Choral Song Selection: 3 Questions to Ask

Presentation is 90% of any battle you will face. In other words, when you present your idea, concept, or product in clear, concise and clarifying manner, your likelihood of achieving a better result will take place. We must realize and understand we are in a battle every day: A spiritual and a natural battle, with the spiritual effecting the natural. Ephesians, chapter 6 verse 12 puts it like this:

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Church and ministry choirs, each and every time they sing are engaging in spiritual warfare!! Each and every time!! This includes choir rehearsals, recording sessions, Sunday morning services (In some cases multiple times on a Sunday), and any midweek services. When King Jehoshaphat consulted with the people in 2 Chronicles chapter 20 before going into battle to ambush the children of Ammon, Moab and mount Seir, he appointed singers unto the Lord and the singers went out BEFORE the army:

“And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth forever.”-2 Chronicles 20:21

We, who are musicians and singers in any church or ministry choir must realize we are in a battle!! When in the battle, if you do have the appropriate tools, or in our case, the appropriate songs to engage in battle each and every time we sing, we are not adequately preparing the hearts of those who come through our doors to not only hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, but receive the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the ultimate catalyst for change and transformation in the lives of mankind. A critical part of the tools in our tool case is our song selection. Choral song selection is critical in our presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Below, I’ve provided 3 questions to ask, as it relates in the selection of songs we render unto the Lord.

1. Do the songs we sing point back to the message, mandate and mission of Jesus Christ?

Each and every song we are singing must show the love of Jesus Christ. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. It is through the redemptive power of Jesus Christ that we are regenerated and commissioned to be the salt and light our world desperately needs. We, as choirs and musicians help to point others to Christ. Our songs must demonstrate the message, mandate and mission of Jesus Christ!

2. Can our musical staffs properly execute the songs we are selecting?

Music, if not played correctly or skillfully can hinder and take away from the gospel message of Jesus Christ. If a particular song is not played correctly, or poorly executed from the musical end of things, this many times makes the Pastor, or the one delivering the sermon work twice as hard. We who serve in choirs in our churches and ministries must realize and understand that we are to make the job easier for those who are preaching and sharing the sermon on Sunday morning, or whatever service we are in. I said all of that to say this: If our musicians at our churches or ministries can only skillfully play at a “Level 5,” we cannot teach and present songs which are at a “Level 10.” We must know the musical capacity of our musicians at our churches or ministries. This is a critical question to ask before selecting the songs we want to present.

3. Do our songs represent the demographic makeup of our respective church or ministry?

Familiarity breeds confidence!! If those in our congregations are not familiar, nor can’t relate to the style of songs we are singing at our churches and ministries, this can hinder our presentations every time we sing. We as music ministers have to know the demographic make up of our congregations. For example, a song by Tye Tribbett may not be relate and be appropriate to a congregation whose average age is 70 years old. Likewise, a song by Shirley Caesar may not be relate to a congregation whose average age is 25. However, if you have many generations in your congregations (as many of our congregations have) it would be wise to have a variety of songs to sing which point back to the message and mandate, mission of Christ and that our musical staffs can properly execute from the traditional all the way to the contemporary. In any case, when making choral selections, we must make sure the songs we sing reflect the makeup of our congregations.

The songs we select and sing are important to our overall presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Keep these 3 questions in mind when selecting choral songs for your church and ministry…..and remember, we are in a battle!!

 

Cavell Samuels is a man of integrity, honesty and hard work, who has the passion and desire to see things
done in the spirit of excellence, and a defender of absolute truth. Reared in Racine, Wisconsin. Cavell Samuels grew up in a household parented by Freddie and Mary Samuels. During his formative years, Cavell was raised in the Greater Mount Eagle Baptist Church in Racine, Wisconsin. As a result of this upbringing in the church, a lifelong seed of service in the House of the Lord was planted inside of Cavell.

In October of 2006, Cavell united with the Greater Grace Temple Church Of God In Christ, under the leadership of current Pastor, Elder Jettie Lee Cornett. In the year of 2008, Cavell was ordained a Deacon under the leadership Elder Jettie Lee Cornett and currently serves as such. While serving as a Deacon, Cavell currently serves or has assisted and served the church in a number of capacities, including service in the church music department as a drummer.

