Worship in a Nutshell by herdian100

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									            Worship in a Nutshell

Worship in a Nutshell

         Darin Browne

  © 2008 Servant’s Heart Ministries Publications
               All Rights Reserved
                   PO Box 1700
              Carindale Qld 4152
             Freecall: 1800 110 750
            Email: darinb@darinb.com

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

                        Worship Leading: The Final Frontier

1. The Biblical Basis for Praise and Worship

             Making the Right Selections Makes Your Job Easier

1. The Right Worship Leader

2. Who Chooses the Songs?

3. Songbooks

4. The Play List and Order of Service

5. But You Can’t Cut ME!

6. More About Words and Music

7. New Songs

8. Hymns: The Old and the Beautiful

                              Preparing for the Service

1. The 11 Laws of Practicing: How to Have Great (& Fun) Practices

2. Styles of Music

                           Worship Leading Techniques

1. Song Introductions

2. Advice Regarding Speaking on Stage

3. Joining Songs

4. Modulation

5. The Changeover: Worship to Sermon

                                     Worship in a Nutshell

6. Signals and Song Direction

7. The Appeal

  Questions You May Have About the Service, Which You Were Always
                          Afraid to Ask!

1. Length of Worship Service

2. How Long Do You Leave People Standing?

3. How Many Times Should I Play That Song?

4. Order and Other Items in the Meeting

5. Being Conservative!

6. Open Worship

7. High Praise

                                 Issues of Management

1. Advice for Choosing Singers

2. Managing the Band (& the Egos)!

3. Managing the Band- Structure

4. Rosters

5. To Organ or Not to Organ?

                                 Striving For Excellence

1. Performing vs. Ministering

2. All about Singing

3. All about Harmonies

4. Guitarists Only

5. Drums and Percussion

                                  Worship in a Nutshell

6. Sound Ideas for Sound People

7. Prophecy in Music

8. Special Occasions

9. Evangelistic Festivals

The Ultimate Shopping List

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

          Worship Leading: The Final Frontier!
So, you’ve been asked to head up the music team, a position which you eagerly accepted, until
you discovered that you do not have a clue what to do (don’t worry, we have ALL been there, we
just don’t usually admit it!).

You may be a musician, which is a clear advantage because you will understand the structure of
music and how it works, or you may not be a musician. Hopefully, you can sing, because it is very
hard to lead others in that which you cannot do yourself.

Either way, you have probably figured out that playing music or singing is not necessarily leading
worship. We have all heard great singers and musicians play through worship songs, completely
detached from the audience, and we have probably heard really bad singers somehow lead people
into a deep and beautiful worship experience. Partially, this is due to the heart of the leader, but
make no qualms about it, there are definitely techniques and things you can do that will help as
you lead the people.

So, here you are, ready to lead worship, and you suddenly think, "gee, where do I start!" Believe
me, this is not a dumb question, because if you are anything like me, you don't want to just go
through the motions and do an OK job, you want to do your very best, and really impact people's

Where Do I Begin?

This might sound like a line from "Love Story", but we have to start somewhere. That's what this
book is all about. It is not an intellectual exercise, but a practical, blow by blow description of how
to actually lead worship, and run a worship team.

It is, in fact, my observations and experience through the many years that have seen me leading
worship both in the local church and in huge Evangelistic meetings, in many denominations, both
Charismatic and Evangelical, and with various sized bands, from a few acoustic guitars to major
rock ensembles. The suggestions may or may not work for you, but I feel that even if they don't
suit you, there is still a fair argument that the very act of reading about how someone else does it
will sharpen the way you do it.

The Aim

Why lead worship? In fact, why do we sing at all? The main reason we worship in church is
TO ENGAGE THE HEARTS of our people WITH THE LORD. Thus, I tend not to talk a lot when
leading, mainly directing people to the Lord, as I try and get out of the way. Easy to say but not so
easy to do (John 3:30). Sure, we also fellowship, enjoy and are commanded to worship, but the
main reason we worship is to engage hearts with God.

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

So, you need to decide first of all what your aim is. Do you want to sound great? Do you want to
be cool? Do you want to record a CD? Or, do you want to lead your people into the greatest
worship of the Lord they have ever experienced?

It may be all of the above, but it better especially be the last one! I really mean this, guys, because
clarifying your aim as simply leading people into amazing worship experiences means that you will
forego anything and pay any price to fulfill your aim. As we go through this book together, don’t
overlook the real reason you are doing this and settle for a great, professional jam session.

You are there to serve, and you do this by leading the people, and by being subject to your
leadership. However wonderful and glorious the perfect jam is, if you only do this you have failed,
and fully deserve the flack your frustrated congregation delivers to you.

So, please remember your aim is to lead people into ever beautiful, ever deepening worship.
Having this straight in your mind and heart keeps your perspective clear.

You also must have secondary aim, because you have been given another responsibility. You
must also aim to bring out the very best in your team, because that is what great leaders do. After
a few weeks in your care, your musicians should be playing a little better, learning new techniques
and styles, and your singers should be improving in their craft. Being a leader is not just about the
end product, it is about blessing those who serve with you, and putting them before yourself. It’s
about serving! (Mark 10:45).

The Method

Now, you may know what you want to do in worship, but how do you get there? Your great desire
is to see people worshiping deeply as you lead them, but what on earth do you do first?

The order of these chapters roughly corresponds to the order I think you may need to deal with the
information. We have started by getting your aim right, because if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it for
sure! Next we will briefly examine the Biblical Basis for worship, so you have an idea of where
your roots are. Then we will look at everything from song selection through to Band management,
from teaching harmony to modulation, and along the way I will try to deal with questions and
criticisms often leveled at worship leaders, such as how long must we stand, or can we raise our
hands in worship?

This book also features teaching for guitarists, sound men and the like, but cannot hope to cover a
three year conservatory curriculum in a few pages. I have merely popped in a few suggestions in
the hope that something will enhance your worship experience, and to allow you as a leader to
know a little about your team members, and be able to stretch them so they become the very best
that they can be.


                                        Worship in a Nutshell

SO, hang on to your hats, because we’re about to take quite a ride into the wonderful world of
worship. Remember, we will be doing this for Eternity, so let’s start by getting it happening right
now! I trust you enjoy this great journey into truer and deeper worship. May the Lord bless you as
you serve Him, and I hope that leading worship will be as wonderful, challenging and satisfying as
it has been for me.

Above all, please, please, please don’t take yourself too seriously! If you are really to excel as a
worship leader, you have to enjoy the whole process and have fun. Now, I am not saying don’t be
serious, because your task is a very serious one indeed, but I am saying have fun, relax, enjoy the
journey and have the time of your life!


                                          Worship in a Nutshell

  1. The Biblical Basis for Praise and Worship
Before you skip this chapter thinking it will be dry theology worthy of a 19 century seminary, take a
little time to pray before you read on.

Praise and Worship is a common thing in churches these days, but we need to know that is has a
Biblical basis, because we do not want to be doing things that are not part of what God is doing. If
we sing songs in church then we must know and understand the reason we do this, rather than
simply singing for the sake of singing.

There have been volumes written about the Biblical basis for corporate worship, so I will not
attempt to cover the entire subject, and for that many of you will breathe a sigh of relief. If you are
really into this area, please feel free to go and buy a gazillion books on the subject, but for those of
you who want to keep it more practical, please read on. If you truly want to know and draw close
to the heart of God, don’t skip this chapter, but take a few moments to plunge your roots deep into
the foundation of Biblical knowledge and history.

What is Praise and Worship?

Praise and Worship is not the warm up to the main event of preaching, it is not the support act and
it is not something we do while the late people are trying to arrive. It is, or at least it should be, an
intense time of communion with God. It is fellowship with other believers as you gather around the
throne of your great Daddy and it is a foretaste of what Heaven will be like. If you don't enjoy
worshiping God here, then Heaven may be long and boring for you!

Praise and Worship was always part of God's plan, from before the beginning of time.

Creation praises Him: (Is 44:23; Is 52:9; 1 Chron 16:32; Ps 98:8; Ps 66:4).

Angels praise Him: (Job 38:7; Rev 5:11).

Indeed, Lucifer (Satan) was created to praise the Lord as well, and seems to have been somewhat
of a music leader in Heaven, until He fell (Ezekiel 28:11-19). This might give you a hint as to why
Satan uses music to access the minds of people, especially youth, to direct them to Himself. As is
typical of musicians, and I say this as a musician, we love directing people towards ourselves. To
completely but truthfully destroy a beautiful song, “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s
all about MEEEE!!!!!” (Apologies to Matt Redman for that one!)

The saints also praise the Lord (John 4:23; Revelation 4:11) and they sing the song of redemption,
blessing and praising the Lord.

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

Throughout the Bible mighty men of God have loved to worship Him, people like Abraham, Isaac,
Jacob, Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel and so on. The best know worshiper is, of course, King David, and
for anyone truly seeking the heart of God, he is an excellent person to study and learn from…

King David

David was an awesome king, but you may not realize the place that worship had in his heart. God
described him as a "man after his own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14), and even though he sinned big
time, God still delighted in him because of his heart of worship.

In fact, David designed and produced 4000 instruments for temple worship (1 Chronicles 23:5).
String, wind, brass, percussion and the like, and he designed the format for a lot of the worship in 1
and 2 Chronicles. They worshiped 24 hours a day in shifts, so that the Lord's altar constantly was
covered in the praises of His people. We might remember David for his tussle with Goliath, or his
sin with Bathsheba, but I tell you this guy really knew how to worship!


Solomon, David's son wrote over 1000 songs. God gave him wisdom and wealth, and worship.
Unity was a key theme as they all worshiped with one voice (2 Chronicles 5:13). When they
worshiped in unity, suddenly the cloud of God's glory filled the place. No flesh glories in His

Singers and Musicians

Obviously the basic building blocks of a music worship ministry are singers and musicians. They
were appointed, ordained and equipped for this ministry (1 Chronicles 15:16-28), separated and
under supervision (1 Chronicles 25:1-7) and instructed in the songs they would be worshiping with.

David's tabernacle had 288 singers (1 Chronicles 25:7) and a music director, Kenaniah, who had
the favour of God (1 Chronicles 15:22,27). He was described as skillful, challenging those of us
who follow in his footsteps to be the same. We need good ability but also good anointing. He led
various ranks of singers (1 Chronicles 15:16-18; 16:37-41), was chosen by name and recognized
for his gifting. The music team in David’s Temple were skilled and they were honoured for this skill.

They were employed in their work of worship (1 Chronicles 9:22, 36 and on) and conducted song
services (1 Chronicles 6:31-2). They had to wait for their office (2 Chronicles 7:6, 35:15) just as we
sometimes have to (Romans 12:7).

They received their portion (Nehemiah 7,10,11,12,13) and functioned in their allotted courses or
shifts (1Chronicles 25:1-21).

Take Home Message for Us

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

The above list of scriptures is by no means exhaustive. These are just a few that to whet your
appetite, and hopefully cause you to see that we as musicians, singers and worship leaders have a
responsibility to live up to. We have to wait on God, seek God and be both skillful and teachable
(Ps 33:3). We need to work hand in hand with the pastor and seek to serve him, and the
congregation. We desperately need to avoid the ego displayed by Lucifer, choosing to remain
humble, lest God humble us.

If we need humbling at some point, remember that God can humble a person without degrading
him, and exalt a man without puffing him up.

Music: The Powder Keg!

Music is unbelievably powerful. It changes attitudes and opens hearts to engage directly with the
Lord. Music can sooth the savage beast, rev up excited teenagers at a rave party, or inspire
soldiers on their way to war (such as the Nazi march, “Deutschland Uber Alles”).

Music is so powerful that it can add to any experience, good or bad. Try watching a few movies,
and pay attention to what the music is doing, and you will see my point. From the short, stabbing
pulse of “Psycho” to the long, gentle Gaelic lilts of “Titanic”, music effectively reaches into our
hearts and caresses, even manipulates our spirits.

I clear and unashamedly make this statement: We MUST learn to harness the power of music so
as to more effectively lead our people. Now, before you hop on your high horse and accuse me of
manipulating the emotions of gullible people, bear in mind that this same tool is being used
constantly in relaxation music, inspirational music, advertising, gyms and a host of other places.
You know that feeling you get as you listen to a favourite love song and it brings back pleasant
memories? Same mechanism! You see, music bypasses our minds and appeals directly to our
emotions, and that is why it is so powerful.

Music can also be destructive, even within the church. In society, many psychiatrists recognize
that music can powerfully stir emotions and drive addictions, and it has been well documented that
some heavy metal music has driven teenagers to suicide or murder.

Within the church, music can be hugely divisive, the cause of church splits, and a constant source
of misery for the pastor and leaders. The young want their style, the oldies want theirs, and
sometimes it can degrade to all out war!

So, as a worship leader, you need to find the style which suits not only yourself, but your people as
well. No style is right or wrong, but you will find that Thrash music is not a huge hit in a traditional
Presbyterian church (in the same way the 16 century hymns don’t go over big at a U2 concert!)

“Let’s Not Become Too Emotional, Brother!”

In the Western church we have somehow achieved elevated levels of paranoia regarding emotions
in the church and, in particular, church worship. Following the Greek model, we attempt to analyze

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

and intellectualize all aspects of church life, fearing anyone and anything that appears too

Now, let’s be very, very clear about this. My Salvation is a Scriptural fact, and not in any way
dependent on my emotions, or how I feel. The basis of my assurance is 1 John 5:11-13, John
5:24, Romans 10:9. However, I cannot deny the fact that I am an emotional being. I feel
emotions, I express emotions, and my interaction with others, and with God, is emotional.

It seems silly to me that the same people who sit like stones in church, void of any emotion, go as
crazy as the next person when their team scores the winning goal. Guys, if you can get that
excited outside of church at a football match, why not let yourself go and get that excited about the
Lord! You can really see the heart difference when we stand like statues worshiping, while David
stripped down to his jocks and danced about the place.

How’s Your Serve?

Leading in worship is a huge responsibility which requires a serious commitment on the part of all
those involved. It has a Biblical basis, but that does not mean it has to be a mechanical,
unemotional or boring experience.

The Bible teaches us that music ministry, like any other ministry, is all about serving. To become
worship leaders, we should have some real, genuine skill and talent, but these must be offered as
gifts to God, and not used to build ourselves up. Moving into music ministry is moving into front line
service, and we must serve the Lord, the Pastor, the Church leadership, the people and each other
with gladness and humility.

               Worship in a Nutshell

Making the Right Selections Makes your
              Job Easier

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

                   1. The Right Worship Leader
Pastors and Leaders, this is the key chapter for you. Put the wrong guy, or girl, in this job, and
your life can be made a misery. Get it right, and your church will begin to flourish even more.

Pastors, be very careful when you select your worship leaders. It may not be the guy with all the
musical talent and it may not be the girl with the big voice. What you really want is God's choice,
and while I cannot hope to make that choice for you, I can help to steer you in the right direction...

                        Pastors: How to Select the Right Worship Leader

1. Select leaders of ability:

Just because they can sing or play, does not mean that they can lead an entire band. Your
prospective leader should show leadership qualities in other areas, such as secular work, cell
groups, evangelism, kid's ministry, etc. Being a worship leader is exactly that: leading! So a great
musician is not necessarily a great leader.

2. Select leaders of some musical ability:

They don't have to be musicians or singers, but man it helps! You will find that if the person leading
has a good knowledge and feel for music that the worship will tend to flow a lot more. Again I
stress that the best musicians are not always the best leaders, even though they know the music
side of things well. However, having a good knowledge of music and how it fits together in worship
is a huge asset.

3. Select leaders who are teachable:

Great leaders are teachable. If they are not, you don't want them, and it doesn't matter if they are
Mozart or Beethoven! You have to trust them, you have to work with them and you have to live
with the consequences, so do yourself and your people a huge favour and chose humble,
teachable leaders.

4. Select leaders who take responsibility:

If something happens and the worship is not all it could be when I am leading, then it is MY FAULT!
I don't blame the piano player, the singers or the pastor. It is my job, my passion and my joy to
lead the worship, and my responsibility when anything, small or large, goes wrong. This pretty
much ties in with the teachability thing, so look for leaders who care passionately about leading
others into worship. Passing the buck is not on in the worship team. The buck stops with the

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

If a worship leader really bombs out in worship, then I take it very personally as worship director,
and move to deal directly with the problem. Don't blame others, but be responsible.

5. Select leaders who love what they are doing:

It is not enough to be good at it, they must be passionate about leading people into worship. As a
leader, I love, and get a huge amount of joy, out of seeing others lead into worship, to a greater
and deeper experience with Jesus. This takes on a whole new perspective when, as is often the
case with big churches, the worship leader is paid. If anyone does this for the money alone, I
believe they are PROSTITUTING their gift. If pay is there, fine, but let us never see this as a
motivation. Jesus did not die on the cross to give us a job!

6. Select leaders who lead by inspiration:

There is a school of thought these days that leaders upset everyone because they are strong
leaders. They make sure everything is done their way, or the offenders are out! They force their
opinion on others and make them obey. I don't believe these are strong leaders; these are
dictators! True leaders inspire others to follow. They are firm where they need to be, but usually
smooth over offenses by leading with humility and gentleness. They don’t offend the whole music
team, they inspire them. These are the worship leaders you want.

I would hesitate to place someone who is not musical into the role of worship leader, because it
makes it so much harder for them. That is not to say it cannot be done, but be careful. Believe
me; it is easier to not appoint someone than it is to remove them from to job.

                          Worship Leaders: How to be the Right Leader

Here’s a quick word of advice to worship leaders: YOU ARE NOT GOD!!!! I’m one of you, so I can
say things like that! You must never operate out of fellowship with the pastor. If you disagree, then
you should defer to him, even if he is wrong. However, this does not preclude offering your
opinion. Whatever happens, you need to be subject to him, and if you cannot be, tender your
resignation and move to a church where you can serve with a clear conscience.

Here are some suggestions on how to serve your pastor:

1. Have a real desire to serve the pastor:

Tell him you want to serve his vision, not your own. You have desires and visions in the Lord, but
you will never put those before the pastor's vision, because he is the leader of the church. I can
testify that, as I served Bill Newman and ignored my own desires for success in music, the Lord

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

opened the door to allow me to realize my own dreams, through Bill’s ministry. If you have a
dream, make yourself subject to Godly Leadership, and watch the Lord bring it to pass!

2. Ask what he wants:

Does he want special songs that fit with the message? Does he want a specific style? If the
congregation is above 70, chances are they don't want rocky music. If they are young families,
they may not be happy with all to wall hymns. Does he want open worship? If your church or your
pastor is uncomfortable with certain things such as open worship, singing in tongues or hand
raising, you'd better find out before you lead worship!

3. Ask about the format of the meeting:

Where is announcements, offering, etc? What type of song does he prefer for these? Discuss
options with him and mention specific songs.

4. Ask about music being played behind prayers:

Some pastors love it, others hate it. If you have visiting ministry, ask them what they prefer,
because not everyone is the same. You are there to serve, so do your best to do all that is required
of you.

5. Ask how much talking he wants:

You are not there to preach, so ask if a prayer of, say, 30 seconds or the reading of a passage of
Scripture is appropriate. Pastors hate having their meeting hijacked by the worship leader!

6. Ask how much time the pastor wants you to take:

AND KEEP TO TIME!!! Whatever the Spirit may be doing, do not dishonour your pastor by going
over time. If God is about to cut lose in worship, ASK the pastor if he wants to continue or stop.

7. Never criticize the pastor:

 Even if you feel he has made an incorrect decision, never criticize the pastor to others in the
music team. You are there to serve, and if you feel his decision stopped the move of God, let God
sort it out.

8. Remember, you are responsible for how the worship goes:

The buck stops with you, so if the worship time is poor, don't look to blame the drummer, the
guitarist, the organist, the singers or the overhead operator. The fault is yours. Deal with it, and
make sure it doesn't happen again.

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

9. Be an inspirational leader, not Hitler!

As mentioned in the pastors section, there is a school of thought going around that real leaders are
strong and offend everyone. "It's my way or the highway, dude!" This is, I believe, poor leadership.
If you have to constantly force people to obey you, then you are out of your league. You need to
lead by inspiring them to follow you, encouraging them when they fail and rebuking them with
humility and grace when they disobey. This is not being soft, or trying to be popular, but in my
experience really good leaders are popular, even in the face of unpopular decisions. By the same
token, if someone refuses to tow the line, strong action may need to be taken. I have a chapter
later in the book on Band management to tackle such issues.

I have been on stage several times when, in my opinion, worship has really bombed out. On one
occasion, I was merely playing bass, and thus could not influence proceedings, but once or twice
with Bill Newman I have come and apologized to him for my worship team missing the mark. He
consoled and encouraged me, but I tell you when I walked out on stage the next night I was
making doubly sure that the band was on the ball and the mistakes did not happen again. Accept
responsibility, then change it!

You see, if you want the many, many great things that come with worship leading, you have to be
prepared to take the difficult times as well. If something goes wrong, don't persecute yourself.
Examine it, find out what went wrong and change it. Feeling sorry for yourself cannot be part of
leadership, because it makes you useless to both your pastor and the Lord.

So inspire your people and lead them with confidence, because your pastor had confidence in you
when he appointed you. Don't let him down, and don't let yourself down. Study the above points,
make them part of your leadership life, and watch God give you the privilege of leading folks into
His presence, and bringing the best out in your troops. Remember, you are anointed, special and
tremendously privileged!

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

                  2. Who Chooses the Songs?
Much debate exists as to who should choose the songs in a service. I notice that pastors will often
tell each other that they must choose all the songs in the morning service, and in fairness this is
born out of a long history of the worship leader stubbornly doing his own thing and not being
teachable or correctable. By the same token, I have seen many a senior pastor get up at the end
of worship and kill the Spirit of worship (shock, horror: yes, pastors are not always right!).

The first point to make is that WORSHIP IS NOT A SUPPORT ACT FOR THE MAIN EVENT, the
teaching. Some people and indeed some pastors view it as just that. It is a "preliminary", padding
out the service while the late comers, who don't like the style of music, arrive just in time to hear
the Word of the Lord preached. Others think it helps us to "get the wriggles" out of us, ready for the

At the other end of things, many worship teams make worship into a marathon designed to
exhaust you on your feet until you collapse in the seat ready to listen.

I believe that both of these views demean a gift God has given us to draw near to Him. Let me
explain what I believe worship should do in a service:

1. Open our hearts,

Turning our eyes away from the cares of the day and towards the Lord.

2. Fellowship with Him, intimately, and lose ourselves in worship to the Lord.

3. Prepare our hearts for the message to be preached. Worship and music can spearhead the
gospel, and make our hearts more responsive to the Lord. It should settle our hearts and make us
ready to reach out to God.

4. Provide corporate unity as we worship. Joining together with others in worship is a special
experience which binds our hearts together in joy and fellowship.

Having been the worship leader for a major Evangelist, I know the power music has to unite, and
also to divide. I also know that, as Bill gets up to preach, I can make it easy and flowing, or
extremely difficult for him to bring the message, based on how I have behaved in the worship time.

As a worship leader, you provide the same service for your Pastor. You are not the support act,
and you are not the fill in. Yours is the awesome responsibility of preparing the hearts of the
people to receive the Word of God, and you can make life easy or very hard for your Pastor.

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

So, if the morning goes well in worship, feel a sense of accomplishment. If it goes badly, be the
first to apologize to the Pastor and accept responsibility. Then, do your level best to get it right the
next time.

The success of a worship time can depend to a great degree on the songs you choose, so the next
area we will examine is how to choose the appropriate songs.

The big question is who chooses the songs? In my completely unbiased musician's opinion, they
should do it together, where the worship leader should choose the songs, but the pastor should
have final say as to what is in and what is out. This is important because, ultimately, the
responsibility for the service rests with him. However, the worship leader is the guy who should
know how the songs will flow together, and he should be constantly making sure that the service is
heading where the pastor wants it to go.

