lot like Word and that changes are super-easy. Thankfully, some of the newer versions of the software have gotten easier. Even so, making changes to the songs on the fly is a challenge. If you’re planning on changing the way the song is sung, it’s best to communicate that clearly to the presentation people early in the process so they have time to not only make the text change, but to ensure the formatting of the song remains consistent.

Communication is key

Presentation software is like a database. It pieces together parts of songs in the right order and presents them on cue. It’s brilliantly simple in concept. However, the challenge is trying to decide what parts to present when. Songs can have all kinds of parts; verses, choruses, bridges, pre-choruses, refrains, tags, endings, and the list goes on. At Upper Room (and many other churches I know) we try to put the song order together before Sunday to make rehearsal time more productive. But consider the challenge when we get an order like this:

V, Pre-Ch, Ch x2, Br, Inst, V2, Pre-Ch, Ch x2, Br x2, Tag, End

Looks easy right? Except when the presentation operator gets to the computer and sees that he has only a verse, a chorus, a bridge and an ending defined. Now, all the words may be in the computer, but they may not be called the same thing. In that case the above order could just as easily (and correctly) be written as:

V, Ch, Br, Inst, V2, Ch, End

How can this be? Simple—older versions of presentation software gave us 4 labels. So we had to figure out how to get a dozen part “types” into four labels. So the person who originally put the song in the database combined the pre-chorus and chorus repeat into a chorus. It works fine, until the worship leader wants to repeat the chorus without repeating the pre-chorus. This could be accomplished by simply creating “chorus 2” and using that instead. But can you tell from the first order what gets repeated? Not without a chart.

The woman who has been leading worship at Upper Room while we search for a permanent leader is quickly becoming my favorite worship leader because she supplies me with full-length charts of every song each week. If it’s anything more than a simple verse & chorus song, she’ll lay out every word she plans on singing, in order! This completely eliminates the confusion of simply supplying abbreviations because regardless of what a part is called, we can make sure the words are in order.

I highly recommend this practice, at least until you have a solid book of songs that both the tech team and worship leader are comfortable with, and all parts are well defined. I spent some time in the youth department of my last church putting together a song list that matched the worship team book. That way, we could use shorthand and not get burned.

Stick to the script

I fully appreciate that sometimes the spirit of the room dictates that you add an extra repeat of the chorus, or throw in an alternate ending for a song. There are times when people get wrapped up in the song and it makes sense to keep singing it. I support that and want to accommodate that to the best of our ability. What I don’t support is not bothering to actually learn the song and stick with the order you gave us. I’ve worked with worship leaders in the past whose song order, let alone verse/chorus order could be considered a guide at best. This might work great when sitting around in a living room with a dozen people, but when there are a few hundred, a few thousand, or more people trying to worship God and the only thing they have to go on are the words on the screen, it’s a recipe for disaster.

I can hear some out there saying, “But it’s all about what the Spirit moves me to sing!” And that’s great when you’re in your car. When you’re leading people in worship, it’s not about you. And it’s not about me. It’s about leading the people of God into worship effectively and without distraction. When you’re not singing what’s on the screen because you went off script, the people get confused and the mood is broken. To be fair, presentation operators screw up too, but I’ll tackle that in another column.

You might be thinking, “What’s the big deal? It’s all on the computer, follow along!” Two problems with that theory. Problem 1: Presentation software is generally pretty linear. It’s designed to move through a song in order. It’s possible to go back, but it’s a challenge. To go back, first the operator has to figure out where you went. Are you repeating verse 1 or 2? The bridge or pre-chorus? Then he/she has to scroll back (or look at tiny thumbnails) and find the part you’re repeating, and once found, fire the slide. Depending on how many lines of the song are on the screen at once, by the time the operator figures out where you are, you could be somewhere else.

