They Say It's the Same (But It Isn’t The Same)

Have you ever been sitting in a service in which you are not serving and wondered, “Wow, this sounds much different than last Sunday”? Maybe you have noticed that some weeks the complaints about the sound are “It’s too loud” and the next week “It’s to soft” and the next week “It’s just right”. While this may be reminiscent of a fairytale, many churches have a real problem with services sounding vastly different from week to week.

 Most people, when asked, will say that they like change but studies have shown that stress levels are lower in a familiar and stable environment. In church the way it sounds week in and week out is very important. People want to know what they are getting into when they come to church. Think of this like going home at the end of a hard day. If the house is the same every day it can be a hiding place. Your favorite easy chair is in the same place and the TV remote is on the armrest, the same place you left it. If all is comfortable in you surroundings when you turn on the TV or pick up that novel, you will be more inclined to focus on the material in front of you. The same is true in church. If the sound and volume of the worship is consistent from week to week the stress level of the people in worship will be lowered. Consistency also keeps distraction to a minimum, which also makes people more receptive to the message of both song and speech.

 One of the best ways to get continuity is to decide what is the vision for the service. The Pastor with the support of the worship leader MUST decide this, as the Pastor is responsible for the content of the service. It is a good idea to have a few special rehearsals and for the Pastor, music leader, all band members, worship singers, and most importantly the sound and production teams to be present. At these rehearsals the Pastor can share this vision so that everyone is on the same page. Some churches have even added service vision statements in the worship team manual that is given out to new team members.

 What happens if you have several types of services on a weekend? If you have a traditional service and contemporary service, every traditional service should sound similar and like wise for the contemporary services. This means that a mix sound and style must be agreed on and approved by the Pastor and worship leader before hand and everyone who mixes must try to achieve the same mix. I know that this is easier said than done but if you will set you course to this goal, I guarantee that your services will improve on a weekly basis. This philosophy must be accompanied by the three most important traits in the music ministry; teamwork, a servant’s heart, and a commitment to excellence.

 Teamwork means there can be no egos in the music ministry. Teamwork is the key to executing a well-planned service and it is crucial in those rare occasions (laugh here) when changes are made at the last minute. During my days at Saddleback the Purpose Driven Conference had a concert just for the pastors that attended. This concert was a four-alarm music event where every part of the music ministry was showcased. The typical fare was an orchestra, brass and rhythm sections, multiple soloists during each song backed by six singers, and a one hundred-voice choir. I was often asked, after the concert was over, “How do you guys make it all work? This concert would have been a train wreck at our church.” I always answered them the same way by telling them “we have a great team”. The goal of a successful service needs to be number one in the minds of volunteers and staff alike.

 A servant’s heart is also a must have for all team members. The tech team’s ministry is to the pastors and leaders of the church. Willingness to serve these people is key. I am not saying that you should be a “yes man” or a “doormat” but rather someone who serves and supports the vision God has given and the people he has given it to. There must be a willingness to take direction from the leadership of the church.

 “Striving for excellence” has a great sound to it, but what does it really mean? It doesn’t mean that when the service has problems you have failed, it means that you and your team are always trying to do the best job possible. It also means that everyone should continue to grow in the knowledge of whatever position you serve in. Always trying to be the best you can be.

 You will never be truly happy in ministry if you do not have these abilities. They are as important, if not more important than pure skill. Of course a balance of all three is preferred and should always be the goal.