Working With Church Staff

23 04 2013

Seems the world of technology made many changes to the way we produce our song listsgetting_along-290-219   Used to be we would just have to put our numbers up on the board at the front of the auditorium.  Then we started making worship programs that listed the songs and the order of worship.  Now we have to put together projection slides and maybe even notate a song in notation software, save it in the proper format so it can become a slide that looks like all the others.

Timing has become much more crucial as we have to be prepared much more advance than ever before.  Often we don’t have to depend just on our own work getting done.  Other team members need our songs and verses and prayers and readings and sermon outlines well in advance of the service.  It is just impolite to make a secretary wait for your songlist so she can prepare the Order of Worship.  The projection team deserves our attention too so they can be well prepared before the assembly.

As worship leaders we might have to pressure the preacher a few weeks in advance for sermon topics, themes and scriptures.  Cultivate a good relationship so you both work in harmony.  It’s a great idea to pray over the Sermon Calendar with him.  He will probably have a few songs in mind for each sermon too.  It makes the preacher feel special when you use his suggestions.  Its always a good idea to have the preacher or worship committee review your OOW (Order of Worship) to make certain you are all thinking the same way.

Have regular training sessions with volunteers.  If your people don’t know how to work equipment or software you are planning for disaster.  Keep a copy of all manuals, SOPs and needed information accessible to everyone who might need it in the heat of failure.  Reward good workers with encouraging words and treat them with a lunch or coffee date just to let them know how important they are to the over all ministry.

Help others to help you.  If you have someone who can do what you do it is not a threat.  It is a valuable asset.  Solicit help with maintenance of equipment, production of presentations song slides or anything else that might help free you up to do something else that no one else knows how to do.

Foster learning.  Use every opportunity to inspire new talent and new ministers (every Christian is a minister).  True leaders replicate themselves to develop a depth of talent for every job that needs to be done.

Be ready at all times to humble yourself.  There are going to be times when hard feelings will arise.  Sometimes it will be our own doing and sometimes not.  If you are willing to be kind and humble in dealing with those who perceive a slight it will go a long way to paving the way for Christian unity. Don’t compromise truth but do encourage kindness to all.

Never think because you are the guy in charge that you are too important to do the grunt work.  Leaders will almost always be called to do things that seem menial or mundane.  (Straightening the song books in the pew, cleaning equipment etc.) Do those jobs with as much joy as the ones you really enjoy.  It will pay off in the long run.

What are some struggles you have with church staff or getting things done.  Share your solutions.





Tips for Leading A Capella Worship

27 09 2011

Becoming a successful worship leader is an ongoing process of learning what helps and what hinders people worshipping God. Getting ourselves out of the way people seeing God yet leading them at the same time is quite difficult sometimes.

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years that have worked for me, hopefully they will aid you in your pursuit.

  • Your heart is your instrument. Pure hearts help. Sinful hearts hinder. Be sure you are right with God so you can come into His presence ready for worship.
  • Your face is your conductor’s baton. Develop strong facial and head movements that indicate starting, stopping, breathing and holding sustained notes. I was amazed the first time I witnessed a leader who lead with his head and face. He showed every pick-up, cut-off, start, held note and the emotion of the songs all with his head bobs and facial expressions.
  • Work on your transitions from song to song as much as you do the songs. Don’t take people out of the worship experience to some other place between every song or prayer. Flow is important for keeping us in the throne room of God.
  • Sing familiar songs often. I love new songs and enjoy sight singing. That makes me part of a small group of music nerds. If people have to concentrate on the mechanics of the music they won’t be fully engaged in worship. Use new songs at appropriate times.
  • Commend the congregation for good worship. Compliment well worded prayers, good sermons, well sung songs, and worship that is done well.
  • Listen to criticism. Not all criticism is constructive but you should listen to it, consider it and the source then either discard it or apply it.
  • Take care of your voice. Singers and speakers should learn to use their voices without strain or poor muscle control.
  • Lead outside the assembly. Take your talents to other places. Lead singing at a nursing home, small church, home bible study, where ever you can use your gift to bring people into the presence of God.
  • Record yourself leading, either video or audio often and watch it. You will be surprised at how many things you’re doing well and you will notice some things you will want to change.
  • Ask people who love you what you can do to be better. Be ready for some things that might surprise you or may even hurt your ego a bit.
  • Pray for yourself often, get others to pray for you too.