Problem 2: The presentation operator should be leading the lyrics, not following. Good presentation operators will change slides somewhere in the space between the last and second to last word on a slide. This puts the next set of words up before anyone has to sing them. This style of “leading” ensures there will be an uninterrupted flow of worship, not punctuated by fits and starts as the congregation tries to figure out what to sing next. If the operator can only follow, the song will be broken at each slide break.

This is why it’s so important that the worship leader and presentation operator being on the same page to effectively lead the congregation together. Worship leaders, if you’re willing to plan ahead and communicate effectively with us, we can work together to create engaging, powerful and immersive worship times. The more information the presentation operator has at their disposal, the better the experience will be. To be fair, we need to do our part, pay attention and make sure the right words are up at the right time. But like I said, that’s another post!

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35 Comments

  1. saundersryan@gmail.com

    I fully agree that the presentation tech should be leading the lyrics. Not only for the congregation, but for those on stage.

    I’m a sound tech at my church. However, from time to time, I lead worship when our other leaders aren’t available. I play without a music stand, and sometimes I simply forget the next line. It’s nice to know that the presentation tech will have the next line up. In order to do that, they need to be leading with the lyrics AND know what I’m going to sing next.

  2. saundersryan@gmail.com

    I fully agree that the presentation tech should be leading the lyrics. Not only for the congregation, but for those on stage.

    I’m a sound tech at my church. However, from time to time, I lead worship when our other leaders aren’t available. I play without a music stand, and sometimes I simply forget the next line. It’s nice to know that the presentation tech will have the next line up. In order to do that, they need to be leading with the lyrics AND know what I’m going to sing next.

  3. one24worship@gmail.com

    Hi Mike,

    As a Worship Leader, your BLOG Post Title today certainly did get my attention! Great post.

    At our church, we have just under a 1000 songs that we have hand-entered into our presentation database. It’s not unusual, on any given Sunday, for the planned order of songs to vary – not just from, “V, CHO, BRDG, CHO” but also entire songs being omitted or added. Sometimes this happens by way of the Senior Pastor, other times by me.

    Our regular computer person/operator does a truly splendid job whenever this takes place! Whenever a change happens, she often quickly “fades to black” and then brings up the required words in amazing time.

    She also has a great “feel” for when to change to the next set of words during a song. This is crucial for the congregation but it’s also important for me as a leader because, quite frankly, since we have so many songs, I can’t always remember all of the words myself. (Think: inject “YouTube” moment here!)

    Folks at our church are fairly understanding of the spontaneous moments and, hopefully, guests are not too distracted by the unfamiliar transitions or “break-in-flow” that can occur.

    You’re so right that it’s so often a delicate balancing act between spontaneity and planning in the midst of any worship setting. I’m also with you when you write, “In my mind, we are all the worship team; band, worship leader, vocalists, tech team. Together we are allowed to lead God’s people into worship.” I couldn’t agree more.

    Obviously, I could write more on this subject. Let me end with what I often tell our regular presentation person. I tell her that, in many ways, she is more of a Worship Leader than anyone on the platform. The congregation looks to her for instruction and guidance by way of the screens during our musical confessions.

    The tech job is so often a thankless one, comparable to the person who faithfully sets the thermostat in the Worship Center, Sunday after Sunday. When the temperature is right, nobody notices. But look out when it’s too cold or too hot!

    So, thanks again for the post and, more importantly, what you do to promote the worship of Jesus Christ by way of technology, Sunday by Sunday. We Worship Leaders need to be reminded often to not take any of the team for granted – ever.

    Have a blessed day.

    http://www.one24worship.com/“ rel=”nofollow”>David Guion

    http://www.one24worship.com/“ rel=”nofollow”>one24worship.com

  4. one24worship@gmail.com

    Hi Mike,

    As a Worship Leader, your BLOG Post Title today certainly did get my attention! Great post.

    At our church, we have just under a 1000 songs that we have hand-entered into our presentation database. It’s not unusual, on any given Sunday, for the planned order of songs to vary – not just from, “V, CHO, BRDG, CHO” but also entire songs being omitted or added. Sometimes this happens by way of the Senior Pastor, other times by me.

