Worship Leader Beatitudes 1

Be Organized

Organization, many times, has saved me from the frustration of inconsistency and has placed me in an “easy to work with” category at the churches I’ve been blessed to serve in. I completely understand that being organized is not for everyone because of a gamut of reasons. However, I believe wholeheartedly that for the individuals who have the responsibility of directing a worship ministry full or part time, it should be of high importance to grow in the skill of organization for the body you are serving. Please don’t misinterpret this blog, this is not an aggressive “call-out” to disorganized worship leaders. Rather, I hope it is an example of the possibility of practicing organization for those looking for a resource. What I will share is something that has worked in a small to large setting, especially if where you’re serving does not have anything in place.

To better understand where I’m coming from with the topic of organization, allow me to share my background. I’ve been in music ministry for over fifteen years, but I’ve never felt the leading of the Lord to go into full-time music ministry. On the other hand, I am a fulltime husband, a father of two amazing children, a high school math teacher. With all of these roles requiring my participation, I needed a means to build a worship team for a position that was offered to me. I did not have the privilege to go to school and learn about worship leading organization or something to that extent. I do have my degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from San Jose State University, so I believe the organization is directly related to my undergraduate field of study. I mean, it has the word “systems” in it.

Unfortunately reader, I don’t know what your specific experiences are as a worship leader or worship team member, but I know that the standard of organization that I have set for the volunteers and services I lead has saved me and everyone else a lot of frustration and confusion. Now, I must confess that even with a standard of organization for your worship team, you are not exempt of issues that may potentially arise (i.e. cancelation the night before because of an unexpected event due to illness, injury, etc.). On the other hand, it provides a buffer for you or anyone on your team to adjust and adapt accordingly.

When I think of the process in which the Lord created the Heavens and the Earth, it was very organized. He didn’t jumble everything together hoping for the best. From the separating of the land and water to the creating of the birds of the air and the fish of the sea to the division of light and darkness, God was very structured in all that he did then and continues to do so now. I fully believe that we ought to have the same direction.

Okay, so here’s my process of organization. [If it works for you, great. If it doesn’t work for you, maybe it can be a starting point towards another viewpoint of organization.]

As of recent months, I have been utilizing Planning Center Online to invite the worship team volunteers and to post my setlists with chord charts and video links, which has served to be very useful. Prior to using Planning Center Online, I created a calendar for the coming month, which had blank spaces for the musicians and singers (e.g. Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar, Drummer, BGVs, etc). I used a calendar template from Microsoft Word, typed in the band member categories and just copied them to the Sundays and Wednesdays. Prior to populating the calendar I contacted the worship team members and asked for their specific availability on Sundays and/or Wednesdays and hoped for their full commitment to their availability. The reason why I asked for their availability was to be considerate of their schedules because they were volunteering their time. This process still continues for me every month. I understand that not everyone is blessed to have an assortment of musicians and vocalists, but with the goal of implementing a structured system where you are serving, it will provide for the future when you are blessed with more worship team volunteers.

Once my calendar was finalized I would write a concisely encouraging email that is sandwiched with love, truth and love. In the email, I would include instructions like aligning their calendars accordingly and communicating any changes to their availability ahead of time.

Overall, this process has served to be helpful for the whole worship team and I hope it serves to be helpful for you as well. If you have any questions, comments or just need prayer, please feel free to drop me a line.

More of God and less of me

As this year moves forward I am realizing more and more that a life without God is an afterthought that has plummeted into the abyss of a theoretical black hole. I refuse to have a life without God. I refuse to live up to the standards contrary to God’s ever-speaking Word. If I am seen as a monastic minded religious fanatic, then let it be so. If I am to be a true disciple of Jesus the Christ, let me live a life that loves God far more than anything or anyone. I must, as Christ said, “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees”, because, as Paul said, “a little leaven leavens the whole lump”. My motto for this year is “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all of His righteousness, and all of these things shall be added unto you”. Amen.

Just stay calm and keep going on [Advice for guitarists]

Last night at the Movement I had the opportunity to lead students in praise and worship. The first two songs were amazing. There was a lot of movement and screaming. Everything was going well until our fourth song on the setlist.

Now a few months ago, one of my good buddies @Russ Sedam [amazing guitarist] told me he always brings a spare guitar to gigs just in case something happens. After thinking it through on the way home from work yesterday, I realized I needed to bring an extra guitar just in case. His wise words were ringing in my head before, during, and after worship time. The reason being is that I broke my “B” string during our fourth song in the setlist. Thank God I had my Gretsch with me and ready to go. In the back of my mind was “just stay calm and keep going”. To my surprise, when I asked my friends about what happened, they didn’t even realize what went on between Dancing Generation and For the Lord is Good.

Some advice for guitarists [especially the singing ones]

1) Be prepared for anything…I mean anything!

2) Always tune your guitar.

3) Bring extra strings and if possible an extra guitar

-Have it tuned and ready to swap.

4) If a string breaks, especially for singing guitarists, stay calm and collected.

5) Immediately swap out your guitars

– I wish I had a guitar tech (wishing).

6) Have your vocalists and musicians keep vamping while you tune

– [yes, tune!]

7) Finally, get back to work!

Learn it, live it, love it – always be prepared and ready to serve!

Becoming a desired musician (Thought #3)

Tardiness, in my opinion, is a form of disrespect.  It is understandable that situations may arise that are unavoidable, but, for the most part, being prompt to a rehearsal or event, alongside the other thoughts I’ve posted, should be of high priority.

“If you are early, then you are on time.  If you are on time, you are late.”

This is the cliche that I have lived by for so long and I think it should be a motto that many musicians should live by too.  Some people may potentially see your promptness or earlybird-ness as being a brown-noser, but if you want to stand out among the rest of the guitarists, drummers, bassists, etc., and want to become mroe desirable as a musician, then this is one small statement you can make.  

I am not trying to be an elitist or pretend like I know it all, but it always bothered me when musicians, stumble into a rehearsal, and disrupt the flow of things.  That’s it!  Promptness prevents the disruption of flow.  Yes, there are things that happen during rehearsal too, that are unavoidable, but you do not want to become the conspirator of ruin for your band, gig, and bandmates.  

Overall, I believe this 3rd thought should be practiced in all instances of life, regardless of the venue or situation.