Overseers Adam Diehl & Jon Paul Robles

Rehearsal Prep Checklist

Posted on January 10th, 2014 by adamdiehl

One of the most un-talked about issues in Worship Leading, in my view, is how to prepare for rehearsal.

I mean if you’re able to say, “Let’s do this like Matt Redman’s second recording,” and everyone knows what you’re saying – more power to ya.

But for the rest of us — those who lead teams that don’t play together every week, who desire to be open to new people serving with the team (versus being an exclusive clique), there needs to be rehearsal preparation for the rehearsal to be clear (and timely).

So here are four questions to which I think every worship leader should have an answer before going into rehearsals:

What’s the Roadmap?

By “roadmap” I mean the flow of the song. For example… Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, Chorus.

Refusal to establish a roadmap, in my view, is kinda selfish for a leader if you think about it. If you want others to be able to participate in worship leading with you, they need to know where you’re going — or at least what you’re thinking.

This is all about clarity and serving the team. They need to know what you’re thinking, leader. Do you really think you can go off on some new and random chord progression and other people can follow along? (If they can . . . well, that’s awesome and we all are jealous). It doesn’t have to limit you in a box – if you want to leave things uncertain, that’s okay! Just plan for some spontaneity so others can be spontaneous WITH YOU. Serve the team by telling them what’s in your head — however structured or loose that may be. Wouldn’t you appreciate that clarity from the leader if you were following?

For example, you might say, “We’ll do Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus – and then if I start praying we’ll play [designated chord progression] to leave some space for people to worship in their hearts, and I’m not sure what we’ll do after that.”

As a sidenote, for what its worth, my roadmaps are usually notated like this:
V1 C
V2 CC
BC
BCC

I use separate lines because it gives me little “chunks” to glance at and remember a “little chunk” at a time.

Uncertainty and Spontaneity is okay (and good) in my book. But not communicating what that means for those following you only because you didn’t plan ahead – that’s not okay.

How will the song start?

Again, this is all about serving others you’re leading. Don’t expect them to read your mind or understand the way Chris Tomlin did it in his obscure remix.

What does the band play? Is there a specific introduction?
Is it musically connected to the previous song in a medley?
What will the leader do? (Prayer? Spoken Challenge?)

How will the song end?

This usually just entails what chord the band needs to end on. But see the questions above regarding the song’s start as well!

Are there any specific “mid-route” details?

This is about communicating cut-outs, builds, diminishes, quiets, louds, etc.

For example, “When we do the bridge four times, we’ll start soft and build each one and be really big by the chorus.”

The only thing worth adding here is that I think this question needs to be explained to the team AFTER they know the road map.

For example – I would never say, “Hey we’re going to Seattle by car. We’ll head west and then somewhere halfway through we’ll be able to drive as fast as we want and then after that we need to turn right.” No No. I’d give specific directions and THEN add commentary. Like, “We’re going to get on I-90 and head west all the way to Seattle. When we hit Montana, we can drive as fast as we want, and be watchful in Seattle because we’ll need to head North on I-5 to get downtown.”

In the same way, we aren’t clear when we give instructions like, “We’ll get big towards the end” unless the team knows when “the end” actually occurs (hence, the need for the roadmap FIRST).

 

In summary, the worship leader (or at least the music rehearsal leader, if that’s a different person) must have thought through each of these four questions before rehearsal starts. Regardless of how thorough or cursory his answers are, taking a moment to provide clarity to others on the team is always valuable.

Drumming in Worship Tips.

Posted on December 19th, 2011 by adamdiehl

Two things make a good drummer in a worship service: Steady Tempo and Consistency. Those are not the same thing. Carl Albrecht (who has played on more worship recordings that you can shake a stick at), has some great things to say about this. Check it in this video (you must follow the link).

Priceless Principles Part 5 of 5.

Posted on September 5th, 2011 by adamdiehl

This post is the conclusion of a series of posts summarizing five priceless principles from Joe Pace’s book “From Performance to Praise.” These concepts apply to every member of the worship team. For more information – read the book!

Priceless Principle #5

Those involved in Music Ministry strive for unity.

Our area of ministry is the most subjective area in the church and because its art – can be the most personally invested area. I have heard some horror stories of disunited worship teams. One story indicated that when the worship leader picked up the microphone (on Sunday morning . . . on stage . . . in front of a congregation), the guitar player unstrapped his instrument and announced to everyone, “I’m not playing if he’s gonna lead!” and then walked off the stage, through the sanctuary, and out the front doors. Geesh!

