One week to leading…SERVICE TIME

There are services at church all the time. Youth, Children’s, Young Adults, Singles, Saturday nights, Sunday mornings and more. Assuming you have had the time to prepare, practice and get yourself ready to lead worship for the service…it’s time to move on to the next steps.

Please remember…these are only suggestions. Modify them if you want. Use them if you want. Feel free to change things around…I do on occasion.

Some important things to remember…

Pre-Service – You have already had practice and hopefully had a quick sound check on each instrument/vocalist…and now it’s time to get everyone ready. Most likely…it’s early in the morning. Most likely…you and the team are still a bit groggy. Consider using a song to warm up and slowly get everyone used to being on stage. I typically use a slower song…spending a few minutes just worshipping God. Starting off the morning with your fastest song…while it probably is first in line…might be hard because everyone…including you…is still waking up.

Run Through – If you have the time…run through each of your songs again. If not…try running through one or two after the warm-up song. I typically end the run through with a fast song to get the blood moving and keep the energy up. Leave yourself 10 minutes to run the transitions.

Transitions – Line up your songs and run the beginning of the first. Cut it once you get into it a bit. Run the end of that song into the next…practicing the transition. Example of a 3 song set – Run through the intro and first verse of I Am Free and cut it. Run the end of I Am Free into the beginning of Blessed Be Your Name and cut it. Run the end of Blessed Be Your Name into the beginning of The Stand…and cut it. You get the point. This part goes fast. Walk the team through the transitions before going through them. Hopefully…after this…you won’t have many awkward transitions in the service.

Pray – Prayer cannot simply be something you quickly do with the team before you walk on stage and assume leadership. It must be something that you truly set time aside for. If it means that you and your team arrive 15 minutes early for the service…then by all means…do so. I’ve led services where I had taken little time to pray and I honestly felt lost. Take time to cover the building in prayer. Crave God’s presence…invite the Holy Spirit to come…you get the point.

When it comes time for the service, your practice and your preparation will allow you to focus on what really matters come time for the service…leading God’s people in worship of the Almighty God.

Peace. Jesse.

One week to leading…REHEARSAL

This post assumes that you are interested in leading worship…leading a band…and most likely…not working with professional musicians.

They’re never quite the most fun activity…but they sure can bring about a great weekend. Rehearsals are necessary for so many reasons. Rather than write about why their important…here are some tips to running a good one.

Prepare – Have you run through the charts to find out if all the chords/lyrics are correct or spent time practicing/preparing for the rehearsal? Do you know how many times you are going to sing the chorus? It’s hard to lead someone when you have little idea of where you are going. Put in the time and then when you get to rehearsal…you can change it if needed.

Transitions – Once you have practiced your music…clearly understand your transitions. There is nothing more awkward in a service than watching a guitarist change his capo, wrestle with their music and then look at the band as if to ask…”you guys ready?” Take the time to work out your transitions between songs so you know what to ask for when it comes time. Try to keep the momentum going.

Verbiage – Take time to learn the language. Instead of asking the drummer to “give me that ‘boom’ sound,” ask for the kick on each beat. If you are unsure of how to ask for a certain sound out of an instrument…spend some time asking questions. Swallow the pride and take time getting to know each of the instruments you are leading. It will go a long way with your musicians and you will be able to ask more clearly for what you need.

Time – Understand that most of your musicians/vocalists have given up their time to come to the rehearsal. They left their families, packed up after work and made the same trek you did to be there. Be careful with their time and please don’t waste it by not being prepared. Running through a song 5 times in practice might sound like a good idea…but trust me…it’s brutal on your team.