In 2015, Cavell and his wife, Shiraune founded Kingdom First Consulting, business whose aim and goal is to help churches and ministries build “King-Sized Skills” for “King-Sized Visions” in an administrative capacity for churches and ministries. In 2016, Cavell published a book entitled, “Tiny Thoughtful Tidbits: Small Sayings that Shape” which is a book of informational and inspirational quotes.

Personally, Cavell is married to Shiraune Adora Samuels, and is a proud father of six old
daughter Kerrington Isabella Samuels. Cavell’s main desire is that the will of the Lord be done in all areas of
his life, and in the lives of others, according to St. Matthew chapter six, verse ten: “Thy kingdom come. Thy
will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”

Scriptural Proof That Your Talent Alone Is Not Enough

When serving in any church ministry, one can feel the pressure, especially when you’re on the Praise and Worship Team. We are out front every Sunday service: all eyes are on you. Everyone is expecting something good. So of course we want to do our best and stay on our “A” game. But how is such a thing measured?

As the saying goes, we can be our own worst critic. In my opinion, this results in some harsh and potentially unreasonable expectations. A by-product of this is a little too much self-focus, and a lot less God focus. John 3:30 tells us that we must decrease so that God can increase. God gives us gifts and talents to use in His service; and practice and preparation are necessary ingredients that WE provide. But there is one crucial ingredient that God must provide.

Once when I was feeling that anxious pressure in ministry, God interrupted my thoughts and asked me this question, “When you cook, do you cook all of the same meals? No, I don’t, I thought. Then He asked, “And when you cook meals, do they all taste the same?” No, they don’t. Then God made a puzzling statement to me, “Yet you continue to use the same pots, pans & baking dishes over and over and over.”

I couldn’t wait to see where God was going with this. He began to reveal that I am the pot, pan or baking dish. I am a vessel that He is using. But there is criteria for using the same pots, pans & dishes. They must be available, clean and in good repair. I thought of the thousands of meals I’ve prepared over the years using the same pots, pans and baking dishes. A variety of flavors, tastes and textures: all from the same vessels. The dish does not determine the quality of the meal that it holds, but the meal cannot be created without the dish.

Philippians 2:13 (NIV) reminds us that it is GOD that is working IN us to fulfill His purpose. Let that sink in: God is working in us, the vessel. We cannot produce one good or lasting thing in ministry without God working in us.

I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard people that possess amazing musical and vocal abilities. But it doesn’t amount to much without God’s anointing. Your talents only impact the Kingdom when they’ve been endorsed by the anointing of God.

Early one autumn morning, I had just dropped my daughter off at daycare, and was rushing to get to work when something caught my attention. I saw two virtually identical trees: both had brilliant and vibrant colors to their changing and colorful leaves. Yet only one stood out above the rest: it was the tree that glowed from the illumination of the sun. “That’s what anointing looks like,” God instructed me. Both trees were of equal stature and beauty, but only one was illuminated by the sun. Anointing is being illuminated by the Son of God. God’s anointing can magnify, multiply and amplify our gifts and talents.

HE will produce something great within every available and willing vessel. Just like the baking dishes, He will use us time and time again with impactful results, as long as we have one necessary ingredient: His anointing. He will produce a variety of unexpectedly great things in us and through us.

Remember what the apostle Paul once said, “Not I, but Christ” (Galatians 3:20). Let God move our focus away from ourselves, and onto the master Chef. And like the tree glowing in the fullness of the sun, let’s remain in the Presence of the Holy One, letting His light shine on everything we do.

I’m Tracey Ray, a singer, musician and songwriter. I am a lead vocalist for a worship team in North Carolina. It is my desire to encourage and uplift God’s people through the gifts and talents He has entrusted to me.
tigerjunction@yahoo.com

The truth about “XMas”

So every year about this time you start seeing people all over the place posting and writing and shouting and reciting about how we should not “take Christ out of Christmas”. And I agree, by the way. Whole-heartedly. But I ran across an article the other day that I thought was pretty fascinating. It addressed this whole thing that happens every year around Christmas and where it all started. You might remember if you’re over 40. It was seen printed that way in an ad or something and the Christian community was instantly up in arms about it.

