This blog is the fourth and last instalment of ’10 Ways To Improve Your Worship Team’. Here are the links to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. I want to start this blog by talking about that important techie who helps you sound good.
Sound Man: This is the person who can make or break you. Excellent church sound people are worth their weight in gold! I have worked with a whole range of sound men. Here are the qualities of the top guys that I appreciate the most:
i. They are nice people: They show up on time, they have a servant’s heart, they smile, they encourage, they are patient and they don’t get uptight.
ii. They understand technical stuff: When something goes wrong, they become detectives and work through the problems until they find a solution. They keep up with the changing technology and they are constantly figuring out how to do the techie stuff better.
iii. They have good ears: They hear when something is not right. They understand musical balance and mixing. They understand how to get a comfortable mix for the congregation.
iv. They have thick skin: If you are a church sound person, you will be criticized. There are such a huge range of personal preferences in the congregation that it is impossible to please everyone.
b) Ways to help your sound man:
i. During rehearsals ask your band to direct all their sound requests through one person. In my case, that is always me, the leader.
ii. Decide on a decibel level that works best for your congregation, auditorium and staff. Get your lead pastor and staff to agree on a level and then back the sound man when they get complaints. My preference is to run it a strong level so the congregation is comfortable singing loudly. My main goal is to always get maximum participation from the congregation. Whatever level helps gets that result is, in my opinion, the best level to run for my congregation.
iii. During rehearsals, ask the sound man if there is anything the band can do to make the mix better.
iv. Teach the singers how to use the mics properly. Teach them to sing at a consistent level and how to back off the mic if they suddenly increase their volume.
v. Have the band and singers practice at the same volume and intensity during rehearsals as the service.
vi. Get to know them as people, not just as sound men. Express your gratitude to them on a regular basis. Finds ways to reward them for all their hard work.
vii. Pay for any training or seminars that will help them grow.
c) Room Acoustics: This is a huge subject and I will just address a few areas.
i. The drums: There are basically two ways to control the volume of drums. First, leave it to the drummers to play at the perfect volume or secondly, put them in a sound proof drum cage (a. expensive, b. medium, c. homemade) and mic them up. Personally, I prefer the second scenario. This gives complete control to the sound man. The drummer can play at the level that they prefer and the sound man can run their level that is best for that room. Win-win. Check out Carl Albrecht’s advice.
ii. The bass: Bass waves are long sound waves. If the bass players amp is too close, they often can’t hear their volume properly. The best way to control the volume is either to put baffles around the amp and point the amp at the bass player. Or, have the player wear in-ear monitors or headsets.
iii. Natural room acoustics: My advice is to hire a professional and do whatever it takes to make the room work. It will often be a trial and error process. It is usually an art rather than a science to get a room to work acoustically.
d) Media Person: I love a media person who knows the songs backwards and forwards and worships while they are doing the media. The media person needs to rehearse as much as the band. They are an integral part of the overall worship experience.
I have usually run two different media set-ups. One for the congregation and one rear mounted set-up for the vocalists. The vocalist don’t need all the fancy graphics, they just need clear black and white words that are delivered just before they need them. Many of the new media programs are designed to deliver that duel design.
I love the ability to run triple wide graphics and multiple screens. People are used to big screens in their homes and theatres. It great to have strong graphics and professional media set-ups.
e) Ways to help your media person:
i. Buy a great computer with lots of RAM. Nothing is worse than a slow computer. My favourite is a top-of-the-line Mac that has lots of memory and RAM.
ii. Have all the media set-up midweek so they just have to come in and run it Sunday AM.
iii. Put the lyric slides in the order that you will sing them. You want to make the set-up foolproof.
iv. Practise the songs, including any reprises, in rehearsal the way you will do them in the services. The less you surprise the media person, the better chance they have of doing a great job!
v. Love them, encourage them, challenge them and give them all the tools and training they need to do a great job. Here’s a great blog for your media people: 7 Great Tips for Church Media Operators
f) Lighting: Good lighting and lighting boards cost money. I believe every church should invest in the basics. There should be enough lighting so you can see the faces of the worship team and speaker. Beyond that, the sky is the limit. It’s always a matter of where is the best place to spend the available finances. Personally, I want to make sure the stage and lighting is the best that our church can afford. It’s all about creating a great first impression.
For some expert advice check out this blog: Lighting 101: Putting A Church Stage Lighting System Together
On the other side of the issue, lighting does not bring the Presence of God. It just makes the place look better when God shows up.
10a. Teach on worship: One of the ways that we disciple our worship team is to teach them on worship. What does the Bible say? How are we to worship? What is Biblical worship? I written two blogs on this subject: Check out these links: Actions Speak So Loud (The actions of worship) and Attitude Is Everything (The attitudes of worship)
b) Bible Reading and Prayer: I would encourage you and your team to read your Bibles regularly. Here is the link to Bible Gateway’s Daily Reading Plan that I have emailed to me every day (the email subscription box is at the bottom of that page). I would also encourage you to read one Psalm and one Proverb per day. It’s a great way to round out your daily Bible reading.
It is also important for your team to pray together regularly. My practice has been to pray at the end of the rehearsal and also together on Sunday mornings.
c) Worship Books: Lastly I want to pass along my recommendations for my three favourite books on worship.
God Songs: Baloche & Owens
Paul Baloche and Jimmy & Carol Owens are experienced and wise songwriters and leaders. I love to learn from people who have been successful over a long period of time. I’ve also worked with Paul a number of times. He is the real deal. Together , Paul and the Owens will give you solid advice on writing and choosing songs for worship and even give you a good music theory lesson.
Extravagant Worship: Zschech
Darlene Zschech is another one of those very successful and experienced worship leaders. I love her wisdom and spirit. I was blessed to play with her once and I’ve also sat in her teaching classes and worship sets. There is a lot to be learned from this Godly woman.
Exploring Worship: Sorge
I’ve worked with Bob Sorge a number of times. I love his experience and wisdom. This book is a classic on worship. I highly recommend it.
Questions: What points in this series have spoken the most to you? Do you have any questions on this subject? What has worked for you?
Check out my new book: “Leading Worship ~ Notes from a Grand Adventure’. It is now available in Kindle or Soft Cover Editions. This is a great gift for the musician or worshipper in your life.