worship leader

Training Musicians

As a worship leader, training up musicians and other worship leaders is a centerpiece of my role. Training musicians is necessary in order to have a thriving, sustainable worship experience at your church. But I would venture to say that as Christians, that should only be part of the motivation for raising the talent level and excellence of our worship teams. The beauty in my platform as a worship leader is that I get to develop people. So often we view developing great musicians as the end goal. Having excellent bands is not enough for us to count ourselves as successful worship leaders. I think that training musicians is actually just a means, whose end is discipleship. I’d like to offer what I think are some practical steps to make that vision of discipleship come to life.

1. Spend time with your team outside of service and rehearsals.

This should be of utmost priority to anyone in a leadership position. If you position yourself as a leader who spends time with people “offstage”, they are much more prone to value your opinions and respect your decisions. It builds trust between you and your team. In everything from Paul and Timothy to Obi Wan and Luke, the value of organic relationships in a leadership role can be clearly seen and appreciated! Everything else is secondary.

2. Do away with chord charts during services. 

Not even cheat sheets. When I used to lead in youth ministry (where I dealt with mostly inexperienced musicians), I found that chord charts and cheat sheets were a huge hindrance. When your musicians are relying on these tools, they aren’t allowing themselves to actively memorize the music, thus obstructing their perspectives on good musicianship. When I began to take these pieces of paper from them, they realized that they had to understand the guts of the song -- the chords, the rises and falls, the subtleties. I watched them participate in making the music, which is the quickest way that anyone can learn. 

3. Provide them with everything they need to succeed.

Set your team up for success! If you are doing an arrangement differently from the MP3, take the time to cut the MP3 to flow how you will be performing it. Provide chord charts with as many notes as possible for rehearsal. And for the love of all that is good and holy, please communicate often! So many times we blame our team members for mistakes that we could easily fix with consistent communication. Are you doing every single thing you can in order to ensure that your team is well equipped? This can transform a team member who has great potential and willingness into a beastly musician with a heart for your worship experience. 

4. Give them freedom.

I say this with a caveat; you must trust the musician in question. If you’re dealing with a player you feel comfortable with, don’t be afraid to let him or her try that guitar line that doesn’t necessarily suit your preference. Let your drummer do a jazzy fill every once in a while, even if it isn’t something you would choose to do. Giving your team freedom of expression (as long as it doesn’t hinder your overall vision for the songs) is a great way to continue to build trust, and to get your musicians thinking outside the box. 

Hopefully these steps serve as practical reminders for you as a worship leader or band director. Remember to always build genuine relationships with your team members, and to love them well. Happy team building!


Vagner is our Plantation Campus Worship Leader. He leads with passion and loves creating an atmosphere in worship that empowers people to meet with God. Learn more about Vagner.

Worship Leading: Preparing Your Attention

Everyday there are things that demand our attention and things that deserve our attention. Finding the balance between the practical demands of putting on church services and attending to our own personal spiritual well is a great struggle for worship leaders. I know I have found this to be a line of difficulty, the line between musical excellence and active engagement with God in His presence.

Too often, I am guilty of giving my attention to whatever is screaming for it. You’ve been there: the turn into the verse that is a little shaky, that high note on the bridge you’re anticipating to be flat, the lyric computer freezing… all these sometimes-small things scream for our attention. If we give into what demands our attention over the God who deserves our attention, we can begin to measure the success (and the purpose) of church gatherings on accomplishments and not on our encounter with a living God.

So what can we do to focus our mind’s attention and heart’s affection on God and put the rest into proper perspective this Sunday?

Preach the gospel to yourself.

It’s surprisingly easy to forget the powerful truth that while we were still sinners, Jesus Christ died our death, making a way for us to enter into God’s Kingdom! The Gospel isn’t a one time grace, it’s a grace we need constantly; it’s a grace that brings us close and keeps us close. Remember to meditate on this daily, and especially before you walk on a platform to lead. Abide in Christ’s love (John 15: 9-12).

Don’t neglect the secret place of worship.

Engage with God off the platform, just you and the Lord. Sing in your private time to Him and enjoy His love for you. If worship “sounds great” on Sunday but your intimacy with God is neglected, what’s the point? Don’t let “spirituality” become your job or you will end up pulling water from a dry well. Instead, spend time seeking His presence and He will fill your soul. 

Read the Bible for you, not for your job.

I have been guilty of reading my bible in search of truths to share with the church and not in search of truths that will better my relationship and understanding of the nature of God.  Read the Word of God for you, not to just to fulfill the role of a "worship leader." Apart from being rooted in Christ, you cannot bear fruit. His Word is what roots us. 

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

The more technically prepared you are, the freer you will be to engage in God’s presence. When you’re worried about the next chord, lyric or song, it will dominate your inner dialogue and become a distraction. In those moments, it’s near impossible to discern the still, small, voice of the Spirit because you are barely keeping your head above water. Put in the work to know the music to the best of your ability so that you can focus your energies on seeking His presence with the Church on Sunday.