Do you have some tips you’ve discovered that might help other worship leaders?  Why not share some with us.

Joe Chase





Introducing New Songs

20 09 2011

Worship ought to be expressed in fresh words new melodies in each generation.  There is certainly no reason to abandon old songs just because they are old.  It is a challenge to bring new songs to the church.  Often people resist them because they cannot yet sing them.  Bringing fresh songs to the worship time must be done carefully.

There is something about having to concentrate on learning the music that detracts from our ability to fully worship.  So you don’t want to have too many unfamiliar songs in one setting.  People will stop worshiping to learn.  You can get by with a new song in the service if you work it in to a grouping of familiar ones.

As a worship leader in an a capella assembly you can’t depend on instruments to carry the melody and harmony for you.  To overcome that challenge you have to teach the song to at least one person per part who can carry the parts while you lead the melody.   Better yet get a group together at sometime other than the assembly to teach the song to a larger group that can carry the parts in the assembly.

When teaching a new song to a group in a smaller session I do the following things.

  1. Seat singers in parts.
  2. Everyone listen to the melody a few times, while they read through the sheet music.
  3. Everyone sing the melody until they have a feeling of how the song goes.  (Most harmony singers will already have a feel for where there part will fit with the melody).
  4. Have one or two people sing the melody while you teach all the males the Bass part.
  5. Have a couple people sing melody while all males sing the Tenor part.
  6. Repeat this with the alto parts.
  7. Now try to put all the parts together.

This format really helps singers to get to know the song.  This group can then help you in the assembly teach the song to the entire body.

Another helpful way is to get a group together to record the song and make it available to the congregation.  Learning CD’s of several new songs can be a great help to the church.  It is getting less expensive all the time to record.  When making learning CD’s it is a good idea to pan Soprano and Tenor hard Right and the Alto Bass hard left.  This allows easy isolation of each part.  Be sure your recording is accurate to the sheet music or you will have to reteach parts.

Once you’ve introduced a new song to your congregation repeat it often.  It is really a good idea to repeat it at least twice in the first service it is introduced.  Use it several times in the following weeks so people begin to recognize it and can start singing without having to concentrate on learning the music and word.

Joe Chase





The Need for Breathing!

6 05 2011

You might think that breathing would just be natural when you lead singing. However, the stress of leading singing can take your breath away.

Stress can hamper even sympathetic muscles. It’s true when we are nervous or under great stress we breath more shallow. The activity involved in leading singing can also steal our breath.

Solution, breathing deeply! Sounds stupid doesn’t. Before you take the podium take several deep breaths and exhale completely so you can take in more air. Taking in more oxygen helps calm your nerves and gives you the needed support for the activity of leading worship.

During the week you should do some simple deep breathing exercises.

  • Begin by exhaling as much air as possible.
  • Inhale deeply (Remember deep breathing involves those stomach, back and side muscles).
  • Now exhale in short pants. (Like a dog, not the Bermuda type).  This will engage those big muscles that control breathing.
  • Do this a dozen times.
  • Next inhale deeply and exhale making a an “S” sound.  Continue this until all your air is gone.
  • This “S” exhale will help build stamina, the “S” sound will put no strain on your voice.
  • You can do this exercise making a “Z” sound which engages the voice too, don’t strain or push though.

If you will do this routine a few times a day for a few weeks it will certainly help you build the ability to breath deeply.  That in turn will help you when it comes time to lead singing.

Lack of deep breathing and breath control is one of the causes of vocal fatigue and voice strain.  You don’t want that ever.

So in the words of Faith Hill “Just Breathe”.

What helps you remember to breathe during worship leading or singing?  I’d love to hear your helpful hints.  Comment here or drop me a note chasejoseph(a)gmail.com

Joseph D. Chase
Gospel Preacher
1000 N. Loop 485
PO Box 667
Gladewater, TX 75647
(903) 845.2531 office
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Keep Your Words Few

28 03 2010

Granny Chase used to say “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.”  James the half-brother of Jesus stated in a similar way “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19 NASB).

I don’t know why being in front of people can open the spigot of speech for some worship leaders.  Unless you are the preacher most of the time our words should be kept to a minimum.  More often than not we will detract from the flow of worship with our talking.  Whenever we interrupt the flow, worshipers have to refocus from God to us back to God.

There might be times that we have to interject something but those occasions are rare.





Encourage Other’s To Participate

17 03 2010

One of the greatest things we do as worship leaders is to invite and encourage people to participate in the worship. Our actions and any words we speak should be aimed to this goal.

