Occasionally, I'll get asked for pointers on vocal technique. Here's a 1-minute voice lesson with four essential components that need to happen each and every time you open your mouth to sing.
In the mid to late 1990s, the "Modern Worship Revolution" was in full swing. I was finishing up college and the very first Passion album (Live Worship from the 268 Generation) was being released. Rock bands were becoming increasingly common in churches and the church music landscape was evolving significantly. We were being introduced to the likes of Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Charlie Hall, Lincoln Brewster, and Hillsong. It was a good time to be an aspiring worship leader.
Several months ago, I attended a large gathering of worship leaders and during one of the sessions, someone introduced themselves by saying, "Hi, I'm __________ and I'm a recovering thematic worship planner." I didn't realize that thematic worship planning had become taboo and lots of questions began to flood my mind.
Why in the world would he say that? And what did he mean? Have worship leaders really begun to abandon the potentially beautiful connection between the music and the message? Doesn't that do a disservice to the people we lead?
There's a recurring debate amongst worship leaders, lead pastors, band members, church leadership, and congregations at large - should we sing (a) familiar worship songs that our people know or (b) new songs? I think any seasoned worship leader will know that the answer is yes. Both. Yet in many places, a debate still persists and this is evidence that many churches haven't yet achieved a balance that helps their attendees connect meaningfully with God in worship.
Recently, I had a conversation with a college student who was required to interview a worship ministry leader for one of his music ministry courses. Over the approximately 90 minutes that we talked, we had a great conversation but I was intrigued by one of the final questions he asked:
"I've noticed that sometimes when you lead worship, you lead from the piano but this past weekend you led with no instrument. Why?"
Recently, I was asked about my "passions" and while I consider myself a very passionate person, I had never really sat down, given it intentional thought, and come up with a list. So I took some time to ponder it and here are my thoughts.
Group singing is becoming increasingly countercultural in our society. Over the last several months, I've had this conversation several times with colleagues and friends in vocational worship ministry. While attending a gathering at the Upper Room here in Minneapolis, I also heard their teaching pastor brooch the topic briefly in a series on worship and I appreciate the fact that there seems to be an increasing awareness of this phenomenon in church leadership.
Recently, I heard someone use the term "worship practice" when referring to a music rehearsal. At the time, I wasn't sure why it didn't settle right with me but I began to process through it and now understand why it bugged me so much.
We don't practice "worship." We practice music