Let’s take a look at what happened in the Bible when the worship team was completely united:

2 Chronicles 5:12-14; “12and all the Levites who were musicians were there–Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their families, dressed in their worship robes; the choir and orchestra assembled on the east side of the Altar and were joined by 120 priests blowing trumpets. 13The choir and trumpets made one voice of praise and thanks to GOD-orchestra and choir in perfect harmony singing and playing praise to GOD: Yes! God is good! His loyal love goes on forever! Then a billowing cloud filled The Temple of GOD. 14The priests couldn’t even carry out their duties because of the cloud–the glory of GOD!-that filled The Temple of God.

Imagine what it would be like if we were this united in our weekend worship services! Just imagine! When we begin to have thoughts that bring dis-unity, we need to remind ourselves of our worship’s focus: “Its not about me, it’s never been about me, and it’s never gonna be about me.”

Priceless Principles Part 4 of 5

Posted on August 22nd, 2011 by adamdiehl

This post is part of a series of posts summarizing five priceless principles from Joe Pace’s book “From Performance to Praise.” These concepts apply to every member of the worship team. For more information – read the book!

Priceless Principle #4

Those involved in Music Ministry are faithful.

“Faithfulness is a moment by moment, day by day, circumstance by circumstance decision to do one word – stay. To stay committed when you can leave is faithfulness. To remain steadfast when you are continually passed over is faithfulness. There is nothing holding you to this place you are in, and you feel looked over anyway, so just leave. It’s not that simple – you’ve made a commitment to stay in your place until it’s your turn to be moved into the next position.” –Joe Pace

“Faithfulness is continual. It is coming to choir rehearsal prepared because you rehearsed at home. It is playing the same chords repeatedly until you have them right. It is forsaking the quick, easy way out, refusing to give up after disagreements, or giving your all even after you way of things was not adopted. God needs to know that you are there for the long haul. Being faithful simply means that you will stay in your place doing the same thing continually until God moves you into another position.”

If God has called you here, then stay here until he calls you away. This is only between you, God, and sometimes a person in spiritual authority.

I Don’t Care What You Can Do

Posted on June 27th, 2011 by adamdiehl

I once had a remarkably gifted member of my worship team have to step down from the team for a little while because his work schedule was so awkward. It was going to be a rare moment he could attend church services, let alone rehearsals.

After about a month or two of not seeing him at all at church at all I sent him a message, “I miss you not being at church.”

He responded, “Yea, I miss not playing for you, too.”

I was pretty sure he misunderstood what I meant so I clarified, “Yea, yea, I miss not having you play your instrument – but I’m saying I miss YOU – the person – the essence of who you are. I can’t wait until you can join us in Church again. It’s great to have you around regardless of what you can do.

At the moment I’m writing the second draft of this post, it’s a Saturday in the middle of winter – about an hour or two before my team’s rehearsal. The snow is coming down HARD at the moment. We’re still having rehearsal and service tonight. I had a gal text me and ask if we were canceling. I said, “No – but if you feel unsafe leaving, stay home! Who you are is a lot more important than what you can do.”

Who you are (a disciple, a Christian, a servant, a friend, a part of your church family) is far more important than what you can do for your team. I think we often spend too much time talking about improving what we can do rather than improving who we are. Do those things go together? -Well, of course they do. But when it comes to appreciation and value – they’re very different.

Stupidest Mistakes I’ve Made. Part 3 of 3.

Posted on April 1st, 2011 by adamdiehl

The other two parts of this series are available here and here.

Everyone makes some unintentional mistakes in ministry. I happen to be particularly good at it and could probably build a whole graduate degree program around my vast experience with this rather embarrassing subject. I’m happy to say that nobody died and no buildings collapsed as a result of these errors, but, as folks often say, “I wish I had known then what I know now.”

#3 Mistake: I used to describe worship as a fixed entity—something that had a lot of absolutes and I—well, I knew exactly what they were!

Reality: Every worshipper and every designer of worship is in a learning mode. People who think they have an absolute corner on what worship should be are (and I’m being extremely kind here) self-deceived. That’s why people who define worship by style need to unbury their heads. They barely have a clue, let alone a corner! There are things we do know, but there is much we don’t.

Conclusion: I love to talk with people who feel as dumb as I do and, in the process of that interaction, discover I’m not as dumb as I thought. Worship is largely a grand experiment in meaningful discourse with God. It is not prescribed for us in Scripture in great detail and it is not even well defined in the endless books the subject seems to generate. We should all be involved in stimulating the worship conversation—not spouting endless quasi-definitions of it.

