Stop and Say Thank You
It happens twice a year at our house, that dreaded time when I’m put in the role of “etiquette”
policeman. You know what I’m talking about, the thank you’s that go out after birthdays and
holidays. It is always amazing to me that the same children who look forward anxiously to every
present they receive suddenly find themselves too busy to stop and express their thanks to their
benefactors. I am secure in the knowledge that diligence will pay off and these reluctant disciples of
etiquette will one day have their own children to train. But yet, how many times do we look forward
to the blessings of God, and when enjoying the fruit of our prayers forget to express our gratitude?
Is it any wonder our worship is a little stilted when we haven’t entered His gates with our hearts
overflowing with thanksgiving? When we begin to realize everything we do have and not become
obsessed with what we don’t have, we can realize just how richly we have been blessed.
Psalm 100:4 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and
praise his name.”
10 Tips for Worship Leaders: How to Enhance On-
July 24, 2008
If you’ve ever seen a group of children perform a
song for a gathering of parents and spectators, you’ve seen the teacher or leader who places his or herself
directly in their line of vision and proceeds to mouth (very clearly and expressively) every word and indicate
every gesture at the appropriate time so that the children can follow along and all look like they know what
That is exactly our “job” as worship leaders! We’re the coaches, the cue card holders, the kind gentleman in
Pretty Woman who discreetly aids a befuddled Julia Roberts’ character in choosing the right fork for the
dinner course at a fancy restaurant.
As worship leaders (or lead worshippers, if you prefer), our purpose is not to model a personal worship
experience on stage. It’s not even most importantly to perform well. It is to facilitate corporate worship—to
enable all present to participate and engage in what is going on and to point them to the truth of the Gospel.
When we remember that our role on stage is primarily one of servant leadership, that it is not about us and
what we do but about the people of God gathered, we are freed to serve and lead well.
So, here are some general tips for those of us who serve and lead from the stage:
1) Watch what you do. Be (or become) aware of your body language and gestures. If you can, have
someone take a video of you leading worship so that you can observe yourself and see what you might be
doing, consciously or unconsciously, that is awkward, distracting or helpful. Our body language and gestures
should be natural, relaxed and appropriate. Remember that you are seeking to invite and enable the
congregation as a whole to engage and participate in what is going on, not to be the poster child for how a
person “should” look when worshipping. Carefully consider whether what you would normally do in private
worship or as a participant in the congregation–or even what you do naturally when you hear music–will be
more helpful or distracting when leading from the stage.
2) Keep your eyes open. Watch the congregation. Shocking, I know. In order to lead well, however, you
need to know what’s going on around you. You may notice that people aren’t singing along, but rather look
confused or perplexed (or bored). Hmm…maybe they don’t know the song? Maybe they don’t know they’re
supposed to be singing? You can invite them to sing with a statement like, “Now that you know it, let’s sing
that again together,” or simply ”Let’s sing that truth/prayer together again.” You have not only let them know
that participation is encouraged and expected, but you’ve pointed them to the content and substance of what
is going on.
3) Sing it like you mean it. Sing clearly and in such a way that people can easily sing along with you. We’re
not being good leaders if people can’t follow! Reflect on and give an appropriate facial or bodily response to
the words we sing. The intent is not that we “act out” each song we sing, but rather show, by our
expressions and actions, that we understand and agree with what we’re singing. If a song is joyful, smile!
When singing a true statement about God, I will often affirm and agree with the statement by nodding my
head as I sing that line. When singing a truth about our hearts, I often indicate that by placing my hand
over my heart. When we lead songs, we are proclaiming that truth (telling that “story”) to everyone there
gathered, inviting them in to sing it and realize what we’re saying with us. You can do this well without being
overly emotional, dramatic or distracting.