    Our regular computer person/operator does a truly splendid job whenever this takes place! Whenever a change happens, she often quickly “fades to black” and then brings up the required words in amazing time.

    She also has a great “feel” for when to change to the next set of words during a song. This is crucial for the congregation but it’s also important for me as a leader because, quite frankly, since we have so many songs, I can’t always remember all of the words myself. (Think: inject “YouTube” moment here!)

    Folks at our church are fairly understanding of the spontaneous moments and, hopefully, guests are not too distracted by the unfamiliar transitions or “break-in-flow” that can occur.

    You’re so right that it’s so often a delicate balancing act between spontaneity and planning in the midst of any worship setting. I’m also with you when you write, “In my mind, we are all the worship team; band, worship leader, vocalists, tech team. Together we are allowed to lead God’s people into worship.” I couldn’t agree more.

    Obviously, I could write more on this subject. Let me end with what I often tell our regular presentation person. I tell her that, in many ways, she is more of a Worship Leader than anyone on the platform. The congregation looks to her for instruction and guidance by way of the screens during our musical confessions.

    The tech job is so often a thankless one, comparable to the person who faithfully sets the thermostat in the Worship Center, Sunday after Sunday. When the temperature is right, nobody notices. But look out when it’s too cold or too hot!

    So, thanks again for the post and, more importantly, what you do to promote the worship of Jesus Christ by way of technology, Sunday by Sunday. We Worship Leaders need to be reminded often to not take any of the team for granted – ever.

    Have a blessed day.

    http://www.one24worship.com/“ rel=”nofollow”>David Guion

    http://www.one24worship.com/“ rel=”nofollow”>one24worship.com

  5. red79vette@sbcglobal.net

    Great post. Thanks for the advice.

  6. red79vette@sbcglobal.net

    Great post. Thanks for the advice.

  7. fohdave@diveproductions.com

    Mike, we are often confused at our church why folks at other churches sometimes don’t think that the Spirit can show up during pre-production & planning and can only show up in the middle of a worship set. Spontaneity can be great, but everybody still needs to be on the same page ESPECIALLY if your services are relying more and more on technology and the added servants that operate that technology.

    If the “spirit moves” and a worship leader does something spontaneously that throws off everyone BUT the worship leader, then I would debate whether the Spirit was really moving that direction. My experiences where spontaneity was truly authentic have always been times when everyone in the room (tech, band, congregation, EVERYBODY) was right there in the flow and moved right with the worship leader.

    Every week our music department provides lyric sheets in spreadsheet form for production with the lyrics in the proper order. There is also often additional helpful information such as when BGVs are singing and particular instruments are playing solos. Helpful for getting lyrics right on the screen. Also helpful for video directors to plan their shots.

    Production also has access to recordings of the weekly band rehearsal before Sunday. At Wednesday night rehearsal after the band has finished ironing out the songs and their arrangements, we “put it in the red” so that producers and the production team can have an idea of how things are going to play out on Sunday; our lighting team actually uses these recordings to program all their light cues.

    There can still be spontaneous things that happen on Sunday, but it is amazing much easier it is to incorporate them when everyone is already on the same page thanks to a little bit of extra planning ahead of time.

  8. fohdave@diveproductions.com

    Mike, we are often confused at our church why folks at other churches sometimes don’t think that the Spirit can show up during pre-production & planning and can only show up in the middle of a worship set. Spontaneity can be great, but everybody still needs to be on the same page ESPECIALLY if your services are relying more and more on technology and the added servants that operate that technology.

    If the “spirit moves” and a worship leader does something spontaneously that throws off everyone BUT the worship leader, then I would debate whether the Spirit was really moving that direction. My experiences where spontaneity was truly authentic have always been times when everyone in the room (tech, band, congregation, EVERYBODY) was right there in the flow and moved right with the worship leader.

