WHAT ABOUT FAST SONGS?

how-to-choose-music-for-a-video-20121119.jpg

Over the past few weeks, I've heard from quite a few worship leaders looking for fast songs. Man, can I identify - it feels like picking good upbeat songs is almost impossible. I've compiled a list of current "big" songs we're doing at Bethel and some of the things I think about when I'm choosing fast songs. Before sharing the list, here's one tip.

Something that helps is to look for BIG songs as opposed to FAST. Songs can be full and have lots of energy without technically having a high tempo. The hardest part is finding fast songs where the phrasing isn't too fast for a congregation to sing. I often try to find songs where the lyrics are still phrased slowly over big musical accompaniment. They're hard to find, but worth the effort!

Here's our list...and if you've got some new big songs you're doing, don't hesitate to share! Click below!

THE LIST

HOW TO LEAD WHEN YOU'RE NOT THE LEAD

Being a "fill-in" worship leader is tough.

Whether you're actually traveling to a church far off or even just subbing for the worship leader in your own church, it's sometimes hard to know just exactly how much (or little) you should do when you're in charge.

It's made even harder by the fact that worship leaders sometimes aren't the most relational people on the planet. In my experience, some of the most creative leaders I've ever seen are downright awkward in one-on-one situations.

So, how do you do it? How do you lead well in a way that's also a blessing to the rest of the team?

LESS CHEESE

(I hate the word, "cheese," in this context, but I can't think of a better one.)

Worship leaders will often over-compensate to get past the awkwardness of being a fill-in and this can manifest itself in a hyper-active, "lounge" singer vibe. Cheesing it up like this might be coming up with nicknames for the band on the fly, making fun of somebody that you don't know or assuming a much closer relationship with the team than you actually have. On rare occasions, the cheesy worship leader is actually just that gung-ho  and joyous, but either dial it back a notch. Musicians and technicians who don't know you will very often pull back from your forwardness and exhilaration. You want the team to perform at their absolute best and they may not be able to do that if they're distracted by how weird you seem.

ASK, DON'T ACCUSE

Worship leaders who are a insecure will commonly reverse this. He or she will often justify the changes before asking for the changes. The worship leader might think that bass line is too busy. That leader could most likely turn to the bass player and say, "hey, can bass go a little more simple in this section?" and the bass player would oblige, no problem. But if the worship leader is worried, he or she might talk about the why first, which would sound something like, "gosh, that pre-chorus section...the low end is just killing the groove there," and then give the direction for the bass player. There's a big difference between the two. In the second example, bass the leader has unintentionally leveled an accusation instead of just asking for a change.

BE LIKE CHARLIE

There's an episode of The West Wing where Charlie, the President's assistant, is on the outs with Zoey, his girlfriend (who also happens to be the President's daughter, btw.) Charlie seeks the wisdom of White House reporter, Danny Concannon, who tells Charlie,

"If it was me, just for now, I'd make sure I was the one guy in her life who was totally hassle-free. That's just me."

Believe it or not, that's excellent advice for fill-in worship leaders. I am astounded at how often I ask someone to fill-in and they show up with a bunch of new stuff to try. In over 20 years of worship leading, I can count on one hand the number of times a fill-in worship leader ever ask me what they need to do when they fill-in. If you're filling in, don't show up with new songs or new stage design. Don't reconfigure the whole band setup for your one time thirty minute set. Instead, ask the worship leader what things you need to keep in the service - new songs we're learning, techniques the band needs to focus on, etc. Hassle-free. Be like Charlie.

Volunteering your gifts to bless your worship leader with a day off is an amazing thing to do. Believe me, your worship leader LOVES having folks to call on. Show up confident, humble and without a personal agenda and you'll find that the set ends up being pretty great.

MONITORING 101

It’s 2017 and there is still plenty of buzz about IEMs (in-ear monitors) and floor monitors (“wedges”) circulating in the worship world.

