Dynamics in Worship

As the leader of worship, it may be effective to lead the congregation to sing quietly, then to repeat the chorus or the next verse with vocal strength (louder).

A song that works well with dynamics is HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD. After the bridge, many worship leaders sing one or two times through the chorus very softly, then build it for a powerful (and vocally louder) repeat of the chorus for a big ending. Others, may choose to sing it loud, then bring it down for a more intimate time through the chorus.

If you have drums and bass (plus other instruments), the congregation will many times follow the instrumental energy level from loud to soft or soft to loud.

However, if you are the only instrumentalist, you may need to give vocal direction to the congregation. Simply insert a quick instruction to “sing it louder” or “sing it soft” or “quietly” as you begin the next chorus. Once you’ve sung the chorus softly, simply begin playing with more energy and confidently say to the congregation, “Sing it out!” “Lift your voices.” or what is comfortable for you.

Dynamics are always effective in worship, but so often we forget them.

Determine your plan for dynamics.
Communicate your plan to your instrumentalists.
Work your plan.

Don’t be afraid to lead. That is your responsibility.

Mix it Up. Don’t Sing It All Every Time.

Don’t be afraid to sing the verse or the bridge or the chorus ONLY.

Many times we get into a rut of singing all of every song. Change is good.

Here are a few examples.

1) Sing all of HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD.
In the same key, sing the refrain of HOW GREAT THOU ART (then sings my soul…), then go back to the chorus one last time through on HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD.

2) Sing the entire song of BLESSED BE YOUR NAME. In the same key, sing the refrain of HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD.
— or you may want to sing the bridge: “You’re the name above all names…”
Sometimes you may want to go back to BLESSED BE YOUR NAME, and sometimes you may want to move forward to the next song.

3) Sing all of YOU ALONE CAN RESCUE
then sing from the older worship song BREATHE, “And I’m desperate for You, I’m lost without you.”
Sing that phrase several times as the congregation worships. As the instruments continue,  consider a time of silence, heads bowed, reflecting on how our God sustains us and takes care of our every need.
Repeat “And I’m desperate for you…”
Or repeat part of YOU ALONE CAN RESCUE or end the time of worship with silence, then prayer.

Plan your worship experience during the week.
Be sure your team knows where you are going so they will be with you.
Then, engage with the congregation as you lead them into worship.

Mix it up with the songs you and your congregation sing at your church. See what works best for you.

 

Expression / NOT Distraction

If you (or others in your band) lead worship while playing an instrument, you MUST be able to play each song well on your instrument or you will become a distraction to those you are leading.

Practice playing the song without singing.

Pianists / Keyboardists
Plan for the intro, the bridge, the accompaniment, with or without the band, etc.
Practice the song with your eyes closed to see if you can lead without looking at your hands.

Guitarists
Decide in advance where in the song you are strumming, picking, playing lead, etc.
Practice all the strumming or picking styles without singing.
Practice everything without looking at the neck of the guitar or at your hands.
Practice until there is no hesitation moving from one chord to the next.

Memorize
Memorize the chords.
Memorize your plan for leading the song in worship.
Memorize ALL the lyrics.

Put it together withOUT the band
Practice playing and singing the entire song by memory and with your eyes closed. (Closing your eyes will help you see your weaknesses.)

Add the other instruments and vocalists
Once you are confident in the song, add everyone else.
Make any adjustments necessary as you blend or coordinate with the entire ensemble.

Remember, you have an incredible responsibility to lead others into a time of worshiping our God. Your investment in preparation will allow your instrument to be an expression of worship as you lead.

Leaders Know How to Follow

I loved reading Michael Hyatt’s blog today, Leadership Starts at Home (a guest post by Kelly Combs).

One of Kelly’s points was that leaders know how to follow.

Have you ever thought how much leadership changes in the course of one song?

DRUMS: the drummer starts the tempo
ACOUSTIC GUITAR: begins the intro
LEAD VOCAL: leads the people to sing
ANOTHER VOCALIST: possibly leads the next verse
LEAD GUITAR: takes the bridge while scripture is on the screens
LEAD VOCAL: leads the people to sing again
and on it goes….

The only way to experience excellence in music is by learning how and when to lead and how and when to follow.

We have all been there…. a vocalist begins to lead the congregation to sing a verse. At the same time, the piano or electric guitar begins a bridge or transition in the music. Someone immediately has to give in to the leadership of the other. If not, the train wreck just became a distraction in worship.