    Every week our music department provides lyric sheets in spreadsheet form for production with the lyrics in the proper order. There is also often additional helpful information such as when BGVs are singing and particular instruments are playing solos. Helpful for getting lyrics right on the screen. Also helpful for video directors to plan their shots.

    Production also has access to recordings of the weekly band rehearsal before Sunday. At Wednesday night rehearsal after the band has finished ironing out the songs and their arrangements, we “put it in the red” so that producers and the production team can have an idea of how things are going to play out on Sunday; our lighting team actually uses these recordings to program all their light cues.

    There can still be spontaneous things that happen on Sunday, but it is amazing much easier it is to incorporate them when everyone is already on the same page thanks to a little bit of extra planning ahead of time.

  9. rick@rickpepper.com

    We face this almost every Sunday. We are a smallerish (70-100) group, it’s a fact of life. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re willing to flow with what we believe the Spirit is saying. That’s one plug I can give Oratorio; it can keep up with us in this scenario. Typically our worship leaders will prime the group with the first few words of where we’re going next when a “sequence” isn’t followed, and then there’s hand signals that don’t always get used but can be watched for as well. Maybe it’s that Oratorio only does a few things, but it does them well, it doesn’t lock you into a script – you’re free to move around. Even finding and adding a song that wasn’t on the A (or B) list can be added quickly. I’m not saying anyone is lame or wrong for not being willing to do this, it’s just a difference of philosophy that determines what we’re willing to deal with for what we may feel is of greater importance, for us. I say give Oratorio a try if you don’t need a full-blown media app.

  10. rick@rickpepper.com

    We face this almost every Sunday. We are a smallerish (70-100) group, it’s a fact of life. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re willing to flow with what we believe the Spirit is saying. That’s one plug I can give Oratorio; it can keep up with us in this scenario. Typically our worship leaders will prime the group with the first few words of where we’re going next when a “sequence” isn’t followed, and then there’s hand signals that don’t always get used but can be watched for as well. Maybe it’s that Oratorio only does a few things, but it does them well, it doesn’t lock you into a script – you’re free to move around. Even finding and adding a song that wasn’t on the A (or B) list can be added quickly. I’m not saying anyone is lame or wrong for not being willing to do this, it’s just a difference of philosophy that determines what we’re willing to deal with for what we may feel is of greater importance, for us. I say give Oratorio a try if you don’t need a full-blown media app.

  11. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Excellent points, Dave! Spontaneity can work in some environments; in others it’s just irresponsible.

    I know our team prays through and is very conscious of the Spirit’s prompting during the planning stage of a service, and it’s that level of planning that gives us the bandwidth to handle last-minute changes.

    The gatherings that go the best for us are one where we are well prepared, and done with rehearsals early enough that the worship team (tech and band) have time to catch their breath and pray together before the service starts.

  12. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Excellent points, Dave! Spontaneity can work in some environments; in others it’s just irresponsible.

    I know our team prays through and is very conscious of the Spirit’s prompting during the planning stage of a service, and it’s that level of planning that gives us the bandwidth to handle last-minute changes.

    The gatherings that go the best for us are one where we are well prepared, and done with rehearsals early enough that the worship team (tech and band) have time to catch their breath and pray together before the service starts.

  13. tom.lister@gmail.com

    I completely agree with Dave. I think that Spirit moving and Spirit led services can and do most often happen in the planning and prep stages. I think that for the most part when the leader is “led” by the Spirit and no one else gets it. Then I think they are really missing the boat. Well said Dave!!

  14. tom.lister@gmail.com

    I completely agree with Dave. I think that Spirit moving and Spirit led services can and do most often happen in the planning and prep stages. I think that for the most part when the leader is “led” by the Spirit and no one else gets it. Then I think they are really missing the boat. Well said Dave!!