It may seem as if "everybody" is on in-ears, but actually, there are many churches still looking to make this transition. If your worship ministry is considering jumping into the deep end of the IEM pool, fear not! The time (and cost) has never been better.

THE OLD

Conventional monitor speakers come in a variety of sizes (from huge wedges that sit on the floor to small hotspot monitors that can mount to a mic stand.) If you're old enough to have played on a praise team in the 90s, you are well acquainted with these! Regardless of the type, they possess inherent deficiencies but a few pros as well.

CONS:
Usually bulky (heavy)
Usually relies on a sound tech to dial in each person’s mix
Produce environments of high stage volume which can damage eardrums and create an unmanageable mix for your front-of-house sound tech.
Everything comes at you out of one speaker (no stereo separation, usually).
Feedback

PROS:
Singers/players can share a monitor mix easily
You can hear your congregation better
Ambient sound from other instruments/singers can be heard without putting them in wedge
A feeling of being “in the room” and not isolated like IEMs

THE NEW

In-ear monitoring can be accomplished a variety of ways, so instead of chasing rabbit trails, we’ll look at the good, the bad, and what gear works for me on a weekly basis.

CONS:
Feeling isolated/not being able to hear the congregation/not feeling present in the room.
Learning curve (w/ new technology)
Investment of money from your ministry budget or team members.
Replacing wireless system batteries.

PROS:
Feedback issues are greatly minimized.
Many digital boards and monitoring systems allow team members to save presets.
Sound techs can focus on front-of-house while team has control of their own mix.
You can hear yourself and your mix clearly (in stereo!)
Much better for your ears

 

GEAR I TRUST:

Monitor mixing: The AVIOM A-16ii allows us to save presets for different team members. It features stereo output and a pan control for each channel. The only con is it doesn’t allow each channel to be EQ’d individually. It does offer an overall EQ on the unit.  My other recommendation is the P16-M if you’re running a Behringer X32.  It’s a no-brainer.

Wireless: I use the Sennheiser EW 100 G3 which consists of a rack-mountable transmitter and a bodypack receiver. In my early years of ministry I tried to use cheap wireless systems and paid the price of dissatisfaction with my mix, constant dropouts, and annoying signal compression. Spend the most money you can on a solid unit if you have to go wireless.  If a player doesn’t need to be mobile, hard-wire them into an Aviom or headphone amp. But if you lead or move around, you probably won’t find anything better than the Sennheiser.  Pick one up on eBay for around $600.

Earpieces: For your band, I recommend the MEElectronics M6 PRO. For $50, they sound good, come with gobs of accessories for the price, and have a build quality that rivals Shure earbuds that cost twice as much. I’m an audio snob that requires very detailed audio, so I use the 64Audio (formerly 1964Ears) V6-Stage which I just sent off for an upgrade to make them an A6. Yeah, they’re expensive, but I sweat so much that universal-fit headphones always fall out of my ears. That, and the detailed sound, make it absolutely worth every penny. If you get customs, be sure to take good care of them and use a dehumidifier in the case any time you’re not using them.

Anthony Croff is a worship leader at Highland Terrace Baptist Church in Greenville, TX. He's the co-host of the Average Everyday Worship Leader and an avid vlogger. Search YouTube for his new series, "The Croffumentary."

FAN THE FLAME

On this week's episode, Todd told a story about an encounter in a church office that drastically changed the direction of his life. 

Most of us have someone we can readily identify who, at some point early on, spoke profound truth into our lives regarding our call to ministry.

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands." - 2 Timothy 1:6

But that was then and this is now. Which leads us to this question - how can you encourage someone? How can you fan the flame in your own life and in the life of others?

Be a Timothy

Remember your calling. As a leader, you will absolutely go through a drought in your ministry, and in those times, knowing your calling will be the only thing that keeps you going. And if it hasn’t happened yet, IT WILL.

In the scripture above, Paul goes on to tell Timothy that he would share in suffering because of his call to the Gospel. And this is what's awesome about being a Timothy! We can look to every Paul in our life who proverbially laid hands on us. We can take heart in that our calling is as true and strong now as it was then - if not stronger - despite our circumstances and feelings.

