Producing the Moment
There are a couple of schools of thought when it comes to finding that worship moment that seems to make time stand still. There’s no sweeter time than when we can just put the band in neutral and experience the presence of God, and everyone in the room is right there with you. Those are the moments you live for as a worship leader. I’ve been leading worship teams now for more than a decade and I’ve watched or been a part of thousands of worship services and events and I can tell you from experience that when you don’t have that “God is here!” moment the worship times feels a bit incomplete.
So, how do we find those moments on a consistent basis? Do we just hope they happen as we sing and worship? And do we hope that the congregation all feel the same way at the same time? As I’ve visited with worship leaders from around the country I hear their frustration in trying to make these moments “appear” on a regular basis. Let’s face it - this is what we are hired/expected to do: lead God’s people into His presence. And if we consistently fail to do that, well.....
The old school philosophy says: Let’s just sing our songs and those moments will happen. Don’t over-plan or over-rehearse because we’re not sure where that moment will show up. I believe this is a recipe for constant disappointment. Do we need to be sensitive to the moving of the Holy Spirit at all times during worship? Of course! A sincere and prepared leader can sense when God says, “Slow down. Let’s stay here for a bit.” But I’ve found that we can absolutely know ahead of time where those moments may appear. Here are a few ideas on “Producing the Moment”:
1. When you put your set list together think about where the lyrics of the songs are taking you. What the song has to say will determine our mindset as we worship. Try not to shift gears too abruptly with the lyrical content. Also, think about how hard the congregation will have to work to sing the songs later on in the set. Lots of lyrics could mean lots of reading the words on the screens which is counterproductive.
2. Limit the number of new songs per set. Again, making the crowd work for it decreases the chances of finding the moment.
3. Where are you going musically? Are you shifting gears to much? There’s a way to build a set musically that can set you up for a beautiful moment of worship. Staying in the same key and tempo for more than one song can allow you to build momentum.
4. During rehearsal it’s important to find the soul of the set, not just getting the songs to sound good. This takes extra time and concentration. We rehearse the set as a whole, not just song by song. We make sure the songs flow together and that there won’t be any hiccups, no awkward transitions. We want to take the worshippers on a journey, much like the pastor will do in his message. And during rehearsal we will look for that “moment” where we can slow down and let God speak to us. It’s a lot like trying out a recipe before you serve it to your guests.
5. Don’t try to manufacture the moment on the spot. I see so many worship teams that will sing a song WAY too long trying to make the moment appear. Mostly you just get an overlong set that never really goes anywhere that’s devoid of peaks and valleys.
I realize this is a highly debatable subject. I look forward to your responses...