The Prodigal Altar Boy

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Prodigal Altar Boy Blog - "Re-creation" vs "Duplication"

I will continue drilling into the Worship Leader’s Mindset Of Lack (MOL) by looking at how the way we approach worship influences that worship.  

When you look at the set list for an upcoming service, and the pastoral themes the songs support, what’s your first thought on the first song?  Do you recall the last time you worshipped with that song and how the team put it together, or is your firs thought about “…how it goes on the track…?”  Yes, I realize that for new songs for the team and re-styling of songs, references are necessary, and I’ll concede that, I’m drilling to this gear-fueled slavish orthodoxy to duplicating every pop hook of every CCM hit for the last 40 years.

Yeah, I said it.  My question is, “Where are YOU in all this?”  What is your input into the interpretation of the song, or are we relegating ourselves to be a loose CCM Tribute Band where we emphasize the trappings to “enhance the experience?”  There are more experienced leaders out there who scoff at this and I see that.  I understand the dues you paid leading up to all of this, and if that were the way forward, I would be behind you.  

Okay, so here’s the part where the pastor says, “But, we want people to worship to songs they’re familiar with.”  Great, you took the bait because you need to know something.  If the people are not used to organic worship, where the worship team is building a soundscape for worship, then we have them worshiping the wrong thing.  Yes, I said that.  I’m saying putting all your effort into duplicating the sound field of a studio recording on a song you are going to worship with your church family is anathema to worship. 

Pastors, the worship team is not a jukebox.  If you truly have vested your worship leader with the responsibilities of Leader, you also have to extend a level of trust that lets the worship leader operate autonomously.  Pastors, get the themes out there as soon as possible so the teams can start building the set lists. Pastors, how about a six-month “hands-off” policy concerning proposed set lists.  Yes, there is always room for improvement, and there is much to be said about blunting initiative.  Pastors, why aren’t you compensating these people? You’re telling me that a church that believes in the equality of all people is going to be outdone by every bar in the city?
Okay, that was harsh, but I meant it.  I will go on record right here to say that pastors are the #1 contributor to the Worship Leader’s Mindset Of Lack. Boom. Just. Like. That.

What do I mean when I say “re-creation vs. duplication?”  “Re-create,” is about laying the foundation for an atmosphere of worship that grows out of the sum of the resources at hand.  Worship built on a foundation of musicians free to bring the worship to a church eager to praise has more staying power and impact. When we focus on duplicating a sound, we’re relying on something outside of what we have.  We cannot worship with our whole heart if part of us says we don’t have what it takes to lead worship.  

Get back to the source.  Worshipping is sharing the joy of the Good News. Period.  Any tension associated with sharing and joy negates both.  Worship begins when we first put our hands to preparing for worship, and what happens on Sunday morning is a logical extension of that preparation and our preparing mindset.  

Record, record, record.  I record all of my worship team rehearsals and Sunday Worship music.  I try to use them first when preparing for worship.  Recordings are the acid test.  Recordings are where the rubber hits the road and you find out you spent all available time on the first seven seconds of the first song’s intro and now you’re shaky on the rest of the worship.  Listen to recordings and play along with them.  Occasionally, record yourself practicing so you can hear how you sound.

Learn, learn, and learn.  Continue to acquire knowledge, sharpen your skills and share what you’ve learned.  Sharing not only keeps other musicians motivated, but cements your knowledge.

Play, play, play.  There is musical knowledge I acquired only through playing with other musicians.  You can know the charts cold, tone dialed in and locked in with the drummer, but there are some things you’ll only learn in a live situation.  After you learn them, you’ll never forget them.

Pray, pray, pray.  Yes, I know you do this already, so keep praying for guidance, inspiration and insight from the Holy Spirit about how you are to worship God.