For years there has been a belief that this was a deliberate, modern attempt by media to take Christ out of Christmas or somehow disrespect His name in some way. The very site or mention of this abbreviation still runs many Christians hot. But I was doing some reading on-line a few days ago and I started to see a lot of articles addressing this. I decided to read one of them and I was pretty amazed at what I found out.  First of all, the use of the abbreviation “Xmas” isn’t new or modern, nor was it started in the lifetime of anyone reading this blog…or their parents, or their parents’ parents’.

It turns out this abbreviation started around 400 years ago…and it was started by Christians. The use of the “X” itself derives from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letterxtian of the word Χριστός, translating as “Christ”. The first letter isn’t even an x in Greek, but our letter x in English is the closest thing we have to what it looks like. Later Christians began using the first two letters of that word, the Greek letters chi (c or C) and rho (r or R). These letters were used in the early church to create the chi-rho monogram (see Christian Symbols: Christmas Ornaments), a symbol that by the fourth century became part of the official battle standard of the emperor Constantine.

Some accounts say that during the time of great persecution, Christians began using the X and this symbol here on their houses, in print as a way to safely identify themselves as Christians. Even when it did show up in print it wasn’t any time recently. Try 1436, when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press with movable type. Back then it was all done by hand, so it was very tedious and very expensive. So things got abbreviated a LOT.

In religious publications, the church began to use the abbreviation C, or simply X, for the word “Christ” to cut down on the cost of the books and pamphlets. From there, the abbreviation moved into general use in newspapers and other publications, and “Xmas” became an accepted way of printing “Christmas” (along with the abbreviations Xian and Xianity).

So, first of all, having the understanding we now have about the origin of the “x”, the first thing we can toss out the window is the pronunciation of the word as “ex-mass”. “Xmas’ is pronounced the same as Christmas, because the x literally translated from the Greek means Christ. There’s no conspiracy to “x-out Christ from Christmas; at least not with that particular abbreviation.

But here’s the thing. First of all, I think this is a pretty glaring illustration of just how easily we adopt and follow pretty-much whatever we’re told as believers. “Blown about by every wind and doctrine”, I seem to remember reading somewhere. Nobody has ever really looked into this. Nobody cared enough to put that much effort into it. But isn’t it ironic that we can be that passionate and that angry and that emotional about something we don’t think is worth the effort to look up and verify for ourselves?

Let’s forget about that part though. Honestly that’s not something most people do. But aren’t there more important things to get angry about? To be passionate or adamant about? And how important is it really, that we keep this holiday about Christ? Aside from mentioning Him a lot, and singing some Carols, and having a Christmas program, don’t we pretty-much go on with business as usual, just like everyone else?

Aren’t we placing the same amount of emphasis on the commercialism and buying and presents and decorating as everybody else? And how little does it take to push you off track with our convictions anyway? Is someone using an x really going to take Christ out of it for you just because you saw it abbreviated?  Aside from the annual church observations, what are we doing every year to really keep Christ as the focus of this holiday?

Because I’m thinking those who really “get it” are the ones who see things like “xmas” and are not the least bothered by it. Seeing it abbreviated this way doesn’t change a thing about what I believe, and therefore is no reason for me to get upset. It’s kinda like this one preacher who, every Easter Sunday, spends his entire Easter Sermon methodically proving that Jesus didn’t actually rise on a Sunday, but on a Saturday. Almost obsessively. Even the faces on his congregation when the camera pans seem to say “I don’t care!!” As my pastor said Sunday morning, “I know He was born. I know He died. And I know He rose again. That’s all that matters.”

Here are some sources I referred to for some of the subject matter in this. Be warned though, not all of these are exactly “pro Christian”.

http://westangeleschurch.org/5-top-christmas-myths-answered/

http://www.cresourcei.org/symbols/xmasorigin.htm/

http://queerlandia.com/2011/12/26/keeping-christ-in-christmas-how-xtians-created-xmas/

 

 

How To Take Your Group Christmas Caroling And Actually Sound Good

If your choir, praise team or other group has never gone Christmas caroling you absolutely must. Our church choir has done this for several years now, and I can’t even begin to put into words here what a rewarding, absolutely wonderful feeling it is to go out and do this once a year. We have arrangements with about 4 or 5 locations who expect us to come out once a year and have scheduled our visit. (It’s very important, by the way, that you call ahead and get permission from the locations you’d like to visit ahead of time.)

