10 Songs Your Choir/Praise Team Can Sing When You’re Short-Handed

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Every group has them. Those times when you’re just short on people for whatever reason. Choirs and Praise Teams are organic. They’re constantly changing because the lives of their members are constantly changing. But regardless of how many people we have available on any given Sunday we must still be on our post. With that in mind every group needs songs you can do well no matter how short-handed you are.  And since the biggest deciding factor of how well your group can do a song is usually how well you can do the harmony with what you have, I thought it would be great to have a list of songs that are either completely sung in unison are mostly sung in unison with very few sections that need harmony.

So I put the question to the family over on the fan page. These are the 10 best entries they came up with.  Add several of these to your list and you’ll always have several songs to choose from that you know your group can do well no matter how short-handed any one section is. Some of these may be better for choir and some for praise team. For the most flexibility though I’d teach any song you choose to adopt to both groups if you have both. That way you’re never without a song you can sing no matter which group is short-handed.
Listed in no particular order, they are:

1. I Just Want To Praise You – Maurette Brown Clark
2. I need You To Survive       – Hezekiah Walker
3. Every Praise                        -Hezekiah Walker
4. Only You/How Great Is Our God -Jonathan Nelson (These can also be treated as two separate songs)
5. Not Forgotten                     -Isreal Houghton
6. Your Presence Is Heaven  -Isreal Houghton
7. The Reason Why I Sing     – Kirk Franklin
8. And We Are Glad                -Joe Pace
9. Precious Is The Blood        -Joe Pace
10. Press In Your Presence   -Shana Wilson

Be Blessed!

10 Places To Find New Music For Your Choir Or Praise Team

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One of the things you MUST do to keep your music ministry fresh and interesting, both for the audience and the members, is introduce new music regularly. However many of us may not look beyond our local radio station for new material. And that’s fine if you happen to have a great local Gospel radio presence where you live. Many people don’t. In fact in a city as big as Dallas Tx you might be surprised to know that we don’t have a single 24 hour F.M radio station playing Gospel music.

So I asked my Fan Page family to share their main sources for finding new music for their choir. I took their best answers and added a couple of my own. Because I have an international audience I thought it was important that all of the resources on this list be available on-line so just about anyone can access them. Also keep in mind that all of these resources are great for finding material for your praise team too. That said, here is the list, in alphabetical order.

1. DonnieRadio.com

Donnie McClurkin has a nationally syndicated gospel radio show. You can listen to content from the show here.

2. Gospel Flava.com

This is kind of an “all things Gospel Music” magazine-type website. A great resource for industry news, new releases and charts.

3.IheartRadio.com

Iheart radio works a lot like Pandora. Both are listed because they do a great job of introducing you to new artists that may not have hit mainstream radio yet. Create an account and then usie the preferences to set up a gospel station.

4. Local Radio Station websites

Even if you do have a great local radio station playing Gospel music, it’s a great idea to simply jump online and do a search for gospel radio stations in other cities and states. Often different markets play different songs and artists. Sometimes music is released and in rotation in one market way before others. A great idea if you’re looking for something different than what’s hot in your area.

5. NuthinButGospel.com

This site definitely lives up to it’s name, in that you won’t find much there but Gospel music. It’s a pretty sparse, rather empty-looking page when you first hit it. But if you click on the little “boom box” icon on the right a little window will open up, and there in front of you will be lots and lots of Gospel songs, all listed with title and artist. Click the play button and go to town! I thought this one was one of the easiest to use that I visited, simply because many other radio station sites don’t give you that option. You kinda have to push play and just listen live. This one is great for speed, ease of use and readily available song title and artist info.

6. Pandora.com

Pandora works a lot like Iheartradio. Both are listed because they do a great job of introducing you to new artists that may not have hit mainstream radio yet. Create an account and then use the preferences to set up a gospel station. Both Pandora and Iheart can be accessed several other ways besides physically going to the website. Both have apps for most mobile devices, which make it possible for you to listen through your home or car stereo or portable boom box is that feature is available.

7. PraiseCharts.com

This site focuses more on Contemporary Christian Music. It’s a great resource for praise and worship teams, but it also includes much more than the other resources I visited on the list. Here you can not only download music, but you can actually find chord charts, lead sheets and orchestrations, all available for download and print-out.

8.TheJamesFortuneShow.com

The website for James Fortune’s gospel radio show.  If I’m not mistaken James’s show is a local show, not a nationally syndicated one. That could make it a good resource for finding great songs not being played in your area.

9. TheYolandaAdamsMorningShow.com

The Yolanda Adams Morning Show is nationally syndicated like Donnie McClurkin’s show, so you may find the play list similar. But it’s definitely worth having on your list of music resources.

10. YouTube.com

YouTube goes without saying. Not only is it a great resource for finding new music, it’s a great resource for getting music out to key personnel for learning purposes (rather than making illegal copies). YouTube does require a bit more work though, that’s for sure. But it’s the most vast resource on the list since pretty-much everything can be found there. You can type in search terms according to season, occasion, genre and pretty-much anything else you can think of. That’s something you can’t do with any other resource on the list.

Why I’m Worried About Your Praise Team

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Some people call them “Praise Teams”, some call them “Worship Teams”. I even saw an article not long ago where the author’s sole purpose for writing it was to prove why they should be called one and not the other. I personally don’t think that’s nearly as important though, as understand and maintaining a certain level of integrity and standard in the songs that praise teams and worship teams choose to bring to the people.