A Matter of Trust

The ideal situation is a trust that develops between the senior pastor and the worship leader. The
worship leaders must, repeat MUST, be 100% subject to the pastor, because as we serve one
another we serve the Lord (Mk 10:45). He has to ask the pastor what he wants, where he wants
the service to go, what he is preaching on and, if the pastor senses a change in what God is doing,
he is absolutely free to stand up and take over. Pastors, your worship leaders are like other leaders
in the church. You cannot do everything, all the time (remember Moses). You need to train them to
minister according to what the Lord wants in your church; otherwise you will have trouble on your
hands. I have seen quite a few churches blown apart by unhappy music teams rebelling against an
overbearing pastor. NONE OF THIS GLORIFIES GOD!

The ultimate situation is similar to the one that exist between Bill Newman and myself. After many
years of ministering together, I kind of know what he is thinking, and he knows what I am thinking.
Thus, with a minimum amount of consultation together, I tend to select exactly the songs that fit
with his message for the day. Leaders, it is awesome when you reach this situation consistently,
for you will see that the Lord really anoints such unity!

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

                                  3. Song books
Songbooks: The necessary evil?

I have seen so many great musicians and singers in churches tied to song books. There are
almost possessed by them, and cannot do anything not written in the book. Even worse, they can't
play anything different to the way they originally heard it recorded on the CD!

I encourage ALL people on stage to have the songs MEMORISED. This is, indeed, a scary word,
because it takes a degree of effort and dedication. Believe me; you will rarely see a professional
band with music sheets on front of them on stage. Why shouldn't we be equally as good?

However, songbooks are important with the large number of songs we have these days in church.
They also can avoid embarrassing goof ups on stage.

Considering both sides of the debate, songbooks on stage are probably a necessary evil (and
certainly better than an embarrassing mistake), but should be there for glancing at only, not staring
at! Songbooks also allow last minute changes, so you can have a flash of inspiration and throw a
song not scheduled for the morning in, knowing that everyone with a songbook has the words and
chords at their immediate disposal.

So, after years of soul searching, tears or frustration and prayer, here are a few suggestions on
how to set up songbooks:

1. RESTRICT THE NUMBER OF SONGS: Unless you are Superman with the memory of an
elephant, you cannot have five and a half thousands songs in your repertoire. I recommend that
you have several categories in your song book:

a) Current song list: around 30-40 songs which you are currently using in church regularly. These
are only the REGULAR songs you sing, not songs you sang once 10 months ago, or ones that one
of your worship leaders does but everyone else hates.

b) Supplementary list: around 20 songs that are not real regulars, but are used often enough to
not be expelled from the lists. Over time one of these may move up into the Current song list, or
you might relegate one of the Current songs back to the Supplementary. Sounds a bit like the
English Premier League, doesn't it?

c) Hymns: Keep these in a separate list, because, as we all know, they will never die. Now, some
of you young trendies in church reckon that all hymns are funeral marches. Think again!!! While
some are woeful, there are lots which are classics, and which go great with modern band backing.
Songs like, "Holy, Holy, Holy", "How Great Thou Art", "Amazing Grace" and "What a Friend We
Have in Jesus," if done well, can be awesome worship experiences. So, guys, put them in the
lists, and use them, and see how they go. I try to use at least one hymn in a service, not for the
oldies but for myself, because many are superbly written and deep in theology.

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

d) Home Grown: I love to hear of churches who are writing their own material. Encourage it in
your people, because churning out what others have written is not the height of creativity, and God
is a creative God. Now, you will need to audition songs, and not accept junky songs just because
one of your guys wrote it. However, if you are patient and careful, and if you press into the Lord
and ask Him for great songs, you will see wonderful home grown songs and then you, the team
and the people will be blessed.

Should a specific song need to be done which is not on the list, then the worship leader is
responsible for providing the music and words. So, these lists don't restrict you and stop you using
other songs, but they do provide a streamlined way to deal with the songbook issue.

2. Everybody needs a book: I am not a fan of seeing copious amounts of paper strewn across
the stage. How much better, neater and easier to find is a songbook, which contains all of the
above mentioned song lists. No excuses then for missing a chord or the words.

3. The song book needs to have simple chords: Complex songbooks (such as many of the
ones published) are great for trained musicians, but many musicians nowadays cannot read music
(I am one of these). Chords are quick, easy to follow and give sufficient flexibility to allow
musicians to improvise. Sometimes the piano player complains that he or she needs the complex,
written music. If this is the case, they are likely to be completely inflexible, so taking their sheet
music and giving them purely chords is a great way to encourage them to loosen up. If they still
complain, let them find the complete music themselves. For the rest of humanity, chords are the
way to go.

In one church music team I led, there was an older man who played piano beautifully, but point
blank refused to use chords, insisting on using the sheet music for every song. I decided to gently
overrule him, and gave him chords alone, and he wined and complained week after week, but I
kept encouraging his efforts. Within a few months, he was operating from chords brilliantly, and
because he was not reading notes, he was not playing the melody, leaving plenty of room for our
vocals. He then surprised both himself and me by becoming very creative, adding little bits here
and there, and he eventually became one of the best pianists I have ministered with. Oh yes, I
should mention that we stayed friends throughout: he’s a great guy!

4. Try to fit 2-3 songs to a page: That way you save paper, and trees, and the greenies will be
able to come to church with a clear conscience. It is also easier to carry around.

5. Now you can do songs not on the play list! If the Lord speaks to your heart during worship to
do a song not on the play list for that day, guess what: you all have a copy in your songbook. Just
haul it out and away you go. This enables you to be sensitive to the Spirit, and enables all the
band and singers to go with you!

So, while songbooks are not the be all and end all, they are very useful in both song selection and
in helping your band and singers to keep up to speed. They are also a great tool for cell groups

                                      Worship in a Nutshell

and people who just love to worship at home. Make sure EVERY PERSON in the band and
singers gets one. This also helps to build solidarity among the team.

So, in summary...

Let me reiterate one final point: the songbooks are FOR REFERENCE ONLY, and not to be sight
read. I encourage my guys to learn the songs and, yes, even memorize them. Hard work, true, but
much more professional. (Can you remember the last time you saw a band on MTV singing from
sheet music on a music stand? No, I can’t either!) However, if you change tack mid-service,
everyone will have the book and thus the power to be right there with you.

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

          4. The Play List and Order of Service
A play list is the list of songs that you work off on any given morning. It is different for every church,
and every worship leader, and it is acceptable to have your own style when it comes to worship.
So, while I recognize that my opinion is not necessarily gospel, here's some suggestions based on
my experience leading worship. Feel free to agree, disagree, throw tomatoes or ignore my advice,
but ask the Lord to show you the way He wants to see the service run.

1. Decide how long your worship is to run: Obviously, this will have a major bearing on the
number of songs that you can choose. So, it is quite useless to select 15 songs for a 15 minute
worship time. Consult the pastor as to how long he wants you to be, and then STICK TO YOUR
TIME! In general, charismatic churches will sing for longer, say 30-40 minutes, while some
churches may only sing for 15-20 minutes (for example, if the entire service is one hour or less in

For the record, I generally budget on 5 minutes per song, and then my times are pretty close.

2. Avoid breaking up the songs with other items: The way you structure the worship service
indicates your attitude to worship. If you consider worship to be simply singing, then by all means
break it up with whatever you want. Sing a song, have a welcome. Sing a song, have
announcements. Sing a song, have an item. Sing a song, have a missionary spot. Sing a song,
have an offering. Sing a song, have communion, etc. etc.

Obviously with this set up, there is zero chance of you relaxing and pressing into worship, because
you never do it long enough without a distraction.

So, my suggestion is put all the extraneous stuff in one spot. Why not start with a couple of songs,
then break for all the announcements, items, offerings, etc., all on the one break and follow that up
with a good, solid 3 or 4 songs of worship. Then the people have a great chance to enter into the
presence of God.

2. Praise: Most often I will do 1-3 praise songs. These tend to be lively, up tempo, rocky songs
designed to be fun, full on expressions of love towards the Lord. They also help people to leave
behind the cares of getting to church, the screaming kids, the cranky spouse, the overnight football
scores or the mortgage payments, and focus their attention on the Lord. Most people cannot dive
straight in and worship the Lord intimately, so these songs give them a chance to just relax, enjoy
and, hopefully, praise God with real joy and gusto.

Now, if your church is a screaming, chandelier swinging, Holy Ghost Revival Pentecostal church,
full of deaf young rockers who love loud, screaming music, you may want to do a lot more loud
praise songs. Then again, your church could be quiet, stayed and full of over 80 year olds, in
which case you may want to do one moderate song and move straight into worship. Sound out

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

your pastor; think about it, and above all, PRAY ABOUT WHICH SONGS GOD WANTS YOU TO

I am definitely against formulas in worship (3 fast, 2 slow, etc.), and we humans are really good at
providing the formula for success, often at the expense of whatever the Lord is doing. Do not be
frightened to completely dispense with the fast, boppy section, and move straight into the next

3. Worship: My favourite part of worship is the deep stuff, the quiet stuff, the times of intimacy
with God. And as the song says, let's get back to the heart of worship: it's all about You, Jesus!
Concerning worship I would make the following suggestions:

a) It doesn't have to be soft: It may be quiet and intimate, or a power ballad! Sometimes you can
build to a crescendo, while at other times you can be gentle and intimate. For suggestions of how
to do this, see the chapters on style and modulation. Think about the flow of the Spirit, feel it and
follow the leading of the Spirit. That way you will truly have an anointed worship time.

b) Let the songs progress: Personal song: starting with personal songs (those which use the
pronouns I, me) and leading to songs that focus solely on the Lord. Songs with I/Me in them are
not only personal but allow the people to respond to the Lord and open their hearts to Him. This
should lead on to the ultimate goal of worship. You should be aiming to flow from one song to the
next seamlessly, as you gently lead people into a deep experience with the Lord.

c) Let the songs progress: High Worship or Praise: These are songs that forget about you, the
person, or I/Me, and turn towards or concentrate solely on the Lord. Many hymns are fantastic for
this. Unfortunately, there are few modern worship songs that are like this. Some older ones which
illustrate the sort of song I am talking about are "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus", "Holy Ground",
"Hallelujah" and "He is Lord". Michael W. Smith’s beautiful worship hymn "Agnus Dei" is a great
song for high praise.

4. Open or Free Worship: For some this is very scary, while for others completely natural. This
occurs when people begin to praise God in their own way, without structure or (and note this)
direction from the front. God, being a creative God, loves it when we present to Him a
spontaneous song from the heart, just as we parents love to hear the songs our kids make up.

This is not everyone's cup of tea, and neither is it for every church, but the Lord may just do this
one day and surprise you! Let's be open, but not force it. Through the years I have seen some
sensational examples of Open worship, and some phenomenal abuses of it. I have devoted a
whole chapter to this area later in the book.

5. AVOID SPEAKING!!! Worship leaders, if you get nothing else from this book, then get this: don't
talk too much! Your job is to lead worship, not preach, so please spare the congregation and do
what you are appointed and anointed to do. When leading worship, I like to think of John 3:30. I
try to become less and let Him become more. My experience is that, if we panic at any point, or are

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

uncomfortable, or if things are not quite right, our first tendency is to start speaking. Please,
please, please avoid this!

This is especially true for those of you who lead without playing an instrument, because the voice
is the only thing you have! If you lead without playing, then you must have a close relationship
with your musicians, especially the piano and/or the guitar. Speak to them, direct them, but I still
caution you about filling every gap with your words, your opinions, your experiences and your

It is tempting to read a long passage of Scripture, say a long prayer or have a long chat about how
we should all be worshiping the Lord, but again I beg you, please avoid this. D.L. Moody once
said, very appropriately, "most prayers should be cut short at either end and set on fire in the
middle!" SO, I am not saying you can never pray, share a verse, etc., but please only share what
you know the Lord wants you to share, and avoid long speeches. Better to sing, have passages of
music or even silence. I believe that any speaking tends to distract from focusing on the Lord, and
I have witnessed on countless occasions a lovely spirit of worship extinguished by a well meaning
worship leader who breaks people’s concentration by talking too often.

Recently one of my worship leaders complained that I had basically demoted him from a worship
leader to a song leader, because I won't let him talk incessantly through his leading of the service.
I told him I strongly disagree, and that he is confusing what he has to say with worship. I had
received numerous complaints about his excessive talking during worship, and many, indeed most
people believe that the best worship times are when the leader says nothing and
GOD MAKES IT HAPPEN! I don’t believe throwing your 2 cents in is worship. You are far better
to stand back and let God have his way!

4. Song Keys

When choosing a song list, I never simply base my choice on song titles or words, but always take
into consideration the keys of the songs. I always like to be able to flow from one song to the next
easily, and having appropriate key helps immensely!

A favourite of mine is to start with songs in F, then go to songs in G, and then A. If a song is written
in F, then I might do a repeat of the chorus modulating to G, so that I am in the key of G for the
next song. Wise use of song keys enables you to flow the entire worship time into one, continuous
flow of music, and people can easily be caught up in and lost in the worship of the Lord. It is
wonderful to see your people do this!

                       5. But You Can’t Cut ME?

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

Wisdom dictates that you need an order of service. It should not be written in stone and it must be
flexible. Be realistic, because often it won't go to time, and every thing you have booked in will run
over time. When this happens, then this is the correct response: BE THE FIRST TO OFFER TO

If something has to breathe in to make room for lack of time, try making this offer to the pastor, "let
me cut a song". That way, he sees you are ready to serve, not protect your own turf and do your
own thing. He will see that you are not an egotistical musician, but really care about his vision, and
his sermon. You may have the right to do the full compliment of songs, but crucify it and serve!

Often, when I lead or sing solos with Bill Newman, previous acts run over time. I make sure I am
the first to offer to cut a song. Most often Bill says, "no, mate, sing the full amount," but
occasionally he takes me up on it. Either way, the message I am sending to him is, "I want to
serve you, not promote myself." He has complimented me and blessed me a million times over for
this attitude, because frankly it is rare for musicians to offer to cut anything, including their hair!

Jesus said, "If you want to be great learn to be the servant of all," and this especially applies to
worship leading. Work hard, don't covet stage time but serve, even when you feel ripped off. God
will bless you for it!

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

                6. More about Words and Music
Do the singers need to have words on stage? Do the musicians need their music on stage? Do I
use music on stage?

In short, yes, yes and NO! I rarely have the words and music in front of me. I memorize them, and
flow with the chords so they make sense, playing them from the heart (or by ear if you like) rather
than reading them.

I have to admit, seeing music stands across the stage is something I really hate, and I think it looks
terribly unprofessional. As I said before, when was the last time you saw a secular rock band on
MTV with written music on music stands in front of them? They work hard, remember their words
and chords, and I think we should be able to do the same. Sure, cover bands who are doing 500
songs from the 50s and 60s may use songbooks, but I think, if we are doing only 4-8 songs it a
morning, there really is no excuse for us!

However, it is better to have the words and music in front of you than forget what you are
supposed to play/sing. I think each worship band should have a song book, enabling a quick
change of songs if needed, but ideally they are only for reference. If you aspire to excellence and
professionalism in your worship band, MINIMIZE THE USE OF MUSIC STANDS!

That being said, some like me find it much easier to play by ear than others, who are not
comfortable working without seeing the words and music. I occasionally sneak a look at the
projected words on the screen if I am in doubt.

The best way to do it, if you must, is to blow the songs up big and place them on the stage in front
of you. Then the audience cannot see the fact that you are operating off a book, but the words are
seen by you on stage. Any complaints that they cannot see them should be met with this
response... they are only there for EMERGENCIES, not to be sight read through the entire song.
The words and music are simply references if you need them.

I would also add that I have witnessed some incredibly uninspired worship featuring musicians who
simply stare at the pages in front of them! It is extremely difficult to lose yourself in worship while
sight reading music or words. So, guys, put in a bit of work, memorize the song as best you can,
then play by heart and concentrate on worshiping the Lord, not reading the words or music. After
all, the worship team is not really there to sing or play, but to lead others into worship.

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

                                    7. New songs
Here is a “holy cow” I just cannot keep away from! Most worship leaders have an insatiable,
obsessive, almost crazy lust for new songs, and I am telling you now, the congregation HATES

The question arises, what is a new song? You see, from the congregation's point of view, a new
song is any song introduced in the last 3-4 months. The band thinks a new song is one played for
the first time, so the second time you do it, the band doesn't think it is new any more, mainly
because they have playing it a hundred times at practice during the week. Here is a basic conflict
of interest.

For any service, I believe 80%+ of your songs must be well known to the people. Add too many
new songs, and they will not relax and enjoy worship, and your job description is not to teach
people new songs, but to lead them into meaningful worship. Given the choice, most people in the
congregation would prefer to just sing the old songs they are familiar with, so you must win their
trust by carefully and lovingly introducing new songs.

Now, I know you want to be cutting edge and do the latest material! We need to be introducing
new songs, lest we be left behind forever (not a bad thing some would say). However, this does
not mean you are under compulsion to do every song on the latest Worship album! Be thoughtful,
be prayerful and be smart! Here are a few thoughts on new songs, and their introduction to your

1. Pick the best: You don't have to do every song on a new release album! Some you mightn't
like, some are not where your people are at. Some might be too hard, complex, difficult to sing or
theologically suspect. Choose wisely, carefully and prayerfully, introducing new songs to church

2. Don't introduce too many, too quickly: I usually only ever introduce one song in a service.
Any more than that means people are not worshiping, they are trying to learn. I might introduce 2
songs across a couple of services. Take it slow and steady, and remember, when you hate the
song and are sick of it, the congregation has just about learned it and it is no longer a new song to

3. Do it every other week for 6 weeks: Do it each week, or 2 weeks and the people will begin to
be familiar with the song. A classic mistake for worship leaders is to introduce a song, consider
that people now know it, and move on to introduce another new song a week later. The audience
hates it, and feels pressured by such actions. Take your time! That's why you should only
introduce the very best ones!

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

4. Have a coordinated approach: The Music director must control the introduction of all new
songs. Otherwise, every worship leader you have in the church introduces new songs, and the
people are inundated to the point of overload by new songs. Get all of worship leaders to introduce
the same songs, and take it slow. If you have 4 worship leaders in a month, and each introduces a
new song (their own choice), then the people don’t hear it again for another 4 weeks. So, their
learning is never reinforced, and every song sounds new each time they hear it. Don’t laugh, I
have lived through this very scenario, and the congregation hates it!

5. One or two at a time: Worship is not supposed to be a memory test. The more new songs you
introduce, the more people will be READING off the overhead instead of WORSHIPPING. So,
keep them worshiping by limiting the number of new songs being introduced.

6. Try introducing new songs initially as an item: A really pleasant way to introduce new
material is as a feature item, sung by one or two of the worship team. This decreases the pressure
people feel that they have to learn the song, and allows them to relax, absorb the words and what
the song is saying, and fall in love with the song, just as you probably have. They will always find it
easier to learn a song they love already!

7. Your Own Songs: I believe every fellowship should be using some songs written by local
church members. Now they should not use only these, because then the people miss out on the
best that is on offer across the world, and when churches get together for combined meetings they
don't know any of the songs! But your people and perhaps you yourself may have a song that is
from the Lord, fresh for your congregation! Ask Him and see!

                         SO, worship leaders, HERE'S THE BAD NEWS...

Follow this through with me. Consider this wise advice…

   1. For the congregation to really accept a new song, they should sing it at least 2 weeks in a
      row, miss the third week, and sing it again in the fourth.
   2. You should not try to teach more than one song at one time.

Therefore: According to the parameters listed above, if you can only introduce one song a month
that the congregation will effectively learn (and that is pretty much the way it is), guess how many
new songs you can introduce in a year??

                               12... maybe 14 or 15 if you are lucky!

I recognize that most worship leaders are introducing new songs by the truck load, and the really
crazy thing is that they throw most of them out after a few weeks, never to be heard again!

Now, come on worship leaders, who is guilty on this count? I have to confess, I was doing this
(like most other worship leaders I know) for many years, until the futility and, indeed, utter stupidity
of the situation struck me. I was hammering my people with new song after new song, many of
which were tossed aside a month or two down the track.

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

So, according to what we have seen, we can only effectively introduce around one new song a
month, so that the people learn it and are comfortable with it.

Therefore, when our team looks at new songs, we ask each other, "Is this song worthy of being
one of the chosen 12?" Think of it this way: when you know you can only get to introduce 12 new
songs a year, you find that you are very, very particular about the new ones that get through. You
watch the words, and the tunes, and the feels, and narrow the field so that you get something your
church is really up for.

After all, this whole process is NOT about you, it is about your Pastor and your people, and the
level that they can cope with.

So, introduce new songs wisely, carefully and sensitively, and at a pace that your church can
happily cope with.

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

           8. Hymns: The Old and the Beautiful
OK, true confessions… I LOVE Hymns! Hymns are great. They are majestic, and many contain
more theology than the average sermon these days. Old folk love them, conservative folk love
them, but many younger ones have thrown them out along with everything before 2000. Gee, they
even think the Beatles are uncool (such ignorance!).

Somewhere in the middle cries the voice of reason. Now granted, some hymns are funeral
marches, long, slow, boring and brain-numbing. Some contain rubbish theology and some are just
plain irrelevant in both use of language and subject matter. Some are practically unsingable,
except to 13th century monks! However, in amongst these types of hymns are some of the
greatest ever songs!

Now, if you are young, and don't believe me, check a few of them out. Hymns like, "And Can It
Be," "Holy, Holy, Holy," "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" and "How Great Thou Art" are

My preference, both personal and of my church, is that we sing at least one hymn every Sunday
service. If you are creative and musical you can play it in such a way that it is exciting and
awesome, and you can venture into the very presence of God using these old songs. On top of
that, the old folk in the church will be thrilled. So you win either way. Trust me, guys; there are
some great songs you cannot live without in the hymns section!

But if you are going to do a hymn, don't make it into a funeral march! The older folks will love
hymns done in a new and a fresh way, so pray and ask God for some innovative ideas to make the
hymn into a modern masterpiece. Then watch God unite all ages as they worship Him using this
old but new song!


One word of caution, especially to the conservative evangelical denominations. There is a huge
tendency to have the worship songs, with the modern beat and instruments, and then insert the
token hymn for the oldies, doing this with only an organ or a piano, played in a traditional yet
boring style. I strongly caution you against this, because this only promotes the “us verses them”
scenario, the “your music verses our music” polarizing we see in churches.

The best way is to just roll from the worship into the hymn, seamlessly, and using a similar modern
style. The majority of older folk will appreciate the fact that you are including their song
preference, and making it your own, and trying as hard to make it special as if it were your own
style of song. Thus, you can use well played hymns to join hearts in worship, rather than having
the separate song for the oldies.

        Worship in a Nutshell

Preparing for the Service

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

     1. The 11 Laws of Practicing: How to have
               great (& Fun) Practices
They say that practice makes perfect, but sometimes it just makes misery. I have seen practices
where everyone is lethargic, bored, disobedient and uninspired, and I have seen practices which
were so great, so interesting and so worthwhile that even those not scheduled to be singing or
playing that week turn up because they love it so much. You can have either, and as worship
leader, it’s your choice! I prefer the latter.

Practice is a part of worship team life. We all hate it, because we’d rather be at home with family
or friends, but it has to happen, so I reckon anything you can do to make it worthwhile and
enjoyable is great.

Now in fairness, the way you promote your practice sessions does depend on your personality.
Being an Aussie, and a quite jovial one at that, I usually spend most of my practices laughing,
joking and making people smile (but then that just about sums up the rest of my life too). Some of
you are just more serious and intense than me, and that is OK, but somehow you will have to
make your practices fun if you want people to really enjoy and gain a lot out of them.

Remember the aim of the music ministry is to lead others into worship, and this applies equally to
the band and singers. You need to encourage them in their craft, improve their playing and singing
abilities, learn new songs, explore new feels for current songs, and peak their enthusiasm to obtain
the best results.

Here’s what you should NEVER, NEVER do…

You cannot, must not and should not ever lose your temper. I mean, never ever, no matter how
bad they are, or what they have done. I look at it this way; lose your temper, and you just lose!

For best results in your band and singers, relax, enjoy and have fun. I know you worship leaders
are definitely up for finding things to make practice enjoyable, so here's a few ideas that I employ.

1. Always start with a prayer:

Before we go through these, I should mention that every practice should start with prayer. I don't
labour the prayer time, because we are there to practice, not to have lengthy prayers, but I really
believe you will achieve more for the Lord if you take the time to honour Him and hand the session
over to Him.

So, this is not the cursory, “Dear Lord, bless our trip” type of prayer, and neither is it the half hour
marathon prayer. I simply pray something like the following…

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

        Lord, thank you so much for the awesome privilege of being able to serve You, and lead
others into deeper worship of You. As a band and singers now we ask Your forgiveness for our
sins, and ask that You fill us afresh with Your Spirit. We offer You our hands, our feet, our voices,
but most of all, our hearts, and ask that You use us to bless our people here. The cry of our hearts
is “here we are, Lord, use us,” and to this end we ask that You guide us as we practice so that we
may be the very best we can be when we walk up before the congregation on Sunday morning.
Bind us together as co-labourers for You we ask in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

2. Keep the time tight:

Practices that last for 3 or 4 hours are pretty frustrating for everyone. You should not be practicing
any longer than 2 hours for a Sunday service, and you should not be entering into big training
sessions as part of a general practice. If you do not want to build resentment, you have to make
practices concise, relevant and relatively quick. As Bill Newman says, short, sharp and shiny!

3. Try and try again:

Anything you are adding into a song needs to be rehearsed again and again until it is perfect. You
can either make this laborious or joke a little, see people smile and have another go. When they
get it, keep doing it until it becomes 2nd nature, and always encourage them when they get it right.
Never, never, never belittle anyone for getting something wrong, and if they cannot do it right after
repeated attempts, why not see if there is a slightly easier alternative?

4. Separate musicians and singers:

Sometimes you have to go over music again and again, or go over singing again and again
(especially doing harmonies), while the rest wait bored out of their collective heads! Why not
separate them for a time, have the best musician and the best singer work with their respective
groups. Saves time, no one feels bored or left out, everybody has fun and, hopefully, it will sound
brilliant when you put it all together. Plus, you will be encouraging leadership gifts in others as they
attempt to lead their small group.

5. Training verses Practice:

This is a key area, which should NOT be tackled during a scheduled practice of songs for Sunday
services. It will take far too long to do the lot, so once a month why not have a special training
night, where musicians and singers who want to get better at their chosen field can learn new and
exciting techniques. We do this around once a month, and sometimes get "experts" in harmonies,
guitar, drums, etc. to come and teach our people to be better. The band and singers will love it, and
the creativity spurt will surprise everyone. I recently had a guitar teaching night and taught a few
techniques to our guitarists. Some promptly forgot them, but one guy in particular got inspired. He
went from being a good, solid rhythm guy right into lead guitar, and has never looked back!

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

Remember, worship leaders, part of you mandate is to encourage the best in your band and

6. Allow coffee and tea:

True confessions; I love my coffee! Allowing coffee or tea promotes a relaxed, friendly atmosphere
within which to practice. If you are not allowed coffee in the auditorium, then you need to respect
the church’s wishes, so maybe you can finish early then head out for a coffee afterwards. This is
great for developing fellowship.

7. Allow people to step forward and take the lead:

Who says that, as worship leader, I have to sing every song in the morning? Generally I will have
at least 3-4 songs out of 7 that OTHER PEOPLE IN THE BAND lead in. I get them to start off and
then I might come in over them with a harmony. This keeps my harmony ability sharp and makes
them feel that they are special. And it blesses the audience to listen to more than one voice.
Remember, part of your role is to bring the best out in people, so try handing some of the
leadership of songs to others.

8. Give them time or set homework?

I am always trying new things in practice. That's what practice is for, and I love being creative.
However, very often a band member will not be able to do what I have requested on the spot. At
this point a judgment needs to be made as to whether it is way beyond them, in which case I will
"change my mind" so as not to embarrass them, or if it is just slightly beyond them. When I realize
that going over and over it then and there will bore the rest of the band to tears, if they are nearly
there I will set them a little homework, and they will come back to me beaming when they have
practiced enough to nail it properly. With all of your people keep stretching them, but do not
discourage them. It's a fine line, but a good leader does this well.

9. Set a game plan:

If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it, every time. So, set a game plan for the practice, the songs you
want to hit and the way you want to do them. Try not to get bogged down on a song. If it is
continually messed up, then you may decide to drop the song, or make it simpler allowing the guys
to sing and play it with ease. At the same time, don't programme your whole practice out. Allow
time for laughter and fun, and a relaxed atmosphere. Just the right amount of structure and
flexibility makes for a great learning and practice environment.

10. Jokes are OK!

Now, I know that not every person is a comedian, while some are too over the top and never
serious, but the right amount of humour and fun can really make a difference.

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

Jokes are definitely IN when I am leading. In practices they flow thick and fast, and even on stage
just before we start I will come up with a few gags just to settle people before we minister. God is
fun, and He loves to laugh, so I think we should have fun doing what He has called us to do. The
worst music teams are the really serious ones!

If you are a really serious and intense worship leader, and I understand that you are serious about
being excellent, and I applaud that, but I have to say, from one worship leader to another, just get
over it! God does not fall from His throne if we smile and enjoy worship, so lighten up and give
your team a little slack. ENJOY your band and you will find they are right with you all the way.

This is not to say that the whole practice becomes one, huge joke. I am super serious about
producing quality music and singing, and super serious about creating the right atmosphere of
worship. I just like to share a joke or two along the way.

Even simple, and fairly silly jokes can help people to relax. Things like:

What's the difference between a musician and a mutual fund? The mutual fund will eventually
mature and make money!

How do you tell if the stage is level? The drummer drools equally from both sides of his mouth.

How many lead guitarists does it take to screw in a light bulb? One... he holds the bulb up, and the
whole world revolves around him!

How do you know there is a backing singer at your door? Because even if you give her the right
key, she still cannot figure out when to come in!

What do you get when you drop a piano down a mineshaft? A flat minor.

So, worship leaders, hit the internet and find a few good, clean musician jokes. They do exist (you
may have to dig for them), but they can make practice fun.

11. Break into familiar songs:

Now, this is vintage Darin Browne, and something I LOVE doing. Someone will play or sing
something, even just a few bars, and I will break into a completely different song, then the rest of
the band joins in. It is pretty crazy, and most of the songs are old 60-70s rock and roll songs.
Now, you don't want to waste everyone's time doing this the whole night, but once or twice can
really be fun.

Then we often take some of the feels we played and apply them to a praise of worship songs. For
musicians it makes the whole thing heaps of fun, and it is kind of a cross between a trip down
memory lane and a jam session. Be careful, though, because some may feel left out (often the
singers). I only break into a couple of lines of the "other" song, because more than this means

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

everyone stands around and waits for me, usually with hands on hips. Yes, it's a fine line, but hey,
practice ought to be fun!

Another fun thing to do is apply different styles of music to songs as you rehearse. Slow them
down, speed them up, go reggae, country, heavy or whatever you fancy. I have had some fun
taking fast, rock songs and starting them slow and ballad like. You have to let your imagination,
and that of your people, go!!!!!

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

                               2. Styles of Music
The style of music is important in worship. This governs the feel that you can give certain songs,
and is primarily set by your audience, because they are the ones who have to listen and enjoy.
What ever you do, don't push YOUR style onto others. This is an easy way to upset people.

You can produce the same song in a variety of styles, which can help to keep the song fresh, and
the musos interested. You can also mix styles up, so that in a given worship service there is
something for everyone

So, what exactly is a style? It is applying a type of music to a particular song. Let me STRONGLY
CAUTION you in this regard. Please do not throw your brain out and your creativity with it. You do
not, indeed must not, copy the exact way a song is done on a certain CD. This complete lack of
creativity is very, very common among worship teams. If you think the CD is so great, why not just
send the band off the stage and get the congregation to sing along with the CD!

Of all the styles I mention here, my absolute favourite is the "West Coast" style. If you are in doubt
about a good place to start in developing your band's own style, try this one.


In Australia, Hillsong Church produces great songs, in their own style, and they are excellent.
However, right across the country, churches try to directly copy their style, even down to Darlene's
big coat. I would encourage you not to be a cover band, but to develop your OWN style. They
don't even want you to emulate them! Why not take their ideas, roll them around in your heart for
a while, and make their songs your own. I think you will find that Darlene and the gang don't even
do it the exact CD way every time (shock, horror!!!)

Southern Gospel

In the US, Southern Gospel is big. This is an old fashioned, country, foot tapping style, which most
people really enjoy. It is big and busy, happy and joyous, and works very well in the southern
states of the US. Throw one of these into your Praise time, and most often folks smile and
respond to the song. The Gaither family videos illustrate this well.

West Coast/Soft Rock Feel

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

This is my personal preference, and the style was really made popular by the Eagles, and then in
Christian music by the Vineyard. It is STRONGLY ACOUSTIC GUITAR BASED, and my
experience is that the vast majority of people will love this style. The acoustic guitar is light,
powerful and easy on the ear. It is also basically a rhythm instrument, and can easily set the
tempo and control the pace of worship. Most of my worship is based in this style. I love it!

In fact for something different, you can dispense with all the other instruments and just use an
acoustic guitar and maybe a shaker. This gives a cool, intimate style, and allows the vocals to
really shine. Try sitting on stools across the front of the stage and leading worship. It is very


Let's face it, there is country and there is country. Some of the older country I dislike a lot, but the
newer stuff is excellent, and very close to the West Coast soft rock style I was talking about.
Listen, store up ideas, chord patterns, fills and it is an easy style to emulate. To be truthful, the
West Coast style is basically a soft, country rock, and it works really well.


Depending on your congregation, rock music can be powerful in worship, but can also powerfully
turn offend people. A lot of churches which attract young people use Rock music in their
presentation, but pay the price of driving others away. Using a lighter style of rock, such as the
early 60s type, works very well with most congregations. I have a song called Harvest which
nearly every audience loves, in that 50s-60s style. Heavy rock is really a specialist type of music,
for a specialized crowd (of young people). Personally I love nearly all of it. Do I use it in worship?
Not a lot, because I do not want to drive anyone away from the throne of God. Ask God about
using a style, don't just do it because you love it.

Piano based

Artists like Michael W Smith, Elton John and Billy Joel have popularized the piano as a lead
instrument. To do this style you need a strong piano player, WHO DOES NOT SIMPLY PLAY
WHAT IS WRITTEN. Get some CDs of artists like the above and listen to how they play. They will
insert lots of little runs in between the vocals, and it sounds great.

Hip Hop/Rap

Yes, believe it or not, some churches are trying the Hip Hop thing in worship. Does nothing for me,
but hey, if it works for your church, feel free to go for it! After all, music styles are only languages,
and this type of music is part of the language of the young!

Your Own Style

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

Above all, develop your own style. Ask the Lord and you will soon discover that you are creative
because He is creative. If you feel you are lacking in creativity, find someone in your band who is a
natural musician and ask for their input. Don't just copy, even if it the quick fix for your band's
blues. There is no long term advantage in doing a reproduction of the CD, but as you develop the
style that is comfortable for you and the church you will see the band and singers develop, and be
thrilled with the creativity the Lord can bring to you and the team!

My style revolves around the acoustic guitar. Guess what instrument I play??? Funny that! I
have very diverse interests in music, but I guarantee you, whatever you tend to listen to will come
out somewhere in your worship.

So, whatever style you choose to pursue, follow something in order to make your band be the very
best that they can be. Just make sure it is a style that is acceptable to the majority in church, not
just your own favourite. You are responsible for leading your people into worship, but also
developing your band, so please don't be a substandard clone of what some other worship team
has recorded on a CD. Be innovative and creative, and don't believe that you are void of
creativity. Strive to be the best you can be, to the glory the Lord. Your church needs you to be the
very best you can be, so set your own style, and consider making it blend of styles.

         Worship in a Nutshell

Worship Leading Techniques

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

                        Spirit Led Techniques?
There are two types of people in worship bands. The more common are the structured people, who
play what is written, and do things “by the book.” The second, less common variety is the creative
people, who love new, innovative and creative ideas, and hardly ever do anything the same way
twice! I am the second one. I drive the first one NUTS!!!

Now, both of these types of people tend to grate on each other, so we must all be loving and
gracious towards the other type. The best way ahead, of course, is somewhere in the middle, and
that is how the Lord can bless the unity in your team.

In this section I will talk about techniques. These are things that I have tried and found actually
work. They are not secret weapons. They are not ways of manipulating a crowd. They are clear,
genuine techniques you can try and, if you find them useful, incorporate them into your worship
team immediately.

Now some of you may be thinking, “If we learn techniques, then the Spirit will not move.” This is
simply not true. These techniques should be learned and learned well, and then you can allow the
Holy Spirit to use them as He sees fit. Spirit led does not mean poorly prepared, badly practiced or
less than competent!

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

                            1. Song Introductions
Without doubt, the most consistently difficult areas to get right in song performance are the entries
and exits.

Don’t just be a clone!

Here is an area that drives me crazy at times when I listen to others leading worship. Worship
leaders listen to a song on a CD, and have to reproduce every aspect of it. You are better off
putting on the CD and asking people to sing with it! This is particularly true if it has a long music

So what happens? The leader, the singers and the congregation stand around waiting for this
extended play intro, just because the CD had an extended play intro. Listen, worship leaders,
MAKE THE SONG YOUR OWN and cut the long intro short. Get straight into the part everyone is
waiting for!

Why not consider starting straight into the singing? Why not play a few chords and then start
singing? Why not start with acapella, or VOICES ONLY.

Try starting "Amazing Grace" with voices only and see what happens (preferably in 3 or 4 part
harmony). You can start any song nearly any way you want, so avoid long, boring music intros,
unless you specifically desire them to build atmosphere.

Where the long intro works well

The long intro, however, is very effective for the first song of the service. The music starts, the long
intro goes on, and people know things are starting. You can welcome people to the service over
this long intro, get them clapping, etc., and then finally start into the song.

So, use the intro to do what you want to do, and don't become the slave of it! You can use it for
meditation, a brief word or verse or to set a scene from which the people can worship. If you are
like me, and you feel that there should be little or zero speaking in between songs, then the long
intro at the start of the service allows you to talk for a bit, without interfering with the atmosphere of
worship later in the service.

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

       2. Advice Regarding Speaking on Stage
As I’ve said before, incessant speaking between songs is a huge distraction and extremely
counterproductive in leading people into worship. Yet, even if they acknowledge this, many
worship leaders simply cannot help themselves… they have to speak, and cannot stand silence!!!!
This is particularly true of leaders who are not playing an instrument, because those who do can
join songs using their instrument, rather than their voice.

So, to help those of you who cannot limit your speech on stage, I would like to highlight a few
areas you can consider. Remember, I am not against speaking entirely, I just can recognize when
the leader is speaking for the sake of some hidden motive, such as trying to join songs, or when
something goes wrong.

Moderation is certainly the key here, and I have seen some of these things enhance worship, or
alternatively absolutely ruin it. A story to share, a timely scripture passage or a short, sharp prayer
may be brilliant in opening hearts to the Lord, but most often inexperienced worship leaders simply
talk too much! Unless you have something extraordinary to say that enhances worship, try not
saying anything! Once worship starts to roll, saying nothing is the best thing, because that allows
God to touch hearts in His way, not your way.

1. Limit your exhortations to worship:

Avoid saying things like, "come on, sing it like you really mean it". The more years I worship God
the more I try to pull back and let God be God, not talk all over the place "trying" to help make it
happen. But, this takes some discipline, so train yourself to step back and focus on the Lord.
Some folks may need encouragement to worship, so your exhortations may be appropriate, but
once things are rolling then step back out of the way and let the people meet with God.

2. Limit the cracking of jokes:

These may have a place at times (& I love a good joke), but as worship leaders you must be
careful to do nothing which detracts in any way from the object of the exercise: to worship. One or
two funnies may relax people, but I have seen many times a funny guy leading who just can't stop!
It makes for a very funny service, but does not make for worship. Sure, be laid back, be pleasant,
be relaxed, but don’t be a stand up comedian!

3. Limit speaking to people directly:

"In" jokes or addressing people directly by name makes that person feel special, but serves to
make others feel slightly "out of the loop." Yes there are times when it is appropriate, but try to limit

                                           Worship in a Nutshell

4. Limit the "Ladies sing verse 2" syndrome:

I must confess this is another of my pet hates! This technique, (and let's face it, that's what it is) is
usually done by older worship leaders, especially those not playing instruments. I guess it is
designed to provide some variety in the verses of the song, but I reckon it is poor at even this. You
can use this technique if you like, but I believe it adds nothing to the Spirit of worship. To me it
often signals that the worship leading is having trouble getting any excitement happening out there.
Then again, as I have previously stated, it is my pet hate!

5. NEVER GET ANGRY at people who don't worship as you think they should:

This one I cannot emphasize enough, because it indicates real insensitivity and frustration on the
part of the worship leader. I have even heard leaders publicly rebuke people during the worship
service for not "entering in!" Let's get back to an earlier point: who is responsible for worship?
Where does the buck stop? If YOU are worship leader, YOU are responsible, so don't blame

As a general rule, less is more as far as speaking goes. I apply the verse John 3:30 to myself
when I lead, that He becomes greater and I become less. I urge you to not speak when things go
wrong, which is usually the case, but try to refrain from speaking and disrupting what the Lord is
doing in worship when it goes right. In general, only speak when it is going to be absolutely
positive for your listeners, and when it adds something unique and wonderful to draw people to
God. Remember, worship leading is not about promoting ourselves, but letting God impact hearts.
Let us weigh our words carefully so that anything we say draws people to the heart of God in

                                  3. Joining songs
When leading a worship time it is generally advantageous to join the songs together in some way,
providing a flow that people can continue to worship in. I strongly suggest that, as much as
possible, talking be minimized. This will help to point people to the Lord, not you and your opinions,
heart sharing, prayers, etc. As I have previously stated, I believe talking over the end of one song
and the beginning of the next is a very poor way to go. DJs do this on the radio, but you have not
been called to be a DJ, and church is not a radio show.

There are several ways you can bridge from one song to the next, keeping in the flow and not
upsetting the Spirit of Worship. Here are a few effective ideas:

1. Roll straight on to the next song:

This works well if the next song is in the same key and the same rhythm (timing). If they are even
slightly different, you may be heading for complete disaster! If, for example, one song needs to be
slower than the other, it is a difficult thing to roll straight to the next song, and could sound a bit like

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

a slow motion car crash before you are finished! Better to make a clean break than try to directly
link up things that simply won't go.

2. Using drum and rhythm bridges:

If songs are in a similar rhythm, but a different key, this works very effectively. All the instruments
finish the first song, except drums and percussion, and they provide the rhythmic bed in which the
next song will sit. If your drummer is good, he may even be able to do a solo, or change rhythm if
required to that of the next song, enabling the other instruments to come back in and start. He
needs to be good, and a fair bit of practice is needed also.

3. Change of key- The Passing Chord:

This one I will use a lot. The really cool thing is that, if you know the secret formula, you can apply
this technique immediately and it works nearly 100% of the time. The secret formula is called, The
Passing Chord.

A passing chord is a chord you go to specifically to get to different key. It is mostly a 7th chord,
and it is number 5 in the octave, or the 5th of the key you are changing to (not the original key).

 Thus if I am in the key of C, but the next song is in, say, D, I finish the first song on a C chord. The
next chord I play is 5 up from the D and a 7th, so it is D,E,F#,G,A : I play an A7 chord, and then I
can happily and effectively move to the D, which is the tonic chord of the new key of D.

Confused? Don’t worry, just sit down with a piano or guitar and play the notes, and your ears will
tell you that this will work. Once you get it, then you have a super tool to join songs and to go up
keys! (See later).

So, to get into the key of C, you need G7. To get to E you need B7, and so on. This table of
common keys may help:

Required Key Passing chord

C                      G7

D                      A7

E                      B7

F                      C7

G                      D7

A                      E7

                                           Worship in a Nutshell

Bb                      F7

Eb                      Bb7

A really cool thing to try is, when you hit the passing chord, let it hang there for a while. Try it: you'll
find it slows things down and allows you to enter the new song with ease, especially if it is a slower
song. That “pregnant pause” slows the transition, and can also leave an expectant atmosphere to
help you launch in to the next song. This technique is powerful, and wonderful when done well.

Another trick to watch for is when the passing chord for the next song is actually the tonic chord of
the old song. For example, you are in C, and you want to change to the key of F for the next song.
The required passing chord is, for a change to F, C7. You are already in C, so just add a 7th, and
roll on into F. This makes the change to the new key quite surprising at times for the audience.

Keep this information in mind when choosing the songs, because you have to effectively get from
one to the other, seamlessly, in order to facilitate deeper worship.

3a. The Coolest Chord Change

The best way I find to go up a key is also the simplest; Go up one key IN THE PREVIOUS SONG!
That way, when you arrive at the end of the song you are already in the correct key for the next
song. PLUS: the people get to go up keys in the song, and thereby lift their voices and their spirits
in worship (because that is the effect of going up a key. There’s a chapter on this later).

Try this, guys, and you will be amazed at how effective it really is.

4. Silence:

Silence is golden, they say, but sometimes it is just plain yellow. A silence in worship can be
awkward, but it can also be beautiful. Don't plan a long period of silence, because these are most
often the awkward ones. However, if you spontaneously sense that silence is the right thing, go for
it. Don't be afraid of silence. A short period of silence enables you to start a new song, in any key,
at any tempo, so it is an effective way to link songs. BUT, DON'T FILL IT UP WITH WORDS!

5. Synths and guitar:

These can provide a beautiful way to link songs. Just a low breathy vox or string sound, and some
acoustic guitar picking will allow the atmosphere to hang wonderfully, and people to quietly worship
in the presence of the Lord. So, experiment with these and see where the Lord takes you.

The whole idea is to have your music as a continuum, blending one song into the next. If you are
clever, you can find dozens of ways to creatively do this, and this flow of music will help draw
people into deeper worship. Try things, and have some fun.


                                       Worship in a Nutshell

Linking songs together can be an embarrassing, uncoordinated mess, or a beautiful, highlight
which adds enormously to the service, and draws people closer to the Lord. The difference is
going to involve both creativity and practice, because each musician and singer must be fully
aware of what is happening, and fully able to do the task allotted to them.

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

                                    4. Modulation
Modulation is when the song goes up a key. It rarely appears in written music, but I use it all the
time and it is a powerful and effective ally in worship.

When the key of a song is raised, there is an immediate increase in the intensity of the song.
People have to sing higher and harder and therefore put more into the song and worship with more
gusto. It provides a climax for the song. You can even change keys to aid your movement into the
next song. For example, if you are playing in F, and the next song is in G, try modulating the last
chorus of the first song from F to G, which means you are now in the right key for the next song.

And why stop there. I will often do this more than once in a song (sometimes up to 5 keys, which
is pretty extreme!). If you are in F, and the next song is in Bb, try modulating from F to G, then to A,
then to Bb, ready for the next song. Sounds radical, singers are terrified of it at times, but it is
really cool, and, although the notes may be higher, most people love to modulate, and through it
can reach new heights in their worship experience.

And don't forget that the right passing chord can make the move to a higher key easier.

This is one technique you have to experience to fully understand. Try it with your favourite song,
but be very careful, because not all songs modulate easily at the same spot. Most often you will
only modulate the chorus repeat at the end of the song, although in simple ballads you might go up
every verse. This works well in songs like “Amazing Grace.”

Beware the tricky ones! If the chorus starts with the tonic chord, that is the key you are in, then
you are pretty safe to modulate. The chorus of “Shout to the Lord” starts in A (the key it is in), and
so you are safe to go up. However, a song like “What the Lord has Done For Me” in C is very
difficult to modulate on the chorus, because the chorus starts with a G chord. In this case, you
would modulate on the verse, which starts on a C.

Again, this is something you would have to listen to in order to gain understanding, but once you
get it right, you will probably love this technique as much as I do, and blow your congregation out
of the water with the result!

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

       5. The Changeover: Worship to Sermon
The people have praised the Lord, worshiped Him, and now they are ready for the word of God,
but so many times the changeover from worship to the sermon breaks the beautiful atmosphere
achieved in the worship. There has to be a coordinated interaction between Pastor and worship
leader to enable a smooth flow from one to the other. It is like passing the baton in a relay. You
can be ahead and winning, but if the change is poor and the baton is dropped, you are likely to
“snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!”