Here’s to focusing our hearts and minds on the One who deserves our attention this week!

 

 

Shepherding Your Team

It’s so easy to forget that spiritually leading my team is the most important part of my job as a worship leader. Often times, I am very concerned with the quality of the experience, but I can forget about the quality of influence on my worship team. Psalm 33:3 says, “Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.” From this verse we see that the Lord enjoys our excellence. But so often, the pursuit of excellence and the tyranny of the urgent can pull us from what really matters: loving the people around us. I can forget that God has placed a team of people under my leadership so that I can shepherd them. Love them. Encourage them. Correct them and help them grow. Pray for them. Walk with them through some of the toughest seasons of their life. And as shameful as it is for me to admit, when I’m not prioritizing how I can serve them, I can start to see my team of volunteers as a resource instead of as people, as God’s children. I can fall into the trap of thinking about what they can do for me, instead of what I can be doing for them. .

Perhaps, you too tend to lose sight of the state of your people. Well, there’s hope for the both of us and it begins with our willingness to be intentional. “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks…” (Proverbs 27:23). Great leaders consider how their people are, not just how useful they can be. Knowing the condition of your community (individually and as a whole) will not just happen naturally. Intimacy is hard work. The Message translation says, “Know your sheep by name.” How many times have you been introduced to someone, only to forget their name seconds after you shook their hand? Guilty! To know your people you must be intentional to listen to them. You need to be the one asking the questions, praying the prayers, and making the time for your volunteers. As your knowledge grows, so will your compassion to disciple them.

Being purposeful and accessible are maybe the greatest keys to effective discipleship. You’re probably thinking, “How am I going to make time on top of everything?” I understand. The secret is to create margin. Organize your time and your tasks well so that when Sunday arrives you can spend your time with your team, instead of charting songs and answering emails.

As you get to know your team, not only will you be able to more effectively encourage them, but you will also be able to empower them. Andy Stanley writes in Next Generation Leader, “The people who follow us are exactly where we have led them. If there is no one to whom we can delegate, it is our own fault.” Good leaders produce followers, great leaders create more leaders. Jesus is (literally) the perfect example of this. He came to serve, not to be served, and then He empowered us to carry His precious gospel. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father (John 4:12).” Consider the strengths of your team members and start giving them responsibilities in those areas. This will assist you in creating margin for yourself. You may even discover that they are better at parts of your job than you are, and that’s okay.

Be encouraged knowing that the God who is your perfect example is also your perfect strength. Be intentional to know your people, listen to them, pray for them create margin for them and empower them in their strengths. If you are looking for ways to serve your team, you will find them. It doesn’t mean you always have all the answers. More often than not, it just means you are willing to listen. 

5 Tips For Worship Leaders

 

Before I start, I should preface by saying if you’re leading worship, you’re in ministry. Regardless of church attendance or equipment used, it’s a big deal and we need to support each other in this journey.  Why? As the Church, and further, worship leaders, we can accomplish infinitely more together than we can apart. So, that said, I hope my top 5 tips can serve you well, or maybe someone you know even better. These are not necessarily “right” or “wrong” in my mind, but more things I learned from experience and desire to pass along.

1. GET OUT OF THE GREENROOM

Your weekly stage time is unearned leadership equity. You acquire influence just by standing up there! You often have as much stage time as your pastor, if not more. Take time to invest in the people attending your church, outside of the greenroom. As much as your team of volunteers and musicians might need you, you’ll feel just how much your people need you too… as more than a leader, but a pastor.

2. “GOD, LET ME FEEL THE NEEDS OF MY PEOPLE.”

How do you pick songs? I hope the determining factors are more than just great electric delay lines or synth leads. No, the prayers of your people should motivate the choice. Prayerfully discipline yourself to become aware of the Church’s needs, locally and globally. Don’t be surprised if God trumps your desire to introduce 5 new songs next week to instead play a dated, but timely, song.

3. LIVE OUTSIDE OF YOUR JOB DESCRIPTION

I am a full proponent of boundaries, knowing what you do and don’t do is essential to managing yourself (time, finances, energy) well. However, I would also encourage you to step outside of your written list of 9 to 5 obligations to serve other areas of ministry. What is stirring in the youth department? When's the last time you grabbed lunch with a member of the tech team? Watch how your team begins to strengthen because you went outside of your “job description.”

4. GIVE AND TAKE AWAY

“Walk worthy of the calling you have received.” –Ephesians 4:1. As quickly as your excitement came for getting the position as “worship leader,” the disappointment of losing it can come just as fast. Go check out the book of 1 Timothy 3, it’s a solid list of things to keep in mind to honor your position in ministry. As a leader, you are held to a higher standard. It may not be “fair,” but it’s only natural when you have influence for people to examine your character and the decisions that reflect it. Remember, if we have integrity, nothing else matters. If we don’t have integrity, nothing else matters. Fight for integrity.