God’s power, presence, and gifts exist in us. Period. The doubt and fear and struggle won't change that. And the "Pauls" in your life will see this. The people who spoke into your life weren’t merely speaking passing praise, they were speaking their conviction. Maybe you feel like your fire is out. Maybe you feel like you're running on embers. Go back to those people who lit the fire to begin with! 

Be a Paul

In a church culture seemingly obsessed with album sales, conferences, and humble-bragging on social media, the waters may seem muddy on what it means to be successful. Paul says that our value as leaders isn't based on our number of followers. Our value, our success is the “laying on of hands” for the next generation of leaders.

Our legacy won’t be any of the things listed at the top of this paragraph. Our legacy will be that we edified those we identified. Like Todd’s story on the podcast, we have people who are coming up under us who sometimes don’t even see this calling in themselves. It’s our privilege to stoke the fire God already started.

It’s not easy.  “Laying on of hands” takes a large investment of time. It takes vigilance. It takes hard conversations and trust. But the reward is worth it. We get to be a conduit of God’s blessing in someone’s life. That is something that will outlast my voice, my ability to play guitar, and all the practical trappings of what we call leading worship. Stop letting comparison steal the joy of your calling. And while you’re in the trenches, don’t be too selfish to invest in the calling of others along the way.  

Lay the hands. Fan the flame.

Anthony Croff is a worship leader at Highland Terrace Baptist Church in Greenville, TX. He's the co-host of the Average Everyday Worship Leader podcast and an active vlogger and podcaster himself.

HOW TO GET HIRED

This week on the podcast, we talked about what churches are looking for when hiring a worship leaders. I think there's some helpful advice in the episode, but based on the long-running Facebook thread on the topic yesterday, I thought it might helpful to dig a little deeper into the subject!

Interviewing with a church can be difficult, but there are some things you can do on your own to better prepare yourself for the process and find the place where God wants you.

TAKE STOCK

Look back is an important part of moving forward. While it's a lot more fun to focus all on energy on the new job, it's helpful to look back at the good and bad of our last position. If you happened to leave your last church on bad terms, this is especially helpful. Learning from your last job is vital to succeeding at your new one. Take stock of what you could have done better and use that wisdom in the new job!

DIG DEEP

I'm often surprised by how many worship leaders don't have a philosophy of worship. But knowing what you believe about worship is key to finding a new place to serve. It's not even that hard - just spend some time thinking, "why do we sing?" and "what's corporate worship for?" Being able to easily communicate your philosophy will be a huge help to prospective churches as they get to know you.

INVESTIGATE PEOPLE

Many of us burn a lot of energy on the wrong things when we're interviewing. We're quick to discuss salary, budgets, benefits, job requirements and facilities but often forget to ask about the people. If you're in the interview process, make sure you're getting a sense of the personalities on your worship team. Find out out what sort of challenges are facing the congregation. Job details are important, but so are the people. Make sure you're focusing on the right thing.

DON'T BADMOUTH

It's tempting to paint your previous church in a negative light. As we help people get to know our history and experience, we need to be guarded so that our storytelling doesn't turn into church-bashing. Most pastors and search committees will pick up on negativity and make the jump in their heads - "if he/she is saying this about the last place, what will they say about us someday?" I'm all for honesty, but would recommend spending more time on what was good at the last church. Be honest about that!

PASTOR PLEASE

Being a help and support to the pastor is a HUGE part of a worship leader's job. Do all you can to find out what the pastor needs. What's he looking for in a fellow staff member. Someone to push him creatively? Somebody who can back him up in staff meetings? Spending time with the pastor one-on-one will go a long way toward helping you serve with excellence!

Finding a new job is tough. Stay humble, ask good questions and show up to serve and you'll find the process gets a lot easier. If you've got questions or comments about this stuff, hit me up toddwrightband@gmail.com.