The word “rehearsal” can bring up anxiety for some worship leaders. Thinking of all that goes into scheduling and rehearsing a group of volunteer musicians can certainly be overwhelming.
I first began noticing the stress that rehearsals can cause when I was in High School. One afternoon I went into the church office to see if I could help my worship pastor with any preparation. It felt like I had stumbled into a factory at maximum capacity, operated by a single (stressed out) worker running from machine to machine. Charts were flying out of the printer, batteries for microphones were being flung into boxes across the room, CDs of the week’s songs were being burned (for those under the age of 21, CDs were an analog version of a Spotify playlist that can only hold 12 songs). I can only imagine that this still takes place in churches across the world before rehearsals each week!
Whether you are the worship leader, music director, or a volunteer musician I hope that these 4 practical tips can help your rehearsals become more of a time of worship and fellowship than a time of worry and stress.
1. Create a seasonal “song database” of songs you’re planning on doing for the next few months
Select 20 or songs you want to do over the next few months to give your team so they can be listening in their spare time and praying for God to move as they lead those songs. The “song database” could be a playlist that everyone has access to or a Dropbox link with a folder of all the charts and links to songs. This empowers your musicians to lead with confidence knowing the songs and that God will move through it!
2. Communicate expectations for each musician clearly
It is nearly impossible for people to meet expectations that are not communicated. For example, it might seem obvious to some that “playing the song properly” would be a priority when rehearsing, but some people are not thinking about the music at all! Volunteers have so much going on in their lives that rehearsal time for them might be a place where they can hang out with their friends and jam, rather than a place to prepare songs for Sunday. Let them know what they should do in preparation for rehearsal and also what a successful rehearsal might look like to you. Giving your team some goals and expectations gives them the opportunity to rise to the occasion rather than risk letting you down by something that they didn’t even know about.
3. Designate one member of the band to be the rehearsal music director
Music directors can help rehearsals, sound checks, and services run smoothly by providing leadership. It can be as simple as someone who ensures all the charts are printed in time and communicates to the band and worship leader. But it can also be as detailed as taking notes during rehearsals of what the worship leader wants, running sound check time, and making sure the band is comfortable with mixes and songs. Even if you do not have someone in your volunteer worship band who can take on any of these tasks, there might be a student in the youth ministry or someone looking to get plugged into the music ministry that might be able to help take a task or two off your plate.
4. Be more prepared than anyone else
If you’re a leader, you should be the most prepared person on the team. This just means that you know where you’re headed so you can communicate that everyone. Preparation allows you to play the music rather than having the music playing you.
I’ve learned to love rehearsals when everyone comes prepared and ready to worship. Some of my favorite times of worship have happened in times just rehearsing songs in a small room as we invite the Holy Spirit to have His way. My prayer is that you will find these times of preparation refreshing and that your worship on Sunday would be an overflow of the time you spent off stage.