5. WHAT YOU SEE, THEY SEE

Have a VISION for your team. Ask yourself, “Why do we do what I do? What is my purpose in leading worship?” Create a mission statement and share it with your worship team and pastor. Leadership guru Patrick Lencioni says, "[Visions and values] serve as cultural cornerstones and must never be compromised." Your vision and hope for your community will influence the shape of your worship team culture. So, what do want to be the thing that brings your team time, and time again, to the stage? What is the heartbeat of your church? Write it, memorize it, live it by it. Stay the course.


Guest post by John Maguire

John grew up in Gainesville, FL and attended Oceans Edge School of Worship in September 2009.  Before joining the the CCFL worship staff, John was a worship pastor at LifeChurch.tv Wellington.  He assists with our lighting and stage design, leads worship at all our campuses, and is involved in development of worship leaders. For more about John, follow him on Instagram/Twitter @_JohnMaguire_

Q&A: Forrest Brown, Worship Leader

Last February, our former Hollywood Campus Worship Leader, Forrest Brown and his wife Shannon, moved to Virginia Beach, Va to accept a music/creative arts director position at Grace Bible Church. We can’t believe it has been a year since they moved! So we asked them to answer a couple questions on how they’re doing, how God is moving in their lives, and how we can pray for them.

Forrest & Shannon Brown
Virginia Beach, VA

What can you tell us about your family?
Both of our families, Shannon’s in Fort Lauderdale and mine in Pittsburgh, have been so supportive. This was the first time Shannon ever moved away from home, and it definitely brings back some tough memories when I left home for the first time and headed to Tennessee right after high school.

What can you tell us about your roles/positions? 
My role at Grace Bible Church is music/creative arts director and Shannon works as an in-store guest trainer for Apple! I get a chance to lead a team of 4–5 volunteer worship leaders and two bands across two campuses: Lynnhaven and Norfolk. I'm also a part of a really great team of right-brain creatives that heads up the set design for every sermon series. Shannon has actually been a huge part of both of my roles at Grace.

How was it experiencing so much change at once? You got married, moved and started two new jobs!
CRAZYville, USA. It really was nuts. I think there was a bit of shock initially, to be honest. The whole moving process in and of itself was stressful . . . I'm convinced that couples should be required to move bulky items together as a part of premarital counseling. It was a lot at once, but what got us through it was knowing that we were exactly where God called us to be. At the end of the day, we had peace that God was with us and this was our time for pruning. It's never enjoyable initially to be pruned but with it comes more fruit!

How has God encouraged you guys in your step of faith?
God's provision has been incredibly evident. Each Monday morning I have a chance to meet with three guys and we go through the word together. I'm not sure if I would be here still if it weren’t for those guys and their encouragement. Shannon has the same type of ladies group that meets on Tuesdays. Connecting relationally with other people has been priceless. We are grateful to be young homeowners too, which is a huge provision.

What have been your biggest challenges?
Being away from family. You don't know what an incredible support system family is until you don't have them around you. Also, on my team, one of the biggest challenges has been implementing change. The first few months I felt like I was the guy who showed up at a really cool birthday party uninvited. It took some time to win people over and to show them that I am for them. Honestly, not to plug Ocean's Edge School of Worship, but the curriculum I had an opportunity to teach in worship lab is straight gold. My first six months was basically the real life version of worship lab!

What are some of your best memories from this past year? 
Buying our first house! That whole process was really daunting, but it was cool getting to dream with Shannon about where we wanted to raise a family. Another great memory is getting to know some of the other staff at Grace. We have connected with one of our teaching pastors, Eric Sanzone and his family of seven. They have welcomed us in. The friendships have been really crucial!

What are you dreams/plans for the future? Kiddos?
More Grace changed lives! I really want God to use us wherever we are and I want to invest the talents he has given me to multiply and further His Kingdom. Kidzzz—uhh, duh! Kids TBA! Hoping to name my first child Thicket. Like a small version of Forrest . . . see what I did there???

Anything else you’d like to share with us?
WE MISS YOU ALL. I miss being around Wooddell, Strickland, Bobby Bemis, and everyone I had a chance to work alongside. I have so much love for you all in my heart and you guys have shaped my desire to do this. It all started at the Boca Campus when Andrew Strickland followed the call to make disciples. Now, I get to take that to a different city, different community, and a different church. I am lucky to know you guys.

How can we pray for you and support you?
Pray for Shannon and I to be united and have a greater measure of love for the Grace Bible Church community. For Shannon, being away from family. And pray for God to continue to give us the peace that His ways are so much greater than ours.

Rehearsal Tips

Rehearsal Tips

Often times, a "great rehearsal" seems to be one of those things worship leaders can’t figure out. But really, the success of a rehearsal is simply a matter of leadership. I’ve outlined some things I have discovered over the past decade as a worship leader and a band member that have helped to make my rehearsals more effective and efficient.