How Do We Do This Effectively?

What is the most effective way of getting from worship to the preaching? I feel I may be qualified
to speak on this point, because, both in my home church and with Bill Newman, this is key in what
I do. I have broached this question many times in my ministry with Dr Bill, and tried several
different ways, but this is what seems to us to be the most effective way to do this seamlessly.

So, we let the final worship song (and usually it is either a slow, quiet one or a huge majestic one)
drop down to a quieter volume. I send a quick glance or nod to the preacher, who joins us on
stage. I pull back from the mike, and he may sing, or most often, speak (or pray). The music is
quieter, and we are running through a repetitive chord structure, or the chords of the song. As he
speaks or prays we endeavour to follow his lead, increasing our music as he increases volume,
and getting quieter when he does. As he moves towards "Amen", we will be trying to finish our
song on that cue.

Thus, before you know it, our worship song rolls into the prayer, then on to the Bible reading, which
if people are standing is a natural thing (many preachers want people standing as they read the
Bible reading).

The flowing on of the song is designed to enhance and add to the prayer, NOT OVERWHELM IT!
If you decide to do this, make sure the preacher is happy with this, and make sure you are
sensitive. Do this effectively and you will not only add to the worship, but you will also add to the
delivery of the word of God. Your Pastor will find that his delivery of the sermon is easier this way,
as opposed to after the announcements or offering.

Again, this is all personal preference, but my main aim at this point in the sermon is to serve the
Man of God preaching, and provide for him a beautiful, sensitive and expectant audience.

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

                 6. Signals and Song Directions
Communication is the key to a great performance on stage. You need to be able to convey
important information clearly, decisively and promptly in a way that the audience finds non-
disruptive. In fact, the ideal method is that you communicate with the band in a way that they
cannot even detect!

I have seen some really bazaar attempts at on stage communication, and I have a very definite
preference of my own. There is no right or wrong way to do this, it is whatever works for you.
There are basically 3 ways to communicate on stage, all with pros and cons. I like the 3rd, but you
need to decide for yourself...

1. Visual signals or signs: This has become popular over the last 10 years or so, when the
worship leader signals to the band with secret hand gestures. One problem with this is that a new
band member needs to learn the signals, and some dopey band members (like me) always forget
them. Also, this is a useless method of communication when you play the guitar and lead. For
some worship leaders it works, but I don't really like it. Horses for courses, I suppose.

2. Verbal signals, over the mike: These are sometimes acceptable, and I use them occasionally,
but you need to be careful. Never use musician speak during the worship over the mike, because
it sounds terrible. Avoid phrases like, "let's sing the chorus again", or "back to verse 1." The only
time I verbally over the mike give directions is by, perhaps, calling out the first line of the chorus.
This sounds professional and the band knows it’s “chorus again.”

3. Verbal signals, off mike: This is the preferred way to communicate on stage. I always have my
key musos very close, especially drums, piano and bass, and I pull back off the mike and shout out
instructions. I also shout out jokes at times, and other comments such as, "come on guys, let's
go," or "let's get into it," or "pull back, settle it down." As long as you are heard (turn the foldback
or monitors down) it is very direct, clear and concise. I just shout it out both directions. No crazy
signals and the audience cannot hear. And, the longer you play together the easier it becomes. If
the song is too fast, too loud or starting to drag, I pull back from the mike and encourage the band
to lift. They always do. This is simple, fun and let's the band gel during a worship time. Try it,
leaders. Pull the mike away and actually talk to them. They'll appreciate the simplicity, and you will
get better results and more consistency.

So, the bottom line is to find the way of communicating that suits you and your band. If in doubt, I
recommend talking directly to your band, and directing them as you feel comfortable. In most
situations, what you say off mike is not heard in the audience, but your band will appreciate your
direct and firm leadership. If signals are your thing, then feel free to use them, as long as everyone
knows what you are saying. Each leader must find their way in this question, but do not be afraid to
exhibit real and decisive leadership. That is what your band, and your congregation wants!

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

                                    7. The Appeal
If the Pastor decides to have an appeal, then this is the crunch time of the service, and if the
preacher is going there you need to be alert to what he wants, and what the Lord is directing. I
travel with Australia's leading evangelist, and I have overseen thousands of appeals with him. It is
the most important time, because people's souls hang in the balance, so if you get nothing else in
the service right, please make no mistake with this one. Here are few thoughts about how to run
the best appeal music you can:

1. No mobile phones on stage:

This may sound obvious, but one day at a big combined churches meeting the drummer's phone
went off during the appeal. I was not happy! Someone's concentration may have been broken at
a critical time, and they may go to hell, just because we had to have our phone on! This is never
on, folks, because people's lives are worth far more than our business calls.

2. Choose a simple song, with meaningful words:

We usually use "The Power of Your Love", but you could use anything, especially if it has the word
"come" in it. The song is supporting the evangelist's call... come! In a church, try finding a song
which fits with the theme of the morning, because again the song must support, not cut against,
the message and the appeal.

3. Singers and Musicians must pray:

You have the best seat in the house to see what the Lord is doing. You can see the people’s faces,
and their gestures, so please, please PRAY for them. I challenge you to ask the Lord for one
audience member to pray for, and then look at them and pray like mad. Many times the Lord will
bring them forward! Now, don't everyone pray for the same guy, 'cause he might get a little

4. Be Simple and Sensitive:

This is not the song for a drum solo, and hot piece of lead or a fabulous vocal descant! I
encourage bands and singers to keep this one song very, very simple. I don't want any flashy bits
(or off notes) because I want nothing to upset what the Lord is doing in their hearts. Be gentle,
sensitive and simple.

And, above all, pray for the Lord to move in people's hearts. Your prayers are powerful, and so you
really need to use your privileged position on stage to pray for the people. Try it, and I believe that
the Lord will bless you all the way. Love your music, sure, but above all, love people! They are
precious to Jesus, and they should be to you. They are AWAYS more important than your music!

                Worship in a Nutshell

   Questions You May Have About the
Service, Which You Were Always Afraid to

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

                    1. Length of worship service
While we all want to be flexible enough to allow the Lord to work in our church service, we cannot
escape the fact that everyone has an opinion as to how long a worship service should be. Be
aware that worship leaders and musicians will always think it needs to be longer, while many of the
congregation believe it ought to be shorter. Most churches I visit have very long worship times,
which resemble endurance tests or in some cases even torture as people are made to stand with
their hands in the air for hours.

To sit during one of these sessions seems to convey either weakness of lack of spirituality! The
reality is it probably conveys cramps and commonsense. Any fool could see that this is not
appropriate, but apparently not some worship leaders, who continue to drag out worship times to
the max.

I once ministered at Hills Christian Life Center, the Mecca for Aussie musicians (do we all face Hills
when we pray?), and saw Darlene lead worship. It lasted 20-25 minutes. Shock, amazement!
They were straight into the Lord's presence from the first song, and they did not labour the worship
as some do for over an hour. This should speak volumes to those of us who lead worship.
Worship needs to be ENJOYED, not ENDURED!

So, in the name of time management and common sense, here are a few ideas on timing in

1. Start on time:

Regardless of how many or how few are in the room, START ON TIME. This may not be
applicable in some 3rd world situations when people travel hours on foot to be there, but for the
rest of us, let's get it right and start on time. It is not a performance, and you are doing this as unto
the Lord, so it should make little difference how many are in the room. To start late and then
encroach on the pastor's sermon time is an affront to the pastor.

2. Be prepared to reduce the length of the worship time.

You are there to be a servant, not a star, so always be the first to volunteer to cut back. If
something else goes overtime, you should volunteer to reduce what you are doing. When I lead
worship at Bill Newman meetings, if time is tight I am always the first to volunteer to cut back,
because that’s what real servants do! And, at least half the time, Bill kindly refuses the offer and
asks me to sing my full quota of songs. You see, there is a blessing in serving a Man of God!

3. Have a couple of songs up your sleeve:

It is often a good idea to have a couple of songs in reserve, just in case you need them. So, when
you choose the songs for the service, you don’t have to play them all!

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

4. Don't get locked into a programme:

Be flexible enough to change songs, cut songs or even add songs if the Spirit permits. I am
always wary of the printed orders of service. Sometimes they are timed, which is even scarier!
Now, I know we need some sort of order of service, and that everything needs to be done in order,
but let's not sacrifice the move of the Spirit on the altar of an orderly programme! If something
happens, we need to be free to change.

5. When do you stop the worship?

I always tell the pastor, "Please come up on to stage at any time for any reason and feel free to
take over." I am subject to the pastor, so whenever he is good and ready (or if he feels things have
changed) he needs to feel free to stand up and join us in worship or take over. Again, it is all about
being a servant, not having your own way!

6. Ask yourself, "How many times do we need to do this song?"

One of the most frequent criticisms of worship leaders is that they repeat songs or sections of
songs to the point of frustration. It is a song of worship, guys, not a mantra!

So, when preparing for a service, consider these ideas and be sensitive both to the Spirit and also
to those in the congregation. You are called to lead worship, not perform and not torture. In the
end less is usually more when it comes to leading worship.

   2. How long do you leave people standing?
Ah, now here is a question that is bound to create some debate! My suggestion here is that you
be reasonable, but do not cater to the lowest denominator.

Enjoyed or Endured?

Worship must be enjoyed, not endured! Some worship services I have been to more closely
resemble acts of stamina than worship, with people being asked to stand for 50 or 60 minutes and
beyond, or encouraged to lift their hands up for nearly as long! Wait a minute, isn’t that some kind
of KGB torture technique?

In my opinion, this is quite ridiculous! Nobody wants to stand for that long, and neither should they
just to cater to the whims of the worship leader. Be sensible and reasonable about it. 30-40
minutes is surely long enough, if not too long. If you look out and most of the audience is seated
again, you know you have overstepped the mark. You can get them seated for announcements,
the offering or even an item. Just one break will leave them ready to party on and enjoy the

People need to be Free!

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

People need to feel free to sit down if they want, and there will typically be a few, notably the older
folk. However, if it is a super time of worship the time will fly and folks won't notice the need to sit
down. You have to figure this out for your church, but in all you do try to be understanding and
leave room for people to be able to make their own decisions.

Also, look at your environment. If, for example, you have a coffee shop style church, maybe
standing at all is inappropriate, or perhaps you can work people to the point where they are
standing only for the last song or two. Standing need not be mandatory, and we often only do it
because that is what we always have done. The main thing is, whether your church is traditional or
very innovative, please be sensible about instructions to the people, including the standing one.
Each group is unique, and so there is no "one instruction fits all" approach, but pray and ask the
Lord to lead you in the correct way you should go for your church.

And remember, if you are on stage looking across the audience and notice large numbers of
people starting to sit down, talk to one another, faint or look disinterested, then you have probably
gone too long, and need to stop… NOW!

                                            Worship in a Nutshell

  3. How many times should I play that song?
I have always suggested that, once again, the voice of reason must be raised here. I will generally
not sing a short song only once. I will often repeat the chorus several times (usually in slightly
different ways, such as quietly, voices only, just the drums, or similar techniques).

‘Til Death?

The main point is this: DON'T PLAY SONGS TO DEATH. Mindless repetition is a torture
technique, not a worship technique. You are aiming to lead people to the person of God, not numb
their mind using a repetitious mantra. I remember one time when I forgot something I had to rush
home and back during the church service. I left the church, rushed home, spent 5 minutes at
home, rushed back and got back to church some 25 minutes later, only to find them still playing the
SAME SONG! This is ludicrous! Repeat the chorus several times, or maybe a verse or two, but
please be reasonable and ask God how many times you should repeat things. I bet even He gets
bored with some of the worship we offer up!

A Valid Time to Repeat

If you are teaching a song, obviously it will take a few more times for folks to get into the swing of
the song, but you need to feel in the Lord the correct number of times to play any song. Sense the
mood of the crowd and, if they are enjoying it, go for another chorus, or if it is falling a little flat, pull
out and move on.

Left Behind

The award winning book series deals with people left behind after the rapture, but worship leaders
often race off and fail to lead others to God, leaving them behind as purely spectators. Repeating
songs when people are not with you is a complete disaster, and must be avoided. If the song is
not working well, pull out and move on as quickly as possible. With more experience you can even
make pulling out of a song professional and as if you planned it all along.

And, always do LESS than you think the congregation wants, rather than more. It is better to leave
their hearts longing for more of Jesus, than frustrated and closed off for the sermon. Repetition is a
useful and wonderful thing in music, but sometimes it is just tedious. You must apply wisdom, and
ask the Lord, rather than make every song into a long, repetitive, boring event. Even the Beatles
had only one “Hey Jude!”

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

      4. Order and other items in the meetings
There is always some debate about how you structure a meeting. What goes, first, second, etc.?
What do you do if others want to add things into the meeting? What do you absolutely have to

Oftentimes the Spirit of true worship must stand aside while we get really important things like
announcements out of the way! If you want your church to grow and flow in worship, it is
imperative that you group the songs together and not use the music as a punctuation mark for the
other activities in the service. Try to avoid this arrangement: one song, then announcements, then
one song, offering, then another song, sharing. It kills the meeting. My advice is, group all the
extra things into one spot, and let the worship flow!

Here's a few idea as to structuring a meeting:

1. Welcome:

As people are filing into the hall, a welcome is appropriate. Usually the band will be playing over
my welcome, and I will keep this short and sweet. "Good morning, welcome to XYZ church. We're
glad to see you! Are you ready to worship the Lord and honour the King of Kings?" Then we start.
It's simple, it’s quick, it’s non offensive (as opposed to, “O.K., dudes, let’s rock for Jesus!”) and it
lets people know we are starting, while also prompting a response from them (i.e.: the reply to the

2. The Praise and Worship:

This is an essential part of the meeting, not an optional extra, and not a preliminary or a warm up.
Thus we must give it priority, and allow a true worship experience, not the singing of a bunch of
songs. For this reason when I lead I will do some opening songs, usually 2-3 praise songs, usually
up tempo (but not always) and then have everything else we have to have, all in one hit. After that,
I will do 4-5 worship songs, uninterrupted by anything else (including me praying, talking, etc.), and
we will then roll into the sermon. Thus the music helps to prepare people's hearts to hear God's

3. Announcements:

I know, we all hate them, but apparently the church would crumble and fall without a 20 minute
spot for these! Here's a creative suggestion: if you use power point, etc., run them over and over
before and after the service. Highlight one or two as part of something else in the service, and
dispense with the official announcements in the meeting. Break with tradition and try it.

4. Greetings:

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

Many churches have a period of time for greeting, saying, "Turn to the people around you and say
"Hi". Fine idea, often done to death, but great for fellowship. You can use the band playing to wind
this time up and get people's attention again.

5. Sharing Time:

It is great to get people up to share about their life and ministry. Testimonies are encouraging for
the body of Christ, and details of missionaries and ministries in the church are essential.

One word of warning, though: give and keep them to VERY RIGID TIME LIMIT. This must be made
clear by the pastor, so going over time is an affront to him, not to you personally. The sharer must,
absolutely must, keep to their time limit. I have so often heard well meaning people who talk far
too long, and the congregation suffers. With the Bill Newman Team, if you go over your time limit,
we will not have you back on any future outreaches. It’s that simple. Testimonies should be limited
to 4 minutes, and you should only have one or at most two.

6. Prayer:

Essential, but the same limits apply as for sharing. Well meaning people tend to pray for much
longer than you expect or anybody wants. So, while encouraging public prayer, which is a vital part
of church life, please inform your pray people they are limited to 4-5 minutes, or whatever you are
comfortable with. It is often a great idea to have a piano or synth or organ playing quietly behind
the prayer. However, not every prayer lends itself to this, and sometimes it can be seen as stereo-
typical Pentecostal. Ask the Lord and your pastor what he wants done in this regard.

7. Offering:

We absolutely must not forget this one, and ample time must be given to this. Whoever takes the
offering usually provides a little teaching on the validity of what you are doing. You're not passing
the hat, or giving God a tip. People need to see that this is investment in God's Kingdom, and a
requirement for His blessing to flow in our lives. It is an act of obedience, and also of love. I
usually recommend music as the offering is taken up, breaking into singing and the worship
continuing towards the end, rather than singing right through. The offering is usually the last thing
before the worship starts up again, so I prefer to roll straight from worshiping the Lord with our
offering, into the musical worship experience. However, there is no right or wrong way to do this.

8. Communion:

This can be at any time, and usually requires a time of teaching, followed by a time of intimate
fellowship with God. This is probably the most beautiful, intimate and wonderful time of worship,
and can run on into further worship in song. Try to make it flow in with what you are doing, rather

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

than it becoming a separate thing. Music can wrap around the speaker as they share over the
communion table, then gently roll into a lovely song as the elements are handed out, finally
exploding into a magnificent worship time after communion. Make sure this is a focal point for your
service, and make sure also that people are intimate with the Lord. Support communion and build
it up into the experience it should be!

                          5. Being Conservative!
I have searched the Scriptures and cannot find anywhere that God says He loves Charismatics
and Pentecostals more than Conservatives and Evangelicals! Somewhere, out of experiences that
are a blessing, and also God's Grace to us, drawing us nearer to Him, we have grown an elitist
attitude. The Lord has shown me again and again that no single group is totally right, and the fact
that we worship differently is all part of God's plan. Different strokes for different folks. Yet each
side loves to criticize the other! Such is church life! Very often, at the center of these criticisms,
are the various styles of corporate worship, and this is where we, as musicians, can really help to
unite all the people of God.

So, if you are a worship leader in a more conservative situation (like me), let's not add to the
problem. Most P&W songs come from the big, charismatic churches, but if you try and emulate
that experience in your church you will most likely fall flat on your face! I believe that the Lord
loves His more Conservative people, and wants them to enter into life more abundantly, just like
He offers the Charismatics.

Our job then, and our joy, is to lead the congregation into a level of worship they have never
experienced. My understanding is that Conservative people want to worship the Lord, but dislike
the hype and pressure of some other churches. So, I reason, let's lead them into a deeper, gentle
and beautiful presence of the Lord, while easing up on the exuberance! Personally, I love doing
this, because I know that so many people are blessed by gentle and sensitive leading.

Now, they may not go as far as I would like them to go, but as long as the folks at church are truly
worshiping, I reckon that is fine. Believe me, if you offend them in the first song, their heart is not
going to be with you and they are not going to be open to what the Lord is doing. And at what
point did YOUR standard become the measure for everyone else? What a joy it is to encourage
Conservative believers to come that little bit further, without playing the “I’m more Spirit-filled than
you” card!

Bear in mind that there will always be people who are not happy, and who liked it the way we've
always done it. You can NEVER satisfy these people, so don't bother trying. Love them, care for
them and listen to them, but you cannot please everyone every time. You should be pleasing most
of the people, especially your pastor, so if you want to lead worship in a more conservative church,
be prepared for some criticism and pain. Hopefully, the end result will be worth it.

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

Pray, ask God, and allow Him to MODIFY your worship so that most people will be happy.
Attempting to directly transplant worship into your church is usually foolishness, and will most often
attract tons of flack from the people. Slow, quiet, gentle, subtle: these are the ways to see change
in worship, especially in a more conservative group. Here are some ideas which may help as you
encourage more conservative people into a deeper experience of worship with the Lord.

1. Watch the volume:

This is the single biggest mistake you can make with a more conservative crowd in church. Musos
and singers love louder music, but many people do not. In particular, you must be very careful with
the foldback (monitor)level, because if it is too loud on stage the sound man can do little.

2. Watch the instruments:

ACOUSTIC GUITAR RULES! Your choice of instrument can seriously affect how your worship is
received. The mere presence of electric guitars can turn some more conservative people right off,
before a note is played. Drums too can elicit the same response, in which case you may be better
doing a percussion thing instead of the full drum kit.

Some years ago, puzzling over how to bring great worship to a more conservative church, I was in
the US and I walked into a church with acoustic guitar based worship (what is called a "West
Coast" style, such as the Eagles, etc.). I loved it, and when I applied this to my church, they loved
it. Ever since then I have lead worship with an acoustic guitar.

The big advantage is that it is rhythmic and powerful, yet light on the ears. The acoustic guitar is
used in every thing from rock to country, so nearly everyone finds it an acceptable instrument.
Whether the leader plays it or someone else, turn the acoustic up because in worship ACOUSTIC

3. Choose appropriate songs:

If you are leading a conservative congregation, I don't believe that heavy metal worship is the go!
There are plenty of gentler, quieter songs around and even faster songs can be played with a
gentler feel (which is the acoustic guitar thing). Remember, these folks may be more conservative,
but they still want to worship the Lord, so DON'T OFFEND THEM IN THE FIRST TWO SONGS!

Hymns can be done with a modern feel and bring great joy to a conservative church, indeed to any
church! If you want to win their hearts for worship, do a few hymns with a light, contemporary
modern sound. A wise and less aggressive choice of songs can lead conservative people further
into worship. Do this with humility and respect, and the Lord will reward you.

4. Don't go too long:

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

This is absolutely essential, and a cardinal mistake made by worship leaders. Going too long
frustrates people, tires people and is totally unnecessary. Let them enjoy the meeting, not endure

5. Don't repeat the songs too much:

A chief complaint by conservative people against Charismatics is that they play the songs over and
over and over again, numbing the minds of people in a mantra-like way. As I have said, in some
cases this is justified! So, with regards repeating the song, unless God tells you to do it, simply be
sensitive and don’t repeat too often! Then again, if things are flowing, you shouldn’t stop out of
fear, or because you only planned to sing the song twice. You need to seek the Lord and stay
close to God during the worship. I find once or twice through the song (if short) with a couple of
chorus repeats usually works pretty well, but any decision must be made according to your senior
pastor. As a rule of thumb, if people have stopped singing and are rolling their eyes, it may be
time to stop.

6. Hand Raising? Oh the things we get upset about! To raise or not to raise, that is the question.
And I have a simple answer for it: do what you like! I constantly tell my singers they can raise their
hands or not and dance or not, as long as they look like they are enjoying themselves and SMILE!
Now ordering the congregation to raise their hands is a whole lot trickier, because people don't like
being told to do things that they are uncomfortable with, and who can blame them for that.
Encouragement to the congregation must be sensitive and approved by the pastor, and even then
you must be careful how you phrase your request. Personally, I NEVER direct an audience to
raise their hands, or dance, etc., because it is more important that they worship God their way than
for me to gratify myself by seeing their hands raised. Mind you, if the songs says, “I lift my hands
up to Your Name" and everyone has their hands in their pockets it is rather strange. In this case,
why not chose another song.

7. Open worship: I will deal with this touchy and controversial area in the next chapter. It basically
involves people singing their own song to the Lord as part of a worship session. It is a very broad
subject, and needs to be thoroughly investigated.


So, if you lead worship with a more conservative congregation, do not fret. In fact, you will have
the great joy of leading folks closer to their God, even if the result is less spectacular next to the
big Charismatic congregation down the road. If you use the above tips coupled with a gentle,
loving approach, then you will see the Lord move and people drawn closer to Him. After all, this is
what we are worship leaders for!

I was at a Charismatic church, and have since moved to a seemingly more Conservative
congregation. I confess that the satisfaction and joy I have had leading a more conservative
congregation closer to God has been greater than what I experienced with a more 'with it' group,
because, in a gentle way, I have been able to see gentle and beautiful worship from folks who may

                                      Worship in a Nutshell

not have reached that level otherwise. They are blessed, and I am blessed. What a joy to see
God touching hearts!

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

                                 6. Open Worship
Open Worship occurs when the congregation sing their own song to the Lord in worship. Sounds
pretty scary to some, and is a huge bone of contention between churches, as some embrace it
while others reject it outright!

Quality open worship is a real jump for any congregation. It is stepping up into a level of worship
that is higher, more anointed and close to the heart of God. It's the opportunity for individuals to
sing a "new song", a personal offering from their heart to the Lord. It can be beautiful and it must
be intimate. However it can also be stale, religious, forced and offensive!

Open worship is supposed to be about freedom, being free to worship the Lord in a new and fresh
way. Sometimes, however, we can be so religious about being free!

If your church has never experienced this before, I urge you to seek the Lord, and the senior
pastor’s heart BEFORE you attempt any of this. Folks, this is one area you need to be gentle and
loving about developing, but the end result can be so worth it.