4) Cut down on “down time”. There are two things that commonly happen to a congregant or a vocalist
during an instrumental solo or extended instrumental break in a song: either they disconnect (because
there’s nothing for them to do) and stand awkwardly waiting for their next cue to sing, or they start noticing
and admiring the skill of the instrumentalist. Is this always the case? No. Is it often the case? Probably. This
is not to say that arrangements should be so simplified as to cut out all intricacy and beauty, or
to deprive instrumentalists of using their skills to offer their sacrifice of praise. But it is a call to worship
leaders and arrangers to consider what is going on for the congregation and the singers during those times.
Are all the interludes, solos, instrumental transitions necessary? An overly showy arrangement with
extended instrumentals and/or solos can be just as distracting and awkward as a song sung off-key.
5) Use readings and transitions wisely. Be reverent, conversational and sincere, but use appropriate
expressiveness and emphasis when you read or speak. Slow down a bit: don’t drag, but remember that not
everyone in the congregation is a fast or good reader. With regards to readings, a seminary professor once
pointed out that verbs are actually the most important part of any given text. Practice emphasizing verbs
instead of pronouns, adjectives or adverbs. You’ll be amazed at how this highlights the truths of Scripture.
6) Show and tell. Show or tell people how the song we’ve just sung relates to what we’ve just done or are
about to do. Mention the Scriptural truth that gives us the basis for this action, song, or activity. Be honest
about how our feelings may not seem to line up with what we’ve just sung or what we are about to sing,
pointing out that truth is not so subjective.
7) Get engaged. As I’ve mentioned, our primary role is to facilitate and enable people to engage and
participate in what is going on in the corporate worship service. We’ve talked about a few ways to do (and
not do) this when leading songs and readings. One big factor in on-stage presence is what we’re
doing when the focus is not on us. People can still see you, and they are watching you if you’re on stage. At
our church, we often have a liturgist do the readings in between songs. During those times, it’s crucial that
those who are on stage, even if they’re not talking or playing, model what it means to be engaged in what is
going on. If someone else on stage is talking or reading, turn your body and your head towards them. Listen
to what they are saying. React appropriately. You are leading even in those moments.
8) Listen to your mom. And what did she always say? “Practice, practice, practice,” right? Yep. One of the
best ways to look and feel comfortable and relaxed and engaging on stage is to know what you’re doing.
Learn the words and music to the songs so you can look up from the page and establish eye contact with
the congregation. Practice your readings out loud several times so that you are familiar with all the words
before the service. Run through the order of the set and service as a team before going up on stage so that
everyone knows what’s happening when and where.
9) Embrace imperfection. Whoa! That caught your attention, huh? What I mean is that, when it comes to
worship leadership and serving the Church–much like anything else we attempt to do–perfection is rarely
possible and certainly not our ultimate goal. The unexpected and unfortunate will happen. No matter how
much we practice, we will forget lyrics. We will stumble over phrases. We will feel and look awkward. But,
you know what? More often than not, those imperfections can serve as a gentle reminder to us and
everyone else that what we’re doing is not a performance to entertain and wow, but rather the people of the
Lord living and worshipping together as family. Our congregations are not crowds and audiences to be
impressed. Be humbled by that. Be freed by that!
10) Pray. If it’s a day ending in “y”, then it’s a day in which you’ve experienced the pervasive power of sin in
your own heart and mind. We customarily and easily fall into thinking more about ourselves than those
we serve. We want to be admired and respected and affirmed and praised for what we do and how we do it.
We want to shine. We want things to go smoothly, to feel in control, to avoid conflict and evade
embarrassment. We are obsessive and fearful and insecure and prideful. So we must pray. Grow ever
quicker to acknowledge and confess your sin before the Lord and those who hold you accountable. Ask the
Lord to make you useful to Him in ministry. Ask Him for wisdom and guidance in how to love and lead His
people well. Pray for and cultivate a humble, teachable heart to learn from those who give you feedback and
serve as mentors. Pray for those you serve, and those with whom you lead. Pray together faithfully as a
Which of these resonates the most with you as a struggle, tendency or pet peeve?
What are some other tips or suggestions you would offer to fellow worship leaders?
