BIG BANDS / LITTLE BANDS

There's the weird thing happening in local churches these days.

Bands are getting smaller.

Have you noticed this? Now that multi-tracks and loops are cheap and sequencing is easy, the number of people on stage at church seems to be shrinking into a small special ops team of skinny dudes in all black clothing.

But the sound stays huge. With pads and backing tracks, those four people can sound like a team twice that size. The songs sound great, there's less clutter on stage and the team can be much more mobile in a service.

There's no doubt in my mind that using fewer - but more skilled- players in a church setting improves the overall quality of sound and musicianship. In fact, this is pretty much necessary in large churches. It's difficult for a church of 7,000-8,000 people to run a rotating volunteer band staff of 25 different players.

But I miss big bands.

Remember when worship bands used to be big? You'd roll into a church with people spread all over the place. Yes, it was a hassle for the sound guy and the songs sometimes fizzled out toward the end, but I kinda' miss that chaos. Every church is different, but back in those days, it didn't seem like those bands were huge so that they could nail cover tunes. It seemed the bands were large because somebody in leadership thought it was important to let a lot of people serve in worship.

It's a struggle for all of us who lead worship. Do we go with the Seal Team 6 of worship (professional, sleek, stone-cold players) or risk that quality by using a revolving team of musicians, all with varying degrees of skill? I think it's a little of both, actually.

All I know is that I do more loving and leading and serving when I've got a big old crew up there playing on Sundays. It's not as easy as hiring the five best guys you can find, but it sure does feel more like what a church should be.