Over my career I’ve visited and played in countless contemporary churches. I’ve noticed a few reoccurring problems that can easily be fixed to help the quality of your contemporary worship.
A Stale Sameness. We all have our favorite worship leaders, but if you’re a Joel Houston fan, does every song in your set have to be written by Joel Houston or one of his clones? It seems like everything these days is either Hillsong/Bethel/Elevation or trying to sound like Hillsong/Bethel/Elevation.
If you do five songs in your set, do two or three of your favorites, then throw in something different – a piano ballad… a hymn… a golden oldie praise song… a ukulele… anything to add variety.
The best praise set I’ve heard in a long time was created by a 28 year old local worship leader here in Greenville – it had a little bit of everything (cutting edge praise songs, older praise songs and a hymn to boot,) reached a wide audience and kept you engaged.
Service Order. Ever wonder why your guitarist/drummer/keyboardist draws a blank during your set when it’s time for them to start the intro to the next song? Many worship leaders don’t provide a service order for the band at rehearsal. Instead, the band is given a stack of jumbled charts for the upcoming Sunday.
I want to know the order and have it in front of me (seeing it on a worship planning website isn’t enough) so I can start getting it ingrained into my pin head.
Print out a one page service order with announcements, sermon, song order (with the key for each song) and anything else happening. Band members can keep it to the side of their music stand. If my music is memorized and I don’t have a stand I fold the service order up and keep it on my keyboard or on the floor. When I inevitably draw a blank and can’t remember the next song a train wreck is avoided. Or I might step off the stage during announcements when, opps, there’s still another song coming up for the offering.
Song keys. In one church we played a song in B and the song that immediately followed was in C. It would have been a much easier, effortless and smoother transition to play both songs in B or C! After you create your praise set this week, look it over and even sit down and play it through on your guitar or piano – can worship flow be improved by nudging keys slightly? Related keys are your friend – going from D major to G major works much better than going from D major to F# major. A half step can make all the difference!
With the weekly Sunday worship grind we can sometimes go on autopilot and let quality slip. Resist the inertia and recharge for this week’s worship!