How to Lead an Effective Worship Rehearsal


On a scale of 1-10, how much do you love rehearsal? Maybe you never considered the possibility of the words "love" and "rehearsal" being in the same sentence.

We've talked about rehearsal quite a bit here at Beyond Sunday. But the more I visit churches, the more I see terrible rehearsals at the heart of many teams.

Over time, terrible rehearsals drain morale, eliminate productivity and encourage team turnover. In the moment, things don't seem so bad. Long rehearsals, bad rehearsals just seem like a necessary evil in order to have a great Sunday. As long as Sunday goes off without a hitch, who cares about Thursday night, right?

Wrong. A great team is healthy behind the scenes. Terrible rehearsals don't have to be the norm. Engineering a great rehearsal is a relatively small, easy, immediate next step that worship pastors can take, making a massive difference.

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I've been in rehearsals where musicians have left, lay on the ground, made each other cry and had enough bad attitudes to make the devil cringe.

Let's talk about how to avoid that:

1.Keep it Short: Long rehearsals are the result of poor planning, not unskilled volunteers. I encourage a 90-minute rehearsal because it's respectful of your volunteers and the time they are investing week in and week out, throughout the year. You want your team to look forward to rehearsal and ending when you say you're going to end builds respect.

2. Prepare Your Team: Is your team prepared for rehearsal? You may not have thought about that. But a great rehearsal is where all the team members know the plan in advance. Songs are chosen. Parts are practiced. Then, the team shows up and worships together, flows together and works on making one sound together. Make sure you are ahead in your planning, and your team understands that rehearsal means to show up ready.

3. Define a Most Important Item (MII): Not all tasks on the agenda are created equal. Every rehearsal needs a most important item. This could be a new song, a topic of discussion, a creative service element or something else. This is the item you'll spend the most time on. The rest of the songs can be covered, but not belabored. There's just no need to waste a ton a time on songs you already know, and there's no need to reinvent the wheel with every tune. What is your MII?

4. Prep the Room: Most rehearsal hang-ups are technical issues. Long sound checks. Instruments aren't plugged in. DIs are missing. As the leader, set the stage for your band long before they arrive. Create an organized, clean, appealing room so they can come in, set up and be ready to go. I'm a big fan of rehearsal start time being actual rehearsal start time. That means show up early to set up your gear.

5. Add an Element of Surprise: It's great to have a rehearsal system set up. But over time, the spark can be lost. Periodically add an element of surprise to your rehearsal. Shake things up. Here are some examples: Order pizza, plan a training night with a special guest instructor, bring everyone Starbucks, work on flow and spontaneous worship for an entire rehearsal. The possibilities are endless.

What about you? How have you engineered a great rehearsal? What has made the biggest difference in your team?

David Santistevan is a worship pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This article originally appeared at

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