We simply pile into our cars and follow each other from location to location, visiting  nursing homes and other chosen locations that have been arranged in advance. If your ministry has a small bus or van, that would be even better. But I can’t tell you what it’s like to see the faces of people in Wal-mart when we begin to sing and the sound starts to carry throughout the store. Or the smile on the faces of the residents at the nursing homes when we finish singing and begin talking and visiting with them. Often we have trouble leaving a particular location because people keep asking us to come to their section or department and sing.

One main reason, I believe, that it touches people so much is because we actually sing songs that lend themselves well to being sung a cappella. the nursing homes actually get a lot of people coming by to sing, as you can imagine. But it’s very common for both residents and staff members to comment to us about how much better we sound than most who come through. The secret? I carefully chose the songs we sing every year to insure that they are songs that actually sound good a cappella. Then we just learn pretty basic 3 part harmony and actually rehearse for our caroling outing. I note which keys we do each song and then at the location I put us in the right key using a simple pitch pipe.

The mistake many groups make when going out to sing is that they simply choose Christmas songs from their Sunday morning song list, or songs written to be sung with music. These songs were written around heavy musical arrangements, so they don’t often transfer well to being sung a cappella.

The worse thing when you’re singing a cappella is to have large spaces where nothing’s really happening except this awkward clapping and stomping where music would normally be playing. So the key to going out caroling and actually sounding good is to choose standard Christmas carols that have constant lyrical movement and no dead spaces or required leaders. With minimal effort I was able to find a handful of these and easily create simple 3 part harmony arrangements for them.

[youtube 6fBFjbCGoZo]

Here are my top 5 Christmas Carols that sound great A Cappella.

1. Joy To The World

2. Oh Come All Ye Faithful

3. Hark The Harold Angels Sing

4. Angels We Have Heard On High

5. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

 

Now, here’s how to go out caroling with these songs and sound so good they’ll want you back every year. The first 3 tips definitely need to be done by the musician and/or parts instructor/director.

1. Assign a key to each song.

Keep these keys as close in proximity to each other as the vocal arrangement will allow. This way it’s easy to quickly identify the key with a pitch pipe or even the little piano app on your I-Phone

2. Create a simple 3 part vocal arrangement for each song, soprano alto and tenor.

Do SATB if you have that luxury. Writing the arrangements should be as simple as taking the well-known melody line from each song, assigning it to Soprano or Alto and then writing harmony around that. We just use SAT every year and it sounds just fine for caroling.

3. Dedicate one rehearsal to learning the vocal harmony.

The entire rehearsal should be done a cappella with only a pitch pipe or your piano app to give the key.

4. Use lyric sheets!

This is the one time it’s perfectly acceptable and even expected for the choir or group to sing with lyric sheets in front of them. It makes everything that much easier to perfect, and it actually looks more christmas-y, lol . One of our administrators usually puts our lyric sheets into nice red or green folders so it looks good as we stand and sing.

5. Coordinate your colors.

It never hurts to look good out there, and when you’re all wearing similar colors it’s very easy to identify you as a group. We usually simply wear red tops and denim bottoms.

If you guys can put this together this year- even as few as 3 songs- try going out caroling this year. This is an annual event for our church choir. Attendance is not “mandatory”, per se, so we usually have a small group of 10 people or less. But with the right songs and just basic 3 part harmony, it really makes an impact every year. You really haven’t understood the true meaning of music ministry until you take it outside the walls and do something like this. It’s an amazing feeling, and once you do it you’ll be hooked.

 

Christmas Theme Ideas And Songs For Gospel Choir

Today I’m happy to introduce to you guys someone I’ve been asking to write for the website for at least a couple of years now. Her name is Joan Hall, aka Joan The Choir Lady. Joan is an expert on all things related to Gospel Choirs. I featured an article of hers one year that was a great list of Choir songs for Easter. Today Joan is going to give us some ideas for Christmas songs. I’ve also included a link to her extremely popular article “Best Christmas Songs For Gospel Choir” below.

Take it away Joan!
******************************************************************************

The story of Advent and Christmas is rich with meaning. As music ministers, we can find many themes and subjects to inspire choices for Christmas music to use in ministry. Even some songs that were not written with Christmas in mind can be beautiful expressions of the spirit of the season.