  15. Blog of Rick Pepper » Bl

    […] Sessler started an interesting thread with his post titled “Worship Leaders – You’re Killing Us!”. Rather than burn up bandwidth on his blog I decided to post more of my thoughts here. The church […]

  16. michaelrosment@gmail.cm

    HI Rick,

    Great blog!

    I understand your frustration, but I do feel that the spirit can interrupt a service and the leader will make changes on the fly. I have been on both sides of the fence. I have led worship and do the projection (mostly projection). Our worship team uses a set of hand signals for communication with each other to determine where to go next. Most of these signals are set and part of our visual library; however with some songs we had to create new ones. The worship leader lets everyone know (including the operator) what the signal would be. This is very helpful for determining where the leader is going next, especially if the spirit interrupts. The greatest issue I have, is when the spirit is not intervening and the worship leader decides to introduce a song into the set without my knowledge ahead of time. It can be frustrating sometimes to try and figure out the title of a song by hearing the first line. A lot of songs have similar lines in them, and on more than one occaion I have projected the wrong song.

  17. michaelrosment@gmail.cm

    HI Rick,

    Great blog!

    I understand your frustration, but I do feel that the spirit can interrupt a service and the leader will make changes on the fly. I have been on both sides of the fence. I have led worship and do the projection (mostly projection). Our worship team uses a set of hand signals for communication with each other to determine where to go next. Most of these signals are set and part of our visual library; however with some songs we had to create new ones. The worship leader lets everyone know (including the operator) what the signal would be. This is very helpful for determining where the leader is going next, especially if the spirit interrupts. The greatest issue I have, is when the spirit is not intervening and the worship leader decides to introduce a song into the set without my knowledge ahead of time. It can be frustrating sometimes to try and figure out the title of a song by hearing the first line. A lot of songs have similar lines in them, and on more than one occaion I have projected the wrong song.

  18. rick@rickpepper.com

    Mike, I hope I didn’t come across as frustrated, because I’m not, I was simply commenting that that’s the world I live in and I don’t mind it. I believe that’s how things need to be. Our folks do have hand signals and at times they don’t get used but everybody goes with it, there’s no complaints about the times when projection falls behind. Speaking of that, is there an industry standard term for doing lyrics projection? We’re not doing “slides” anymore because it’s all digital, is that the term – “lyrics projection”?

  19. rick@rickpepper.com

    Mike, I hope I didn’t come across as frustrated, because I’m not, I was simply commenting that that’s the world I live in and I don’t mind it. I believe that’s how things need to be. Our folks do have hand signals and at times they don’t get used but everybody goes with it, there’s no complaints about the times when projection falls behind. Speaking of that, is there an industry standard term for doing lyrics projection? We’re not doing “slides” anymore because it’s all digital, is that the term – “lyrics projection”?

  20. Daniel@ITforSmall.Biz

    Rick, In the environment where I volunteer, we just call it “CG” (Computer Graphics).

  21. Daniel@ITforSmall.Biz

    Rick, In the environment where I volunteer, we just call it “CG” (Computer Graphics).

  22. Daniel@ITforSmall.Biz

    Let me preface my response with what I agree with:

    Having the lyrics wrong or not leading ahead is a bad thing, worse than not having them at all.

    However, not having them at all is not so bad, is it? Call me old (I’m turning 30 this year), but I remember a time when church had no lyrics at all. Or sometimes the worship leader would bust out with a transparency projected onto the wall. And he was allowed to be spontaneous. Sometimes he’d break out with a different song and not bother changing the transparency.

    And yet somehow we worshiped and I fell in love with God through the process. Those were different times and environments, there usually wasn’t a full band that had to figure out what the worship leader, solo guitarist, (and youth pastor at the same time) was up to.

    But as a member of Dave’s church, I have a confession to make. Sometimes I miss the old days. North Point is great INCREDIBLE and most of the time I love being there, love the band, the music, the Lord, etc. But there are a lot of times where I just feel like something is missing. I don’t much care for concerts anymore where bands are just trying to impress me with their talents, and sometimes I feel like that’s all I’m there for.

