As Iâ€™ve been visiting and playing in several churches over the past few months, Iâ€™ve noticed a few recurring problems that can easily be fixed to help the quality of your contemporary worship:
1. A stale sameness. We all have our favorite worship leaders, but if youâ€™re a Joel Houston fan, does every song in your set have to be written by Joel Houston or one of his clones? It seems like everything these days is either Hillsong United or trying to sound like Hillsong United.
If you do five songs in your set, do two or three of your favorites, then throw in something differentâ€”a piano ballad, a hymn, a "golden oldie" praise song, a ukulele. Anything to add variety.
The best praise set Iâ€™ve heard in a long time was created by 28-year-old worship leader Jared Barber here in Greenvilleâ€”it had a little bit of everything, reached a wide audience and kept you engaged.
2. Service order. Do you ever wonder why your guitarist/drummer/keyboardist draws a blank during your set when itâ€™s time for them to start the intro to the next song? Many worship leaders donâ€™t provide a service order for the band at rehearsal. Instead, the band is given a stack of jumbled charts for the upcoming Sunday.
I want to know the order and have it in front of me (seeing it on a worship planning website isnâ€™t enough) so I can start getting it ingrained into my head.
Print out a one-page service order with announcements, sermon, song order (with the key for each song) and anything else happening. Band members can keep it to the side of their music stand. If my music is memorized and I donâ€™t have a stand, I fold the service order up and keep it on my keyboard or on the floor.
When I inevitably draw a blank and canâ€™t remember the next song, a train wreck is avoided. Or I might step off the stage during announcements when, oops, thereâ€™s still another song coming up for the offering.
3. Song keys. In one church, we played a song in B, and the song that immediately followed was in C. It would have been a much easier, effortless and smoother transition to play both songs in B or C.
After you create your praise set this week, look it over and even sit down and play it through on your guitar or piano. Can the worship flow be improved by nudging keys slightly? Related keys are your friendâ€”going from D major to G major works much better than going from D major to F# major. A half-step makes all the difference!
With the weekly Sunday worship grind, we can sometimes go on autopilot and let quality slip. Resist the inertia and recharge for this weekâ€™s worship!
Composer/arranger Don Chapman is the editor of the weekly WorshipIdeas.com newsletter that goes out to more than 50,000 worship leaders every week.
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