Encouragement Is Free Using Words to Build Your Team

Recently a friend asked me what I would do with a blank check for the church. I love that question. I rattled off a list of wonderful band gear, design projects, and potential hires for needed areas. Reflecting the following day, the Lord revealed some areas of my heart that were needlessly operating under a burden of scarcity. He led me once again to the Psalmist’s proclamation:

For every beast of the forest is mine,

the cattle on a thousand hills.

I know all the birds of the hills,

and all that moves in the field is mine.

If I were hungry, I would not tell you,

for the world and its fullness are mine.

Psalm 50:10-12

Money is usually the grid by which I’ve seen this text, but when it comes to resources, the reality is that there is so much more to consider. At that moment the clearest resource the Lord was pointing to was my words.

Here are a few ways that we, as worship leaders, can use our words as resources to edify our teams:

15 Gift Ideas for Worship Leaders Unique ideas to bless the musician in your life

It’s that time of year again where you want to get the perfect gift for the church musician in your life. Buying something thoughtful or useful for a musician can be hard; they know what they like and they know what actually works. Because finding the perfect something can be a tall task, I’ve put together a list of creative gifts that any worship leader or church musician would enjoy. I’ve already vetted all the options, read the reviews and chose the perfect product.

Buying presents for a creative person means that your gift will not just be consumed, but be used to multiply goodness into the world. Happy shopping and giving!

1. Books on Worship/Creativity 

Here are some great titles that would bless the worship leader in your life. These are “easy” reads, but still intellectually rich and lasting. Even if they already have one of these titles, these are all classics and will be a welcome duplicate to share on the bookshelf of any worship leader.

For All God’s Worth – N.T. Wright

You Are What You Love – James K.A. Smith

A Brief History of Christian Worship – Jame F. White

The War of Art – Steven Pressfield

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration – Ed Catmull 

 

My Number One Congregational Participation Tip Start with strength and give it away

 

My name is Mike O’Brien and I am passionate about teaching and mentoring worship leaders and teams. My calling is to use my experience as a producer, worship leader, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist to come alongside musicians, helping them more fully worship God with their instrument and lives. Find out more about how I can help your worship leaders and teams HERE.

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Pastoring Your Worship Community Better This Year

This article appeared on the Vineyard Worship monthly “Notes From The Field” email. To subscribe go HERE.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality (Romans 12:10-13)

There are song leaders and there are worship leaders. There are worship leaders and there are worship pastors. Regardless of your specific title, I want to zoom in a bit this month on some approaches we can think about in regards to pastoring our worship community better this year. Some of this will come very naturally; if you are like me it’s a never-ending work in progress. We do play a role in shepherding our larger gathered church, but I want to speak to the team that is serving right alongside you.

At this point in my ministry experience, I see the worship stage as the center of the world. It’s not central for reasons of pride or music-centric ambitions, rather it’s primary in my mind because this is where I naturally do the work of discipleship. Musicians and techs under our care are being formed and shaped through the hours, weeks, and years of serving together. When you pastor your team skillfully, you are making disciples, and this is the work of the Kingdom!

Here are some practical ways I encourage you to think about this in 2019:

People Over (and Before) Production 
I love to produce awe-inspiring, over-the-top, pastor-pleasing weekend experiences. Ironically, for years I did this while stepping on the very people I was serving alongside. Over time I’ve learned to welcome and embrace every soul that enters into our rehearsal space. I try to take time before the music begins to give space for people to share and be present to one another. From that foundation of care, we make the music.

Seamless and Consistent Administration 
To quote a friend and mentor, Randy McCoy, “BAD administration hurts people.” One of the most loving things we can do for our teams is to have clean and consistent communication. Timely scheduling, song prep, emails, and texts all speak the language of care. Let people know what is expected of them and what they can expect from you. Over time these faithful structures will build trust, and your team will grow.

Never Stop Saying Thank You 
Sending encouraging texts/emails/cards before, during, and after services can be the fuel for a life-giving worship team environment.  Look for little and varied ways to say “thank you.” A little post-it note on a music stand/soundboard, a bottle of water, a backstage station for hot tea, or a social media shout-out can and will move mountains relationally and organizationally.

Never Stop Learning 
A thriving worship community will be, at its core, a learning community. Both newbies and “pros” will always be exploring new ways to be enriched and challenged. Part of your job as a worship pastor is encouraging everyone to have opportunities for growth. If most of the people on your stage have a “been there, done that” mentality it will create a sense of entitlement and cynicism. We all have something we can be learning. Has it all become just a little too easy? How are you growing as the leader?  Who are you encouraging to risk, stepping up and out? Who are your training to go even beyond you?