    Allow me to interrupt myself…there are people out there who say they can’t worship with contemporary music and must have the old hymns or whatever, which brings me to the argument that worship is between you and God regardless of who’s doing what on stage. And the same holds true for me in this instance, I can’t “blame” North Point because I feel detached and at a concert instead of a worship session, more than not it’s because something isn’t right within me. And sometimes NP IS trying to do a concert, such as their utilizing Bon Jovi and “Sweet Home Alabama” this past Sunday. I’m all for it.

    But North Point has a hard and fast rule that if the “Spirit is going to move”, it will do so during the planning stages, even before rehearsals begin. Allow me to change the vocabulary were working with, but we’re not talking about the worship leader suddenly feeling the Holy Spirit telling him to change direction, we’re talking about a human being’s emotional response to the worship and feeling inclined to do something spontaneous. I doubt it’s the Holy Spirit most of the time.

    But, that worship leader is up there to…WORSHIP! Not perform for us. When I pull out my guitar at home and start singing a praise song to the Father, I don’t plan what songs I’m going to play/sing. I start with one on my heart, and usually migrate to another and another as an emotional response to the intimacy that’s growing as a result of my setting aside the time to worship.

    That’s why I’ll likely never be on stage for an “organized” church in addition to my mediocre playing ability. Oh I can practice the songs ahead of time, and stick to the script when I have to. But if I’m on stage to lead worship, I want to do so by worshiping, and to me, that means being allowed to follow my emotions every once in a while. (Which also means I’d probably burst into tears too, as I commonly do during my private worship times).

    Fortunately for me, North Point is still the perfect fit for me, because the church’s mission isn’t to impress me on Sundays, it is to get me to grow my faith in a small group environment. And a small group environment sounds like the perfect place for my kind of music-based worship (I also have a pet peeve when people substitute the word “worship” for “music”…worship is more encompassing then singing and playing.)

  23. Daniel@ITforSmall.Biz

    Let me preface my response with what I agree with:

    Having the lyrics wrong or not leading ahead is a bad thing, worse than not having them at all.

    However, not having them at all is not so bad, is it? Call me old (I’m turning 30 this year), but I remember a time when church had no lyrics at all. Or sometimes the worship leader would bust out with a transparency projected onto the wall. And he was allowed to be spontaneous. Sometimes he’d break out with a different song and not bother changing the transparency.

    And yet somehow we worshiped and I fell in love with God through the process. Those were different times and environments, there usually wasn’t a full band that had to figure out what the worship leader, solo guitarist, (and youth pastor at the same time) was up to.

    But as a member of Dave’s church, I have a confession to make. Sometimes I miss the old days. North Point is great INCREDIBLE and most of the time I love being there, love the band, the music, the Lord, etc. But there are a lot of times where I just feel like something is missing. I don’t much care for concerts anymore where bands are just trying to impress me with their talents, and sometimes I feel like that’s all I’m there for.

    Allow me to interrupt myself…there are people out there who say they can’t worship with contemporary music and must have the old hymns or whatever, which brings me to the argument that worship is between you and God regardless of who’s doing what on stage. And the same holds true for me in this instance, I can’t “blame” North Point because I feel detached and at a concert instead of a worship session, more than not it’s because something isn’t right within me. And sometimes NP IS trying to do a concert, such as their utilizing Bon Jovi and “Sweet Home Alabama” this past Sunday. I’m all for it.

    But North Point has a hard and fast rule that if the “Spirit is going to move”, it will do so during the planning stages, even before rehearsals begin. Allow me to change the vocabulary were working with, but we’re not talking about the worship leader suddenly feeling the Holy Spirit telling him to change direction, we’re talking about a human being’s emotional response to the worship and feeling inclined to do something spontaneous. I doubt it’s the Holy Spirit most of the time.

