Should All Songs Point to the Pulpit?

Jon Nicol writes an open letter to senior pastors:

Dear Senior Pastor,

Before I start, I just want to say thanks for what you do week-after-week to bring us a message from the Word. Most of your congregation has no clue of the work–not to mention the emotional toll–that it takes to get up to teach and preach the message every Sunday. That alone is a burden to carry, not to mention all the other aspects of being a senior pastor.

The preparation you put into your messages is the same kind of preparation your worship leader would love to be able to put into their worship planning, practices and rehearsals. And that’s what I want to talk to you about.

A Time and Planning Barrier
I’ve been working with worship leaders for awhile, and one of the barriers they have in their preparation is the amount of time they’re given to plan their music. I’m not sure what your particular process is. But I have worked with worship leaders who can’t plan their music until the middle of the week, because they don’t know the theme of the message until then.

This creates a domino effect. Since the worship leader can’t plan the music ahead of time…

  • the team doesn’t have time practice the music before they arrive at mid-week rehearsal…
  • the mid-week rehearsal becomes their practice. Essentially they’re individually learning the songs when they should be rehearsing…
  • the Sunday morning warm-up time then becomes the rehearsal that they should have had during the week. It’s now a scramble to make the songs sound right, when they should be just reviewing and warming up…
  • the first service then becomes the warm-up…
  • and finally, the second service is starting to come together, that is, if you have second service.

If your church’s team only rehearses on Sunday morning, this process gets even hairier.

Here’s the thing – imagine preparing your sermon to be spoken through seven different people. That’s what your worship leader is dealing with. They need more lead time. Since the leader may not know till Monday, Tuesday or even Wednesday what your sermon is about, he/she can’t get the music out to their team ahead of time to practice. And EVERY musician needs to practice songs, no matter how good they are.

Continue reading.

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