As the leader, be intentional with allowing others to lead you. Learn how to be a better follower. Your leaders will appreciate it.

 

 

Check Out These Blogs

Christmas Music & Worship. What Story Are You Telling?

I love Christmas, but over the years, as a worship leader, there has always been a struggle to sing the great carols while leading the people to worship.

The tension is this: most Christmas songs talk ABOUT Christmas (tell part of the story of Christmas)…

  • the manger
  • the star
  • the baby
  • the night
  • the wise men
  • the King
  • the shepherds
  • the angels
  • the town

…but as worship leaders, we want to help point worshipers TO God. Many of the songs we lead the other nine months of the year are vertical in nature… prayers to God (songs that tell the story of our need for a savior directed directly to Him).

So, if you desire a stronger worship experience, look for the songs you can use that include include both the story of Christmas and the story of the worshiper.

THREE SUGGESTIONS
1) Consider taking the core of a worship song that your congregation knows well and use it a the end of a Christmas song.

2) Try using the refrain of “O Come All Ye Faithful” with other text, such as “We give You all the glory,” “For You alone are worthy.”

3) Find common worship songs that include some of the Christmas story (light, peace, glory)  and some of the worshiper’s journey (the need for His light or His peace in their life).

  • “The splendor of a King clothed in majesty” (How Great is Our God / Tomlin)
  • “Beautiful Jesus” (Stanfill)
  • “Glory in the Highest” (Tomlin)
  • “Light of the world” (Here I Am to Worship / Hughes
  • “You are peace, You are Peace (Forever Reign / Hillsong)

It will take time to plan, but will help engage your congregation in worship while celebrating our Lord’s birth.

 

 

The Lord Looks at the Heart

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. I Samuel 16:7.

As you lead worship or serve in ministry this week, seek to have a heart AFTER God, letting go of the things that do not need to be in your heart and seeking to pour more of Him and His Word into your heart.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways….
Psalm 139

 

 

David Walked Before the Lord…

And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you.” I Kings 3:6

A heart of worship is a heart after God.

David walked before the Lord in…
…faithfulness
…righteousness
…uprightness of heart

How is your walk today?

A HEART AFTER GOD
walking with GOD
intentional about every moment
for his honor and glory

Why Do You Do It?

There is a recent blog post from Seth Godin that caused me to stop and think. It is full of questions to ask yourself as the leader.

It reminded me of worship leaders and how we get in the busyness of doing all the things to make Sundays happen. Eventually, we can just be going through the motions trying to meet all of our pastor’s demands and our own expectations. When does it all stop?

If you are the worship leader, the one in charge, why do you do it? Why all the time and headaches?

Your TO DO list may include:
stage time
playing your guitar
creating a worship experience
saying no to those who are not strong enough musicians
rehearsals
auditions
searching for new music
arranging songs for your musicians
picking the right key
writing charts
balancing songs they know with the new

You have your own list.

Take some time to reflect on the WHY of your job. I encourage you to read Seth’s post “QUESTIONS FOR A NEW ENTREPRENEUR” and stop and think about the WHAT and WHY of your job.

It was good for me. Maybe it will be good for you.

Walk as Children of Light

In Ephesians 5 we read:

“Be imitators of God…”
“Walk in love…”
“Let no one deceive you…”

“Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”

It is good to stop and just rest in the Lord…
…seeking to be imitators of God.
…seeking to walk in his love in every step of your day.
…seeking to let no one deceive you, but to walk in his truth.

Are you leading with the fruit of light? (all that is good and right and true)

OR

Are you deceiving others as you lead, hiding things that are not good, not right, and not true?

I love the lyrics of the song “HERE FOR YOU” that say “nothing here is hidden.” Each time I hear these words in worship, I have to stop and check my heart. I have to look deep inside to make sure nothing is hidden as I come before the Father in worship.

What about you?

Can you lead “Here for You” and truly express those words from your heart?
Are you willing to let go of everything that is not pleasing to him so he can use you like never before?

Spend time with the Father this week totally surrendering your life to him. Allow him to be the Father of Lights (James 1:17) as you seek to live as a child of light (Ephesians 5:8).

A HEART AFTER YOU, O GOD
Continually seeking YOU as the Father of Lights
Continually living for YOU as a child of light

PERSONAL WORSHIP THIS WEEK
Read Ephesians 5 each day.
Listen to “Here for You” (Tomlin or Redman)
Get alone with God and surrender everything to him.
Repeat this every day for one week.

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