    But, that worship leader is up there to…WORSHIP! Not perform for us. When I pull out my guitar at home and start singing a praise song to the Father, I don’t plan what songs I’m going to play/sing. I start with one on my heart, and usually migrate to another and another as an emotional response to the intimacy that’s growing as a result of my setting aside the time to worship.

    That’s why I’ll likely never be on stage for an “organized” church in addition to my mediocre playing ability. Oh I can practice the songs ahead of time, and stick to the script when I have to. But if I’m on stage to lead worship, I want to do so by worshiping, and to me, that means being allowed to follow my emotions every once in a while. (Which also means I’d probably burst into tears too, as I commonly do during my private worship times).

    Fortunately for me, North Point is still the perfect fit for me, because the church’s mission isn’t to impress me on Sundays, it is to get me to grow my faith in a small group environment. And a small group environment sounds like the perfect place for my kind of music-based worship (I also have a pet peeve when people substitute the word “worship” for “music”…worship is more encompassing then singing and playing.)

  24. Worship leaders - Are you kill

    […] There’s a great discussion going on over at Mike Sessler’s blog entitled “Worship Leaders – You’re Killing Us“.  It’s a good explanation into whether or not a Worship Leader (or Lead Worshiper as […]

  25. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Wow, this has generated a lively discussion! Daniel, you make some excellent points, and I completely agree with you that not having the lyrics up there at all can be a good thing. I worshiped at a church for a while where there was no projection, no hymnals and no printouts. People were expected to learn the songs. And it was great!

    It was, however, a different ministry philosophy. I’m not at all opposed to doing things differently; certainly there is a need for all kinds of worship gatherings. At the same time, if we’re going to do something, let’s do it well.

    I totally agree that the Spirit can move during the planning phases, and reject the idea that God only shows up on Sundays (which would appear to have Him surprised at what He finds and needs to change it). I’ve worked with worship leaders who prayed over and picked out music 3 months in advance, and others that are still working on the set list Saturday afternoon (for a Saturday evening service). Guess which ones felt the most Spirit-led? The ones planned far in advance. I’ve seen songs chosen 3 months earlier that perfectly dovetail with a message that hadn’t been written yet!

    At Upper Room we plan diligently, which leaves us room to make changes at the last minute if we need to. And since our ministry philosophy includes using projection, or CG, we work hard to do it well.

    And Daniel, you’re not old yet. I remember days when “CG” meant 8 1/2″ x 11″ transparencies on an overhead projector! Now that was old school…

    Great comments, all!

  26. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Wow, this has generated a lively discussion! Daniel, you make some excellent points, and I completely agree with you that not having the lyrics up there at all can be a good thing. I worshiped at a church for a while where there was no projection, no hymnals and no printouts. People were expected to learn the songs. And it was great!

    It was, however, a different ministry philosophy. I’m not at all opposed to doing things differently; certainly there is a need for all kinds of worship gatherings. At the same time, if we’re going to do something, let’s do it well.

    I totally agree that the Spirit can move during the planning phases, and reject the idea that God only shows up on Sundays (which would appear to have Him surprised at what He finds and needs to change it). I’ve worked with worship leaders who prayed over and picked out music 3 months in advance, and others that are still working on the set list Saturday afternoon (for a Saturday evening service). Guess which ones felt the most Spirit-led? The ones planned far in advance. I’ve seen songs chosen 3 months earlier that perfectly dovetail with a message that hadn’t been written yet!

    At Upper Room we plan diligently, which leaves us room to make changes at the last minute if we need to. And since our ministry philosophy includes using projection, or CG, we work hard to do it well.

    And Daniel, you’re not old yet. I remember days when “CG” meant 8 1/2″ x 11″ transparencies on an overhead projector! Now that was old school…

    Great comments, all!

  27. Daniel@ITforSmall.Biz

    Doesn’t that just mean that you’re old too?

    😉

  28. Daniel@ITforSmall.Biz

    Doesn’t that just mean that you’re old too?

