The [WM] team just got back from the NAMM show, where I had the privilege of hosting a trio of ‘TEC Track’ panels with friends from Yamaha, CCLI, and OnSong. The night before the panels, I spent the better part of two hours discussing song and set lists with OnSong founder Jason Kichline. Fueled by a previous conversation I had with Jeffrey B. Scott regarding his guitar column in this issue, this month we’ll be covering the impact that the number of ‘active’ songs can have on your worship and tech teams.
Let me once again say that the heart and soul of this column is to help teams find healthy ways to solve global problems. Many of the musicians I know are ‘in process’ when it comes to being selfless servants in the house who keep a sweet spirit when the same mistakes seem to happen over and over. At the core of this conversation is the reality that the stuff that drives me nuts may not bother you at all. By learning to honor our differences, I firmly believe we can find that healthy middle ground – together!
I believe that by keeping the number of active songs in your roster somewhere between sixteen and twenty will result in a tighter worship team on the platform, better sound from the front of house and a better worship experience for members of the congregation (who are dependent on your tech team to get the lyrics on the screen too, so they can sing along as you worship together). When I was serving as a worship and creative arts director, I found that this approach worked really well in terms of keeping the congregation singing and the worship team excited about the songs. Another key benefit was the fact that this number allowed me to banish iPads from being on the platform during service. My personal belief is that you can’t take the congregation somewhere in worship where you haven’t been yourself, and I feel this is especially the case when it comes to worship leaders.
THE ONSONG EFFECT
It should come as no surprise that Jason is a core part of his worship team and does not share the bias I have for iPads on the platform during service. That said, he and I are both in agreement that this technology should not become a crutch. As Jason and I chatted about all of this, one of my big takeaways is that the number of songs in active rotation is not “one size fits all’. At Jason’s church they never do a mid-week rehearsal, and never have a setlist before Sunday morning. Noting how much I love to rehearse a team so that Sunday reflects where we have already gone during rehearsal, I have to admit that I love the fact that Jason’s team is free to pull up any song they’ve ever played – even mid-service!
MAKING THE CASE
Noting that most of us serve in small churches, having sixteen to twenty active songs has a lot of practical appeal. Most of us are volunteers and lead busy lives and that includes the sound and tech teams.
THE TRICKLEDOWN EFFECT
One of the things I’ve tried to address in this column is the fact that the sound and tech teams are impacted by the choices we make, and we owe it to them to think about how our decisions impact them. If you want your sound team to master arrangement driven mixing, the smaller the number of active songs, the greater the probability they’ll mix the songs, not just the service. Noting the number of husband and wife teams I’ve seen on sound and projection respectively, if you really want to frustrate your tech peeps, loading on a bunch of new songs at the last minute is a great way to demonstrate that they are not part of your planning process.
ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL
As I’ve gotten older, one of the most important things I’ve learned is that there is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat. I was really taken by the freedom Jason’s team has to play a song that they’ve never done. I firmly believe that the heart of the matter is to find what is going to work best to serve everyone at your church. I am believing that this month’s installment will fall on fertile ground, and thank you for the privilege of being able to serve you and your team. God Bless!