This post was written by Doug Lawrence, internationally recognized speaker, author, and advisor. He helps churches assess and improve their skillfulness in creating engaging worship experiences by utilizing his more than 35 years of “deep trench” worship leadership in prominent mainline churches. You may reach him at dlawrenceconsult@mac.com. Or, if you wish, call 650.207.8240 for assessment information and scheduling. Doug now teams with the slingshotgroup.net to place extraordinary worship leaders in extraordinary churches. His blog can be found here.

Stupidest Mistakes I’ve Made. Part 2 of 3.

Posted on March 15th, 2011 by adamdiehl

The other two parts of this series will be available here and here.

Everyone makes some unintentional mistakes in ministry. I happen to be particularly good at it and could probably build a whole graduate degree program around my vast experience with this rather embarrassing subject. I’m happy to say that nobody died and no buildings collapsed as a result of these errors, but, as folks often say, “I wish I had known then what I know now.”

#2

Mistake: I used to “sell” my point of view about worship endlessly. I believed that it was my responsibility to inform, enlighten, and change people’s views about sound worship practices. Certainly (I thought), I knew more about worship than they!

Reality: People assume that you know a lot about your job, but they also want to know that you are willing to learn. They want to teach you, but they may not be as articulate as you in describing what they mean, believe, and have experienced in their worship history. So, let them sell YOU. BTW, their history is as valuable to them as yours is to you.

Conclusion: I finally learned that the best strategy for dealing with this situation was to enlist your fellow sojourner instead of trying to win them over! I would research a couple of churches where that person’s perspective on worship might be a closer fit and invite them to look in on a service at that church, then communicate to me and our worship committee about their observations about what worked and didn’t work. Incidentally, their take is very often that they prefer their own church to the one they visited and usually end up affirming what they’ve already got! Enlist…don’t annoy!

This post was written by Doug Lawrence, internationally recognized speaker, author, and advisor. He helps churches assess and improve their skillfulness in creating engaging worship experiences by utilizing his more than 35 years of “deep trench” worship leadership in prominent mainline churches. You may reach him at dlawrenceconsult@mac.com. Or, if you wish, call 650.207.8240 for assessment information and scheduling. Doug now teams with the slingshotgroup.net to place extraordinary worship leaders in extraordinary churches. His blog can be found here.

Stupidest Mistakes I’ve Made. Part 1 of 3.

Posted on March 8th, 2011 by adamdiehl

This was written by a guest and used on cmiworship.com with permission. The other parts of this series WILL be (but not right now) available here and here.

Everyone makes some unintentional mistakes in ministry. I happen to be particularly good at it and could probably build a whole graduate degree program around my vast experience with this rather embarrassing subject. I’m happy to say that nobody died and no buildings collapsed as a result of these errors, but, as folks often say, “I wish I had known then what I know now.”

#1 Mistake: I used to think that I had to solve every problem or complaint about worship directed my way and I prided myself on being willing to do so. After all, good people care about other good people and want to make things right for them—right?

Reality: The answer is both yes and no. Certainly people want us to address issues that cause frustration. Folks have a right to expect us to at least be concerned and want to help, but, in fact, what they really want is for us to listen to them. Secondly they want us to express our sincere regret that something has impacted them negatively whether it was our fault or not.

Conclusion: You can’t fix every problem, but you can go a long way in healing the level of frustration someone is experiencing by simply closing your mouth and listening to their complaint. If you can fix it—fix it, but it’s your undivided attention that most people desire, not your defensiveness, or even the “power” of your office to solve the problem.

This post was written by Doug Lawrence, internationally recognized speaker, author, and advisor. He helps churches assess and improve their skillfulness in creating engaging worship experiences by utilizing his more than 35 years of “deep trench” worship leadership in prominent mainline churches. You may reach him at dlawrenceconsult@mac.com. Or, if you wish, call 650.207.8240 for assessment information and scheduling. Doug now teams with the slingshotgroup.net to place extraordinary worship leaders in extraordinary churches. His blog can be found here.

What to do When You Think Your Pastor is a Bonehead.

Posted on February 3rd, 2010 by adamdiehl

I know what you’re thinking – you want to be “submissive” to your leader but at the same time you think he might be wrong. This post has very specific information to help in this situation. It is written specifically to worship leaders, but I think you’ll find biblical advice directly pertaining to your needs in the post as well, especially towards the end. Enjoy!