Top Ten Church Sound Problems
Sound problems can be caused by anything from architectural defects to misguided equipment
operators. Here are some of the most troublesome sound problems that churches struggle with and
what can be done about them:
1. Echo, or excessive reverberation, can be the result of poor architectural design or timing
variations between speakers. Timing problems occur in large rooms in which speakers face each
other from different sides of a room. If a church has a long, narrow sanctuary and puts a speaker
on the back wall, that speaker should have a slight sound delay. Otherwise, the sound waves from
the front speaker will arrive at the back of the sanctuary after the rear speaker releases its waves.
It's easier to place all of the speakers at the front of a room and adjust their volume and position to
reach the back row.
Some buildings have flat, reflective surfaces that make sound waves act like bumper cars. For
example, if a church holds a potluck dinner in a gymnasium or multipurpose facility with hard
surfaces, table conversation will become a muddy hum that gradually increases in volume. A
speaker's voice will bounce around the room. This problem can be remedied by hanging fabric
panels, banners, or baffles on the walls or from the ceiling. Check what's offered at Acoustical
Solutions http://www.acousticalsolution.com/ or Acoustics First Corporation
http://www.acousticsfirst.com/ for off the shelf solutions and consultation.
2. Feedback occurs when amplified sound from a speaker or monitor circulates through a
microphone and is amplified again, giving off an obnoxious squeal. This kind of sound loop is due
to monitor placement as well as microphone technique. If a singer points a microphone directly into
a monitor or if there isn't sufficient distance between the microphone and the monitor, feedback is
inevitable. Feedback also happens when a speaker moves around on a platform, pointing the
microphone in various directions. For churches with such speakers, several manufacturers offer a
feedback controller that eliminates feedback by constantly shifting audio frequency.
3. Inadequate training. Sound equipment, no matter how costly, won't perform well if technicians
don't know how to use it. After determining that a person has a solid interest in serving as a sound
technician, work with the person until that person is qualified to serve. Invest in training materials
such as books, videos and trade publications.
The best sound system can be compromised by a performer. A singer who holds a microphone far
from his mouth, for example, forces a technician to turn up the volume on a channel, which could
result in feedback. Singers should adjust their microphones according to the volume of their voices.
On a high, strong note, the microphone should be moved away from the mouth; on a low, soft note,
4. Poor communication.Technicians must explain what they're doing to performers. For example,
a performer might want more reverb in her monitor, but the sound technician knows that singers
maintain better pitch quality without hearing reverb in the monitors. The sound technician could mix
some reverb into the system and eliminate it in the monitor, but if the singer doesn't understand
what the technician is doing, she will perform with less confidence. The moral for technicians is to
be diplomatic. The moral for performers is to trust the technician.
5. Muddy sound. Inexperienced technicians are often plagued by muddy sound, which is quite
often the result of monitor wash. For example, if the worship leader has a monitor on the platform, it
is usually pointed at the back wall and away from the congregation. If the monitor is turned up too
loud or includes too varied a mix, the sound will bounce off the back wall and collide with other
sounds on the way to the congregation. The solution could be as simple as adjusting the volume of
the monitor. If a worship team is large enough, it might need multiple monitors. Monitor mixing is an
art that requires much practice, however.
6. Hot or dead spots. Hot spots are places in a room where sound energy is densely
concentrated, and dead spots are where there is no sound. Both are usually caused by misplaced
speakers. The laws of physics are the same in the house of the Lord as they are in Carnegie Hall. It
doesn't matter how expensive speakers are; if they're situated incorrectly, they won't work properly.
Speakers should almost always be placed by a professional or someone who understands room
7. Noise. One of the secrets to maintaining high sound quality is isolating sound. Air ducts
sometimes transport unwanted mechanical noise throughout a building. Exterior noise of cars,
trains, or sirens can be intrusive if a church isn't well insulated. Noise problems can be averted
most effectively when a church is being built, but there are ways to filter it out in existing buildings.