One of the greatest tools you have to do this is to compliment individuals regularly. When you can tell people you appreciate their participation, their spirit, their smiles, their pretty voice, a fitting prayer or anything you can find that is honest to commend.  A word of encouragement in the church newsletter or bulletin is always a good idea.  There is nothing wrong with commending the entire congregation either.  Preachers and teachers seem to have no problem correcting an assembly. Why not edify with carefully chosen words of praise?

Song leaders can encourage people with facial expressions and body movements. A welcoming smile will brighten any worship assembly. Be careful about singing entire songs with your eyes closed people will think they are disturbing your personal worship.

Invite other leaders to participate throughout the worship time. There is nothing wrong with having several different song leaders, prayer leaders, readers or even preachers all focused on one assembly. Sharing the “stage” lets people know that worship should engage all of us.





Review of SongSuggest 1.0

29 12 2009

Every song leader has a need to access a list of songs on many themes.  Building your own database is a great idea and will serve you well.  Technology has moved us a long way down the road for being able to cross reference, recall and store song lists, and themes.

WorshipApps.com has a product that brings a great tool to our iPhone.  Imagine needing a song list on consecration.  SongSuggest gives you the ability to search songs from its 600 song database by that theme or many others.  They can be searched by theme, key and tempo.  If you can’t remember what the song sounds like they added a way to search YouTube for a video of the song.  There is a link out to iTunes for you to purchase the songs and a link to google.com so you can search for lyrics within the app.  Handy for you when you don’t have easy access to SongSelect or the ccli database online.

Sadly, there is no way to save lyrics in the program.  This would give you more ability to search for songs by topic, theme and phrase.

It would be great if they would add a way to email song lists to your worship team.  It would also be nice if you could add your own songs to the list.  There are many songs in our songbooks and newly written songs that are not on the list.  Another feature that could be an advantage would be to link to SSPlus or Media Shout.  If you could export your list to either of these programs it would save several steps in your set planning.  This in no way means this isn’t a useful app.  It is in its first generation.  I hope the developer will improve on a great idea.

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Reading a Song

14 12 2009

Music reading is a science within itself. There are many successful worship leaders who read very little or no music at all.  However, they do know how to read the song.  Much of singing has to do with phrasing and dynamics.  Leaders who can emphasize the right parts of the song help congregations focus on the message better than those who do not.

We’ve talked about mood and the importance of using it to set the tone of a worship assembly.  Proper phrasing is every bit as important as determining mood. Notice the following phrase, read it and emphasize the bold text and see what it does to the meaning of the sentence.

A mighty fortress is our God.
A mighty fortress is our God.
A mighty fortress is our God.
A mighty fortress is our God.
A mighty fortress is our God.

In contemporary artist Chris Tomlin’s song “How Great is our God” he means for us to emphasize this phrase differently each time we sing it in the tag.

How great is our God, sing with me.
How great is our God and all will see,
How great, how great is our God.

The power in the song often comes in the subtle nuances of emphasizing a word or phrase.  Reading a song means determining where to get louder, softer, broader, quicker or where to insert a lift or a pause.  These things will go a long way into making a song live and bringing the meaning to life in the hearts of worshipers.

Many recording artists never do the stanzas of a song the same and vary the emphasis of the chorus each time they sing through it.  Although we are not going to be able to be as fancy in our execution of a song we can punch up the style in every song we lead.

One of my favorite songs is “Low in the Grave”. As an exercise in reading a song let’s go through and mark the parts of the song that should be emphasized.

Low in the grave He lay,                  This is dark, sorrow filled.
Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day,                  Here is a glimmer of hope.
Jesus my Lord!

Vainly they watch His bed,          I would skip the refrain and go
Jesus my Savior;                              right to this stanza
Vainly they seal the dead,          This time is brighter with hope
Jesus my Lord!                                Emphasis on Vainly

Refrain:
Up from the grave He arose,                              There is a stark contrast from the
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,              stanzas.  This is bright and lively.
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Death cannot keep its Prey,               This is the most important
Jesus my Savior;                                    part of the song!
He tore the bars away, Don’t lead this stanza slow
Jesus my Lord!                                        Emphasis with broadening

–Robert Lowry, 1826-1899

The last time through the Refrain needs to be a joyous, powerful, almost out of control celebration.  Get bigger every time you exclaim “He Arose!”