Vineyard School of Worship 
Consider attending one of our training events in 2019. Our Rise Worship Bootcamp is for ages 12 to 18, and our Summer Session is for ages 18 to 35. We are currently developing an all-ages Worship Leader Intensive. Also, mark your calendars for our next Sound and Song Summits. Go to vsow.org to learn more.

My name is Mike O’Brien and I am passionate about teaching and mentoring worship leaders and teams. My calling is to use my experience as a producer, worship leader, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist to come alongside musicians, helping them more fully worship God with their instrument and lives. Find out more about how I can help your worship leaders and teams HERE.

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Shepherding the Band The value of people over production

#1 Hardest Lesson learned in worship ministry: PEOPLE are more valuable than a great worship set.

If I lead a worship set that is 🔥🔥🔥 and verbally destroy sound techs, drummers and singers in the process it is a NET LOSS in the KINGDOM of God.

Pastors, if you have a high capacity/high output “get it done” kind of leader they will aim to please YOU above the commission to love and care for the people they lead.

 

My name is Mike O’Brien and I am passionate about teaching and mentoring worship leaders and teams. My calling is to use my experience as a producer, worship leader, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist to come alongside musicians, helping them more fully worship God with their instrument and lives. Find out more about how I can help your worship leaders and teams HERE.

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How To Talk To Your Sound Tech

A guide for worship leaders

In many churches, communication with the sound tech is a touchy subject. Most worship leaders can rattle off a list of offenses occurred from interactions from techs they have worked alongside. Likewise, most sound techs have countless horror stories of aggressive, diva musicians committing relational and technical fouls on stage before, during and after church services.

We must own, confess and repent for our part in relational damage with church techs; going forward, worship pastors and leaders must create a culture of honor, care and respect for those serving our sound. Click To Tweet

The solutions are more relational than technical (although gear runs a close second). Below are a few ways to engage your tech and make your church culture one that honors these valuable servants:

1.  Become Their Chief Encourager  

 Most technical people in church only get attention when something is wrong. Many have been shamed and ridiculed from the stage when things have gone wrong. Insecure musicians and communicators will often place blame on sound and media people from the stage.  Stop…. Right….. Now…. and ask God to reveal any techs from your past that you might have offended. Message, text, call and make it right.

After each and every rehearsal and service I strive to pinpoint a specific expression of kudos for the sound techs.

“Thanks for always being on time, it really makes a difference for us.”

“That kick drum sounded massive today!”

“The vocals were spot on tonight – I loved how easy you made it.”

“When you took time to help Sue with her bass amp, it really helped make the rehearsal go easy.”

Brand this phrase on your leadership heart: “what is rewarded is repeated.” This one concept has guided my leadership style more than any other in creating positive and healthy relationships in worship ministry.

Kingdom Theology and Advent

The Kingdom of God in Advent is slow, contested, and unexpected. For worship leaders, the weeks preceding Christmas are a fitting time to highlight the tension in the Kingdom of God as we wait for the coming Messiah. In our prayers, songs and language we can once again enter into the story of longing and hope that crescendos into incarnation. Even though we know the end of the story, we need to help frame incarnation for all who are being formed by it as we worship and lead others.

Check out my encouragement here for worship leaders during this Advent season:

 

My name is Mike O’Brien and I am passionate about teaching and mentoring worship leaders and teams. My calling is to use my experience as a producer, worship leader, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist to come alongside musicians, helping them more fully worship God with their instrument and lives. Find out more about how I can help your worship leaders and teams HERE.

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How to Talk to Your Drummer

A Guide for Worship Leaders

For many worship leaders communicating with your fellow musicians is a huge challenge. It can be very intimidating to give an opinion about an instrument you don’t play.

Since the drummer and the drumset play such a critical role in the overall sound of our bands, here are here are several ideas of how you can talk to your drummer.

1.  Learn the Names of Drums and Cymbals 

Throne – The stool the drummer sits on is called a “throne” – and no that’s not a joke! Most drum thrones are adjustable and you might suggest raising or lowering the throne if you have a new drummer or someone unfamiliar with your church kit.

Kick Drum (aka Bass Drum) – This is usually the biggest drum on the drumset. It is hit with a pedal that has a beater attached. This drum has the lowest frequency of the drumset. It is a very important part of the overall sound. The bass guitar should interplay with this drum.