8. Poor installation. Churches should consult with professional sound technicians on the
purchase, installation, and operation of sound equipment. A good sound company should have a
list of recently completed projects and be willing to show them to you.
9. Misconceptions. It is critical for a church to define its need for a microphone before purchasing
it. Microphones are like lenses on a camera. You choose them based on the effect you want.
Frequency response, sensitivity, and impedance are key factors. High-impedance microphones
produce noise (crackling, thuds) when moved or bumped. Mikes with lower-impedance—
somewhere between 300 and 600 ohms—are better for churches.
Soprano vocalists often have high-frequency response in their voices and do not want a
microphone with built-in boosts in the upper register. Male vocalists can get by with most
microphones, but they'll do better with a boost in high-frequency response. For a good all-purpose
microphone, consider a dynamic cardioid, which should cost from $100 to $150. Microphones
designed to amplify a grand piano or an orchestra will cost more.
10. Budget miscues. A budget is not an accurate measure of what sound system a church should
buy. Churches have been going to vendors for years, saying, “We have a $3,500 sound budget,quot;
and vendors have been giving them $3,500 sound systems. What church leaders don't understand
is that a sound system can be purchased in increments over several years. Also, function is more
important than price. Sound systems should be designed around usage factors such as what kind
of music a church performs, how loud the music is played, and how large the church is.
A Proven Technique
I have to make a heartfelt confession, for years I have been a judge of people in my church. As I
would lead worship from the platform and look down on the congregation, I would often pass
judgment on those who were not quot;visiblequot; worshippers. I could tell those who viewed the music as a
commercial break, to those who understood it's purpose. It became a very frustrating thing to see
leaders of the church week after week fail to join in on our times of corporate worship. I took their
lack of involvement as a sign that they really were not as spiritual as they thought they were. They
claimed to be giants of the faith, and yet when it came to worship they seemed lackadaisical and
uninterested. It was as if the music and singing were times to sit back and listen before the really
important stuff happened. It was merely a warm-up for the preaching. We've all heard that
statement before from people of all ages. I know very genuine Christians who look at the music
portion of the worship times as kind of a quot;wake me up time to get my blood flowing.” Those who
make these remarks are not trying to be ugly or hateful, it's all they know and it shows in their lack
of knowledge about worship. They merely didn't understand.
I have taught thousands of people in small groups over the years about topics ranging from
marriage, grace and everything in between. There are many who never really took hold of what the
Bible has to say about the different topics. It seems not everyone will hold to every value taught in
the Bible. However, when I teach on the topic of worship, I see a completely different result. Every
person who has gone through our quot;Experiencing Worship Studyquot; has come away with a heart to
know God more through worship. It is astounding to see lives transformed with the message of
worship and the place it has in our lives as Christians. Long time pillars of the church are
transformed from onlookers to genuine participators. Those who viewed worship as a Sunday thing
are becoming quot;lifestylequot; worshippers. It is an incredible thing to see lives changed through one of
the most tried and true methods, teaching.
I am convinced Christians fail to worship because they don't understand it. They do not know what
the scriptures say about it, and we as a church have failed to teach them. I have yet to find
someone, after going through our study, who walks away saying, quot;What a waste, I now know what
it means to worship and I choose not to do it.” I may be in for a surprise in the future, but for now
God is moving in a mighty way across our land and the world. There is a strong sense of the
presence of God moving in the area of worship. He wants His church to return to Him in true
heartfelt worship, to worship Him in spirit and truth as John 4:23-24 states, and to come before Him
in humility and not with a cold heart refusing to give Him the praise and honor He deserves. The
Bible tells us to bow before the Lord, and yet we won't. Why? We have become arrogant and full of
pride when we are too ashamed to kneel before God in front of our coworkers and friends. Why do
First, I believe people don't know that the Bible tells us to do it. How many sermons have you heard
on the subject of worship? Most people have the opinion worship is an area of ministry that requires
a pastor and that is his job. That's his/her area of ministry under which fall music, drama, and the
arts. We rarely hear anything on the topic of worship from the pulpit. When we do, it's never in
depth and encouraging us to pursue it. Why have we failed to teach our people true worship? They
will never become worshippers until we teach them what worship is.
