Friday, June 29, 2012

A few high level thoughts for church music leaders

Church music leadership is not complicated, but it is tricky and requires due consideration. Here are a couple of thoughts that I try and keep in my mind as I prepare and lead.

Pick music with intentionality - not just in terms of subject matter (very important!), but also keep in mind the “shape” of the service - lead off with exuberant music to engage and excite, and gradually taper down to more contemplative songs to focus into prayer and the word. For example - Your Grace is Enough, Your Love Makes Me Sing, God of Wonders, Amazing Grace. In terms of intensity - High, Med-High, Med-Low, Low.

Don’t feel like you have to introduce or explain the music - if you have chosen well, it speaks for itself. Invite the congregation into worship and get going! Then taper or dovetail the songs together - doesn’t mean they all have to be in the same key (although that helps), but don’t let a lot of time sag between each song - jump right in - and don’t feel like it has to be a long intro - just make sure you have set the key and go.

It is critical to understand that over-performing can distract, but under-committing can lose engagement. Stay focused on what you are there to do - worship the Lord and lead others into worship - you are not responsible for their commitment to worship, but you are responsible for demonstrating a proper attitude as an example. Don’t get so wrapped up in your own worship that your expression and movement is inward focused, nor should you get so caught up in exhorting that you become a parody.

Sound level and quality is an important component, too - whether you are solo leading or if you have a small or large ensemble - the idea is to have the sound robust enough to match the size group you are leading. Too soft and you lose the congregation, too loud and you overwhelm them. It is important to never override the vocals with the instruments - the text sets the context of worship - don’t lose them!

In terms of song selection, don’t feel like you have to introduce a bunch of new songs frequently. In fact, it is best to have a large group of familiar songs in the repertoire (traditional as well as more contemporary - also in medium range keys), in order to most effectively engage the larger group. Introduce news songs sparingly and very intentionally - songs that will have enduring meaning and “engagability”.

It is important not to over-complicate. Simple, direct and accessible worship is honoring to God and pleasing to Him, as well. Worshiping in spirit and truth is achievable by simply and effectively aligning the intentions and activities of praise with the proclamation of the Word and the unity of the Spirit. We don’t have to force engagement, but we do have a responsibility to encourage it.

Hope this is helpful and richest blessings in Christ!