Music – I spend the first part of rehearsal just running through the songs…one by one. It takes some time for everyone to relax and settle in…so run through each song. Before each one…try and set out a “roadmap” of the song so they know where you are going…chorus, verse, bridge…how many times etc. Try not to stop in the middle of each song. If the tempo is off or some people hit some wrong notes. it’s OK. As long as it’s not a complete train wreck…you can come back and work through it in parts as needed. After I have run through each song once, I run each song individually again. This time…I might ask for a faster tempo or give them a heads up about a certain chord progression we might have bobbled. If the song sounds good…move on. Rehearsal is about making the music right…Sunday mornings are for sound check and running the transitions.  (Sunday mornings will be another postJ)

Hopefully…by the end of a practice…you can feel good about the music, your band/vocalists feel like they know what you are asking from them and you are ready to let go of all the details and just concentrate on leading the church in worship of the Almighty God.

Hope this helps and leave some comments if you got em! Peace. Jesse.

Quick Update on life and…

Whoa…been way too long since I posted here…sorry about that!

2 things to read below:

1. For the next week…

2. What’s going on in my life…just in case you were wondering.

 1. I have been talking with quite a few people lately who are wanting to be worship leaders. They have musical ability…they are wonderful people…and they want to learn.

So…for the next week…I am going to place another “Blog a Day” about some more thoughts on worship leading. Mostly logistics…so check in if you are interested 😉

2 – Ahhh life. Well…some interesting stuff going on.

First off, I am back into leading worship on a regular basis and I am so stoked to be doing so! I was in the process of interviewing with a church offering a full time job in the area but it just didn’t work out. The process took its time…as it most always does…and during that time, I realized how much I had missed leading worship on a more consistent basis. I filled in a few weekends at a church in Rocklin called “Grace Rocklin” and Joanna and I both fell in love with the people and the church. 

There isn’t cash in the church budget to support a hire right now but Joanna and I are in a good spot. We love the people there and they have been completely supportive and loving of us too. It’s great to be in a place we love again…and I am so thankful to be leading worship.

  • We’re still trying for another baby (refer to earlier posts) and so…we’d love your prayers for success. 
  • My cat is on a diet…which subsequently means she is much nicer to everyone…who knew?
  • Still on unemployment. It’s all good…so glad I can get the checks!
  • I ran my 2nd Half Marathon and I finished it under 2 hours! Joanna beat me again…but I still feel great about the time!
  • My best friend moved from hell aka…Arizona…(sorry AZ folks) and now he and his beautiful family are just over an hour’s drive from my house.
  • My mom and sister flew down and supprised me…I got to meet my new nephew and he is so sweet. I love him.
  • My 10 year High School reunion is in  July and I am stoked to reconnect with old friends.

So…that’s about it. Life is good…living tight and writing a much better story this year for my life.

Thanks for reading! Jesse.

It’s country baby…

So…I facebook’d (if that’s a word) once about writing a country song and Jeff Eberhardt called me a liar.

Well, it’s true…I was not writing one then…but today, one chorus popped into my head. So there Jeff…I am not a liar 😉

It’s not genius, but I did a VERY quick recording on my IMac. No special setup…just used the microphone on my Mac.

Check out what 30 minutes on the computer gets you and have a good laugh.

Love you all!

Jesse

Reaching out…

Wading through life’s murky waters, we are often presented with situations that are neither black or white….but grey. Each day we are presented with situations and decisions to make and every day I pray for wisdom.

Right now…if you have been following me on this blog or on Facebook…you probably know that I have some big decisions coming up…or at least that I have to make some choices.

I am unemployed…looking to get back into ministry full time and trying to discern the future. I am trying to clearly hear God’s voice in the midst of the decisions and choices.

I feel like Elijah…waiting inside the cave…waiting to hear God’s voice. There is thunder…rumbling, fire and many other noises outside and yet God is not among the noise.

I would love your clarity and insight. How do you make life decisions…the big ones. Outside of the obvious prayer times…how do you clearly discern God’s voice?

Honestly, I am asking for your perspective and wisdom…will you comment?

Love. Jesse.

Getting a body check…

“I can tell you have a pastors heart Jesse. I can tell that you love people. I see how people respond to your sincerity and honesty. But when you got on stage and began to lead worship…I felt like I had whiplash. Who was this guy up there…is what I kept thinking?”