What to do? How do we teach our people worship so they will become true worshippers of the
living Lord? Fortunately, there are some good studies out on worship for small groups. There are
great teachers of worship such as Tom Kraeuter and Bob Fitts. There is a wide variety of teaching
tools on this site if you need help and truly want to help your people become better worshippers.
Teach them and they will learn should be the motto of any worship leader. It's as simple as that. No
tricks or gimmicks, just pray, study and teach. God is calling His people to worship Him in spirit and
truth. Are you listening to His voice on the subject? He is moving across our land and if we don't
catch hold of it, we may lose it. I love the line in quot;The Untouchablesquot; when Sean Connery asks
Kevin Costner, quot;What are you willing to do?quot; in regards to Costner catching Al Capone. Elliot Ness
wanted to catch Al Capone but didn't know how. Sean Connery's character asks him this question
to see how serious he really was about catching the notorious mobster. The bigger question for us
needs to be, “What are we willing to do to teach our people true worship?” Are we willing to step out
and do what the Bible tells us to do? Are we willing to take flack from those who oppose our
positions? Are we willing to lose our jobs over our convictions and calling? Will we ride the wave of
comfort until we retire? Will we jump from church to church to avoid the conflict of this touchy
I have to do what God has called me to do. I have, and will continue, to bring on uneasy times as I
challenge people to grow in worship. Worship isn't a comfortable thing, and those who are
worshippers know it. True worship causes us to abandon our comfort zones, to die to self, and give
totally of ourselves because God is worthy of it. There is nothing for us to gain from being true
worshippers except the knowledge that we are being obedient to God and His calling on our lives.
Yes, we worship because He is worthy of it and nothing else is appropriate in the presence of the
Living God, but we begin the practice of worship because the Bible tells us to and gives us clear
direction on how to do it.
I encourage you to join forces with me and hundreds of worship leaders around the world, as we
commit our lives to teaching worship to the ones God has placed in our churches. It won't be an
easy road, but it will be the most rewarding thing you do in ministry. They may be impressed with
your talents, but they will be blessed as you reveal your heart and teach them to worship. Nothing
moves me more than to see a believer who doesn't understand worship make the transition to a
worshipper before my very eyes. As people learn more, their knowledge increases. When they
understand more, they cannot help but become true worshipping believers of the living, awesome
God. They will never be the same.
The Building Blocks of Worship
The seventh chapter of Luke paints one of the most beautiful pictures of worship and adoration
found in the Scriptures. If we look closely we find some essential building blocks for a worshipping
Simon, the Pharisee, must have been excited and a little nervous that Jesus had accepted his
invitation to come to his house for dinner. The fact that someone of Jesus' stature and fame would
be visiting with him would not go unnoticed by the religious community. The real payoff, though,
would come from the common people who followed the miraculous. Their recognition would insure
Simon's influence in the city.
Jesus arrived and all seemed to be going well as dinner and conversation flowed at a leisurely
pace-until the arrival of an uninvited guest. A woman quot;who had lived a sinful lifequot; (7) somehow
found her way into the house and stood behind Jesus. At first no one noticed her, but then she
crumbled at Jesus feet and began crying-just a little at first, but it grew into weeping and then
Suddenly, she broke open a jar of perfume and began pouring it on Jesus' feet and wiping them
with her hair. Then she started kissing them. Simon couldn't believe Jesus was allowing this woman
to touch him like that. And it almost appeared as if Jesus was enjoying it! Just then, Jesus broke
through the uneasiness and said, quot;Simon, I have something to tell you.quot; Jesus proceeded to tell a
story about two men who had debts canceled by a moneylender-one man had a large debt and the
other a small one. Jesus finished with a question, quot;Now which of them will love him more?quot;
A few in the room thought Jesus was just being polite, you know, trying to make conversation in
hopes that no one would notice a crying, sobbing, wet-haired woman of ill-repute smelling up the
room with the scent of Nard. But Simon, unnerved by the question, began to sense that Jesus was
up to something. Simon tried to sound convinced. quot;I suppose the one who had the bigger debt
canceled,quot; he said.