“Let’s really lay into that kick drum on this song.”  

“Don’t play the kick at all during the first verse.” 

Snare – Equally as important as the kick, the snare drum is commonly what plays the backbeat (where you want to clap). Snare drums can be tuned high or low. Snare drums can be struck in the center and on the edge of the head for different tones. You can turn the snares (the metal strings that line the bottom snare head) on or off and they can be adjusted to rattle more or less. You can hit just the rim of this drum for a muted click sound that can be pleasing (this is technically called a “cross-stick” although some mistakenly call it a “rimshot” which is something else).

“Play the snare really loose on this section.”  

“Maybe try a cross stick rim thing on this part?”  

Hi-Hats – These two cymbals join together on a specialized stand that is hit with a stick or “chicked” by simply depressing the pedal with your foot. If your foot is pressed down hard these will have a quick, tight sound when struck,  the more you lift your foot the louder and more wild they become when struck. How “open” the hi-hats are when hit will DRASTICALLY alter the volume and perceived volume of the drumset.

“Can you close the hi-hats a bit more?” 

“What would it sound like if we just keep the hi-hat going during the chorus instead of ride?” 

Tom(s) – These drums are powerful for creating transitions between song parts. They are the most melodic elements of the drumset and can create pleasing (or irritating) rhythmic patterns.

“Let’s do a tom fill going into that outro.” 

“Lay off on the toms to open up space under that guitar solo.” 

Floor Tom(s) – This is the larger of the toms and can be used to create low-end power and energy. If you have subwoofers in your sound system then should be rocking when this drum is hit.

“Can you play eighth notes on the floor tom instead of the hi-hat?” 

Crash Cymbal(s) – These typically have shorter sustain and add an accent to song sections or transitions.

“I like that bigger crash on that intro.” 

Ride Cymbal – This is a complex cymbal that can have a “ping” sound or “washy” sound. The sound changes depending on where you hit it.

“Maybe a little more wash on this part and less ping?” 

Splash Cymbal – These cymbals are super small and provide a very high pitched and short sustaining accent.

“Can you take the splash cymbal home and never bring it back?” 

Chime Tree, Tambourine, and Shaker – Random percussion can add pleasing elements to the song selections. It’s common for a drummer to use a shaker for a verse section or for the whole song. You could use a tambourine laying on a floor tom for accents.

“You can only rake the chime tree only two times in this song… thank you.” 

“Let’s do a tambo hit on 2 and 4 instead of the snare for this section.” 

2. Learn and Speak the LANGUAGE OF RHYTHM for Drummers 

Kick, hi-hat, and ride cymbal rhythms are vital to the feel of the song sections. You might simply ask the drummer to “play busier” or “play simpler”, but if you know a more specific language, it would be helpful.

Setting Up A Click Track For Your Worship Team

Adding a click track (metronome) to your worship team setup is easy and the video below shows you how to do it. Despite what some believe, adding a click will not automatically void the Holy Spirit from your church or kill the “feel” of your musicianship. Here are some reasons why I love having a permanent click ready to go at the church:

  •  It is a helpful tool to have for younger drummers, as timing is usually the #1 issue.
  • You can easily reference the tempo of a song before you rehearse or lead.
  • It’s a great tool for drummers in training if they use the church drumset during the week to practice.
  • Your musicians can learn the art and joy of pushing and dragging against the click.
  • Familiarizing your church culture with a click will give musicians a tool that will aid them if they enter a recording studio.
  • If you are recording your services you can sync other musical elements later with more ease.
  • Metronomes are standard tools for most world-class musicians.
  • You don’t have to use it on every song, but the tool is there if you want it.

This video shows my process for setting up a permanent click (metronome) next to the drum set.

WHAT TO BUY:

Tama Rythm Watch: https://amzn.to/2Lhrq0e
Power Adapter for the Tama Rythm Watch: https://amzn.to/2LTOQdu
The Mount for the Rythm Watch: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/deta…
Clamp for Holder (clamp to the high hat or other stand): https://amzn.to/2LPXnhj

Here is a little chart showing you how the audio will be run for the click:

The finished project will look something like THIS

My name is Mike O’Brien and I am passionate about teaching and mentoring worship leaders and teams. My calling is to use my experience as a producer, worship leader, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist to come alongside musicians, helping them more fully worship God with their instrument and lives. Find out more how I can help your worship leaders and teams HERE.

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