If your church regularly enters into open worship, then I urge you to read this chapter with an open
heart, and do not force the issue within the service. Frankly, most of the open worship I have
heard is stale and uninspiring, because it is done religiously week after week. When leading in
Charismatic churches, I have sometimes been criticized for not having open worship. However, I
maintain that if the Lord is not in it, I WILL NOT DO IT! I believe I can sense when there is a
beautiful flow of the Holy Spirit which explodes as open worship, and once you have tasted the real
thing, you just don’t want the forced, fake version so often seen in our churches.

So, with all this and your specific church situation in mind, here are a few things to consider about
open worship and the way it is lead

1. Are your people ready?

You might think everyone wants to have this level of intimacy with the Lord in worship, but some
congregations are simply not ready to move into it. This might frustrate you, but you cannot force
them to be involved with this. They may find it a bit weird, may be frightened of tongues or may just
think it is a complete rabble and they don't want anything to do with it. Whatever their reasoning,
remember that their opinion is valid and valuable. Here's some sound advice: respect their wishes.
Don't force it, don't offend and don't belittle them just because they are different. However, don't let
the dissenters be the deciders either. Speak to your pastor and, if he is comfortable with the
concept, start slowly drawing people into open worship.

2. Is the band ready?

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

To have a successful open worship time your band has to be with you. If not, the whole thing falls
apart. Your singers also need to be with you, otherwise the whole thing struggles. See later for a
more detailed discussion on the role of the band.

3. What about tongues?

This is one of the huge hurdles a more conservative congregation faces with open worship, and it
is not my place to extol the virtues or not of the gift of tongues. In fact, this is such a non-issue for
me that I don’t tell people either way if I speak in tongues or not! The issue is contentious, and
does not draw people together if we argue over it, so because of my ministry across all
denominations, I do not reveal which side of the fence I am on. Listen, to tongue or not to tongue
is not the issue! In our church some do, and some don't, and we all live together without
murdering each other! The principle is this: open worship is open. It's between you and God, so
sing in English, French, Chinese, tongues or whatever turns you on, just sing as unto the Lord. It
should not be scary, but beautiful, intimate and special.

4. Chord selection and playing behind open worship:

A controversial area, and one of my pet hates, is the nasty habit musicians have of playing one,
single note or chord to death during open worship. Now, at times the single chord may be fine, but
I would much rather have a chord progression of some sort, such as the classic
dominant/subdominant turnaround. Obviously the single, driven chord is easiest, but the mind
numbing repetition of it does little to help me worship.

After all, we are trusting that the Lord will creatively and supernaturally pull this whole thing
together. So, musos, step out of your comfort zone and learn to follow the Spirit, and try playing
more than one chord. You will be amazed at what the Lord does with your open worship times. If
it sounds like a mess, chances are the open worship time is more about you than it is about Him.

That being said, each musician can study to present themselves as one approved. That is, you
can learn which chords go together, and thus be ready for the next chord in an open worship time.

Frequently used chord progressions include: (in the key of G) G and Gsus (or G and C), or try
G,C,D,C. Another is G, Em, C or Am, D, etc. If the band is just buzzing around a particular chord
then try lots of variations on the chord, such as (in key of A), A, Asus, A2, D,D2, etc.

The bottom line is, take a chance! Why not get to practice, and start following, worshiping and
learning what sounds good with what. If you are not worshiping together in practices it is harder to
do it before the church.

5. Loud or gentle?

Should open worship be loud and boisterous or soft and gentle? The answer: BOTH! I always
prefer the latter, but am always open for the former if that is what the Lord is doing. My experience
is that worship will wash over you in waves, getting louder in places and then dropping away to

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

almost a whisper. Our aim is to flow with the Spirit of God, not dictate to Him, so we must be open
to do both of these things. To me the most beautiful open worship is that which flows gently from
the congregation (see the next few points). This mode of worship must never be forced, because
we kill off the presence of God when we try and force the issue.

6. Do we have to have it every Sunday?

Now we begin to open a can of worms, because those who love this form of worship usually insist
on having it every week. True open worship, by its very nature, is Spirit driven, Spirit lead and Spirit
inspired, which means by definition we have to follow Him. Now, what happens if He is not doing
that this Sunday? Would we still go ahead and have or open worship. Honestly, I believe that
some "charismatic" churches are just as religious as Conservative churches, just about different
things. If we make it happen when God is not doing it, surely we are being religious!

7. Where do we put it?

 I have been in services where open worship is planned. "We will worship at the end of this song."
Now I recognize that some songs are conducive to open worship, by virtue of a certain chord
structure or atmosphere, but I believe we err when we plan to do this form of worship. I will say, "It
is likely to happen at these places", but I want to always be open to doing it anywhere, or not doing
it when it looked likely. If we claim to be Spirit lead, then let's live up to our claim and be ready to
open worship or not at any moment.

Now some songs lend themselves to launching into open worship. Those with a repetitive chord
progression are idea to flow into open worship. Songs like "Jesus, Lover of My Soul" or "No One
Else Can Love Me like You Do" easily flow into open worship.

8. How does it start?

So the question arises, “what is the magic ingredient that starts open worship?" I have seen
several interpretations of this, but have come to the conclusion that there is no magic, there is only
the Spirit. I believe it has to be a move from the Holy Spirit, not from man. I remember one friend I
had used the magic words, "we praise you Lord", and all the people knew it was time to sing their
own song. I am not comfortable with this, because it sounds a lot like him setting the agenda, not
the Spirit, and I want God to do it.

However, there does appear to be situations that are set up to allow a spontaneous flow into open
worship. A powerful, big song with a repetitive section at the end is a classic way to enter into an
open worship experience. As you repeat the coda at the end, or the last line, you will often feel a
pull to tip over the edge into open worship, driven by the chord structure of the repeating bit. This
is a valid way to do it, as long as we don't force it over the edge into worship.

My favourite way to see God start open worship is by dropping the music down to a gentle rhythm.
As we still our hearts, we wait to see what He will do. On many occasions, if I let the music just sit

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

there, and have the courage to wait (not forgetting sometimes we can wait too long), singing will
begin FROM THE CONGREGATION. Not pushed, not manufactured, but spilling forth from the
people, whose hearts are reaching out to God. This to me is beautiful, gentle and wonderfully

9. To Mike, or not to mike?

As open worship begins, is it valid to sing into the microphone, thereby driving the whole deal?
Good question and the answer is up to the individual. Many have no qualms about singing, either
in English or tongues, during worship this way. Personally, I pull back from the mike, because I do
not want to be cutting across what God is doing. Sometimes I might sing into the mike, and I let
the singers do as they feel lead as well (some will, some won't). In our church we do not permit
singing in tongues through the mike during worship, because it would certainly offend some
people. We need to be sensitive to the needs of others. In your church this may be OK, but again
each person and church needs to find the level that the Lord gives them, so that open worship is
an intimate, joyous experience, not a source of offence.

10. Manufactured rather than inspired:

If we are to worship in Spirit and truth, let's not try and manufacturer it, but let's pray and see the
Lord move sovereignly! The Lord may not be moving the same direction all the time, and if you are
intent on having this style of worship you will sometimes find yourself making something happen
that is not what the Lord wants.

But, surely He wants this wonderful worship experience every week? No, I don't believe so. He
wants us all to worship in Spirit and truth, and to be sensitive to what He wants us to do. Our
religious nature, having had these great times before, encourages us to repeat it week after week.
Last week it worked when we did this, so it ought to work again if we do it again the same way.
Please understand, I am not decrying those of you who experience this every week, but all I am
saying, be sensitive to the Spirit, and don't settle for 2nd best, something you push into which
resembles the truth but is forced and has becomes a mere reflection of it.

I just want to see God do it, rather than us manufacture it, and I would rather have it once a month
with God doing it, than every week with me making it happen.

So, some of you worship leaders will have to be brave and try gently leading the people into this
experience, and some of you will have to be brave enough to NOT do it when the Lord is leading
another way!

11. Waves:

Worship comes in waves, and we need to catch the wave of the Spirit just like a surfer would. In
open worship you will find things building to a climax, and then ebbing down to a quieter spell,
continuing in the cycle throughout the session. As worship leaders it is our job to keep in step with

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

the Spirit, not rushing ahead and not lagging behind. If a surfer lags behind he falls off the back of
the wave and misses it. If he goes before the wave, he runs out of momentum and slows, and can
often get pounded by the wave! The perfect surf involves riding the wave, up and down, until it has
run its course; and so it is in worship.

Get Ready

So, get ready for anything. Rise up with it, drop down with it, and if you are hearing the Lord right
you will find that the people will worship with you. Don't put God in a box and expect Him to do
what you want, but be free and open to His leading.

Your job is to enable people's hearts to be opened. You cannot open them, but you can provide
the atmosphere that enables them to engage their hearts in worship. If they refuse, please quietly
and gently keep on going, because God wants them to enter His presence in worship. God loves
them, and wants them to enjoy His presence. Be patient and loving, and do not press too hard. If
you worship in an acceptable and gentle way, then you will find others will follow.

Bear in mind that some will never follow, and will never want to worship God more fully, and so
they will always be critical of you, but don’t let these guys drag you down! If you seek God and
seek to serve Him, and have a gentle spirit, you will find that many are willing to enter into deeper

Let the Lord lead you, and you will see your people move into deeper worship.

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

                                   7. High Praise
In most worship sessions I am aiming to get to this point. We define high praise as that which is
centering on God or Jesus. Most worship songs these days are based around "I" and "me", as in I
feel, I believe, I thank, etc. Now, there is nothing wrong with all this, and these songs are
wonderful for responding to the Lord and really surrendering to Him, but there is still a great, great
need for High praise.

High Praises are songs that exalt and glorify the Lord, and don't settle on our response to Him. A
simple Hallelujah song is a good example of a type of high praise. Songs like "Be Exalted O God"
and "I Exalt Thee" (even though the word "I" is used) are great High Praise songs, and a terrific
way to climax a worship service.

Spiritual Progression

If we start from the "I" songs and work our way up to the exalting High Praise songs, then we can
lead people right into the throne room of God with ease (and that is the name of the game with

High Praise can often roll right into open worship, where people just open their hearts and worship
the Lord freely. Again, if you work towards true High Praise, then you will really lead people into
God's presence.

So, when choosing songs, try starting with songs that talk about “I” and “Me”, and progress onto
songs which totally center on the Lord. My absolute favourite song to finish on is “How Great Thou
Art”, because it is all about how great He is!

Alternatively, have a few high praise songs in the middle of worship, and return to an “I/Me” song
just before the sermon, to prepare people’s hearts for a response. Songs like “This is My Desire”
are perfect for this.

      Worship in a Nutshell

Issues of Management

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

 Like it or not, running a music team is like running a church, or a small corporation. You have to
have some sort of management strategy in place; otherwise the whole operation becomes a mess!

Perhaps you creative sorts are a bit like me: a lot of ideas, loads of skill and fun, but can’t manage
their way out of a paper bag! The only solution is to staff your weaknesses, and bring in someone
who is organizational, to supplement your creative chaos!

What follows in this chapter are ideas that I have stolen from the organizational people I have been
blessed to be linked with. God bless you organizing guys! You make me look better than I am!

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

                 1. Advice for choosing singers
When choosing singers for church my advice is simple: choose those who can sing. Simple
concept really, but there is always some politics involved, e.g.: the pastor's wife can't sing but
desperately wants to. If you want the end result to be really special, you may have to lovingly
resist some of the politics.

When you are starting out, or if your church is small, there is a real tendency to accept all offers,
and anyone who can stand up and hold a microphone is in. After all, you are desperate to have a
team, so anyone will do. This may work early on, but you will be creating a rod for your own back
in the long run. Even in a small church, there should not be an open invitation to join the singers,
but it should be restricted to those who can actually hold a tune.

As the worship begins to improve, the congregation gets excited about it, and people want to join
the group. Most can't play, but want to be a part of the worship; hence they decide to sing. You
have to sort out where they all fit, so here is some advice on how to do just that:

1. Auditions:

Our experience is that auditions are essential. Let me enlighten you; most musicians and singers
are not as good as they tell you that they are!

When someone asks to join the singers, I do not tell them this is an audition to see if they are
worthy! I simply tell them that the audition is so we can place them in the best position in the band,
not to see if you are good enough. This eases the pressure on them while still giving you an idea
as to their ability.

2. Hurting people's feelings:

How do you get the best singers on your team without upsetting people? Listen, some people will
always feel hard done by, but for singers there is a way out.

You can have as many singers in your worship team as you like. It is called a choir or a singing
group, and it can be very useful for hiding the poorest singers.

On any given day, I will choose the best 3 or 4, and they get a mike to themselves. The rest stand
behind them and share mikes. That way everybody gets a go, but the very best you have shine
through when singing. And nobody is left out. This is a creative way of managing people, and
blessing people as well, while still making the most beautiful music you can.

I made a decision early on not to dismiss people from the team due to inability to sing or play up to
standard. I have heard other leaders talk about this, and they believe that you should dismiss

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

them, because they have no talent but may have talent in another area which they will only
discover if you get rid of them from the music team.

I understand the argument, but still don’t agree. I have had several untalented and even prickly
performers in my teams, and I believe the best avenue is to pray for the Lord to show them that
they would do better elsewhere. I had one lovely lady who could not sing at all, but who turned up
faithfully and loved to worship. I’d try to hide her behind other singers, or tell the sound guy to turn
her off in the front of house, and she loved every minute of it and was so thankful to be a part of
the team. Eventually, she was asked to do something else in the church, and I encouraged her to
move into that new role. God did it, not me, and the result was blessing.

That being said, you may have to be firm about where they sing in the team. If they have little
talent, yet insist on being the main singer, then you have to stand firm and tell them they may sing,
but not in that position. If they obey, you have a faithful worker. If they get upset and leave, the
problem is solved.

3. Work Ethic/Commitment:

Where possible I will always reward those who are faithfully turning up and trying hard. This is
hard to do if they have little or no talent. However, if they have a fair degree of gifting I believe you
should reward their faithfulness. I will always opt for an average talent who is faithful over a
wonderful talent who has no commitment.

It is common to find very talented people who think they are God’s gift to your church music, and
behave badly. They can be disruptive, divisive, show up late, etc. and we put up with it because
they are obviously talented.

My response is this: PRAY! I personally would not tolerate this behaviour, and would discipline
them. If they go, it may not sound quite as good, but there will be peace and harmony, which is far
more valuable!

The final word…

So, choose wisely, and do not create a rod for your own back. If you take the time to read the
above and make wise choices, then you will find that the Lord will prosper your music team. The
right choice stands you in the right position for years to come, so don't rush in, take the time to
seek God and choose what He wants, even if it seems to be against what others would consider
normal. You are better to choose carefully than to be afflicted with the wrong choice for years.

Take time... choose wisely... seek God with regards who is singing on your music team.

                                           Worship in a Nutshell

             2. Managing the band (& the egos)!
This would have to be one of the scariest aspects of worship leading and directing: managing the
various personalities and egos so as to mold them into a powerful, humble, servant-hearted
worship team.

The basic issue here is the building of trust. Trust between them and you, and trust between each
other. They all have various abilities and personalities, and somehow you need to get them all on
side and moving with you. Having fun practices helps, but inevitably you will have clashes, issues
and failures to deal with along the way. Having worked in this area for years, here's a few
suggestions regarding what NOT TO DO: My 10 rules on how to NOT manage your band!

1. Never lose your temper:

Do this, and the band will instantly lose respect for you and your position. You need to display
love, and part of the description of love is patient, kind and longsuffering (1 Corinthians 13). And
don't give me all that, "yeah, but I'm a musician and therefore allowed to be moody" rubbish. In my
book, no one deserves to be abused or screamed at for any reason, especially in front of others,
so be patient and don't get a reputation for going ballistic. How can you expect your band
members to behave properly when you don't!

Frustration is a real and present danger, and we all get frustrated at times, but frustration is not a
sin. How you handle it is where you can either sin, or choose not to sin. Losing your temper will
kill the atmosphere you are trying to create, embarrass the whole team and reduce the respect you
command as a leader.

This is especially true directly before the service! We had a sound man who regularly lost his
temper just before we started to minister on Sunday morning, putting everyone on edge,
embarrassing himself, and ruining the atmosphere in the Spirit. This is never, never, never
acceptable, and must be avoided at all costs!

2. Never run people down:

This one is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for you and everyone in the band. I find that it is OK to
joke about a genre, such as bass guitarists, drummers, etc., but never do this about an individual,
whether they are present or not. Nothing will destroy your band and your anointing faster than
arrogant and condescending remarks, so even in the most frustrating circumstances, weigh heavily
what you say! Remember, we are responsible for our words.

If something is too difficult for a musician or singer, take gentle and loving action. If it is just out of
their reach, encourage them to practice at home and get it. BUT, in most cases you are wiser to
drop that riff or that note and get them to do it in a simpler way, so that they are confident they can
manage it. It saves embarrassing them during the worship time.

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

Practice is for trying things, and if the person cannot do as you have asked, do not comment or
embarrass them, but simply move on and try a different way.

As a leader, you may need to care more about their feelings than about getting your way.

3. Don't use the "Evil Eye":

We have all experienced this one: with one glance we can crush someone's self esteem forever!
They hit a bad note, or drop half a beat, and we say nothing (we are in the middle of a
performance), but we give them a withering glare, telling them we heard and we are very

This is often subconscious, and we have no idea we are doing it, but it must stop! Don't do it! You
can glance at them, sure, but make certain you smile as you do. That will say to them, "OK, I know
you blew that, but, hey, what does it matter. You are more important to me than what you play or

When you are worship leader, your every move is watched and read into by your band members. I
remember one occasion when, sitting in the audience during worship, my wife told me a joke and I
laughed a little. The worship leader immediately thought I was laughing at her, and left in tears.
Crazy stuff, but you are being watched, so never make it worse by giving the "evil eye".

4. Don't ask the impossible:

With every person in your group, you need to judge their level and ability. Pressuring them to do
more than they are capable of will crush them, and frustrate them, and build resentment in the
team. Always be trying to stretch them, but never to the point of discouragement or

Also, if you are leading but are not particularly gifted musically, be careful not to ask your band to
do things that are musically impossible. For example, don’t attempt to run two songs together
which are in different timings. If you are in doubt, find a musician you are comfortable with, and
ask their opinion as to whether your idea will work. They will be blessed that you asked them, and
you will avoid making mistakes that will be embarrassing.

5. Don't put up with bad behaviour:

Now, musicians and singers generally have an element of pride, and some feel that if they have
gifting or ability, they can behave as they like. In a band situation, without coming on too heavy,
you cannot afford to tolerate arrogance or bad behaviour, especially when it is directed at someone
else in the band and capable of hurting them.

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

No one, including myself, is so talented that they cannot be replaced, so no one has a blank
cheque to behave badly. In fact, I teach my talented people that, because of their talent, they need
to be even better behaved than anyone else, because people are watching. If you look at the rock
music scene, from the Who to the Rolling Stones to Madonna, you will find bad behaviour and bad
attitudes, and some of that inevitably flows into Christian music. Ego is the thing, and it gives
musicians the "how dare you ask me to do that" attitude. So, promote humility by being humble
yourself, and keeping the egos of your musicians and singers in line.

6. Don't publicly correct:

When you do need to correct your people, never do this in public. Take them aside and speak to
them in private, then, most importantly, don't go blabbing your conversation to other band
members. This is a sure way to cause resentment and undermine your own leadership. Dealing
with matters in private ensures no embarrassment and serves to breed loyalty among the group.

7. Don't play favourites:

Have a look at the trouble Joseph got into with his coat of many colours. Jacob favoured him, and
it landed everyone in hot water. You will always have some people you enjoy and others you
endure, but you cannot go around treating people differently and still earn their respect.

The one exception to this is when you have a talented person who, under extenuating
circumstances, has trouble meeting your requirements as a leader. In my team, I have a couple of
outstanding singers (probably the best I have) who are mums of small kids, and who may have to
miss a practice because some minor disaster befalls their children. Others I have study out of
town, but still want to be involved. While we need some sort of structure within which we work,
and some rules to which we adhere, you still can be compassionate and vary those rules to help
people in genuine need. If a child is sick, or a car breaks down, this is not an act of rebellion, so
you should extend grace to these people.

8. Don't give in to pressure:

On occasions your band members will try to emotionally blackmail you into decisions. My advice is
don't do it! Especially don't let their bad behaviour force you to act, because you are reinforcing
the bad attitude. At all times you need to be open to suggestions, not stubborn or closed minded,
but this does not mean you are easily swayed by manipulative pressure.

Be alert for what us Aussies know as the “dummy spit.” (This is like a baby, who spits out their
pacifier to start screaming.) This usually features the “all or nothing” syndrome, and you need to
talk quietly but firmly with the person involved (in private). For example, if someone sings
something that I don’t feel is acceptable, I will simply say, “that’s not what I am after, try something
else.” On occasions they will reply, “oh, I just won’t sing anything if what I sing is not good enough
for you!” I will then quietly explain that most things are good, but this one did not work for me, and
I will give a valid reason. I am not saying that they never sing well, nor am I saying that they are a

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

failure, or without talent, am simply saying that I would like them to try something else. The “all or
nothing” thing can be very destructive!

9. Thanks and encouragement:

You need to encourage your band and singers 5 times more than you criticize them. If they mess
something up, mention it, maybe discuss alternatives, and give them ample chance to get it right.
Then move on. Don't continually dwell on it, because it will destroy moral in your team. If they do
well at something, get really excited and tell them they have done well. It will mean the world to
them, and they will love and support you if they feel they have your approval. Most often they
know their mistakes, and torture themselves enough without your help. A few well chosen words,
dismissing their mistakes and complimenting their successes will work wonders for them, and for
the whole group!

10. How to criticize:

As a worship leader, you will have to make judgments and criticize at times. It is inevitable, but it is
the way you handle this that is the most important. Whenever I have to deliver criticism, I always
try and do it the way the Apostle Paul did it. Read letters like 1 Corinthians and you will find that,
before he ever leveled some criticism, he found something to complement first. This is a tool that
will always serve you well, in any context, but especially in the music team (musos and singers can
be very, very sensitive). So I will say something like, "that solo was great, and had a really
beautiful feel to it, but I think the higher section towards the end needs some work." Then the
person knows you liked most of it, they have been affirmed and feel good about that, but they also
know they have to fix the thing you targeted. So, you get the change you want, build their self
esteem instead of tearing it down, and you also build their loyalty towards you as a leader. That is
what inspires people to follow a true leader. You can always make them obey, but you cannot
make them be loyal to you.

Manage your band properly and your life will be so much better as a worship director. I know, this
isn't really music, but it is management and it is LEADERSHIP. Be kind, be inspirational, and as
the Scripture says, never lord it over people.

Worship in a Nutshell

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

              3. Managing the band – Structure
There are some structures you can put into place which will really help your management of the
band and singers. To get the best setup, have a long hard look at yourself, and then STAFF YOUR

Staff your weaknesses

We all have weaknesses, and we need to recognize them. Then we appoint to positions of
leadership those who compliment our skills and are strong in the areas we are not.

For me, I am very creative. I flow well in music, play everything by ear and, as a general rule, get
on real well with every member of the team. However, I am terrible at organization, and things like
getting rosters out, letter writing and all things of structure I am, to say the least, poor. So, the
smart move is to appoint to your staff people who have strengths where you have weaknesses.

Presidents have vice presidents, and prime ministers have deputy prime ministers. You need
someone to share the load, to cover for you when you are not there, and help keeping the ship on

Your 2IC (2nd in command):

When you travel as much as I do, a 2IC is a great idea. Don't think you are superman and try to do
everything yourself. By the same token, don't rush in and appoint the first person you see to be
your 2IC. Pray, and ask God to give you the perfect coworker in the music ministry.

Word of warning! Not every good musician or singer makes a good leader. Chose wisely and
carefully, because often the best choice is not outstanding as a musician or singer, but has hidden
talents you can use in the organization of the band. Also, when choosing worship leaders, avoid
those who can sing but have no knowledge of music and how it is structured and fits together.