Jesus looked directly at Simon. quot;Simon, do you see this woman?quot; he asked. The room grew tense.
The disciples who were with Jesus had heard that tone before. He was about to bring the hard truth
to Simon, and suddenly everyone was listening intently.
his next words, Jesus described for Simon and everyone else in the room one of the secrets of
honest, heart-felt, life giving worship. It was right there for all of them to see, but they were
embarrassed by the intimacy of it. The passion of the moment was distracting for them-it was
uncomfortable. This woman had done something so beautiful for Jesus, and the only one who
recognized its beauty was Jesus himself. Simon and the others were hung up on protocol and
religious behavior. They hadn't considered the deeper issues of this woman's heart or the
significance of her actions. These matters went unnoticed by the dinner crowd, but Jesus was
about to reveal the hearts of everyone in the room.
When the sinful woman knelt down at Jesus' feet she did it out of desperation. Hers was a
desperation that drove her to do something out of the ordinary, something that no one else at that
dinner was willing to do. Everyone in that room was with Jesus, but only one was attending Him.
Only one was worshipping.
Desperation forces us to go outside of the norm, to do things we would not typically do. Desperate
people risk more, live on the edge, and are more passionate in their pursuit. They achieve different
results than those who play it safe. Yes, it can be more messy and uncomfortable than the well-
traveled road, but those who choose desperation over self-sufficiency, find God. And when they
find Him, they find that He is pleased with their desperate hearts.
Of course, the trick is to be desperate when you don't need to be desperate. Crises always lead us
back to a passionate pursuit of God, because we realize in moments of vulnerability that we cannot
make it on our own. We are genuinely desperate. But consider for a moment what would happen in
your life, your family, and your church if you found a way to be desperate for Him without having to
face the crisis. Simon wasn't desperate for anything that Jesus had. As a result, his love was little.
Simon's attitude conveyed that he had no great need of forgiveness. As a Pharisee, he relied on his
own piety and knowledge of the Scriptures to gain God's favor. Sometimes this self-reliance shows
up in our worship services. No one is overwhelmed by the Lord. Most are not in awe of Him as they
sing and lift their hands. Appreciation is cursory, affection is mild, weeping is non-existent.
At first glance it seems as if Jesus is saying that if you're a terrible sinner then you will be very
grateful and love God much. Obviously this is not what Jesus meant. He was not highlighting the
significance of the woman's sin with this story. He was zeroing in on Simon's thankless response
for God's love and forgiveness. No great need, no great gratitude.
Some churches struggle because they are driven by an overly intense ministry style. Everyone
seems to feel the pressure of doing more, giving more and reaching for more, while rarely
acknowledging the blessings God has given. The result is overblown, high-pressure worship that's
focused on them. Other churches are permeated with a poverty mentality and seem to never get
enough. They're always short-handed for Sunday school, and the worship team struggles with
commitment. The pastor and the people feel discouraged, and so forget to be grateful for what they
have. Gratitude just fades into the background. The result: weak worship focused on them.
Gratitude is the fuel for life-giving worship because it keeps us focused on the favor and mercy that
our God has poured out on our lives. This woman had a revelation of who Jesus was and what he
had done. An extravagant show of gratitude was her response.
Jesus contrasted the woman's actions with Simon's: quot;You did not give me any water for my feet, but
she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this
woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head,
but she has poured perfume on my feetquot; (44-46). Could it be that Simon did not welcome Jesus into
his home properly because he was consumed with himself instead of his guest? At the same time
he was embarrassed by the show of affection and devotion that this woman displayed.
