Monday, February 24, 2014

The Team Working Together

In this post, I want to talk about how a praise team should work together.  This is something that I think most teams could work on and get much better at.  With doing so, praise teams could be much tighter in their music and song, in turn, being much more effective worship leaders and causing less distractions.

A common problem that I see when listening to churches and worship music in general, is that their singers and musicians are totally disconnected from each other.  It's important that singers and musicians are on the same page; after all, both parties are a part of the same team.  Sometimes it can be so drastic, it seems that the singers and musicians aren't even doing the same song.  For example, a lead guitar player may be soloing over a chorus of a song while the singers are trying to sing.  What you get from that is two people attempting to step out and take the 'lead' on that section.  That is exactly what we want to avoid.

In that particular situation, some people may say that the lead guitar player has a problem with being self centered and that may be so in some cases, but I believe it's more likely that it comes from a lack of knowledge or experience with how worship music should work.  The goal in your praise team or worship music should be, well...worship.  Just like I have said before, leading your congregation to a meeting with the Lord is what we are after.  

Something else I see happen is the band itself is not being mindful of what each other is doing.  Sometimes guitar players can get so caught up in what they're doing and staying out of each others way, that they aren't even thinking of what the piano or bass player is doing.  This can happen in every way imaginable and it's very easy to do.  I'm sure that anyone involved in music knows exactly what I am talking about.

So, how do we fix it?  Well, listen to the music.  Don't just hear it, but listen.  If it's a song that your team is doing written by someone else or is a well known song, then encourage your team to listen to their specific part.  But, not only their part, but other instruments and/or vocal parts as well and where other instruments step out.  Make sure everyone on your team is mindful of what the outcome is supposed to be and that everyone has a good idea of what is going on.  Make sure that you are using your rehearsal times to fine tune the song, not just learn it.  If you're using rehearsal times to just learn songs, you will miss details.  If it's a song you or your team has written, then have everyone get together and learn their parts and stick to them.  Make your song solid and work well by learning from other 'successful' songs.  Whatever the case may be, make sure what you are doing blends in with the song and adds to the music, not detract from other things within the song. 

Instruments and vocals are only tools to make music, which will lead to worship in your congregation; make sure that you and your team are blending well and working together to reach the common goal.



Monday, February 17, 2014

Sing Out

Every Sunday as I look over the congregation at church I see some folks who are fully engaged in the worship and others who are not participating at all.  Why is that?  I love to sing, I think I have always loved to sing, and while we all like to think we are “talented” I think that I will sing out no matter what you think of my skill.  When we sing we are able to express feelings and emotions that we cannot do through our thoughts and words alone.  When we are happy we are able to express this through song, when we are sad we are able to express this through song.  In my opinion the greatest singers are those who may not be the most gifted vocally but those who are able to connect emotionally to the songs they sing and draw you into their emotions.  There are numerous examples of singers in the past (I won’t name any here) who were not the best vocally but they were able to be very successful in the music industry due to the passion and emotion that they sang with.

Singing is not just for the people who are “talented”.  Psalm 100 vs. 1 and 2 “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.  Serve the LORD with gladness, come before his presence with singing.”  The verse does not say “If you are a talented singer praise the Lord with song”.  I believe that we as a society are becoming more critical of many things and singing is one of them.  It is easy to pass judgment and say things like “Did you hear that? They didn’t do too well on that solo!  They don’t need to be leading songs.  Just put them in the back where no one can hear them.  They need to just move their lips and not actually sing.”  All of these things remind me of Barney on Andy Griffith when he was singing a “solo” and in the background there was another singer who was actually singing.  If you have ever heard the term “Barney Mic’d” that it where it comes from.  Barney’s microphone was turned down or “Barney Mic’d” so that no one would actually hear him.  Sorry to get side tracked there but it just shows how we can be critical of folks who have may have lots of passion and yet we frown on them if they are not the most gifted vocally. 

I often hear people say “I can’t sing”.  Why do they feel that way?  Probably because someone has told them that over the years and they have grown-up with a fear of thinking they can’t sing.  The ability to “sing” or “make a joyful noise” clearly means that we are human.  Throughout the bible there are numerous examples of singing yet I cannot find one example where the voices are described, only the words of the songs are noted.  The words are words of praise, gratitude, emotion and they are directed to our God.  God is faithful and true and he wants us to praise him and one way that this can be accomplished is through song.  Not just the songs that others are singing but the songs that you are singing, even if you think you can’t carry a tune in a bucket.  I believe that God hears what comes from the heart and not what comes from the mouth.  The next time you are thinking about holding back and not singing turn loose and sing from the heart and God will hear your “joyful noise” and it will be sweet music to his ears. 


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bold Praise that Consumes Us and Moves Hearts

A couple of weeks ago, mom ordered a book for me called, The Divine Dance, by Shannon Kubiak Primicero. In this book, it talks about the ways that we sometimes let the world get in the way of our worship.  As a teenager, it is way too easy to get into the habit of just "going through the motions."  But when we worship, we should search deep into our hearts, giving all that we have to God. Worship is a precious act.  It is our way of showing God how much we love and adore Him.

So, now I want to point out a couple of things that I have learned from this book.  Remember, this is a book about dancing, so I will need to change some of the words around to make it fit. :)

1. "As you dance from your soul for God who created you, you will be consumed with worship."

So, let's put this into context for a Praise Band...

As you sing praise from your soul for God who created you, you will be consumed with worship.