That being said, the key thing here is to STAFF YOUR WEAKNESSES. If you are a very
structured person, which most Music Directors are, then you may want a very creative, flowing and
musically inventive 2IC, to really add zest and ideas to your presentation. In my case, I am the
creative one, so I chose a brilliant organizer as my assistant.

When I took on the position, I was terrified at the prospect of trying to organize bands, rosters, etc.
In our group was a lady who is a brilliant organizer, but is less proficient in the creative side. She
joined with me and takes the full load of organization while I can specialize at what I do best.

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

In addition, this gives someone with whom you may share the joys and frustrations of leadership,
and who can fill in for you when needed.

Playing over others

OK, you're blessed enough to have some great musicians in your team. If they have a good heart,
then that is an even bigger advantage. However, one problem you may face with good players
(with not so good attitudes) is that they play over others, launching into great lead solos or piano
concertos while others are trying to play or sing. You want to give them some scope for their
talents, but how do you do it on a way that makes sense.

I always think about a line of men in the army. When one is asked to speak (as in do a short solo
part), he steps forward and says, "Sir, yes Sir!" then he steps back into the line. So it should be
with any solo (guitar, bass, drum, piano, flute, sax, whatever). They step into it, play their solo part,
and then drop back into the mix of the song. They DO NOT continue to play their solo over the
singing or anything else. Sounds like a simple, no brainer idea, right? WRONG, especially for a
very good lead guitarist, piano or sax! As a leader, you need to clearly tell them that they are out of
line if they play over everybody else. Encourage their gift, but you may have to curb their over-

How to Hide the Strugglers

Like most churches we work with volunteer musicians and singers, and so you face people who
are at a variety of levels in their musical development. Inevitably you will find a few strugglers, who
desperately want to be part of the group, but may not be to a sufficiently high standard.

So, before we discuss this, it must be noted that they have to be of at least a reasonable standard.
You cannot work with people who have no musical ability at all. If this is the case, you may have to
make a few tough decisions.

However, if they are simply strugglers, and still have a reasonable amount of ability, you may find it
worthwhile "hiding" them in the band somewhere. When we programme the band rosters and
setup, we always try to take our weakest players and match them with our stronger ones on other
instruments. So, if drums are weak, match them with an extra strong bass and piano, or if bass is
weak, make sure you have your best drummer with him.

Singers are different again. The main thing is to keep your poorer singers away from the mike, and
make sure that your stronger singers get the mike. We find that having a "singing group" or choir
with selected "lead singers" in front with the mikes, helps tremendously.

In my book, if they have at least a fair ability, and great hearts, then they deserve to be able to be a
part of things (although not necessarily in the front line). You can make your own decision.

Be Kind as You Lead

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

One guy in the church was considered a real tyrant. Every leader had had problems with him (he
was a pianist) and found him taking over and redirecting the worship. There had even previously
been stand up fights with him on stage, which does nothing for the Spirit of Worship.

My first day with him, I could see he was forceful and tended to take over, so I began to show him
that I wanted my guitar and voice to be the dominant instruments, not his piano. Each time he, for
example, raced ahead when I wanted a note held, I gently rebuked him and we tried again.

My free flowing style completely befuddled him for quite a while, and because I did not raise my
voice or get angry at him (even when he got a little short with me), he started to understand what I
was trying to do. You see, the main problem was that he was accustomed to being the lead
instrument, and had never really experienced the sort of leadership I was providing.

Before long he was right on side and playing beautifully. Within a few months, he was one of our
best piano players, and a great personal friend. He wasn't trying to be difficult, he was trying to
make things better, but some folks tend to clash or are forceful when making their point. With the
right management a potentially explosive situation has blossomed into a fantastic asset.

Remember; treat others as you want to be treated. A good leader inspires and encourages, so lead
God's way, not man's way.

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

                                       4. Rosters
So, how do you figure out who is to play where and when? The answer is a roster, but if you are
anything like me, the roster is the scariest thing about being a Music Director. At our church we
tried a number of different roster ideas, some of which proved to be very hard work (especially
writing one out in full for each month).

Organization is the key. You need to be organized with a minimum amount of fuss and bother.
Here are a few ideas to make your rosters plain sailing:

1. Two Bands, alternating weeks:

If you have enough musos and singers for 2 full bands, then simply put them week around. If you
have 2 or more morning services, KEEP THE SAME BAND FOR BOTH! Hard for them, but life is
easier for everyone else. We have Bands A and B, and they are on alternate weeks. So, if you
played last week, you're probably not on this week.

2. Doubling up:

In a roster, you may have 2 bass players, but you cannot schedule them for the same day. Those
guys need to communicate and sort of who is on which time. Get them to sort it out, and save you
the problem and the multiple phone calls. Each must be responsible to communicate, but there
must be a bass player on each time. Some things can double up, such as guitars, and singers,
generally bass and drums cannot. We programme all the singers every time, but only the best of
those get a mike to themselves.

3. Even Mix:

You must ensure that you achieve an even mix those with greater ability between the two bands. It
is no good having one band that is strong and the other weak. Spread your most talented people
through both bands, so that there is never a time when the whole of worship dies (hopefully).

4. Special Occasions:

In our situation, we reserve special occasions such as Easter, Christmas Carols, and bigger
services for the very best players and singers. These occasions see a lot of visitors, and the band
must be the very best it can be on those occasions. All singers and musos know that, even if they
are scheduled to be on, they may be removed if it is deemed a special occasion, and be replaced
by our very best in that area.

5. Auditions:

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

In my church I am constantly approached by people wanting to join the music team. On most
occasions their description of their talent and ability is overstated, sometimes grossly, so it is now
our practice to never invite people into the music team without an audition. We explain that the
reason we audition is not so they are in or out, but so we can place them appropriately. This is
true, because even really poor singers will be given a go, but they will be placed in an area where
no one can hear them. And sometimes you need to be strong and say, "perhaps this is not your
area," especially if they are tone deaf and want to sing. Musos must be of sufficient quality, and if
they are not we try to train them to the point where they are. Some even sit in on practices, but do
not perform on Sunday until they are comfortable and competent.

6. Be strong, but compassionate:

Sometimes you will have to make unpopular decisions, and the current trend in leadership is to
upset people, say it's their problem and call yourself a great and strong leader. I believe that if you
are not operating with compassion and love, then you are not so much a leader as an abuser. Yes,
at times you have to make difficult and unpopular decisions, and you cannot please all of the
people all of the time, but please be kind and loving to those in your bands, and serve them as a
true leader should, without arrogance and with respect for all.


In my church I have not stood anybody down from the music team. I confess that I have prayed
several off the teams, but the Lord has built the house and people have moved on of their own
accord. Maybe I will have to one day, but I will endeavour to do this with all gentleness and
respect. In the mean time, I hope to serve well and pray rather than say.

The closest I have come to dismissing someone involved a person who consistently blew up and
got angry, and thereby ruined the harmony in the band. This is one area I am hard on... nobody
disrupts the band like that... it simply isn't worth letting him do it. I spoke to him, he changed and
controlled himself; problem solved!

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

                     5. To organ or not to organ?
Traditional churches often worship based around an organ, and so it is probably worth mentioning
specifically in this chapter.

OK, just excuse me a moment while I get onto my hobby horse! I have to confess from the outset I
am probably biased against the organ, especially the type that most churches seem to attract.
Maybe I'm just part of the new generation, but it seems to really kill off a lot of the life that is in the
newer songs.

That being said, if you have a player is good, and not tied purely to the music, then you can happily
work this into the band. Depending on your situation at church, the use of the organ is more about
politics than about music or worship quality. You need to pray about using the organ, and my
personal preference, unless there is a super good player with a super good attitude, is to dispense
with it altogether, but that is just me!

The Cool vs. The funeral March

Now some organs can be really cool, such as the ones used on 60's rock recordings (what were
The Doors without the organ?). The reality, though, is that most organs I have ever heard in church
sound like funeral marches. I am intrigued by the many sounds they have, labeled with names like
'flute', or 'oboe', all of which sound nothing like a flute or an oboe.

Again, a quality pipe organ can also be a majestic and outstanding instrument, but how many
churches can afford a quality pipe organ? Not many.

So, in summary, if you love the organ and so do your people feel free to use it. If the organ
symbolizes tradition and dogma, then using it will likely create a rod for your own back as far as
updating the worship experience. But if you are like me, and don't really like the instrument, then
as worship leader I believe you have the right to line up the instruments as you see fit. Like
anything, if you want to be the best you can be you have to use the best tools and the best players.

       Worship in a Nutshell

Striving For Excellence

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

                   1. Performing vs. Ministering
When I walk onto stage, I don't perform, I minister. Now granted there is a certain amount of
performance involved, and if you are in public ministry you ought to be able to perform well, but the
most important thing is that I do not see myself as performing: I minister. I don’t do it to entertain,
or to make people marvel at my skill, I do it because I love serving Jesus, and I do it for Him!

For the most part, people accusing others of simply “performing” are less than competent
themselves in the area of music. There is a great tendency to equate such criticism with sour
grapes, but that is not strictly true.

In worship we want to minister to the Lord and to the people by leading them into His presence.
People often accuse worship ministries of simply performing and I have seen many worship bands
who, to my mind, are simply doing that. Jesus did not die to give you a job! We want to point to
Christ, not draw attention to ourselves and our gifts, and let's face it all musicians and singers are
prone to that. But our hearts must be right and pure in worship and I believe that this is a topic
worth exploring for those with a serious heart to serve the Lord in song.

There is a balance between over performing and under performing. When it is all said and done,
we have to be ourselves, but our very best selves! Here are a few ideas on how to get great
performance AND great ministry from your singers:

1. Where you stand:

I usually prefer the singers to be in a group together, because then they can bounce off each other
and enjoy singing together. Really good singers with really good foldback can spread across the
stage, but as a general rule I think they sing better together. They can also easily look at one
another, smile at one another and actually look like they are having a good time.

2. Holding the Mike:

I am happy for my singers to hold the mike. They should hold it comfortably in their own style.
Some hold it in extended fingers; others clench it tightly (to be avoided). Myself, I like to hold the
mike close to the business end (just below the bulging bit), much like the rappers do. As long as
they are comfortable and confident, I don't mind, and holding a mike is very reassuring for some
singers. If they look awkward, put it in a stand; problem solved.

3. Mike Stands:

I play guitar, so I love them. For singers, you can have both hands free to raise, or clap, etc.
Singing with a stand is great, because you can grip the stand, lean on it, hold it and generally
bounce it. Works well with a tambourine or shaker too. If it looks and feels awkward, get rid of it.

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

4. Movement:

We do not want cardboard cutouts singing in church. I call them the "singing statues", and they
might sing well but they inspire no one! Encourage your singers to move, sway, clap and generally
enjoy and be enthusiastic about worship. If they can't get into it, how do you expect the audience
to do it?

However, don’t ask your singers or band to do something they feel is ridiculous. You want them to
be comfortable and flow with the music, not move awkwardly!

5. Smiling:

Please smile! You are supposed to be enjoying worship. In my band you can smile, laugh and
generally have a good time. If my singers really nail a high harmony or something, give them a
smile. Never scowl on stage during worship. Believe me, someone will always see and be upset.
If the song is sad, or intense, I tell them to do whatever they feel: close their eyes (but only for a
short time: they have to keep watching the leader), but they must always look like they love what
they are doing.

6. Dancing:

Some folks like to dance, others don't. Me, I don't care either way. I rarely dance, but sometimes I
can't help myself and I groove a bit (most often I have two left feet!). I would caution all leaders
though: don't force your singers to dance. If they are comfortable with it, fine, but you should not
dictate to them how they should worship. If they are moving, smiling and singing, be cool with that.
One time a worship leader insisted I dance, and singled me out before the whole band. I refused
(it was a very silly dance). She got mad and said I was usurping her authority, but I calmly told her
I found worshiping that way very uncomfortable, and artificial. I didn't end up dancing, and I
believe I made the right decision, because the worship leader is not God! Let's not be little Hitlers,
but let's allow people to worship as they see fit. Encourage, yes, but force, no!

But when all is said and done, we need to know that we have ministered before the Throne of
Grace, and led people into the presence of the Lord. Perform, yes we need to, but minister, yes
we must!!!

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

                             2. All about Singing
Singing is usually the core of what goes on in church worship. Remember, after all of us musos
have done our bit, even in concerts, most often people will judge the performance not on the guitar
solos or drum rolls, but on the singing (sorry musicians, but it’s true!). Thus all music should be
garnish within which the singing lies.

So, given that singing is the most central part, why is it one of the most neglected areas of
worship? Believe me, it is a gift, and there are often really ungifted people singing because they
are under the delusion that they can! Just turn on Australian Idol and you will see lots of these
poor, deluded people!

Advice for singers

Singing is a gift, but there are techniques that can be acquired that can help whether you a great or
poor singer. There are things you can do that can help you, such as singing from your diaphragm,
pronouncing words certain ways, taking care of your voice by limbering it up before you sing. Also,
avoid coffee and any milk products before singing, and ice cold water. Sipping lukewarm water
can help as well.

Now, I confess to one and all that I obey none of the above. I limber up by screaming to my
favourite rock songs, I drink lots of coffee and a few cokes (and the odd milkshake) before I sing.
This works for me, and I laughingly tell people my voice is the product of years of abuse! It is
whatever works for you, so if in doubt, try and take care of your voice.

Now, singers, here is the best piece of advice I can give you. Ready for this? It's profound, but
very sound advice... DON'T TRY TO SING NOTES YOU CAN'T REACH. Sounds simple, but this
is one of the most common mistakes. If you have to strain to hit it, then try another note. If you
can only hit it 2 times out of ten, try another note.

Some of the most wonderful and anointed singers I have ever heard can't hit high notes and don't
have a great range. BUT, they have a wonderful tone to their voice. Look, it is great to have a
great voice, but if Louise Armstrong and Bob Dylan can be called singers, believe me it is not
always in the voice!

Keep to your trusted range until you know you have truly expanded it. Work on your tone, and also
pronunciation of the words. When I sing I try and keep pronouncing it the way I do when I talk.
Why? Because that is what sounds best to the listening audience. Personally I don't like the way I
hear some people pronounce words. Bing Crosby once said he was so popular because any guy
in the shower singing could sound like him. I try to be the same, and even find that singing in the
shower is a great thing to enhance your voice. The steam sooths your throat, and oh, what a

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

TAKE NOTE OF THIS: As a singer, your voice is an instrument. If you think of a guitar or piano,
you can play gently or pound it out, and you can use distortion for aggressive playing, or a gentle
chorus for sweet, melodic picking. Some singers have harsh, aggressive voices, and others have
softer, melodious voices, but you ought to be able to go from one to the other to some extent.
Many singers just pound out the song, with no thought of 'colouring' their voice, making it different
in different parts of the song.

Your singing need to have shape, not be pounded out constantly! When we record, we use very,
very sensitive microphones, and they detect breaths and the very timbre of the voice. I teach
people I am recording to caress the microphone with their voice, being gentle, then loud for
different parts of the song. If you can control your voice well you can create atmosphere, and
deliver a killer performance under any circumstances.

So, why not practice singing loudly, softly, aggressively, gently, rocky, etc. at various times. I would
suggest getting a hold of some recordings of truly great singers, such as Celine Dion, Whitney
Houston, and so on, and listen to how they control their voices, using the voice to add to the colour
of the song. If you enjoy their singing you can begin to 'imprint' their style and make it part of your
style. But don't just imitate them; take the things you can incorporate into your voice, and leave the
rest. Better to have things you can manage to do, than go for the big, flashy effects and fail in front
of an audience.

A WORD OF CAUTION: Avoid, at least in the early stages, some of the voice control you will hear
on CDs, and try to keep the whole thing simple. One classic case in point is Mariah Carey, who
really can do the most amazing things with her voice, but most singers I have heard trying to
imitate her sound simply awful! She has brilliant control of her voice, so unless you can do it as
good as she can, don't even think about going there!

Remember, singing is a gift, a joy and a thrill, but also a craft. Practice and train your voice. I only
practice by singing to my favourite CDs in the car driving. It gives me power in my voice, helps me
with my singing style, pronunciation and extends my range. Now, the guy in the car next to me at
the lights thinks I'm crazy, but I have a great time and improve my skill level to boot!

So singers, go to it! Practice hard just like the musicians do, because your voice is the dominant
instrument in church worship!

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

                         3. All about Harmonies
While this cannot be a complete treatise on harmony, I strongly recommend that you train your
singers in this wonderful art. I have many times had 5-6 singers in the backing group, and no one
singing in harmony. To my ears, it makes our worship songs sound like a chorus of “roll out the
barrel”! Getting good harmonies going will make such a difference, not only to the sound for your
audience and the 'professional' feel of the band, but also to the self esteem of the singers, because
there is little in singing more satisfying as being part of a well constructed harmony!

So, if you are new to the whole concept, here are a few things you should consider, and work at
introducing to your singers.

1. What is a Harmony?

Although those of us in the know treat harmonies with a great deal of mystique at times, the actual
concept of a harmony is very simple. It is a chord of voices (as opposed to a single voice). Take
the guitar, for example, where you can play one note or a whole chord, which is the more usual
way to play. We do the same with voices, and so to sing a harmony you must learn how chords
are structured. Then, of course, you have to hold your note while other people hold theirs, and that
is where the fun begins!

2. How to hear yourself and hold your part:

If you cannot hear yourself when trying to sing harmonies, the result is generally a horrible discord.
So, make sure you have as good a foldback (monitors) as possibly (i.e., turn the guitarist down),
and then try this...

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

Place your hand over your ear, making a groove from your fingers down to your palm (by making
your hand slightly concave). This directs some of the sound of your voice directly into your ear. It
looks like you are holding one ear, but you're really making a channel up which your voice can flow.
This was popularized by Robyn Gibb from the Bee Gees and it actually works brilliantly!

3. Parts in harmonies:

You will often hear good harmony being talked about as 2 part, 3 part, 4 part, etc. What does this
mean? Simply this; there are 2, 3 or 4 parts to the chord of voices making up the harmony. In a
band scenario, I always aim at getting a good, solid 3 part harmony, the structure of which
depends on the voices and the song.

4. The structure of a chord:

A bit of theory... well, about as close as I get to theory! Understand chords, and you will begin to
understand harmony, so let's think about what notes comprise a chord.

a) There are 8 notes in an octave, and some of these have sharps and flats.

b) Every key has a uniform number and position of these sharps and flats, so, for example, the Key
of G will always have only one sharp, that is F#, and the Key of F will always have only one flat
that is Bb. C has no sharps or flats.

c) Write out the notes with the corresponding numbers for the appropriate key

d) The most common harmonies are going to be number 3 and number 5, known as a 3rd and a

e) So, whatever note the lead person is singing, you need to sing the one 3 positions above in the
correct scale. Write it out and then listen to it, and hopefully it will all make sense.

5. 5ths and 3rds:

As explained in the previous section, the easiest harmonies are the 3rd and the 5th. Now if the
lead singer sings a note, the harmony can sing a 3rd above, or a 5th above, or alternatively a 5th
below or a 3rd below. 3 part harmony can be the melody, the 3rd above and the 5th below. It can
also be melody and 3rd and 5th above, etc. Or course, as the melody's note changes, so too does
yours, which is where you need to have knowledge of sharps and flats.

6. Echoing harmonies:

Backing vocals echoing the melody is a great technique used in recordings and live singing. By
this I mean the lead vocal sings, and the harmony echos what is sung, much like an old camp
song. It is sadly overlooked in worship, unless there is a specific line in the song set up for an
echo. Backing singers, I challenge you to look for and put in these echoes (which can be placed in

                                           Worship in a Nutshell

nearly every song to effect). Then, try getting two or even three of you to do this in harmony. This
simple technique will raise the level of singing in your church incredibly, and give you a style all
your own. You can even sing an alternative tune over that which the main vocalist and
congregation sing. This is called a countermelody, and when done well it sounds great! (Takes a
fair bit of practice to do well though) Of course, if it is done badly, it is really, really horrible! What I
am trying to say is, in rehearsals, take a few chances and strive to sing better every time. Just like
the musicians, you can make the song your own!

7. Oos and Ahhs:

Another overlooked technique, which is easy and sounds awesome. Backing vocals which have
oohs and ahhs in harmony sound sensational, but in nearly 100% of churches, all that the singers
do is sing the melody. (if we are really lucky, we might get one harmony!) Think outside of the box,
and listen to CDs for new techniques you can use in backing vocals.

8. Bazaar harmonies:

I have a friend who is the greatest when it comes to backing vocals. He knows a lot about chord
structure, and when working with groups of singers (such as on one of my albums) he will have us
all sing a note each, and then announce that we just sang a major 7th chord, or a 9th. This takes
gifting, skill and practice, but you can really create an atmosphere with the right harmonies. How
do you learn it? By learning about chords and how they are structured, then by tons and tons of

9. Practice:

Harmonies are not easy. They are challenging, but incredibly satisfying when you get them right.
And, because you are working in with all the other singers, they are a great time of fellowship. So,
the only way to get harmonies better, and sharper, is to practice.

The first step is to get all the singers who are able and have a good enough ear, to start singing
harmonies. The best way to learn how to sing harmonies is to listen to people who are great at it. I
actually learned harmonies by singing to the Beatles! Yeah, yeah, yeah! On some of the early
recordings they even put all the music on one side of the stereo, and all the vocals (and hence
harmonies) on the other. This makes it is easy to separate them and clearly hear what was sung.

Or listen to a group that specializes in harmonies. Simon and Garfunkel sing a beautiful, 2 part
harmony where it is easy to hear the various parts, so check out "Sounds of Silence" and "Mrs.
Robinson" for easy to learn harmonies. Most modern music, including most Christian music, has
blended the harmonies so seamlessly that is more difficult to hear them clearly.

So, singers, harmonies are where it is at! If you can learn how to sing them, and also not lose your
note, then you will be in huge demand as a singer. If you feel overlooked as a singer but would

                                       Worship in a Nutshell

like to be chosen more often, start singing and perfecting harmonies. You will quickly become
invaluable for the music team. The challenge is there for you... GO FOR IT!

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

                                4. Guitarists Only
So, you've just bought a new Fender Strat with a wammy bar, a multi effect pedal and a 500 watt
Marshall stack. It looks great, sounds great and you just know everyone wants to hear your latest
solo: WRONG!!!

Here's a little reality check for you guitarists (and I am one, so I am talking to myself too!). Only
you, and a select band of guitarists or guitar groupies, love to hear screaming lead solos. The little
old lady in the back specifically doesn't want to hear a screaming lead solo. And she is an
important part of the church! Most people are not even aware of the way you play. Be sensitive
and you can do things that can not only bless your listener, but enhance the whole worship
experience. Do the screaming solo bit, and you’ll be up for a huge reprimand!

Please remember, YOU ARE NOT THE MAIN ATTRACTION! Guitarists suffer under the delusion
that everyone wants to hear them. Me, well I love guitars, but most people see the instruments as
the padding in which the vocals sit.

How many guitarists does it take to put in a light globe? Only one. He just holds the globe up, and
THE WHOLE WORLD REVOLVES AROUND HIM! This joke has a degree of truth to it. Whatever
you do needs to be subtle, sensitive and not playing all over the other guys in the band (see later).

I am, primarily, a guitarist. I love the acoustic, and adore a hot lead guitar solo. Here are a few
things that you, the resident guitarist, can try to enhance your playing and the audience's listening
pleasure. You may be much better than I am at guitar playing, or you may be worse. These are
just some ideas FROM A WORSHIP LEADER’S point of view that will enhance worship and the
way you play. They are simple and easy, so even if you are new to the guitar, take these few tricks
and enjoy incorporating them into your performance. Now I cannot hope to deliver a 4 year guitar
course in a few lines here! This is not the be all and end all of guitaring, just a few tips to help you
sound better and worship the Lord more effectively...

The Very First Thing…

The absolute first thing you must do, and I cannot emphasize this enough is TUNE

I have heard some quite good performances completely ruined and even made embarrassing by
an out of tune guitar. Whatever you do, however you play, please tune carefully!

And yes, before you ask, an electronic tuner is the way to go. Don’t rely on your ear, get the right
gear! These days, they are inexpensive to buy, and essential to have.