Here is a list of topics that are related to Christmas. For each one, I have a few suggestions of songs that fit, and I hope these inspire you to think of other songs as well that relate to the same topic that would be great for your choir or group.

These are major subject themes that relate to the Christmas season:

Baby Songs.
“And they came with haste , and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:16.

Everybody loves babies, and songs about Jesus as an infant inspire feelings of love and tenderness that are a beautiful part of “the Christmas spirit”.

Christmas carols like What Child Is This and Away in a Manger.
Mary Did You Know? (Lowry & Greene)
Sweet Little Jesus Boy (Mahalia Jackson and lots of other artists)
Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child (Traditional)

Songs about beholding and adoring Jesus
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down , and worshipped him:” – Matthew 2:11.

These are different from the “baby” songs because instead of focusing on Jesus himself, they focus on our own feelings and acts of worship toward him. This worship is what all of the visitors did when they were in the presence of Jesus, and these songs encourage us to do the same. There are lots of songs that are not actually Christmas songs that would be great in a Christmas service because they fit in with this same theme of reverent adoration and intimate worship.

O Come All Ye Faithful / O Come Let Us Adore Him (Christmas carol)
Emmanuel (Norman Hutchins)
Now Behold the Lamb (Kirk Franklin)
Here I Am to Worship (Tim Hughes) – “Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that You’re my God.”
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (Hymn) – “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”

Other events from the Christmas story.

Along with the birth scene, there were other events that were a part of the arrival of Jesus – the prophecies to Mary and Joseph, the journey to Bethlehem, the shepherds on the hillside, the treachery of Herod. Songs that recreate these happenings are an important part of keeping the Christmas story alive.

Carols: The First Noel, While Shepherds Watched their Flocks, We Three Kings, the Coventry Carol
Rise Up Shepherd and Follow (Traditional)
Go Tell It On the Mountain (Traditional)
When Christ Was Born (Joan Hall). This one is an original song of mine. You can hear it here –
[youtube xsMLgu6LZiw]

Songs about the Advent of the Savior. “ . . . and he shall send them a saviour , and a great one, and he shall deliver them.” – Isaiah 19:20.

This is the reason WHY we needed Christmas. There was no one who was able to save mankind before Jesus came. Songs that deal with the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus or songs about our need for a Savior remind us of the hope that Christmas brings to our lives today.

Carols: O Come O Come Emmanuel
Still the Lamb (Mary, Mary)
Hero (Kirk Franklin). While there are some lyrics in this that are Easter-related, the main message, especially in the opening verses, is that we needed someone to come on the scene to be our deliverer. That’s Christmas.
Choruses from Handel’s Messiah: And He Shall Purify, For Unto Us a Child Is Born

Songs About “The Light Of The World. “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined . . . For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given . . .” – Isaiah 9:2,6. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” – John 1:4-5.

Songs about the light of Christ are a part of the Christmas story and also fit in with the “look” that we associate with Christmas (the lights on the tree, the lights on the houses, all that pretty stuff).

Carols: Silent Night. Pay attention to the lyrics of “Silent Night”. There’s a lot about light shining in darkness – “All is bright round yon virgin”, “Glories stream from heaven afar”, “love’s pure light radiant beams from thy holy face.” I think this song is more about light than it is about babies.
Walk in the Light. Either the regular version or the Christmas version
Jesus Is the Light (either the hymn or the Hezekiah Walker song)

Following The Examples Of The Angels – corporate praise. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” – Luke 2:13-14.

This is different from the intimate personal worship that the wise men experienced. This is worshipers coming together to make a joyful noise of praise. This includes songs about the angels, songs that use the same words the angels sang (in Latin, it’s “Gloria in excelsis deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.”), or any other proclamations of praise.

