Whether your student band is providing worship for your home church or as a guest team in another church, it’s great to instill in them the importance of knowing the order and theme of the service, as well as the pastor’s vision, style, and flow. We have found it very effective to incorporate this into their actual run-through and rehearsal, just as if it were service time. It can be a very effective way to getting the team polished for the Sunday service.
One particular church that our student band leads worship at has more of a charismatic style. In this church, the order of service is that the worship team plays one song at the top of the service, then the pastor comes up and greets everyone with a short, inspiring word. Nearly every time towards the end of his greeting, he gets excited and starts raising his voice, getting an energetic response from his congregation. His regular house worship team usually waits until he is done with his greeting, and then (after a bit of awkward dead time,) continues on to play 3 more worship songs after he leaves the stage. Not a crime by any sense, but it could flow better and be more seamless. We have a unique opportunity as the worship band to really set the tone for what’s to come in the service. Here are some helpful tips that we use to train our youth worship bands in service flow:
TIP # 1
We like to paint the picture to our students that they can also think of their band as providing the church service music soundtrack, like a movie score, or similar to a TV talk show band. We encourage and train them to listen to and engage with what is going on, to what is being said, and to build musical dynamics with the pastor. A helpful thing to do is to make sure that every band member has the pastor’s voice in their monitor so they can feel and flow dynamically with him. During their rehearsal, we have them plan ahead by rehearsing the musical bed in the key of the next song in the worship set, having the drummer doing cymbal swells and kicks, the keyboardists and guitarists holding sustained chords, etc.
TIP # 2
We make it a practice of videoing our students leading worship, and it has provided a great tool for them to learn from. After videoing their Sunday worship set at this particular church, we then gave them classes based on what we saw on the video, giving them tips for improvement, and praise for things done well. As the students watched the video, they all agreed where their music fell short. As the pastor was giving his inspirational greeting, the band’s underscore and his dynamic was really high. You could feel the energy through the video. But at the end of his greeting, when he turned it back over to the worship team and walked off stage, he said excitedly, “Come on, let’s worship!” And then… there was a 5 second pause of dead time as the drummer stopped cymbal swelling and the musicians stopped sustaining their chords, while the drummer fumbled to start the click track to the next song. We explained to them how they should have kept holding the chord and the cymbal swell until the count-in to the next song came in, eliminating all the dead space between the pastor leaving the stage and the band starting the song.
TIP # 3
We have also found it helpful to contact the church a week or two ahead of time and ask what the topic of the message will be, striving to design the worship set, or at least a song, to fit in with the theme or to accompany the message.
This can get the worship leader (or leaders) thinking ahead about how to tie the worship songs to the whole flow of service, setting up the next song thematically, or introducing the pastor, announcements, or offering time.
Whatever type of church your youth worship team is leading at, it’s great to practice, plan, and rehearse the dynamics. It adds so much to the service, and makes everything feel seamless and cohesive. Like anything, the more they do it, the better they will be at it!
May you be blessed as you pour into the next generation of worship leaders!