Acoustic and Rhythm Guitars

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

My absolute favourite instrument is the acoustic guitar. I love the fact that it can be so gentle, and
so aggressive, and I always lead with the acoustic guitar in my hands. With it I find I can control
the flow of songs as well as the feel and mood of the worship. Rhythm electric uses the same
techniques a lot of times. Here are a few ideas that may enhance the way you play and the asset
that you should be to the worship team...

1. The strum:

I'm telling you, guys, the straight up and down strum is not the way to play! I love to use the
acoustic guitar as a rhythm instrument, syncopating and strumming in exciting rhythms, not
pounding out a basic beat. Keep this in mind: the acoustic is primarily a RHYTHM INSTRUMENT,
so use it as a rhythm instrument.

Try this: why not use the acoustic guitar to mimic the drums. Just try it; imitating what the drummer
is playing, especially matching his drum rolls.

Or this: A syncopated beat that cuts across the drum line, but still works in with it

2. Muted:

Now here is something that is really cool, and really easy to play. You only hit the top two strings,
and you don't press hard, so that a muted rather than a full sound is played. This gives a great,
rocky, chunky feel to songs, and also leaves things clean and vacant for the vocals. It's one of my
favourite things to do.

3. Rock 12 bar:

If you are a real guitarist, you know that 12 bar blues is never dead! That little rocky turn around is
easy to play and sounds great. This can be a super variation on the muted technique.

4. 2nds:

The idea of adding a second note to a chord means that it will sound wonderfully incomplete. Try it
a couple of times and see what I mean. Try occasionally (because we never want to overdo it)
adding a second in when the actual chord written in the music is a major chord. For example, I will
often play "Shout to the Lord" but starting the singing with an A2, not the straight A chord. It
sounds great in a band situation. Try it and see!

5. Sevenths:

When you change a major chord to a 7th, you automatically make give the chord a rock edge. Try
it and see, and you will really enjoy the sound you get (and it works for any chord in the key, not
just the tonic chord).

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

6. Major 7ths:

The major 7th chord automatically gives a song a soul feeling, a sort of a laid back, blues sort of
thing. This is an extra good way to finish a beautiful worship song. Again, try making the very last
chord of "Shout to the Lord" an Amaj7 instead of an A, for a nice, incomplete feel to the finish.

7. Suspended or 4ths:

Absolutely easy to do and they sound great, especially for D, A and G. These are great little flicky
things you can do that help to colour your music up and make it sound really professional.

8. Inversions:

You don't have to play the same chord the same way every time. Try to learn a few inversions,
where you place the same chord in a different spot on the fretboard and then you can get a really
different sound. For example, move your D chord up to the 8 fret (only playing the top 3 strings),
and you have a really cool G chord. U2 guitarist “The Edge” uses this a lot in their music.

9. Power Chords:

Rather than playing and strumming right the way through, try using power chords. These are single
chord that you hit, and hold for a time. Especially good when using a distorted guitar. Check out
artists like Bryan Adams for excellent use of this technique (his song "Please Forgive Me" is a slow
song full of distorted power chords).

Strumming v Picking

Picking the guitar strings can be a great way of getting a different sound in a song. You don't have
to be too busy, because even if you pick just a few notes it will sound tremendous. Band like the
Pretenders and Bryan Adams have really exploited this technique... simple yet sounds great.
Another one of my favourite things!

Lead Guitar

Now this is a highly skilled and complicated area, way beyond most rhythm people. I dabble a bit
in it, but I am not real good, so I won't go into techniques here. The main message to all lead
guitarists is... drum roll please... PLAY A LOT LESS!

Less is more, guys, and when you fill every available gap with lead guitar you spoil it for everyone.
So, learn to phrase it, using the lead as colour for the song, in between the phrases of singing.
The end result sounds way better than the overplayed, supersaturated guitar noise most lead
guitarists serve up!

Guitar Effects

                                            Worship in a Nutshell

That's right folks; those cool little boxes that make the funny sounds are the greatest things since
sliced bread. I am only going to buzz over a couple of the available effects, and there is no
substitute for hours playing around and experimenting. Have fun, and don't keep the neighbours
up all night!

1. Distortion: OK, this is a very cool, but hugely over used effect for your guitar. Again, less is
more, so try using a lot less distortion. It is perfect for power chords, which if mixed back properly
into the mix can make a slow, ballad song sound huge and fantastic. Look, I love the overdrive
and distortion thing, but be very, very careful how you use them, because in a more conservative
church they can be a lethal weapon to some folk's ears.

2. Delay: This is the repetitive echo that sounds pretty good on lead guitar and average at best on
rhythm. Again the message is; less is more. Avoid long delays, because they only really work in
specific situations and songs. Avoid putting too much feedback into it, making the delay go on and
on and on and on and... You get the picture.

3. Reverb: Yes, you may have a touch of this, but use it sparingly and mix minimal amounts of
return in. Be careful, or you will sound like you are playing while stuck down a toilet.

4. Chorus: For rhythm guitar especially, absolutely the greatest effect ever. Again, use it sparingly
(it sounds comical in large quantities) but it will really make your guitar sound super clean. It
involves a slight detuning, so make sure your guitar is in tune.

5. Phaser and Flange: Avoid like the plague unless you know what you are doing. These sounds
can crucify you if they go wrong, so if you do use them, do so, very sparingly.


                                            LESS IS MORE!!!!

Think about what you are playing, and don't over play, because fitting in with the band is the
essence of what you are supposed to be doing. The best guitarists that I have ever recorded with
hold back a lot, and consequently sound great. Think about what you play!

Bass Guitar

Ah yes, now we are talking about a great sound. I get in my car and turn up the stereo, and EQ
tons of bass into it. Love it, love it, love it! Played live it is even better. But I can tell you it is also
the biggest complaint about being too loud after the drums. The bass guitar is very easy to learn
to play, but difficult to play well.

Eq: This has got to be one of the most overlooked areas of bass guitaring. Most bassists I hear
have a plucky, tinny sound to their bass. Listen guys, you are playing a what? Then what do you
need lots of??? BASS! Cut down the tops and mids and go for that rich, warm bass that we all

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

love so much. Remember also that playing with your fingers gives a much richer bass sound than
playing with a pick, so adjust your bass accordingly.

Too Many Notes: Yes, they said it to Mozart, and I am saying it to all bass guitarists. When I play
with a bass, I love to play long, uncluttered notes which give a warm and rich feel to the song,
especially for a slower song. Try not to clutter the whole thing up, because less is more when it
comes to playing.

Scales: To play a good bass, learn a few scales. Music can be pretty repetitive, so don't reinvent
the wheel, learn some standards! It will give you the flexibility of playing more than the chord that
is written.

Slap Bass: Slap is wonderful, rocky, innovative and very impressive, but please don't try it until
you can do it properly. It's not easy to do well, and I would never overuse it, but if you are that
good, go for it! Also, there are huge variations in volume, so you may have to use a compressor
on this one!


                                         LESS IS MORE!!!

So, listen to what you are playing and try to cut back on it a little (unless the song demands it). A
good, solid, consistent bass is better than one that is too busy. Look at bands like Fleetwood Mac
and notice that their bass is simple, consistent and solid. You don't have to be a genius on bass to
be a huge asset to the band.

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

                      5. Drums and Percussion
The use of drums in worship has grown through the last years of the 20th Century. Some would
say that they are to the detriment of Christian music, but I reckon they are brilliant. Drums are the
beat, the heart and soul of the songs, especially upbeat praise songs, but there are heaps of things
you can do with these magnificent instruments!

Jungle Beat

We have all heard at times the story of the missionary coming back from Africa who hears drums in
a Christian band and recalls that these are the same beats used to summon evil spirits in the Dark
Continent. Simply, folks, this is rubbish! They may use drums to summon evil spirits, sure, but I
do not believe in satanic beats, or satanic styles of music. There is not even such a thing as
Christian Music! There are Christian lyrics, but the music is neither of the Lord nor of the devil.
This means we have as much right to use it as the bad guys do!

After much study, thought and prayer, I believe drums, beats and music in general are neutral, and
can be used for either good or evil. With this in mind, drums are a legitimate part of our modern
culture, and thus should be present when we worship.

The Main Problem

Ask anyone and they will tell you that the main problem with drums is that they are TOO LOUD in
church. Sometimes we put big plastic baffles around them, or put covers over them, but the
bottom line is that drummers hit those skins too heavily and must be sensitive enough to hold back
a little on volume if it is necessary. Guys, I know you want to lash out and make big noise, but
spare a thought for the little old lady in the front seat, huh?

Innovation with Drums

Drums are not simply time keepers for the band, but they can be powerful and useful tools. They
add to and create atmosphere in the songs, and if played well really make a difference. If played
badly, especially slowing down all the time and/or slightly missing beats, they can be a leader's
worst nightmare.

So drummers, I will not profess to tell you how to play, and will assume you can play a solid beat
with highhat, kick and snare, plus land a couple of great drum rolls. Even so, please let me throw
a few suggestions at you that may help to make your drumming to be what your leader wants...

1. Vary the timing in your snare: You don't simply need to play the 2nd and 4th beat of the bar. Try
syncopating it a little, as happens in a lot of modern music.

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

2. Vary the highhat: Again, you do not have to play on every beat. Play double time, play half
time, and throw in some open hats occasionally. Mind you, don't overdo the latter or we will plunge
back to the era of disco!

3. Toms: These can be used for rolls, but also to keep the beat, much like a highhat. Make sure
when you do a roll that you don't drop a beat at the end. I hear this often and, frankly, I would
rather not have the roll and still have the consistent beat.

4. Be Solid: I love solid drummers. They are awesome to have with you, especially on slow
songs. A solid drummer is one who plays consistently, always in time, and every tom roll perfect,
though not complicated. This is a key... keep your drumming simple when you start, because that
is what most people want. Keep it solid and steady, but still be free to innovate.

5. Listen to music: Whatever your style, listen to music and try to absorb it into your own touch on
the kit. Drummers have a huge problem (and unfortunately for my wife, I also have this)... we
drum and tap on everything, every minute of the day. I always have a song in my head, and
hammer my car steering wheel as I drive listening to CDs.

If you want a really interesting drumming style to listen to, try some songs by The Police. The
highhat work is amazing, and they mixed the drums really high so you can easily hear how
excellent the drummer is.

6. Syncopate Timings: Now here's one you may not be aware of. It sounds really cool when your
drum roll is in time with the acoustic guitar, or percussion. It also sounds great when you do a roll
which is in time with the singer. Look for opportunities to do this, because it sounds great!

7. Less is More: Like any instrument, you need to think about what you play and try not playing too
much. Some drummers, especially young ones, do far too many rolls, and totally wreck the feel of
the song. Don't be one of those. Play less and you will sound better (trust me). Sometimes the
things you DON'T play will make the difference.

8. It's OK to Stop: You don't have to play the same way all the way through. Why not sit a verse
out at the beginning, then come in softly on verse 2, building to a crescendo for the last chorus.
Think about how you are playing, and try to build the atmosphere of the song.

9. Vary the Feel: Try other feels and see if you can make a real impact. For example, I will often
get the drummer to do a whole verse of gentle toms keeping beat, or a syncopated high hat


Percussion is much more subtle than drums, but equally as much fun. I love well played
percussion, especially tambourine, congas and shakers.

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

All of the above also applies to percussion people. Keep it simple, and make sure whatever you
play helps to build the atmosphere of the song. Bongos, congas, shakers and tambourines are
great, and you may find cabassas, etc. good too. Enjoy the percussion, and look upon yourself as
"adding the good stuff" to the song.

Finally in this short discussion, work in with your drummer and the worship leader to help create
the atmosphere that enhances the worship experience.


If you attend a small church, or if there is not a lot of time to set up, here is a really cool idea. Why
not get the drummer to simply play a snare drum with brushes? Now I know all the drummers
want to use their mega Pearl drum kits with 50,000 drums and cymbals, and consider it a real
insult if they have only a snare, but a lot of the top line acts in the world, including people like
McCartney, The Eagles, Crowded House, etc., have taken to doing a set with acoustic guitars and
brushes on a snare drum. Just play simple brushes and keep time, with a few incidentals, and you
will be amazed at how the people will warm to this style. And it looks and feels cool and modern.
Come on drummers; give it a go for at least one song!!!!

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

               6. Sound Ideas For Sound People
Herein lays one of the biggest bones of contention in the Christian church... sound! As a worship
leader, you pray for a sound man who has love, power and a sound mind, but most often the job is
pursued by people who know little about sound gear, very little about sound and absolutely nothing
about music. Hence this little section dealing with sound, which is aimed at helping those of you
struggling with this issue (but is by no means comprehensive!)

1. Attitude:

Sound people often bear the brunt of the congregation's, and the musician’s wrath. It is a tough
job, given that the real measure of success is that nobody notices you the entire service! On the
flip side, there is a lot of bad tempered, bad attitude, arrogant and obnoxious sound men. What we
really need are sound guys that are not there because no one else was available, or because they
are frustrated musos. We need sound people who are passionate about great sound, have
servant hearts and real ability in mixing. Let me speak from experience: a bad sound person can
ruin the entire performance.

2. Part of the team:

I try to include sound people as part of the music team. They are invited to barbeques and they
are included in decisions. I know they can either enhance what I am doing, or destroy it. I'd rather
they enhanced it. So the dynamics must be there. I will not tolerate fighting between musicians, or
between musos and sound guys. I won't tolerate a bad attitude or bad blood between people,
because that severely interferes with worship. So, my quick word to worship leaders is: include the
sound guys, love them and encourage them. Bless them and they will bless you. (Ain't that right,
sound people?)

I have arrived at many places to find that the sound person is aggressively disagreeable. The
choice is then to 'put them in their place' or to love them despite the way they treat you. I always
choose the latter, and usually finish up getting on really well with the sound guy. It is a tough job,
and a little bit of love goes a long way!

3. Inputs:

What and where: The size of your desk is critical to how you will mix the band. I usually find that
24 is more than sufficient, unless you are miking drums. Now sound men may be akin to
Superman, but they cannot plug 12 singers a full band and the radio mike into an 8 channel desk.
What then happens is that they are forced to leave some instruments out, and allow them to use
their amps blasting straight off stage. I can only offer this word of warning: TRY NOT TO DO THIS!

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

My recommendation is that all the instruments be added to the mix. Leaving guitars and bass to
operate from their amps gives you no control, and also stops you mixing and changing the mix as
required. If you have reduced channels, you will have to make some choices. My preferences are
as follows.

Guitars: Always plug acoustic guitars straight into the system, not through an amp, but definitely
through a DI box. This gives the guitar a much nicer sound than an amp stack. Thus you will need
to give sufficient foldback for the player. Electric guitars should go through an amp, then either a
line out or mike the amp. This will allow the distortion qualities of the valves in the amp to be
brought out, but in church you just cannot run it loud (sorry to the guitarists!).

Bass: Should be amped, but I tend to put the bass straight in through a DI. I love to EQ the
bottom end up (I hate tinny bass) so that it is low and rumbling. Some older folk don't like this, so
please be sensitive.

Piano: I would use a mike for an acoustic piano and for a keyboard a line in. They must be EQed
correctly. Most pianos I hear are far too harsh on the ear. Do a great EQ, drop mids and you will
get fewer complaints about the sound level.

Others: Such as flutes, clarinets, saxes, violins, harmonicas, etc., require good miking, and EQing.

Vocals: OK, here's an interesting question. If your church is like mine, you have 50,000 people
wanting to sing, over half of whom can't, and everybody wants a mike of their own. The worship
leader has to be a bit tough here. By all means, have a lot of singers, but don't give them all a

What to Cut from your Limited Mixer

With limited space and unlimited people wanting channels, who do you cut? Well, for me, I would
firstly cut the drums, then several singers. After that I am unhappy, but next would be the bass
(starting to get dangerous here), letting him run out of an amp.

You definitely need lead vocals, harmonies and acoustic guitar in the system. Electric guitar is also
nice, and bass is great too. We don't mike drums, and I reckon in most churches you can live
without it. If you want to mike the drums, the old Perspex screen is essential, unless your church
holds over 1,500 people. Then, in order of preference, I would mike: kick, snare, highhat, main
toms, overheads (cymbals) and floor tom. Once again, avoid using stage “spill” from musician's
amps as your front of house, because it is murky, unclear and uncontrollable.


Finally, number the channels, and LABEL THEM ON THE DESK, to avoid confusion. Masking tape
is useful for this. I would generally allow the first 6-9 for vocals, the next couple for guitars, then
bass, piano, other instruments, in that order. Some like to move the piano up: it is personal
preference, but as a general rule have the vocals first.

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

4. Equalization (EQ):

This is a key area for the church. With many people complaining about the noise, the EQ is your
best friend. You will be amazed that, when you have removed the harsher, more offensive
frequencies, that you can run the mix much louder WITHOUT GETTING ALL THE COMPLAINTS!

I cannot hope to cover everything I want to say about this, but this one area can 'make or break'
your sound, especially in an unfamiliar room. Here are a few considerations from my (that is, the
worship leader's) point of view.

a. Buy at least 1, preferably 2, and if you can 3 or 4 or more 31 band EQs. They are not
expensive, and worth their weight in gold. Try to put at least 1 onto the foldback (monitors), and
one on the front of house. Forget 9 bands, 12 bands, etc. Get the real thing and go 31 band!

b. How to Set Them Up. I find a nice easy way to do this is to plug in a whole stack of mikes, and
begin to slowly lift the overall volume. At some point you will hear a feedback loop, a whining
squeal building in intensity. Next, have a guess at the frequency by fully removing (i.e., moving the
level down all the way to the bottom) a whole number of frequencies. When the whining stops, you
have nailed it, and that is the frequency that is going to be giving you trouble. Then, continue to
raise the volume until you encounter the next frequency, neutralizing that in the same way. You will
be amazed how loud you can now run it without any feedback problems.

c. Do it for foldback first. After this consider front of house, and if you only have one EQ, I
recommend putting it on the foldback. Remember, a 31 band EQ is not designed to be set up in a
smiley face pattern. It is not supposed to enhance the sound like your stereo EQ. It is there to

d. Patterns: Halls are funny things, and they tend to follow patterns. This will make it easier when
you come to EQ a hall. The offending frequencies tend to occur in multiples. So, for example, if
you find 400Hz is the first whine you find, you can nearly always bank on the other offending
frequencies being, heading up, 800, 1.6K, 3.2, etc., and heading down 400, 200 and 100. In other
words, if you really nail a frequency, keep doubling the numbers and you will most often have the
lot. Pretty cool, huh?

e. EQ on individual channels: This is the one that is designed to enhance the way an instrument or
singer sounds. More bass, less highs, etc. But by far the most powerful part of this EQ is the
sweepable mids.

Now, what exactly is a sweepable mid. These are cute little knobs in the middle of the range that
vary both level and frequency. Usually, you have a top, middle and bottom knobs for the EQ, and
the top and bottom are simply volume for the top and bottom frequencies. In between is often 2
knobs (or 2 pairs of knobs) that control the middle frequencies of the channel. One of these is a
volume knob, but the other changes the frequency at which the volume is going to be applied. To
adjust these knobs, turn the volume one to full, which is much like turning up the volume to adjust

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

the 31 band EQ. It will sound really bad. Next, turn the frequency knob around until you find a
sound that is really, really offensive. Then turn the volume knob right down, which should cut out
the offending frequency. Alternatively, if you find a nice warm sound you like, you can turn up that
particular frequency. Thus the mid EQ is “sweepable” allowing you to isolate and work on
particular frequencies.

f. Another cool use of EQ: Adjusting EQ is not limited to getting rid of lousy frequencies. You can
also use it to help differentiate similar sounds. For example, if you have 3 good singers, who sing
harmony but have similar ranges, you can separate them from in the EQs, so each is more easily
discernible, and the sound blends. Just EQ one with more highs, and less mids and lows, one with
more mids (less highs and lows) and one with more lows (less mids and highs). Obviously, give
more lows to the bass voices, and more highs to the sopranos. You’ll have to play with it, but try it
out and see how you go.

g. Do the same with instruments: Especially, try mixing the highs out of the bass guitar and giving
it more bottom end, then mixing back the bottom end of the kick drum. Or for a more modern
sound, mix the kick bottom end up and pull back the bass lows.

5. Pan: If you are running in stereo, you can separate the instruments much like on a CD, by
panning them to different points. However, be very careful, because people are sitting at different
places in the auditorium, and will miss things panned to another spot. Most often we run front of
house in mono, making the use of pan pointless.

6. Lapel or head mounted mikes: Here's a specific issue you have to address. Preachers love
preaching in these things, but they are often murder on the sound guy. So, when testing them,
walk all around the stage and make sure you get no feedback anywhere. If you do, apply EQ to
minimize offending frequencies. You can even patch in a 31 band to really get the bad frequency.
Also, pay special attention to the tone of it, because they mostly sound very tinny. Make sure you
place lapel mikes properly, on the lapel about 6" below the chin, and facing up towards the mouth
(but some sound better in other positions: try playing with this one). Be very careful, because
when the preacher starts it HAS TO BE RIGHT!!! Don't compromise with this one.

7. Foldback issues: OK, you've EQed the foldback, so what’s next? Here's a secret: every singer
and musos will want to be turned up. Resist this, and find one guy (preferably the worship leader)
through which all turning up and down decisions are filtered. You can try for 100 years, and still no
one will be happy. Just do the best you can, but don't listen to everyone's gripes. Choose one
person who can decide on the validity of the complaints of others. Remember, some need to hear
more than others. SINGERS MUST BE GIVEN PREFERENCE! If they cannot hear, they will sing
off notes without realizing it, so please make sure they can hear themselves.

8. Foldback level:

In short, everyone on stage gets the MINIMUM level of foldback that they can manage with. I
make sure all on stage amps (guitars, bass, keys, etc.) are facing away from the audience, and

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

turned down so they can only just hear themselves. Rhythmic instruments, such as rhythm guitar,
can survive on much less than, say, lead guitar or vocals.

Explain to the musos that, if they are too loud on stage, you cannot do an adequate mix front of
house. This is, of course, true. I try to always give the sound guy the chance to mix properly, by
insisting on all onstage foldback to be at a minimum. Try appealing to the ego of guitarists,
explaining that if they want to be heard out front they must turn down on stage. Otherwise they will
be murky and muddy out front, and no one will hear them.

9. Sound check:

Before you start you should have to have a sound check. The easiest thing to do is to have
someone reliable on stage to take charge. Believe me, sound checks can be a nightmare! I have
seen them take several hours, until I got so cheesed off I stepped in and took over. You will see
some of the most immature and selfish behaviour in a sound check. That's why it is good to have
someone taking charge (usually me). Here are a few things to think about with regards sound

a. One person is in charge. He alone talks to the sound desk, and no other singers, or musicians
can talk to the sound guy, except through this person.

b. One instrument is checked at a time. Here is the most important point, NOBODY ELSE MAKES
A SOUND. No checking of mikes, no tuning, no practicing, dead silence. Once the sound check is
over, noise can begin, but you and everyone else will get unbelievably frustrated with people
playing while the sound check is happening.

c. Run through the mikes first, one by one, making sure they each is turned on, sufficiently loud for
the singer and has a nice, warm EQ, i.e., sounds tonally pretty good (and clear). After that I do the
same with the instruments, making sure each can hear themselves, unless they have their own
amp (in which case we put very little into the foldback).

d. Turn all on stage amps down to a minimum, and face them towards the player, but away from
the audience. Trust me; it avoids a lot of problems.

e. Play a loud song, the 'busiest' one you have, and everyone must examine their foldback to see if
they can hear. Again, the singers MUST be able to hear themselves, and everyone must be able
to hear the worship leader, and his instrument (otherwise they will miss instructions and get lost
during the worship).

f. Any adjustments to sound are to be done through the person in charge: Be very wary of turning
guitars and other instruments up, because they have their own amps. All singers want to be turned
up, so let the person make a judgment call as to who needs to be turned up and by how much.

10. Subgroups:

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

If your desk has subgroups, USE THEM!!! It makes life a whole heap easier, allowing you to turn
up all the vocals in one hit. Believe me, anything that makes life easier when you are live mixing
should be pursued. Given the choice, I would have subgroups as follows: Vocal mix, guitars,
drums, piano and others. Vocal is the most important, so mix all vocals, lead and backing, to this
group mix, so that if you need more vocals overall, you are only moving one slider!