Humility is inherent in genuine worship. The very nature of worship is the exaltation of Christ and
the humbling of self. This woman was not afraid to humble herself before our Lord in front of others,
nor was she bound by the risk of embarrassment in a situation where she had much to be ashamed
Our own pride is the enemy of worship. Arrogance or high mindedness inhibits our expression of
worship. Any embarrassment that we might feel in worship is pride sneaking up on us. If our
worship ministries are consumed with anything besides Him, a prideful spirit will not be far off.
Music, rehearsals, song selection, even our own biblical expression of praise can become a self-
absorbed trap where the focus is on us rather than on Him. This sinful woman was not concerned
about the opinions of others; she simply surrendered to making Jesus the focus of her worship. Her
worship was simply all about Him.
Desperation. Gratitude. Humility -- Three heart postures that can transform your worship and your
church. You can't approach the Lord unless you're willing to empty yourself of yourself. You can't
enter His gates with thanksgiving unless you understand what a miracle forgiveness is. And there
will be no great display of devotion without a sense of desperation. These are three powerful
building blocks for a strong foundation in our worship ministries and our churches.
in you church
Have a defined vision, purpose and plan for using Media. That's it.
If the church leadership has a desire to use Media, then there must be a clear vision, attainable
goals and operating budget established.
If the desire is to be 'cool' or 'do what ABC Church is doing', then I'd question the passion behind
However, if the vision is to use media as a sermon/song support tool, membership growth and
involvement and community outreach, then you're on the right track.
The vision must be defined. In 3 months, what things MUST have occurred as a result of using
display media? What things MIGHT occur in the first 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? 2 years?
If the Pastor is a person who is easily satisfied with quot;good enoughquot;, I'd question making it a staff
position. Good enough is what can be done by volunteers (no slam intended). True excellent
comes from solid leadership with vision.
There needs to be a plan to go quot;beyond PowerPointquot;. It's a great starting place, but it's not a final
resting place. The leadership, namely, the Pastor, MUST have a vision for how they can be
involved in utilizing video, audio and lighting.
Will the media only be used for in-service audio, video and lighting support? If so, what content do
they need to begin producing and refining? Will testimony videos be used once a month? Will
music videos be made for new sermon series? Will 3D and/or 2D animation be created for each
sermon or sermon series? Will intelligent lighting be added for special events? How often can
renting gear for quot;specialsquot; be allowed? How much creative license will the Media team have in
helping plan a worship service?
Will the church have a NEED to go on Television? In certain small markets, I see this as a great
outreach tool for shut-ins. In most of the medium to larger markets, there's already a plethora of
quot;church servicesquot; and quot;Bible teachingquot; programs.
(WARNING: Soap Box Moment) +
Honestly, I think there are too many churches spitting out a church service on TV. Seriously, think
about this: If your content - be it a church service, Bible Study with the Pastor, whatever - is not as
effective as what's being sent out on Cable and Satellite, why would you do it? More mediocrity (or
worse) is not what the community in your 10 mile radius, much less the world, needs!
I've worked for a church where the TV Ministry was national - and it was good - but not great. I went
to the leadership and lovingly asked how we could change the program to be more relevant. The
answer: that's the way we've always done it, and we get dozens of letters each week about the
I'd rather make a show that was more like quot;Datelinequot; and have life-application stories and how God
and his church are reaching out in everyday situations than make another quot;Church Service On TVquot;.
If we saved people and we got dozens of letters about quot;I saw your show and that interview of so-
and-so could have been me, and I realized I need Jesus,quot; then I'd be happy.
But, come on, letters about quot;your church service ministers to me - right after I was ministered to by
Pastor ABC and before I am ministered to by Church of the XYZ that comes on after your show.quot;
These people, sweet as they might be, are usually already saved and are not getting anything new!
We're feeding those who are full and stuffing them with more! Why!?
There are a few exceptions to this - there always are - but man...have you seen cable TV's
quot;Christianquot; line up? 90% of it is boring, ineffective and outdated.
