First, I should start out by saying that this is not the worship recap for my own church. For the past several months I have been working with The Federated Church in Chagrin Falls, OH developing a brand new modern worship experience to add to their Sunday morning lineup. This Sunday was the launch of their pilot service, which was not without technical issues so bare with me in my recap this week. Because this was a pilot service for what is hopefully to become a very successful worship environment I’ll be interspersing a few small tips along the way.
One great part about this service was that I got to play four songs that have kind of become old hat in my own church so we don’t play them very often. These are great songs and it was a lot of fun to breathe new life into them for this service. Here’s what we ended up with:
Mighty to Save > TIP #1 don’t let ANYONE touch your monitor mix between rehearsal and your service start. Because we were playing 4 songs that would be entirely new to the congregation we decided to teach this one first by starting with 2 acoustic choruses. As it turned out, the monitor mix was so hot that when my vocals came in on the word “Savior,” every person in the front row on my side of the stage jumped in fear and immediately clamped their hands over their ears. Yes I said MONITOR mix, not the mains. That’s loud. That’s a GREAT first impression for a new service launch! TIP #2 Always make a good first impression. The monitor mix remained at that same level throughout the opening set, which left me singing about 2 feet away from my microphone for the first 3 songs. TIP #3 Figure out a system that will allow you to communicate with your sound engineer. The flow of the song went well. We lost a few people in the bridge but this is definitely one of the catchiest choruses in modern worship. It was going so well we tagged a couple of extra choruses just to give the room another go at it. I even stepped off the mic for the last one.
From the Inside Out > This was our second tune interspersed with scripture readings. I’ll just say this is an ambitious song to do for a new service launch. It is not the easiest song to follow when you are trying to sing along and it requires skill and versatility from your musicians. We pondered all of this in advance and ultimately decided this is where we wanted to be. It was the perfect tie in to our service theme. TIP#4 Go big or go home. The song went really well thanks to Kevin’s (guitar playing) hours of work nailing down all the electric guitar leads throughout the song. TIP#5 Be quick to recognize and offer appreciation for hard working musicians. We did a shorter arrangement of this song (around 4:30) which allowed us to tag a couple of extra choruses at the end. My usual band is really good about following me if I break song order during the set, although sometimes I do owe some apologies after the service. Because this was a new group of musicians I didn’t have this confidence, so I’ll admit these two “spontaneous” extra choruses were actually pre-planned. TIP#6 Sometimes you have to plan spontaneity in order to ensure you have the option to be spontaneous (that one’s almost philosophical).
Hear Our Praises > TIP#7 If you ever get the chance to incorporate a choir into a modern worship set, DO IT! We had a high school choir named FORTE join us for this song (or we joined them rather) and it was a great match up and a lot of fun at the same time. However, pay close attention to this one: TIP#8 If you list a song as the “offering song” in your planning grid, make sure you COLLECT THE OFFERING. Oops. Nothing more than a simple miscommunication between our ushers and planning team, but it did make for an awkward moment at the end of service when we said, “oh, by the way, we’d really like your money.” OK, we didn’t actually say it like that.
Marvelous Light > If we didn’t push people out of their comfort zone with the first 55 minutes of the service we certainly did with this song. We went full on all the way through. We even had people dancing and spinning during the bridge. It was a lot of fun and a great closer for the morning. TIP#9 Sometimes it’s appropriate to end with a bang.
All in all a great week. We set up seating for 290 and had 324 (both numbers are my estimates) which meant standing room only! Starting next week I’ll be back at my own church and we’ll return to the usual style of recap.
One more note. You can find more worship recaps from many other worship leaders here. Sharing our knowledge and experience is how we grow and I’m really excited to participate.