***

The most important relationship in a church family is the relationship between the senior pastor and the worship leader. These two guys are most responsible for the effectiveness of the main weekend service experiences, and therefore have a huge part in church growth and development. That’s why its vital that the worship leader-pastor relationship is nourished and protected. Pastors, someday I may write a blog about what to do when you think your worship leader is a bonehead – but today I’m writing to your worship leaders.

Let me set some groundwork here – God is entirely united and will not cause disunity or confusion. The Holy Spirit does not get confused. God will not speak one thing to your senior pastor and something different to you. It’s not going to happen. Therefore, if both you and your senior pastor have a disagreement on what the Holy Spirit is saying, one of you is missing God’s voice (or perhaps God’s timing!). Let me break down a few key issues on this matter.

Change Must Occur With Leadership. Often us worship leaders get excited about new songs, styles, methods, and creative ideas. We have to remember that we’re recruited for our emotionalism and fantastic producing techniques — but sometimes that needs to be curbed. I’m grateful for my senior and executive pastors who have often said, “Hey man, great ideas. You’re going overboard, though. Chill out, I’ve seen your budget, and you’re not going to rent a helicopter.” We also have to remember that any changes that occur in the church must be occurring with agreement from the leadership; your senior pastor. You may — even on this blog — get guidance for an arts idea … but if your senior pastor isn’t on track with it – DON’T DO IT.

Your Pastor Is Under More Stress Than You Can Imagine. Let me give a hypothetical example. Pastor Smith of Main Street Christian Church has a passionate young worship leader, Derek, that wants to add an electric guitar with distortion to give the music a new “edge.” This fits with Main Street Christian’s vision, and is the natural result of the vision Pastor Smith has laid out for the worship leader, Derek. The worship team and most of the congregation seem to be in unity on this issue. But Pastor Smith is saying, “No, not yet.” A confused Derek shares his view on the issue with Pastor Smith, but Pastor Smith is sticking to his guns saying, “No.” Derek is left wondering if his pastor is a bonehead. However Derek did not consider that Pastor Smith could very well be postponing the change in order to avoid other conflicts — and he cannot share those situations without making other people in the church look stupid or immature — so instead Pastor Smith is left looking like a bonehead, when in reality he’s taking the heat for a number of other issues. A senior pastor is aware of situations throughout the entire church and he’s responsible for its health — so trust him. Anything else would be disobedient: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).

Sometimes, You’re GOING To Disagree. You may be convinced that God is speaking to you to continue the worship service another 15 minutes, yet your senior pastor is pointing to his watch shaking his head “no.” You may be convinced that God is leading you to sing a specific new song, but your senior pastor says no. You may be convinced the worship program should move in a new direction but your senior pastor says no. What do you do then?

*Understand the Senior Pastor is the head worship leader in every church. He may never sing or step foot in the rehearsal, but he has the God-given responsibility to ensure his flock connects with God. I am a full-time Worship Arts Pastor at my church, and I still submit lyrics for every new song to my senior pastor before introducing them to the team (this also serves as a second set of eyes to ensure the lyric is Truth). He has told me “no,” and I didn’t like it.

*Realize you might be hearing the right thing from God, but you have the wrong timing. Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks in whispers and gives us direction so we can PREPARE to head there.

*Live for eternity. You will be judged according to what you are called to do. So will your pastor. When he provides direction for you that you disagree with, you’ve got to understand that HE is the one that will be responsible for his decision. It’s not your call. YOU will be answerable to God for how you deal with it. If you seriously disagree with your pastor, you have the responsibility and right to respectfully provide him with the information he may be lacking (including your feelings) — one time. You need to communicate to him so he can make the best decision – one time. After that, drop it. Get on the wagon if you can. If you can’t, get out of the way. Don’t you dare bring others in on your issue (its not sharing a prayer request – its gossip and it stirs up dissension in the Body. When people did that in the Bible, the ground opened up and swallowed people — God is serious about it!).

Be proactive in your relationship with your senior pastor. He’s no bonehead. I encourage you to buy him a tall and skinny caramel latte at your local coffee shop and talk with him about the worship environment at your church. Be proactive – fix the problem before there is one! Here is a list of questions to get you started with your senior pastor at your coffee appointment:

  1. If I feel like the Holy Spirit is moving and we should take longer than the agreed time, what should I do? (find out your limits and structure – does your pastor want to come up and encourage a deeper move of God or is he cool with you going on for three hours?)
  2. I feel like our current worship style is [outdated, relevant, insert appropriate adjective]. How do you feel about it?
  3. I feel like our current worship environment (lights, volume, response from the congregation) is ["powerful" or other adjective] ). How do you feel about it?
  4. How do you think I’m doing as a musician? Leader? Disciple?

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