You've heard it before: quot;Plan your work, and work your plan.quot; It's corny, but it's true.
The church leadership needs to budget for getting started (maybe a PC, Projector, screen. Small
sound system, basic lighting, etc.) and then have an annual budget for running and operating a
Here's a quick rabbit to chase (but it has meat on it): How many companies have an accounting line
item called quot;Cost of Doing Businessquot;. The answer? Most.
The quot;Cost of Doing Businessquot; for Media is one of continual upgrades, repairs and additions.
Whenever technology is involved - especially computer-related items - the cost never ends.
Please hear me out: this is not a quot;bigger, better, fasterquot; mentality. This is an honest understanding
of the growth of technology. Additionally, any staff that becomes more efficient will need more tools
to accomplish more tasks. Those tools may be software, hardware or peopleware (you like that
Try this out: Put your budget together and add a line item for quot;Peoplewarequot;. This will allow you to
outsource certain things you don't have the time/expertise/equipment for to people who do.
Media is usually an expensive ministry. However, put it into perspective: What is the cost for being
outdated, boring and/or ineffective?
I guarantee you that your media budget will be far, far less.
Anthony D. Coppedge, CTS
Church Media Consultant
by Stephen M. Newman
Pastor of Worship and Arts
December 13, 2008
I am often asked to define contemporary worship. My response usually revolved around the
musical definition. I never considered the full scope of what was really being asked. Although
contemporary means many things to many people, let’s focus on its true meaning.
Contemporary merely means – “occurring in the modern” or “of the day”.
It can be a difficult thing to call worship contemporary. The true translation makes it too
unclear. For the past fifty years worship was “contemporary”. It was the way people all over
the world had done it…for the most part. Ideally worship cannot be categorized as traditional,
contemporary, or blended. Worship is worship. It hasn’t changed since man was created. We
can argue over the elements and the ways in which we worship, differentiate the outward
expressions of our worship, and even label our churches to better clarify the freedoms
permitted in worship. To use the terms traditional, contemporary, and blended as definitions
for our corporate worship styles is misleading and incorrect.
The only things that have changed in our corporate worship are the tools we use to help
facilitate it. Sadly, until fifteen plus years ago, the church had not been contemporary in its use
of music in the church. We held too tightly to the styles, presentation, and other elements of
our music. At the expense of losing millions of young people to the world, we failed to become
contemporary in our look and in our presentation. We have, in a sense, left them behind at the
risk of becoming relevant to their desires and needs.
The terms traditional, contemporary, and blended are better used in the context of musical
instrumentation and orchestration. To use a pipe organ as a tool to lead worship would
probably place you in the traditional category. To use a Hammond B-3 in your worship would
probably place you in the contemporary category – especially if it was played correctly with the
right speakers. :) If your church has a band, you would be considered contemporary. If your
instrumentation consists of the piano and organ, you would probably fall into the traditional
When asked the style of worship we incorporate at our church, I often respond “traditional.”
When asked what style of music do we incorporate, my response is always “contemporary.”
Another oft asked question centers around the use of hymns. Hymns in themselves are neither
traditional nor contemporary. It is how they are presented that makes them traditional or
contemporary. Some of our more progressive musical worship bands have seen the value in
many great hymns. It is their presentation that makes them contemporary. The fight over hymn
and choruses takes center stage when it should have been over how they were arranged and
presented. A lost person could hear Passions version of O for A Thousand Tongues and not
recognize or differentiate whether it was a hymn or another great worship song. Maybe if we
had made the change twenty years ago hymns would still be an effective tool in worship.
So what is contemporary worship? Simply the same as it has been since Jesus walked here
on earth. It is giving honor and praise to his Father in heaven. It is living lives in obedience to
His word and His call on your life. It is showing His worth to all because He is worthy. Let us
not confuse worship with music. Worship doesn’t change.
In the future I hope that we will begin to do away with labels on worship styles. There is only
one style of worship…that which honors God and pleases Him.