That's a little better for us!  I loved this quote when I read it in the book... Because when I began thinking about it, I know that it is so true.  Yes, I am a teenage girl, so yes, I do worry about what I look and sound like on stage.  I have also been a competitive dancer for 15 years.  I have been trained to perform, to make the audience love me, but when we lead worship, it is much more special than just how it looks or sounds.  While those things still are very important, it is our job, as worship leaders, to make the crowd fall in love with the Author of Love.  We must throw away the superficial and present to God our hearts, showing Him our love.  When we offer our hearts to God and forget about the world around us, we can become consumed in worshipping Him, and through that, bring others to see what worship is truly about.

2. "You are to worship God so boldly that the whole world will want to worship Him."

So, I don't have to change this one, and I am glad, because it is my favorite quote from the entire book.  This quote has become my life motto of sorts, in so many more ways than I had thought.  Of course the obvious that one might take from this quote is how we worship in front of people, but what about behind closed doors? What about when things just aren't going our way?  What about when you've just had a rough day?  What about when you're in the operating room and the doctor tells you that you have a 100% blockage of the arteries and veins going to the right side of your brain when you move your arm not even 45 degrees? What about when your body is racked with severe spasms, and you are ashamed to be seen?  What about when God shows me that I won't be continuing to dance, to do what I had a passion to do for my entire life?  Sometimes it is so hard to worship God in all situations. For me, it is so much easier to get on stage and sing praise, not having to think about the hard stuff.  However, in that OR, I am not going to lie; it was hard for me to keep saying, "Whatever happens, to God be the praise!  He knows what He's doing!" when all I wanted to say was, "God why are you doing this to me? Can't you fix this already?" 

I feel that the book of Job coincides wonderfully with this quote.  The way that Job was so bold and unwavering in his worship of The Lord. Job 1:20 says, "Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped." Wow. God had taken every single thing away from Job (not just dance) and he STILL worshiped. When reading these things, I find it easier now to say, "to God be the praise" for whatever may come of this injury. When we are bold in our worship, no matter whether we are on stage or in the privacy of our homes, when we worship with boldness no matter what our circumstance, just like Job, we will make others want to worship as we do.  That's our main objective, right?  To lead others into a bold, more powerful time of worship.

3. "Show the world that music is so powerful that it can stir both God's heart and people's hearts simultaneously."

We can use our music to move the hearts of people, and we do that by moving the heart of God. For example, when we sing "Victor's Crown," I know that I can feel the presence of God moving among the people of our church. When singing that song, I feel that I am pouring out everything I have, because it is a fairly large song. Now, that isn't to say that we shouldn't give as much on the smaller songs, but we should apply the same amount of "pouring out our praise" to every song. By offering the most praise we can, whenever we can, God's heart is moved; therefore, people's hearts are moved. Personally, I feel the best worship is right then and there. That moment, when we pour every last drop of our being into our worship, we, through our music, have helped lead others into communion with the heart of God.

So, I hope that you all are able to get something from this.  I haven't ever blogged before!  (So I hope it isn't terrible!)

I just thought that I would share the ways that I am trying to grow in my worship experience, and I hope they can help to grow yours.

Have a blessed day!


Monday, February 3, 2014

The Message in the Music Touches Lives

In my blog post this week, I want to build upon a very important part of the last blog post.  Brad shared that music has the power to “soothe the soul”.   We know that Saul’s soul was soothed by the music from David’s lyre.   I bet, if you think about it, there is not a one of us that can’t remember a time when a song was sung or played at just the right time with just the right words to soothe the ache within our soul.  Through God’s divine intervention that song was played and sung just for you.   It may have been in your car and you heard it on the radio or a song sung during a church service.  For example, on one occasion when the MPBC praise team was singing and I had just recently lost my aunt and uncle.  The song “I Will Rise” was one of the worship team songs that week.  As the music began to play and I really listened to the words, God’s peace flooded my troubled heart and comforted me.  Those words were meant to “soothe my soul”.  I can think of many stories I’ve been told about how a song was sung to comfort a dying person or to ease the pain someone is suffering.  Songs about forgiveness remind us of the need to heal broken relationships.  Songs about love remind us that when we feel unloved, Jesus is always there to love us.  His love never fails.  When we feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, he reminds us in a song that He will always carry us.  Christian songs contain messages and promises from our Savior.   Those in need of comfort can find comfort and be reminded of God’s promises by hearing these songs.  

     I think as worship leaders it is easy for us to forget that God is using us in that way.  We get caught up in worrying about microphones, volume, and technicality when God has something so much more powerful to do through the song and the team.   Sometimes on a Sunday as I am singing and leading in worship, I look out over the congregation and God speaks to me in a way that reminds me that this song and these words were meant for someone in His presence.  I often pray for our pastors when they choose the songs for our Sunday services.   Through God’s leadership, I believe that each song has the power to change a life on Sunday mornings.  Praise team members I challenge you, as well as myself, to put the nerves and worries away, focus on how God wants to use our worship set on Sundays to soothe the souls of His children.  It is a great honor that God has given us as singers and musicians to bring these songs to the people.  I think it is a privilege we should take very seriously.   When was the last time you prayed before a Sunday morning and asked God to use the music to touch a soul, change a life?  I believe that is what God has called us to do.  We are the instrument He is using to reach people.   Let’s work together to keep our focus on what God is doing through us.  I’m thankful to be part of such a wonderful team of believers.  Thanks be to our God that He saw fit to bring us all together for this purpose.  See you Sunday……ready for worship and praise!