At our Encounter Night and Live Recording were really blessed and encouraged as we experienced a new sound and a fresh move of the Holy Spirit.
As some of the leaders discussed and debriefed the night, we talked about what the difference was compared to our Sunday services. And two of the things we came up with were expectation and preparation. Those two things we know we can control.
As a church we have a new sound as we speak out the sound of victory.
Psalm 144:9 says:
I will sing a new song to You, O God;
On a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You
The new bar has now been set, but if we are going to make that atmosphere of worship our new norm, we must be a team who is prepared and expectant. We started this year with the theme ‘expect to encounter’. And I believe we are seeing the fruits of lifting our level of expectation. In this next season, we want to focus on our preparation as a team.
- the action or process of preparing or being prepared for use or consideration.
As we all know, leading worship is much more than a gig. First and foremost, we are servants. We contribute our gift to help facilitate people’s encounter with God.
That’s why we practice, prepare, and invest hours in this ministry.
You see, preparation is essential for creative teams.
But you knew that. You know you can’t just show up cold turkey; however, I suspect that we all don’t come as prepared as we should be.
Write down, on a scale of 1-10, how prepared you think you are for a Sunday service. One number for practical preparation and one number for spiritual preparation.
We don’t prepare because our reputation is on the line.
We don’t prepare because the Worship Leader said so.
We prepare because the people of God are coming together to meet with their Maker.
It’s not enough to just show up. It’s not enough to wing it.
Imagine if we all came fully prepared to set the atmosphere, both spiritually and practically. Imagine if our Wednesday nights were more about the band preparing for prophetic worship than just learning the songs, and the production team dreaming up and creating amazing visual arts and audio to compliment the worship experience.
Preparation means different things to different people. Let’s take a look at some ways to prepare and as we do, I want you to write down 3 things that you could work on in this next season to become better prepared for this ministry.
- Focused Prayer
When you pray, pray with intention. Matter of fact, I would suggest making a list.
- Pray for your Pastor – pray for God to fill him with encouragement and revelation. Leading a church is no small feat. Pray that he would stay close to the heart of God and lead with wisdom.
- Pray for your Worship Leader – Beyond supporting your worship leader with musical preparation, pray for God’s anointing and strength upon his or her life. Pray for strength to lead people in genuine, authentic worship.
Pray for your Congregation – anything is possible in the presence of God. This Sunday could be a catalyst of change in many people’s lives. Pray for that. Pray for the lost to be saved. Pray for people to encounter God.
- Intentional Listening
You can tell when a musician is prepared or when they’re winging it. I want to challenge the musicians here in your musical preparation. Before you pick up your instrument to practice, become an intentional listener.
Pull out a pad of paper, listen to the songs for Sunday, and create your own charts as you listen. Chart EXACTLY what you hear on the recordings, measure by measure.
The goal here is to know the ins and outs of every song in the setlist.
Don’t make your worship leader tell you what to do. Don’t just fumble through a chord chart. Chord charts don’t tell you enough about the structure of the song and what your particular instrument is doing.
Listen very closely and ask yourself these questions:
- When does my instrument ENTER the song?
- When does my instrument NOT play?
- What type of tone does my instrument sound like?
- How is my instrument complementing the other instruments?
The more you do this, the more your musicianship will excel. This concept is ideal for the sound technicians also in knowing the ins and outs of the Sunday setlist before the Sunday.
- Play It
After you’ve created your own charts of entire songs, play them through a few times. Play along with the recording. Shut off the recording and play the whole song by yourself. Close your eyes and play it through again. Stand up and play it again.
You don’t have to do this for 6 hours a day, unless you have the time. We recommend taking a day to chart and another day to practice BEFORE rehearsal (So Tuesday and Wednesday). We want to enter each rehearsal 100% ready. (And yes, this means that Worship Leaders need to have their songs in by Monday mornings at the latest).
- Practice Stage Presence
It helps for those on stage to think through how we look. I know that may sound vain, but it’s anything but. People may not always recognize if you’re musically prepared, but they can see…you.
Do you look bored? Are you as stiff as a board? Where are you looking? Are you listening to the preacher or are your eyes wondering? Are you energetic and moving around? Are you smiling? Are you engaging with the congregation?
Yes, you need to practice in front of a mirror no matter how silly you may feel.
Are you worshiping? Is it visible? If you’re on stage, it’s your responsibility to visibly worship.
No excuses. Let’s prepare for it.
- Set Up Early
We all know there’s nothing more frustrating than someone showing up late, especially if he or she has a lot of setup to do.
Let’s refuse to be like that. (and I’m speaking to myself here). Commit to showing up early.
Early setup is essential for band, singers & all production personnel. Not only are you prepared, you’re ready to begin when rehearsal starts.
- Prepare Your Attitude
I know, we’re all creative types, we all have strong opinions. But let’s remember, we’re here to serve.
Before you even show up, decide beforehand that you’ll do whatever it takes to serve your pastor, your worship leader, and the congregation.
Not only will you humble yourself, you’ll engage more with the entire service.
The more you do something, the more familiar it becomes. The more familiar something becomes, the less you think about it. The less you think about it, the easier it is to fake it.
That’s why I think the more you lead worship, the more you need to prepare your heart. The longer your lead worship the more intense your heart preparation should be.
- Worship is a matter of the heart – It’s not an external observance of religion or songs. It’s the response of your heart. If you don’t prepare your heart, you’ll be more prone to engage emotionally but be passive spiritually.
- It helps you realize your dependence on God – preparing your heart is a reminder that you can do nothing apart from the moving of the Holy Spirit. You are dependent on God to have an encounter with God.
- It makes you more sensitive to how the Holy Spirit is moving – when you prepare your heart for leading worship, you’re more sensitive to His voice as you’re leading. You’re more inclined to see how He is moving and what the congregation needs to do next.
- It keeps you focused on what matters – when you’re spiritually prepared, you’re not as concerned about songs and arrangements. Those things are important, but the engagement of the congregation and the presence of Jesus are so much more deserving of your attention. When you ignore the preparation of your heart, trivial matters tend to steal the show.
Creative Team, let’s guard our hearts. Guard our personal worship. Guard our childlike faith and dependence on the Holy Spirit.
Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.[b] 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[c] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.[d]
In this next season, we are going to be more prepared than ever for our worship services. Let’s all commit to developing in this area, and you’ll be amazed where God can take us.