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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Singing Though Your Mic Stepping up and into your microphone

Encouraging musicians in the church to STEP UP and INTO the microphone is a constant point in my training. There is a ton of apprehension with church singers “bringing it” for fear of being perceived as rock stars. Using the microphone with confidence is the beginning of great on stage leadership.

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 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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A Worship Leader’s Guide to Cleaning Toilets

From worship star to janitor in one day

“Learn the lesson that, if you are to do the work of a prophet,
what you need is not a scepter but a hoe.”
Bernard of Clairvaux

There is a deep transformation that happens when cleaning up the waste of those you are leading in worship. This is my story of going from worship star to janitor in one day.

My story of going from worship star to janitor in one day. Click To Tweet

A couple of years ago, when I was about to finish up my prestigious Master’s degree in Worship Studies, I got word that our church was making some cuts and had to let the cleaning company go and they put me in charge of all church janitor duties. 15,000 square feet of carpet to vacuum, tile to mop, walls to dust, 20 trash cans to empty, and yes, 11 toilets to clean. I thought for sure I would have written a hit worship song by now or maybe have an assistant after all these years, but nope… I’m a 40-year-old janitor/worship leader for a resource-strapped church. Sweet. Dream come true.

NEW Posters for Worship Team Training

11x17 Posters for Green Room and Backstage

 

These high quality, durable 11×17 posters designed by Andrea Bryant are a wonderful inspiration for the worship leader, vocalist or church musician! These posters can be placed backstage, in the green room, in the office or home. Click the button below to order your own 11×17 Worship Team Training Poster:

One “Before You Sing” Poster  – $15
One “The Perfect Worship Set List” – $15
BOTH POSTERS SHIPPED! – $20


11×17 Poster Options (Price includes shipping)


 

 

 

My name is Mike O’Brien and I am passionate about teaching and mentoring through music. 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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The 7 Minute Worship Team Check-In

Transform your culture through care

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. –  Romans 12:10-13 

Band rehearsals are not usually super fun. Many times they are in the early hour or after a long day. Musicians and tech teams are all arriving with a variety of emotions, experiences and energy levels. Yes, your job as a worship leader is to get the band on track musically, but there is actually something more important that should PRECEDE music making.

Before your next rehearsal do this one thing and it will transform the culture of your volunteer worship ministry.

As the leader, arrive earlier than everyone else. Do everything administratively and technically possible to make the stage ready (print charts, check audio lines, etc..). Musicians will arrive and get set up. Once you and your bandmates have monitors solid and are ready to rehearse….

STOP EVERYTHING AND DO THIS… 

Drums, Drumming and Church: Podcast Guest Appearance

I recently sat down the Drummers Weekly Groovecast Podcast. We talked drums, drum, ing and church. Worship leaders, drummers, and pastors should check it out!

Four Behaviors of a Thriving Worship Ministry

Lessons From Churches from 50 and 5000.

Over the past 18 months, I have served fifty-plus churches as a worship team trainer and guest worship leader. I’ve noticed some interesting trends in worship ministries that are healthy, growing, and happy. This post has little to do with the quality of liturgy or congregational worship experience, but it’s more a peek under the administrative hood. It is not exhaustive, it’s just a list of markers I have noticed.

FOUR behaviors of thriving worship ministries:

1. THEY CONSISTENTLY (and uniformly) SCHEDULE THEIR VOLUNTEERS 

Most churches have multiple worship leaders. If you have three worship leaders and three different ways of administering bands, you will drive your volunteers crazy. There should be one system that everyone adheres to. If possible, try to implement the SAME system across the board for all volunteers so families can serve in multiple areas of the church without confusion.

  • Pick a System – There are several ways to let people know when they are serving at church. Planning Center Online is the king, however, you can also look at worshipteam.com and others. You might use a mix of online tools and simple PDF attachments to email. Your system should have a way to communicate seasonally (1-4 months at a time), weekly (hey, you’re on this week), and the day of service (hey, you’re on today). Provide schedules at least 1 month before the start of the schedule. (i.e. the January schedule is emailed November 30th etc…).
  • Do not avoid creating a system because one volunteer doesn’t use email or Facebook. Those people either need to yield to the agreed method or you can build a secondary system for them. Either way, there should be a system to reach everyone.
  • Once a healthy method for communication is in place, don’t constantly change your methodology. You will build trust with consistency, which is measured in years, not months.
  • Raise heck when your system is ignored or amended by well-meaning, creative people. Consistency breeds faithfulness (and more drummers).