11. Mixing:

Putting it all together: The final product is what is ultimately important and what you as a sound guy
will stand or fall on.

When sound checking, start your front of house mix from the ground up. Commence with drums
and bass first, then piano, guitars, keyboards, etc. so they are all in balance. Remember, balance
is the key: they all need to 'nestle in' with each other so that no one sound is greater than the rest.
However, I would mix the lead instrument, which is in my case an acoustic guitar, or in other cases
the piano, SLIGHTLY HIGHER than other instruments.

Finally, mix the vocals over the top, making sure that they can be adequately and easily heard.
Again, the lead vocal should be mixed SLIGHTLY HIGHER than the others. Remember, you don't
want vocals barely heard, you want them easily heard.

One final mention should be made of solo instruments, such as lead guitars, flutes, saxes,
harmonicas, etc. Most of the time they should be mixed back with the other instruments, heard but
not heard well. Then when they enter into a solo, you need to lift them in the mix so that they may
be heard. Simple concept, usually messed up by inattentive sound guys. So, pay attention, and
mixing will be an art form!

12. Overall volume:

What can we say about this? NOT TOO LOUD!!!! You cannot change the volume for every person
in the room, but you definitely do not want to offend anyone. Here are a few ideas that will help
you make a decision as to how loud to run the mix.

a. The audience: Who are they? If it's a youth meeting, run it loud. If it is church and you have
lots of elderly folk, run it quiet (very quiet if you're smart!). Look at your audience and make a
rational decision, don't just run it how you, or the band want it. If you cannot turn it down enough
because the stage sound is too loud, TURN THEM DOWN ON STAGE!!! Yes, they have to be
happy, but the front of house is still the prime concern. And, consider this; if people are offended at
the level of sound, and pushed away from the Lord, then you are in sin! By the same token, if one
person in the whole church wants it extra low, maybe they have to be a bit flexible. The solution is,
ask the pastor to set it where he is happy, then it is his responsibility.

b. Dead spots: Every hall has dead spots, where the sound does not carry as well. These are
often due to speaker directions or phasing. So, set the room up so as to avoid having these spots,

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

as much as possible. Walk around and see if you can find them (while the band is playing). Then,
make sure your desk is not in one of these spots!!!! Also, make a note of where the dead spots are
and direct people with hearing problems or who hate it 'too loud' to these spots. Use them to your

c. Watch you EQ: Here's a revelation: If you have a great EQ on the mix, then you can run it at a
much higher level without drawing criticism from people. People complain when the sound is
harsh and offensive, so do you best to keep it warm and attractive, and you can run it higher but it
won't hurt the ear. Strange but true!

d. The level for worship: Run the sound too loud, and people cannot hear themselves sing, and get
frustrated. Run it too soft, and no one will enter into worship. It needs to be sufficiently loud to
allow people to join in with comfort, but no so loud as they cannot hear themselves sing.

e. Speakers: Buy good quality speakers, and solve many of your sound problems. They should
not be distorting or popping. My preferred alignment it to have them on either side of the stage,
facing slightly in. I am not a huge fan of the central, elevated stack. Every room is different, so
think about where you will put the speakers carefully.

f. Preaching: Again, think about the comfort of listeners. Too soft, and they cannot hear without
strain. Too loud, and they find it upsetting. Do not do anything that detracts from the message.

13. Effects:

Vocal effects such as reverb and delay are usually put on at the desk, either on a general send or,
less commonly, patched into a specific channel (called an insert). Unless you know how to use
them, PLEASE DON'T. I have heard, and been subjected to, some real shockers in this area over
the years, especially in developing nations, and I often have to ask the sound guy to remove the
reverb entirely from my voice. If you really want to use them, here's a few tips...

a. You are best to control the effects BY THE RETURN, not the send: Try giving maximum send,
and mixing in minimal amounts of return. That way you get lots of big, rich echoes, set right back
in the mix. Too much return, and it sounds like they are singing down a toilet.

b. Don't add to every channel: Only add reverb to vocals, and maybe slightly to guitars. Be very
careful adding it to drums, and mainly to specific parts of the drum, like the kick and snare.

c. You can EQ the effects return: Here's a neat way to clean things up... try EQing the reverb
return, and knock out all the bass and mids. You can often do this on the actual reverb unit (Low
freq cut). Thus you are left with mainly highs, and mixed back in the mix it will sound really good.
Mids and lows in reverbs usually sound pretty poor.

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

d. Be subtle: Use less than you think. Try mixing it in with no music, and keep it there. If the
audience can hear and recognize a reverb is present, you generally have too much.

e. How long a reverb: Be very wary of long reverbs. They can sound 'stuck-in-a-toilet-like.' They
can also sound sensational, especially if you mix in the return sparingly, and EQ it properly. I really
love a nice 3-3.5 second hall. If in doubt, though, go for a much smaller reverb (under 1 second).
To become good at reverb you need to do a lot of playing. Find two or three you like and save
them, because during a performance is never the time you want to be playing!

f. Adding delay: Be wary of delay, because it really messes with the clarity of vocals (sounds really
hot on a lead guitar solo, though!) Again, play, practice and experiment. Avoid long delays. Under
500 ms is best.

g. When the singer talks: OK, this is basic but so often overlooked: TURN OFF THE REVERB
WHEN THE WORSHIP LEADER TALKS. It sounds stupid. If you cannot get it off in no time flat,
don't put it on in the first place.

14. Items:

Mixing items is a similar to a band mix, but most often there is a soloist, and a backing CD, so you
have a lot less to worry about. EQ the CD or tape if using one. EQ the voice so it is clear and
warm, not tinny. Always mix the vocals higher, because the singer is what people want to mainly

15. Don't Fiddle:

Now, how can I say this one nicely? Set up your band in the sound check, foldback first then front
of house. After that, when you have got a great mix, DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING unless there is a
good reason. As a singer one of my pet hates is a sound guy who just can't stop fiddling. Never
let this be you! A great sound mix is basically set and forget. You might bring up a guitar solo, or
boost a singer who has pulled a little back from the mike, but in general if it is working well, don't

16. Be attentive:

Another pet hate of mine is sound guys who don't pay attention. You are a professional, and a
servant of the Lord and the music team. Don't float away, don't fall asleep and don't chat to the
guy next to you. Treat your ministry seriously. If you absolutely must turn off channels while the
pastor speaks, be on the ball and turn them back on in time. As a musician I can tell you it is really
frustrating to start playing only to find that the sound guy still has you switched off, and isn’t looking
at you so you can’t tell him to switch on! If you can't be relied on to turn it on at the right time, then

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

                            7. Prophecy in Music
Prophecy is one of the most powerful Spiritual Gifts, and is designed to build up the faith of
listeners. Believe it or not, anyone can prophesy. It is not that scary! Bear in mind that prophecy
is not necessarily predicting the future, and neither is it supernatural knowledge.

Here's a Revelation For You Prophets Out There!

In prophecy there is foretelling, for example the Old Testament prophets, and there is forth telling,
which is someone who tells forth the Word of God. A prophet may simply be one speaking forth
the words of God. Now before you all say, "gee, that's a bit spacey," I asked the Lord about this
and felt that He gave me a principle which has proven to be brilliant in my own ministry.

Prophecy does not have to start with, "thus sayeth the Lord." The world is full of aspiring prophetic
ministries pronouncing words over people, usually for encouragement. The Lord began to teach
me about the impact of this in my own ministry, which is often in places where they do not accept
the more traditional prophetic ministry. I wanted these folk to really be touched by the Lord's Spirit
in practical and specific ways in their lives.

So, here's the revelation... the purest form of prophecy is THE WORD OF GOD. That's right, the
Bible! I started madly memorizing passages and verses, and as I pray for people if the Lord brings
one to mind, I just give them the verse. I have so many testimonies of how that specific verse has
met a need they had right at that time. Or, often the verse I share with them was one they were
given years ago, so again God impacts their life!

Prophecy in Music

While I am not a great exponent of this art or gift, I would love to be more so. I have a friend who
really shines in this area.

During the worship, as the music becomes quiet at some point, usually with a repetitive chord
progression happening, he begins to sing. He makes up a tune, and puts to it words that he feels
the Lord is giving him. They are always very, very encouraging, and he uses phrases like, "you are
called, you are blessed, I am drawing you near, etc." As I said, I don't actually do this, but I have
seen that at specific times, with this specific gifting, people can be extremely encouraged. Their
hearts are open, and the Lord uses the words he sings to minister to their hearts, touching them
and drawing them near.

Isn't this what worship is all about?

Where to Start

                                          Worship in a Nutshell

If you are interested in this area of ministry, then where do you start? I reckon the best bet is to
start in your own quiet times, singing and making up songs of encouragement. Remember, only
encouraging words should be used, not words of anger, judgment and rebuke, because we should
all be prophesying encouragement to each other.

Start on your own, and if it seems to work, try it in your cell group. I would advise not just
launching out in a service, unless the Lord directs you to do so. And that, folks, is what it is all
about... only do, only sing, only share according to what God wants of you. In everything, and
most especially in the prophetic, this must all be directly subject to your pastor.

I believe that the best way to start is by quoting scripture, because even if some folks are offended
by the craziness and weirdness of prophecy, most people will not take offence to the Word of God
being spoken during worship. After all, isn’t the Word of God the very essence of prophecy?

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

                           8. Special Occasions
In any church calendar there are services of special significance, such as Easter, Christmas,
Church Anniversary, Baptisms, Weddings, etc. On these occasions you may be called upon to
sing certain songs, or to vary your worship in a certain way.

Why Change?

Given that you are here to be a servant, of the Lord, the Pastor and the people, you should be
always ready to change to fit in with how they see the service going. Don't make the mistake
some musos do, that worship is more or less a concert with a sing-along. If you want this, go to a
theatre restaurant, because worship is about engaging the hearts of the people with their Lord. If
you have a certain type of person, such as the elderly, then playing rock music is risky, insensitive
and just plain stupid! You are NOT there to push your own barrow; you are there to serve, even if
you hate the music you have to play. Besides, most musicians love any sort of music, as long as it
is well played.

Subject Matter

The main change for these special services is in the subject matter of the songs. This is especially
apparent at Christmas, when we sing Carols. You will find there are specialized songs for Easter,
etc. too. Now, you don't have to do these exclusively, but at least do mainly these songs, or others
which follow a similar theme.


The trick is, even when you have to play certain songs, you need to make them special. One
Christmas, rather than doing straight carols (which bore me to tears), I wrote a play, and we
proceeded to sing the carols (plus a few other songs) in various styles of music. Jingle Bells was
reggae, Silent Night was an acoustic ballad and In Excelsius Deo was rocky.

The bottom line is, have fun and think outside of the normal box, but do it with a servant heart and
a great attitude. Thus your song selection, your playing and your singing can make the special
service even more special!

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

                        9. Evangelistic Festivals
Without doubt, evangelistic events are some of the most misunderstood and poorly run things
churches do! Over the last many years, as Worship Director for Bill Newman Ministries, I have
spent a lot of time arranging music for Evangelistic Events, and I would love to share some of my
insights with you.

Corporate Worship

This is something we usually do in church, but when we combine a number of churches together,
we have to be careful about this. An evangelistic event is not just another church service, so we
should not simply reproduce what we do each Sunday and think we are being evangelistic.

So, why do we even do corporate worship in evangelism? Firstly, I believe it promotes, or at least
should promote, unity (Psalm 133). “For where brothers dwell together in unity, there the Lord
bestows a blessing, even life forevermore.” And what exactly is “life forevermore?” It is surely
eternal life, which is Salvation, which is what we are on about, so let’s dwell in unity!

Secondly, corporate singing creates an atmosphere of worship and allows the Spirit scope to do
wonderful things. It is a tool for joining hearts and opening the heavens, and even works on a
secular level, such as the Barmy Army singing at cricket or football matches!

However, I make these suggestions about corporate worship:

1. Choose songs that center on the Cross: While there are great songs which talk about a variety
of topics, an evangelistic event should feature songs that fit with what the preacher will be
speaking on. The main subjects for our songs are the Cross and God’s Grace, because I know for
sure that these will fit with Bill’s message.

2. Choose songs Most People Know: An Outreach event is not a platform to teach new songs. In
this situation, I specifically use older, very well known songs, especially if we are combining a
number of churches from different denominations. We have had loads of problems in the past
when the band is supplied by one church, and they do songs that their church alone sings. Just
keep it simple, and do the stuff we all know!

3. Avoid “Christianese”: How many times have we seen it? The worship leader punctuates the
songs with, “Praise the Lord” or, “Are you washed in the blood?” If you want unsaved folk to be
comfortable enough to open their hearts in the meeting, try talking their language! When I speak
to friends or people at work, I don’t use these phrases, so why on earth do we do it in church, let
alone outreaches! When involved in evangelism, please watch what you say!

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

4. Avoid lengthy worship times: An outreach event is not the time for an extended play, 50 minute
standing worship event. We have to realize that the music must SUPPORT what is about to be
preached, not drive people away.

So, in our meetings, we tend to start with 2 corporate songs of praise, and later have 2 or 3
impactive songs of worship. That’s all! Short, sharp and shiny, and preparing the atmosphere for
the Gospel to be preached.


Big meetings are a great opportunity for artists to display their wares, so to speak. In our
meetings, we usually have one guest artist, and then myself. The guest goes first, and I will sing
later in the meeting, always just before Bill speaks, because my mandate is to prepare the way for
the speaker.

Guest artists and items are a minefield, so here are a few things I have learned through the years.

1. The artist must be good: We are all on display, and this is not the time for amateur hour! Poor
or talentless artists are embarrassing, and can turn people away, so you need a criterion for
placing an item in the meeting, not “oh, this is the pastor’s daughter who sings a bit!”

That being said, the ATTITUDE of the artist must also be good. There are some very arrogant,
rude Christian singers, and I do not really want to have them on our outreaches! They must come
as servant, and stay for the entire event, not just sing and then leave. If they are not interested
enough to stay to see the fruit of their labour, then you can bet their performance will be all about
themselves, and little about the Lord or the lost.

I really desire to see singers linked with Evangelists, in a similar way to Bill and myself. He first
time I ministered with Bill, when I saw all those people coming forward to receive Christ, I knew this
was what pressed my buttons!!! The big jump for me was laying aside my own ministry, and
serving the Evangelist. Felt like a sacrifice at the time, but was the best decision I could have

You see, I figured out that, for me, the most important thing is not CD sales and posters with my
name in them. The most important thing is seeing people coming forward to receive Christ, and I
can honestly say that nothing matters more to me in ministry than that!

So, if you do a lot of outreaches, pray for singers who share your passion for souls, not just have a
passion for music or accolades!

2. The items must keep to time: This applies equally to prayers, announcements, etc. but
musicians are very guilty of this one. Some get nervous and speak forever before the song,
forgetting that they are not there to preach but to sing. We never tell guest artists “you have 2
songs,” we always tell them in minutes (“you have 8 minutes”). If they go overtime, we do not use
them again. This is disrespectful to the Gospel, and to the Preacher!

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

3. Items must be acceptable in style: It is no good singing an operatic hymn on Youth Night! If
people are offended or turned off by the music, then some of them leave and never even hear the
message, and your item has turned against you! I will never forget the heavy metal Christian band
some bright spark brought to a country town outreach (and the expression on all these cowboy’s
faces!). Again, the message is the most important thing, and ALL music is there ONLY to support
the Gospel!

4. Items must be relevant and touch the hearts of the audience: There are lots of songs about lots
of great things, but I believe every song should be targeted directly at the Gospel.

I sing my own material, and I have many songs which dovetail into Bill’s messages. I write new
material, and very often take up his suggestions, knowing that my songs will reinforce his sermons.

Even some of the fun songs on Youth Nights, which have people standing, clapping, stomping,
screaming, etc. have all been planned and tested over time, and all fulfill the overall desire of
seeing the Gospel preached. So, when screening items for your events, or an outreach service,
ask the singer WHAT their song is about, and WHY they are singing it. If it is, for example, a
beautiful love song, I don’t believe that is a good enough reason to sing it. Again, remember the
reason we are all doing this is to enhance the Gospel.

5. Secular songs: At times, depending on the audience, these can be very useful. Singers love to
sing these songs, but again they must not be done just so the unsaved people in the audience can
relate to them. They must fit with a specific theme in the sermon for them to have any real impact.

In our meetings, I have so much material that I have no real need to do any secular cover songs.
In church, week by week, we will occasionally do a secular song if it fits with the message, and the
street kids we relate to love them. As Paul says, “I have become all things to all men so that BY
ALL POSSIBLE MEANS I might save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22.

The Appeal

This is the most critical part of the programme, and we cannot afford any mistakes here. I believe
that people are quietly contemplating eternity, so I instruct the band that the song we play here is
to be gentle, quiet and very, very simple. No screaming lead breaks, so elaborate vocal
arrangements, nothing to distract from the most important thing in the world- eternity!

After years of working together, Bill and I feel that, for us, the appeal is more powerful without any
music initially. Bill leads people in a prayer, and this is done in silence. This is not the way most
Evangelists do this, but this works for us, and we are not afraid of silence! When he asks people
to stand, and then come, that is where we begin to play.

The song we most often choose is “The Power of Your Love”, but there are many others which also
work well. We usually sing the first verse and chorus, then the music eases back, with no singing,

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

while Bill reiterates his appeal, and offers people a second chance to respond. The final time
through, we increase the volume and then the meeting is finished.

My firm conviction is that this moment hangs in eternity, and I am personally responsible to see as
many people come to Jesus as possible. I don’t want to hear a great vocal arrangement or lead
solo only to see people go to hell because we had to be so clever!

So, music people, never, never, never neglect the appeal song, because this is the reason that we
are here on earth- to win others to Jesus Christ. Let’s make sure we are working FOR the
process, not AGAINST it!

The Reason for the Music

In Evangelistic meetings, the music MUST enhance the preaching of the Gospel, for there is no
other reason to have it, and there is no greater calling for a musician or singer. Choose your
musicians and singers carefully, and make sure their attitude is the right one, and you will see the
Lord crown your efforts with the reaping of souls. I can personally attest to this, and it is the
greatest thrill of my life!

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

                    The Ultimate Shopping List!
This has got to be one of the really fun things... going out buying sound gear for the church. The
problem is most churches have a limited budget, so you have to prioritize your purchases to get
maximum bang for buck (or pound, peso, ringit, rupee, etc.). If you have substandard sound gear
and instruments then it certainly does affect how you present your church, and how people
worship. You need good gear and good skill as far as the operators/players are concerned.

If you lack anything, start praying. My Bible says that our God shall supply all our needs, so take
your needs to Him and watch Him miraculously provide.


If you have a budget, then I have a suggestion... innovate. I was at a tiny church in the Philippines
one day and, facing the fact that they could not afford a normal drum kit, they made one out of tins
and gallon drums, with a kick drum made from a bicycle peddle! It sounded pretty good too!

Second hand gear is also an option, and often a lot cheaper than new (but can be far less reliable).

Ask around... you may find that someone in your church has sound gear they want to loan you, or
maybe they want to donate money to help you get some.

However, the real crux of what I want to say here is to give you a shopping list that you can work
through, in order of priority. So, here goes...


Most often these are supplied personally by the musicians, not the church:

1. Guitars: Can be less expensive than other instruments, and try to always get ones with a
pickup, so they can be plugged in to a PA in time. Acoustic are easier on the ear, but electric have
their place too, so you can have as many as you want!

2. Piano: An old favourite, and available in many halls that you hire, including school halls.
Electric pianos are good, but many pianists complain at having to use one.

3. Drums: If you have a PA, these are brilliant. Try to get less toms and more quality, especially
the high hats and Crash cymbal. It is worth paying extra to get a good one.

4. Percussion: Simple but brilliant, usually cheap too. They can sound great, even if you only have
guitars. Bongos, congas (more expensive), shakers, cabassas, chimes are great. The best value,
and nicest sound, is the little shaker eggs. My favourite of all is the tambourine, which every good
worship band should have.

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

5. Solo instruments: Flutes, harmonicas, violins, sax, etc. can sound great, but are less essential.

6. Brass/string section: Oh, I love a hot brass section, maybe trumpet, sax and trombone.
However, they are non essential, and need to be managed and scored well if you have them (don't
just play the melody). Same with strings, try to be innovative if you have them. Alternatively, get a
good synthesizer and sequence them!

The Sound Gear

Now, as far the PA shopping list goes, we could be here forever. The price and innovation of
sound gear rivals computer stuff, so this list is designed to help you make the right decisions
regarding the equipment you buy. In order of priority, this is it...

1. Desk: The sound desk needs to be adequate for your needs, and for most churches that is 16-
24 channels. Above all it needs to be clean, and preferably to have at least 2 (more is better)
effects sends and sweepable mids on each channel, preferably two. Avoid reverb in the desk,
which is often a spring reverb and sounds putrid. Better to have an external reverb unit, but it is
way down the list.

2. Speakers: You must, repeat MUST have good speakers! Get poor speakers, and you will regret
it for many years. There are a variety of brands and models, but try to get one that is small and
compact, but still produces a great sound. In the store, plug them in, turn them up as loud as you
can go, and see if they have distortion. If they do get it too early, AVOID THEM! Get speakers that
are clean and powerful, and really, really loud, even if you are running them softly, because one
day you may need it. Speakers need to be better quality than it required, so that you do not drive
them and damage them, and they sound better if under-driven.

3. Amps: Good, clean and more power than you need. They usually come in pairs, and you may
need them for front of house as well as foldback. I cannot emphasize this enough, get bigger and
louder than you think you need, and that way you will never drive them too hard and damage them.

4. Equalizers: You can buy 2 unit, 31 band EQs fairly inexpensively. They are ESSENTIAL to get
a good sound in a questionable room.

5. Multicore: Ideally you need to have the sound desk back in the auditorium, not beside the
stage. Thus you need a multicore and stage box, leading from the stage to the desk.

6. Microphones: Folks, if you are going to buy these, you have to get at least 2 or 3 good ones.
Lousy, cheap budget mikes sound like that, and they are horrible. They feedback, screech and
whine, and are not worth having. Good mikes cost at least $AUS 300-400+, but as I say, they are
worth it. The mike I record with is worth around $1000! If in doubt some old favourites like Shure
SM 58s are tough, durable and sound OK.

7. Foldbacks: Along with speakers and amps, as the church grows your singers desperately need
foldback. If they cannot hear themselves they will hit the wrong notes, so these are quite essential.

                                         Worship in a Nutshell

8. Leads: A must for any PA, and they need to be cared for properly. If you find one crackling or
not working, tie 2 knots in it, and that should remind you to repair the lead.

9. Mike stands: I play guitar and sing, so I have to have a mike stand. You always need a few of

10. Lapel Microphone: Preachers love these, but usually sound guys have bought the cheapest
ones, and they have no end of trouble with them feeding back. Don't get a cheap one. Get a good
one, or go without!

11. Effects Unit: Nice, but non essential, used to make singing sound great. Way down on my list,
not a priority, and only get one if your sound guys can actually use it, which is rare!

So, there you have it, a basic shopping list that hopefully will meet at least some of your needs in
your church.

                                        Worship in a Nutshell

God bless you as you enter into and grow in your worship experience. I have endeavoured to
outline nearly every thing I can think of concerning the running of a worship team in the church,
and I trust that this is helpful in your ministry.

At the end of it all, you may not agree with everything I have said, but that is OK. You and your
pastor must find the right way ahead, and so you should approach this with much prayer and
thought. What I have shared here is only a start; it is not the complete message, and it remains for
you to finish it off according to your own church. I have spent many years researching all these
ideas, and they should save you from some of the pitfalls and bad experiences possible when
leading a worship team in church.

So remember, the music ministry is not about you, and not about the music, the style, the songs or
anything else. It is all about Jesus, and allowing people to enter into a deeper and more wonderful
relationship with Him. He loves them, and He loves you, and longs to be nearer to both you and
your church. So, faithfully serve the Lord, and your pastor, whom God has appointed, and in
humility play and sing with all your heart. As the song says;

 “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, And it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus!”

                    Enjoy where God is leading…Now it’s up to you to follow…


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