As worship leaders we should always be looking for ways to improve our services. There is no magic formula for doing so. In fact there is no measure by which we can, across the board, judge success or betterment when it comes to our worship services. But each of us know when we have a weekend is better or more successful than others. So what can we do to improve? There are any number of ways but here are five easy ways I have found very useful.
I know that seems simple. You probably already do so on your own, with your team, or with a prayer group. But it is something that can’t be missed or overlooked. It’s more than just circling up before you take the platform. It’s prayer over what songs are being picked. What service elements are being implemented. It’s prayer over each detail that goes into a weekend. As the great amateur theologian M.C. Hammer once pontificated, “That’s word, we pray, pray, ah yeah, we pray, pray. We got to pray just to make it today.”
2. Watch Yourself
In my head I picture how I think I’m coming across when I move, or speak, or lead. Having watched myself back consistently I discovered… I was wrong. Thinking I was coming across one way and discovering it wasn’t as I had pictured made me think about each and every movement I made. It’s humbling to do so. At times it’s hard to do so. But watching yourself and your team can only help you identify things that hinder and benefit a service. It’s as simple as setting up a static camera in the back with just the room mic on it. If you multi track or record your services in a different manner, try to get as raw of a sound or as much natural feel you can. I can sound as good as I want with the right plug-ins and tweaks but that doesn’t help me improve my stage presence, singing, or much else. I suggest a room mic just to get a feel for the liveness.
3. Watch Others
Just as watching yourself helps you identify things about you on the platform, so does watching other churches. I spend a portion of my mondays first watching back the service from yesterday and also watching the worship services from a few other churches. It’s what we naturally do when we go to another church or attend a conference; picking up on little things here and there that seem effective, that you like, or you think would benefit your services. So take some time each week and check out what other churches are doing. I suggest checking out a church much larger than yours, a church smaller than yours and maybe one similar in size to see how each are using their resources to create their particular worship environment. Check out Worship Set Ideas for a good place to start.
4. Transitions, Transitions, Transitions
Nothing is more distracting than awkward transitions. And let’s face it even the best slip up from time to time and things happen. But with some planning and thinking ahead you can help minimize them. How does one song flow into another? Do you need a hard stop and some talking? Can you start the next song with some rhythmic drums or a keys pad? How do you transition from you last song to the message? Is a bumper needed? A greeting time? All of these things can help keep the flow of service smooth. If you take time when planning each service to think through your transitions your quickly find that things gel quicker and seem so much smoother. Any way we can remove distractions only improves our worship services.
There’s nothing worse than lack of communication. So many things can be taken care of, prepared better, or just simply fixed ahead of time if communication takes place. Being able to send a guitar player parts to look at for rehearsal ahead of rehearsal. Being able to talk with your pastor about the direction he is heading helps plan songs, moments, or elements that connect on a deeper level. Telling the keyboard player when to lay out ahead of time rather than in the heat of rehearsal right before service alleviates potential tension. We all think communication happens and we do pretty well with it. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t get better. The first step I took at communicating better was, while planning the services I would listen through each song an jot down notes for my players. I would then email them out ahead of time so we could talk about them before we even got to rehearsal. The result has been smoother rehearsals, overall happier players cause they aren’t spending time practicing one thing then I let them know the day before I want something else. The result has been better moments in service that seem to connect on a deeper level than before. Communication can’t be overlooked. A good rule of thumb is over communication is better than a lack there of.
None of the ideas mentioned above are tremendously difficult to employ. In fact they are super easy to do no matter where you are in your ministry. Hopefully these help you achieve what only you can determine as better worship services.