I received an email from a fellow worship pastor last week and he asked a few questions about how we get things done around here. I thought I would share these questions and answers with you.
1. How do you implement new songs? How often do you put in new songs? Is there a process to put in new songs?
We don’t have a specific timeframe for new songs being added. We are always looking for new songs that we feel will connect with our crowd and when we find one, we get it in there for a test drive. As far as a process or implementation we just make sure that the new song “feels” like us. Our current set up of players and singers seems to be a little more adept at playing Hillsong and Jesus Culture styles of music. And we’ve come to that conclusion through much trial and error. Bottom line, we don’t mind trying new styles but we try and limit the awkward moments as much as possible.
2. How do you rotate your band and vocals (volunteers) and keep them motivated and happy? How are you developing new leaders? Recruiting?
We are always looking to add new singers and players so we try and rotate as much as possible. Team members will never get better unless they get up there and do it. I think it shows your church members that you are serious about growing when they continually see new faces up there. Having said that, I believe you need to have as many familiar faces up there every week as possible, too. I am always up there, every service, along with my associate worship leader, my band director/keyboard player, and my lead guitarist. This also helps with continuity musically. You are playing with fire if you don’t have your top players covering the essentials every weekend.
I’ve never really concerned myself with keeping my team members “happy.” I continually cast the vision of our department before them: we will be diverse and always growing. If you are connecting with people and growing as a musician you’ll have a place on the team; otherwise we’ll use you only in a pinch. I’m upfront and honest with all of them, constantly evaluating them. And they deserve as much. As a leader I do them a disservice by not helping them get better and letting them know when they are putting it on auto-pilot, or worse, just punching their spiritual service time card. They are the happiest and most fulfilled when they see the church thriving and reaching the lost. And if they can’t rejoice in that, I release them to find a church that will satisfy their need to sing and play more.
As far as developing new leaders, we have started an intern program here called NEXT. I’ve been able to pour into young leaders daily through this. We’ve also started Church on the Move Creative to help us connect and spend more quality time with those in our church who have specific artistic gifts. It’s a great chance for me and my team to continue to pour into our younger players and singers off the stage.
3. How big is your song database? How many new songs in a year?
I’d say our current weekend song database is probably about 20-25 songs. We wear out songs here. When one works well we do it over and over and over. On Wednesday night, however, we’ll open up the vaults and pull out all sorts of oldies.
4. How do you plan a worship set, and why do you do what you do?
Our worship sets are planned in our creative meetings which consist of me, our creative director, and our service director. We never randomly pick songs to sing. We try to find the heart of our service and build around that, whether it’s an illustration, a drama, a video, or whatever. Once we’ve established the tone of the entire service then we begin to find songs we feel will move the service in the right direction.
5. How do you lead an intern? What’s your game plan to help a future worship pastor?
Our interns are chosen very carefully. We want to make sure that the ones we bring in are here for the right reasons: to serve the church and to grow into leaders. They lead worship, put together rehearsal schedules, email worship team members, change guitar strings, run errands, and anything else we can find for them to do. But the most important thing they’ll learn is our culture. At the end of the internship they’ll know why we do what we do and how they can take that knowledge and be successful wherever they end up.
As far as creating a future worship pastor, I make sure I spend quality time with these young men and women and show them how to balance becoming unique in their gifting and serving the people of this church. This is the balance that eludes so many young musicians. The year they spend with us hopefully teaches them that although God has something great for them, He has something even greater for the church through them.
Andy Chrisman has been in the Christian music industry for over 25 years, both as a solo artist and as part of the Dove Award-winning group, 4Him. He now serves as Worship Pastor at Church On The Move in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and hosts the nationally-syndicated worship radio show, “Worship with Andy Chrisman.” Read more from Andy at www.andychrisman.net/