Much of reading a song is relative.  However, some topics and themes lead us to joy, sorrow, anger, doubt, determination and many emotions.  Look for those themes and phrases.  Help your congregation see your interpretation by big facial and body movements that demonstrate the appropriate expression.





Simple Things To Improve Congregational Singing

12 12 2009

In my work I’ve been blessed to lead the singing for many congregations.  There are several common problems in most all congregations that hinder great singing.  There are somethings that will make the singing more powerful and effective if they are practiced consistently.

Sit Closer Together

This may seem to simple to be true, but this one thing can make the difference between poor singing and powerful singing.  It matters not if you have 12 or 1200 voices sitting closer together will improve the sound of the congregation immediately.  I’ve experimented with this and have yet to be proven wrong.

It seems odd that people spread out all over the room instead of sitting close together.  I used to joke about how people always want the front row at the ball game and the back row at the church building.  Encourage the congregation to move closer together.  Have the leadership encourage people to sit close together.  Ask the preacher to mention it every so often until the congregation forms the habit.

When people sit more closely together they are encouraged by the singing more.  They hear their parts being sung, they are bolstered to sing out themselves.  This simple change will vastly change the participation and impact of the worship in song.  The command is to sing to each other as we sing to God.  It’s hard to connect with people scattered so far apart that you cannot hear them or they you.

Lift the songbook from your lap to shoulder level

If you are still using hymnbooks encourage everyone to raise the book up to about the level of their shoulders.  This will cause people to stop singing to their laps.  When people look up they can breath better and therefore sing better.  This is one thing that projection of lyrics has helped us to do.  People have to look up to see the screen so they are better able to sing out.

Just with these two simple changes your congregation’s singing will change for the better in a matter of seconds.  These little adjustments will go a long way in preventing dragging, keeping everyone together rhythmically, increasing energy and the ability to sing phrases and dynamics efficiently.

Along with these technical improvements will be the spiritual improvement also.  Singing to each other and with each other is one of the most effective teaching and edification tools the church has. God didn’t suggest that we sing to one another but rather commanded that we do this (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19).

As a preacher I know that the singing profoundly effects preaching.  If the singing is poor it is difficult to inspire folks with the Word of God.  However, if the singing is energetic and everyone participates it opens the door to better preaching and hearer participation. Ask any preacher and he will tell you he would rather preach after a great singing worship than a poor one.

We will make some more suggestions in the next few blogs.

Please tell others about this blog and encourage them to subscribe to it.

Joseph D. Chase
817.323.9985
aworshipleading@gmail.com
Special training for worship leaders and congregations who want to sing and praise God better.

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Get In The Mood

9 12 2009

Your mood is important to the message you are trying to portray. Songs, Scripture and sermons all have mood messages that are our job to duplicate. Mixed signals can confuse worshipers. The mood of “Holy, holy, holy” would be ruined if sung like “Jesus is Coming Soon.” The joy of Exodus 15 cannot be read correctly like The sad words of Jeremiah 9.

“Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying, I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. 2 The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. 3 The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name” (Exodus 15:1-3)

“Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!2 Oh that I had in the desert a travelers’ lodging place, that I might leave my people and go away from them! For they are all adulterers, a company of treacherous men.3 They bend their tongue like a bow; falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know me, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:1-3).

Mood is important to understanding a message. Conversations depend greatly upon the inflection that mood brings. It will take some work on your part to bring the mood off of a dead piece of paper. Look for the clues we use in language to help discern the intended mood.

Some Mood Markings

Punctuation in Scripture and dynamic markings help you know some of the intended mood.

Sometimes the use of short or curt wording lead us to see anger or urgency. Subject matter often indicate the type of mood is appropriate. Be aware of the mood expressed and match that with your singing or reading.

It seems only natural for us to use the mood built into types of songs and passages of Scripture to build mood into a worship assembly.

Worship that centers on repentance and godly sorrow calls for songs and readings with those moods.

  • Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy
  • Break My Heart
  • My Eyes are Dry
  • 2 Corinthians 7:8-11
  • Psalm 51

These songs and passages reflect the state of heart and being needed for a worship theme of repentance and godly sorrow.

There is much to be gained by learning to discern mood in Scripture text and in poetry and in musical phrasing.  Adjusting our mood to the passage or song will bless those we are trying lead. Fill your heart with a lot of the Bible and sing a wide variety of styles so you can shape your demeanor as needed for worship leading.








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