My teenage daughter is learning to drive. Yes, prayers would be appreciated for us all!
One of the most important driving lessons I ever learned that I’m attempting to pass along to her is the fact that, when driving, there is only one thing she can control about the other cars on the road: the distance between her car and the vehicle in front of her. As she internalizes this concept, her driving (and my blood pressure) relax as she learns how to keep a safe distance behind the person in front of her. This helps her anticipate and navigate problems that may arise, as she has time to respond appropriately to the situation at hand.
As I was thinking about this month’s column, it occurred to me that our Sunday morning soundcheck and rehearsal can tend to be a little like traffic on a highway; everyone is going the same direction, but not necessarily at the same intensity! Rather than be the people who only occupy the fast lane, let’s take a look at some ways we can make “traffic” flow a little better for our teams.
When we’re working through songs either in soundcheck or our own rehearsal time, we need to be aware of all that is going on around us. Especially as guitarists, there is a tendency to only be concerned with our parts or our sound. If you’re not sure if that’s true of you, take a look at what you put in the monitors for yourself. An in-ear mix that only has a little drums, some bass and copious amounts of your guitar should tell you something. If you use wedges, I’ll lower the expectations a little bit, but you still should be able to tell what’s going on with other instruments in the band, as well as the vocal leaders. This will keep you from overplaying and allows you to enjoy the contributions of the whole team to the worship experience.
Don’t lose yourself completely in the moment you’re in. You need to be a worshiper, but you’re also a leader. Be alert and ready for any changes that might come, whether that is a Spirit-led vamp into a chorus or a curveball thrown by a broken string. The posture I try to adopt when I’m not leading is one of head up and eyes forward, watching the worship leader as he navigates the setlist. This allows you to anticipate changes as they come, not simply respond to them after they’ve happened.
The worship team at your church is most likely not a jam band, but there is something pretty cool about seeing what the whole team can contribute to the experience. As I mentioned above, if you can hear everyone, there is a better chance you will be able to play together with a more cohesive sound. But the guitarist who takes every open space as a chance to throw in a lead line isn’t taking the whole into consideration, and that will very likely be less of a worship experience for the audience. Someone might say, “But that’s how I worship!” And to that, I say, Philippians 2:4 – “Each of you should look not only to your own interests [or styles or methods] but also to the interests of others.” Allowing there to be space and room in an arrangement for everyone to contribute means the worship experiences on Sundays are more of a sum of the whole worship team rather than just the significant contributions of one person.
“The humble guitarist” should not be an oxymoron. Because our instrument serves as a lead instrument, sometimes we can tend to make that our mission. But when we leave room for others to be a significant part of the worship band experience, everyone involved in the experience adds something unique