the baby and the bathwater


Leading Worship COE style – Preparation
March 19, 2008, 1:29 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

preparation: any proceeding, experience, or the like considered as a mode of preparing for the future

Ok, so all you worship leaders out there, be honest with me, be really honest this time.

How much time do you spend preparing to lead worship?

Because, let’s face it, the more we do this worship leading thing, the more we get pretty sick and tired of choosing songs. We all look down our song list and our hearts sink. there just seems to be nothing new, nothing fresh, nothing that really grabs us.

Then you try and think through new ways of playing those songs, and we maybe start to see a glimmer of creative hope. But then you realise that your drummer, Hit-Spray Simon, only knows one rhythm – 4/4 – and he plays exactly the same rhythm for every song, even the 6/8 songs, and when that doesn’t work he looks at you and scowles like it’s your fault, moans about the quality of his foldback, and then tries to cover up his inadequacies with the drum fill from hell. Finally he always speeds up so that even though the song started out as ‘purify my heart’ it ends up more like ‘the happy song’.

And so in the midst of your preparation, you start to feel a bit more depressed.

And then you remember the bass player, One-Note Nigel, who should be playing with you that week. I say ‘should’ because you are never sure if he’ll turn up, and even if he does he will always be four minutes late. To the dot. And you know that when he comes in he’ll be wearing that tee-shirt that says ‘bass players don’t need music’ and wearing that silly beenie. And then of course you’ll have to have that conversation about why tuning the bass is really quite important after all. And you long for him to smile, but know it will never happen as it’s a genetic malfunction that requires surgury, deep prayer ministry, or in the last resort, death, to rectify,

And the clouds descend.

Then you remember your electric guitarist, Thrasher Thomas, only has one volume – ear bleed – and also has that common electric guitarist syndrome – noisy-jack-lead-itus. The combination of the ear-bleed volume and the noisy-jack-lead last week caused Auntie Phylls and Great-grandmother Silvia to convulse, and the amp to blow. Although the blown amp didn’t seem to worry the guitarist who just turned up the volume and now calls the sound it produces as ‘quite grungy’.

And your shoulders slump.

Then of course there is your keyboard player, Bumble Hands Harry, who has twenty fingers. At least you think so given the number of notes he seems to be able to press all at once, covering the entire frequency range with one swoop. And then there’s that rack of sound modules that seems to try an emulate the national philharmonic orchestra, whale music, and the Irish international pan pipers all at once. And of course, even if all of these are turned off, there will always be the continual, never ending, drone of the special ‘worship pad’ that is used with astounding regularity because the keyboardist thinks it actually generates the anointing of the Holy Spirit in the services.

And if things couldn’t get any worse.

You remember which Pastor it is leading the service with you. Mr Warble-Voice. He thinks he has the gift of prophetic singing and regularly gets up to the mike in times of worship and presents his most recent offering. The said pastor keeps telling you that ‘God has given him a song’, and all you end up concluding is that ‘God only gave him that song because God didn’t want it himself’.

Then just as you are about to get started on that song list again you remember who is on the sound desk: yes it’s Feedback Fred. Feedback Fred has two main inadequacies when it comes to mixing the sound. First, he doesn’t know how to mix. And second he doesn’t understand sound. So you know that this service the congregation will have to go through the entire morning with a sound mix consisting of one of the floor toms combined with the low hum of feedback from the backing vocalists. Nothing else. Just floor tom and feedback. All the way through. Still, at least the one glimmer of hope is that it will mean that no one will be able to hear Mr Warble Voice.

Your preparation is ruined.

‘Leading Worship C of E style’ recommends a significant amount of preparation for worship. But what is the best preparation that any of us can do?

And in my mind it’s this: preparation that increases our ability to hear the voice of God; preparation that tenders our hearts to sense the presence of God; preparation that fires our souls to worship God. You see as I look around the modern church and modern worship scene at the moment I see many many people who are very good at what they do. They know the chords, they know the rhythms, they’ve got the beats. But what I think the church is crying out for is not so much people who are very good at what they do, but people who allow God to do what he is very good at doing. And so any preparation that increases our dependence on God is probably preparation well spent.

And actually, Hit-Spray Simon, One-Note Nigel, Thrasher Thomas, Bumble-Hands Harry, Mr Warble Voice, and Feedback Fred may well need to work harder, and pursue excellence in their ministry. But if, through all of that, the voice of God is lost, then they will have failed. Miserably.

Because excellence at the cost of encounter is pure folly.

[all these characters are entirely fictional and any similarity to any worship team member I have worked with, present or past is purely co-incidental. Except Hit-Spray Simon. He is real]

Advertisements

10 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Brilliant post Neil – really good.
Nick D.

Comment by Anonymous

What about ‘One-Strum William’?

The worship leader who has one strumming pattern, 4 chords and ambitions of being a lead guitarist?

dg

Comment by David Gate

One Strum William is real too.

Comment by Neil Bennetts

Neil,

I love this post. Sometimes your posts are (inevitably and rightly) about the things that concern you specifically as a worship leader working full-time in a large church. Those posts are enlightening and interesting (to me anyway), so don’t stop doing that.

This post, however, shows just how much you still have in common with those who are struggling along, trying to bring people into God’s presence despite musical and technical circumstances that are very far from ideal. You brought back memories for me, and you made me laugh when I was feeling tired and irritated, so thank you.

Finally, I love your conclusion: “what the church is crying out for is not so much people who are very good at what they do, but people who allow God to do what he is very good at doing”. It applies to so much more than the worship leading.

Comment by Ruth

when you gonna write a book dude?

Comment by Naomi

>You remember which Pastor it is leading the service . with you. Mr Warble-Voice. He thinks he has the gift of prophetic singing and regularly gets up to the mike in times of worship and presents his most recent offering. The said pastor keeps telling you that ‘God has given him a song’, and all you end up concluding is that ‘God only gave him that song because God didn’t want it himself’.

LMAO….

Comment by Andy

“excellence at the cost of encounter is pure folly” is a diamond quote at the end of an excellent thought provoking post. Nice one Neil!

Comment by themakowers

How about Cynthia Cello. She is a classically trained musician and extremely eager to share God’s gift but also very flat. You haven’t the heart to tell her that many contemporary Hillsongs offerings don’t really beg for a cello solo in the middle, especially not one in the style of Brahms.
Hoggstar

Comment by Anonymous

Hey Neil, this is the very first time I’ve encountered your blog and came across it quite randomly through a Google search on praise and worship stuff. As I’m reading this I am actually getting ready to head to worship practice with two new songs in hand, hoping that all goes well and that we’ll actually be able to use at least one of them in service. The feelings that you portray in this post really hit home and are so honest; thank you for that. It was really good to read some a humorous post that reminds me of why I do this every Sunday… to worship my God.

Thanks!

Comment by Jonathan Franzone

Hi Jonathan. Good to have you commenting…and thanks for the encouragement. Enjoyed reading your blog too…..Neil

Comment by neilbennetts




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: