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)

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

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.

An App for Song Writers

3 01 2010

There are plenty of times when we are away from the computer or our favorite instrument we use to compose music.  Sometimes we are looking for just the right progression of chords to make a song sound just right.  Even though all worship songs that I write will end up for a Capella voices it helps to hear the chords as I build the song.

Enter a really nice app from Hopefully Simple Software.  It is not set up like a piano keyboard.  Instead it is set up to play chords.  The chords on each page are complementary to each other.  There are chord modifiers that allow you to change the inversions and add 7th to the family.  There is also a button that will allow you to show the Chord Numbers for those of us who play by standard Nashville chord chart tab.

There is a recording feature with a metronome to record your song.  It also writes the chords for you into a file that you can review as it plays the song.  Sadly, you can’t export them to print or create a midi file so you could import it into your music notation program.  That is not their goal anyway.

Capturing your chord progressions and experimenting with chord spellings is.  To this end the app is wonderful.  This little app lets you change keys so you can build your song in any key.  The program includes major, minor and 7th chords for each key.  This feature also makes it possible to listen to a song on your stereo and discover the key and chord progressions.

The app downloads with sound files that are in low resolution format.  However they let you upgrade them to high quality wav files.  It sounds great on the headphones or your The app downloads with sound files that are in low resolution format.  However they let you upgrade them to high quality wav files.  It sounds great on the headphones or your iPhone speakers.  For $1.99 you can feed that inner creativity and capture your song ideas on the fly in place you have your iPhone or iTouch.