Carols: Angels We Have Heard on High, Angels from the Realms of Glory, etc.
Rockin’ Jerusalem (Traditional spiritual)
Glory (Joan Hall). This is another original one
[youtube f0X-MnJSmPE] Oh Bless the Name (New Jersey Mass Choir)
Worthy Is the Lamb (Daryl Coley)
Choruses from the Messiah: Glory to God or the Hallelujah Chorus

“Keep Christ in Christmas” Songs. “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” – Matthew 22:21

In the ungodly, materialistic world that we live in, these songs remind us where we as Christians need to keep our focus during Christmas. Yes, it’s true that the winter solstice celebrations are older than Christianity, and I’m OK with secular people doing the holidays whatever other way they want to do them, but we who believe in Jesus can be at peace with the secular world and still have a holy holiday of our own. These songs are not trying to tell other people what to do, they’re reminding US of what WE want to do. It’s especially important for our children to hear messages like this so that they will remember that even if the rest of the world sees Christmas as a time of “gimme, gimme, gimme”, we are focused on the Lord.

Jesus Is the Reason (Kirk Franklin)
The Real Meaning of Christmas (The Winans)
No Christmas without You (John P. Kee, Kirk Franklin)

My hope is that these suggestions will give you ideas to broaden and enrich the Christmas repertoire of your choir or singing group. May you and yours have a beautiful and blessed holiday season, always with a song in your heart.

[Editor’s note: Be sure to check out Joan’s article “Best Christmas Songs For Gospel Choir”, which I think is one of the best lists out there on the subject.   And don’t forget to tell her where you found it! -Ron]

———————————————————————————————————-

Author bio: Joan Hall has been singing in, playing for, teaching, directing, and writing for gospel choirs for over 25 years. Her writings about gospel choir directing can be found on Squidoo  and on her blog called “The Church Choir” .

Joan is also the founder and owner of ChoirParts.com , an online store that sells downloadable Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass practice tracks for choir songs. You can also follow ChoirParts.com on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheChoirLady.

The Most Important Trait Of Effective Worship Leaders

Hey readers,

I’m always excited to welcome and introduce a new guest blogger to the family. Today I’d like to introduce singer, songwriter and worship leader Tracey Ray. In this article Tracey will talk about the importance of intentional worship. Take it away Tracey!- Ron

I don’t go skating often, but when I do, I rent a pair of skates that countless others have worn before me. The result: the skates never fit well because they are not my own. They’ve been worn out by countless others before me.

Because I’m not practiced at skating I feel awkward, and stumble and fall a lot. As I hug the wall of the rink, I look very much like an insect that has made an unfortunate connection with the windshield of a vehicle traveling at high speeds. I shimmy around the wall until I feel brave enough to let go, and venture slightly closer to the center of the rink. It’s obvious to everyone around me that I do not routinely roller skate.

Let me introduce you to another group you will see at the skating rink. These people know exactly what they came there to do. They don’t hug the wall, or in any way hesitate. They don’t need coaxing or convincing: they go for it! Straight to the center! These are the people that brought their own skates with them.

I want so much to be like them; to be free and have the fun they are having. So I observe them, and it’s not too long before I begin to let go of the wall, and try to follow what I am seeing.

We should be like those practiced skaters when it comes to worship service: boldly venturing straight into the center of God’s presence without hesitation; without being coaxed; without wearing someone else’s worn out skates. Bring your own skates! Bring your worship with you to praise and worship service. Bring the worship with you that you’ve been engaging in all week in your home; in your car; at your work place! Help someone tear themselves away from the wall so they too can learn what you have learned: how to be in the center of God’s presence.

As worship leaders, we should influence and inspire those around us to do what we are doing, and go where we are going. And this doesn’t just apply to the congregation. I’ve seen fathers and mothers skating alongside their little one: holding their hand and gently leading away from the wall. Without this encouragement and reassurance, their child would probably get discouraged and want to take off their skates and never go back the rink again. Not only are we leading a congregation to the center of God’s Presence, we should be investing in and training up the next generation worship leaders.

But let’s not neglect our own preparation time. Those skillful skaters would lose their proficiency if they ceased to put on their skates. We need to put on the garments of praise in our private time. It is vital to have our own consistent and intimate time with God. How can we teach others to value the Presence of God if we find ourselves hugging the wall: too unpracticed to make it to the center of the rink?

In John 15:5 Jesus tells us, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” In order to be effective worship leaders, we must remain in the Presence of God or we will fail!! We need to position ourselves in the center of God’s presence before we position ourselves on center stage.

I’m Tracey Ray, a singer, musician and songwriter. I am a lead vocalist for a worship team in North Carolina. It is my desire to encourage and uplift God’s people through the gifts and talents He has entrusted to me.
tigerjunction@yahoo.com