    😉

  29. mike@churchtecharts.org

    That’s exactly what it means! 😉

  30. mike@churchtecharts.org

    That’s exactly what it means! 😉

  31. phil@philrowley.net

    In our church, we do what we called “planned spontaneity”. We have “those songs” that tend invite a spirit of worship into the room. Friend of God is one of them and we usually restart that one at the bridge “God almighty…Lord of Glory..” So — during our pre-service production meeting, we’ll indicate that to the sound tech, imag and globe caster op. The worship leader then communicates that to the band and perhaps the lead vocalist of that particular tune. What we end up with is a cool moment of spending additional time in God’s presence because all the tech elements and band/vocals end up in sync!

  32. phil@philrowley.net

    In our church, we do what we called “planned spontaneity”. We have “those songs” that tend invite a spirit of worship into the room. Friend of God is one of them and we usually restart that one at the bridge “God almighty…Lord of Glory..” So — during our pre-service production meeting, we’ll indicate that to the sound tech, imag and globe caster op. The worship leader then communicates that to the band and perhaps the lead vocalist of that particular tune. What we end up with is a cool moment of spending additional time in God’s presence because all the tech elements and band/vocals end up in sync!

  33. Church Tech Arts » Churc

    […] on the popular, Worship Leaders, You’re Killing Us (it was the most read and most commented on post to date), this post flows from a conversation I […]

  34. techbex@gmail.com

    Love this subjec t! Currently our church has “backpocket songs” which are those the worship leader picks ahead of time and they are on “standby” if you will in case he decisdes to use them we are ready. Now, 2 weeks ago he went somewhere totally spontanious and we just left a blank moving slide up…he announced “close your eyes and just worship from your heart” I LOVEED THAT! For one made me and the tech team look like we had planned it, two even if he didn’t prompt people to close there eyes those who didn’t had something pretty to look at. I am apposed to black screens, if we have them use them! Right!? Anyway, one of the things that helps us techies stay on course here at our church. The band as well as the tech team can access a website the tuesday before the weekend services that has the mp-3’s as well as the chord charts and sheet music available to listen to and download. My team is to be as prepared. If we expect the “worship team” to be we also need to know the music…its only fair to them and the congregation. As for the spirit-led worship I love it and if we fall behind I think its more of a lack of planning in the spiritual rehelm then in the natural. I have been in services where God has asked me to not put something on the screen and services where he has asked me to turn a fader up right before someone was about to sing out a word from God, so the technical worship team needs to be just as spiritually prepared as the musical worship team does to listen and to hear as well as act. As for the Holy Spirit not letting us in on the secret to change a song or go another direction…I take that as either a fault of mine for not paying attention to Him.

  35. techbex@gmail.com

    Love this subjec t! Currently our church has “backpocket songs” which are those the worship leader picks ahead of time and they are on “standby” if you will in case he decisdes to use them we are ready. Now, 2 weeks ago he went somewhere totally spontanious and we just left a blank moving slide up…he announced “close your eyes and just worship from your heart” I LOVEED THAT! For one made me and the tech team look like we had planned it, two even if he didn’t prompt people to close there eyes those who didn’t had something pretty to look at. I am apposed to black screens, if we have them use them! Right!? Anyway, one of the things that helps us techies stay on course here at our church. The band as well as the tech team can access a website the tuesday before the weekend services that has the mp-3’s as well as the chord charts and sheet music available to listen to and download. My team is to be as prepared. If we expect the “worship team” to be we also need to know the music…its only fair to them and the congregation. As for the spirit-led worship I love it and if we fall behind I think its more of a lack of planning in the spiritual rehelm then in the natural. I have been in services where God has asked me to not put something on the screen and services where he has asked me to turn a fader up right before someone was about to sing out a word from God, so the technical worship team needs to be just as spiritually prepared as the musical worship team does to listen and to hear as well as act. As for the Holy Spirit not letting us in on the secret to change a song or go another direction…I take that as either a fault of mine for not paying attention to Him.

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