The above statement is from a pastor whom I trust. He was speaking to me with honesty and concern about how I led worship in his church. I can honestly tell you that I had absolutely no idea this would be his reaction. Until this point…I really didn’t know how he thought the weekend went.

I was so thankful for his honesty though. He wasn’t belittling me…or putting me down. He was speaking out of concern for how I led. Really…he had just spent the 30 minutes prior to that building me up and encouraging me. Reality is…it was so true. I came into this church one weekend and with all the energy I could muster…I grabbed them and dragged them to the throne of God…rather than trying to be transparent and truly lead them there.

Since that weekend…and after hearing his heart…I am reminded of why I am a worship leader. For years, I was told to keep it short…focus on the music and leave the talking to the preacher. I had 15 minutes to bring them from the streets to taking communion. I continually felt the pressure to push through and do all I could to bring about a great set.

I had honestly forgotten what it was like to allow space in a worship set. To connect with the group I was with…establish credibility and simply open the doors for them to walk through. Instead…I had focused my energy on hurdling as many of them as I could.

His comments helped me to remember how I was as a young leader. I needed the reminder to open my heart to the people. I needed the reminder and the permission to allow space for God to move. I will be forever thankful for his thoughts and encouraging words.

It’s great to get honest advice and feedback on how you lead. As a worship leader, continue to be open to criticism and underestimate praise…because even if it goes well…it still had nothing to do with you 😉

God Bless. Jesse.

Church lessons from Facebook

I am an avid facebook user and like many others…I am grumbling about the new changes. One day…I click on my facebook link expecting to see what I am comfortable and familiar with. I expected to see the same messages, know where to click for my favorite links and interact with the many people I consider “friends.”  But things have changed…wether I like it or not… I am left to figure out the new layout.

A post on facebook by my friend PC Walker got me thinking though. His post was, “It seems facebook is hearing the same ‘feedback’ pastors have been hearing for centuries: “stop changing stuff.”

I laughed as I read it. It’s so very true. In order for the church to grow and infect lives with the gospel message, it has to change. People are used to their seat in a service. They are used to the format of church and the path they have to connect with their “friends.”

With that in mind, I thought I might share my thoughts on how change can be brought on with effectiveness and health.

Preview, preview, preview. There was no preview given of the new FB home page before it went live…no real announcements and very little heads up. When Yahoo! changed its famous home page, I am pretty sure most people knew what to expect because they offered you a chance to preview the new page format a full two months before they changed it. When Google changed the format of it’s GMAIL, they allowed you to switch back to the old format if you needed….at least for awhile.

When we make changes in our discipleship patterns, church services and many other aspects of how people connect to information and others through the church, we must give them a preview. Give them a chance to understand why the change is important. Create a conversation with feedback that allows them to be a part of the change rather than exploding on them one weekend. Preach the change…talk about the changes and how they will make things better in the long run.

Never assume that you have all the answers. When Facebook changes it’s design and links without a preview, they are essentially saying that they have the process figured out and know that you will eventually see the light. There is an assumption that people will stay through the change and with new products like Google Buzz coming into the mix, assumptions are never safe because people always have a choice.

Now, I am not calling church a product…but people have a choice. In our consumerist culture, people will choose a church that suits them if they feel like they have no choices in their current place. As a worship leader or preacher or pastor…you have to understand this concept. Hopefully, through time…you have been able to connect and build trust with your congregation so that they understand the heart behind the changes you feel are needed.

I am not saying that you should cater and sacrifice your calling to the whims of the church. I am not saying that you need to create multiple types of services so that you can attract the largest crowd. But, if you forget that the changes you make as a pastor affect peoples lives…then you will be a leader with very few followers. Learn to create a conversation. Learn to continually provide vision. And learn from the mistakes of others.

Blessings friends. Jesse.