It seems that as praise teams (that’s what we call them where I’m from) become more and more prominent- even completely replacing the traditional church choir altogether in some churches- they are exercising more and more “leeway” in their song selections. I suppose that’s coming from a perceived need to include more diversity because of the increased demand for more songs to sing. Some seem to be gradually becoming more interested in entertaining than really helping lead the audience in praise and worship and creating an atmosphere conducive to making that happen. Some have begun taking secular songs and just changing some of the lyrics, which I confess I find disturbing.  Others just take the secular song and sing it just like it is, which is another trend I’m concerned about.

More and more, songs are being sung by praise and worship teams that are neither praise nor worship. And while I feel like I’m really stating the obvious here, I thought if there was one rule everyone understood was the fact that praise teams and worship teams are supposed to sing praise songs and worship songs. But over the last few years of writing this blog and just talking to people serving in music ministries all over the world, I find that many praise teams- newly formed ones especially, seem to struggle with understanding what constitutes a praise song vs a worship song.

More importantly, some people struggle with identifying songs that don’t really fit either and thus aren’t really something a praise team should sing. Some people boil it down to something as simple as tempo: praise songs are fast, worship songs are slow. They do often tend to have that in common, but the difference between praise and worship is far deeper than that.

I think if praise teams better understood the difference between what praise is and what worship is they would at least have a more solid foundation to use as a guide when choosing appropriate songs for their teams.  The best place to go for that of course is the word of God. While searching the internet today I came across an article I felt really really explained that difference well. What I love about the article the most though, is that the author, whose name isn’t listed on the article, really does a great job of explaining clearly what makes praise praise and worship worship. But it’s all the scriptures included in the article that you’ll find an invaluable resource.

If we hold every song we’re considering to the scrutiny of scripture we can’t help but make better choices, simply because many of them won’t qualify when held to that standard. First getting a clear understanding about the difference between praise and worship and then understanding what scripture says about both will set your praise or worship team on the right path to choosing songs that are truly praise and worship songs and are scriptural in their lyrical content.

The article I mentioned can be found on GotQuestions.org and it’s called What Is The Difference Between Praise And Worship?

The Most Overlooked Reason Congregations Don’t Sing Along With The Praise Team

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I saw an article recently that talked about what he referred to as “the death of congregational singing”. One of the main reasons he sited for this is how much more complicated songs have become in this day and age than they were before. It’s true, even of some praise and worship songs.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “a song the angels can’t sing”. Well unfortunately I believe many praise teams are often choosing songs the congregation can’t sing. Something most of us don’t consider when we’re choosing songs is the most obvious consideration of all: Will the audience be able to sing this?

Often in our zeal to choose powerful, popular songs that we feel will create an atmosphere of praise, we choose songs that are, quite frankly, intimidating for the audience. Don’t get me wrong, the audience may be really enjoying the song. But not participating in the worship experience. Instead most congregations simply stand politely and watch the praise team; because that’s what they’re supposed to do. That’s protocol. Here comes the praise team, better stand.

But when it comes to actually joining in and becoming an active participate in the praise and worship many congregation members find the songs simply too intimidating to sing along. They may feel it’s too high, too many words, the format or flow of the song is complicated- you get the idea.

We often fail to catch this because we’re singers and musicians. This is pretty common stuff for us. So when we hear that hot up-tempo song with the awesome chord progressions and the great harmony arrangement-the one that modulates 4 times and just works us into a frenzy-we think “Oh man, this is gonna be great! We goin’ IN when we sing this!”

We fail to understand that the audience ins’t “music people” like us. So while modulations, high notes and directional changes are all familiar to us, they tend to leave audience members thinking “I can’t do that” (COUGH “Chasing After You” COUGH). So they stand and clap and enjoy the show, but they don’t join in the praise.

So it’s really important for praise team leaders and members to never lose sight of why we even have a praise team in the first place. Our primary goal is to create an atmosphere that encourages corporate praise and worship. That only happens though, when the audience begins to join in and sing together, rather than watch our “praise show” from the sidelines.

5 Spiritual Dangers To Praise Teams

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There is a certain glamour or prestige associated with being on the praise team; at least in many people’s mind. Praise teams have become the it thing in churches, it seems. But with their popularity comes many challenges.

While doing some research on the subject I came across a powerful article that dealt with some of the “spiritual traps” many praise team members can fall into.  The title of the article was 5 Spiritual Dangers To Praise Teams. I’ll list the 5 topics covered in the article and give you a little snippet. Then I’ll post the link and the author’s info at the bottom so you can read the article in full.

Danger #1:  Ego issues

“Musicians take pride in their craft. Whether vocal or instrumental, most have an emotional investment in what they do. Being a part of a team effort places you in a position of having your pride challenged. Consider the vocalist who at times tends to let their pitch drop just a bit, or one who isn’t getting the correct rhythm. Being corrected by the worship leader in front of the others can be a blow to our ego. Some musicians are far more impressed with their talent level than are others and can tend to want to push their sound to rise above that of the others. What can you do about that?”
Danger #2:  Addiction to the spotlight

“This is closely aligned with the ego/attitude problem.  Being in front of people on a weekly basis can become addictive, and tends to give an unhealthy balance in how a member views themselves and their life. A person’s identity shouldn’t be defined by being on a stage.”

Danger #3:  Being a performer rather than a worshipper
I personally read this one with great interest. If you know me you know that I do believe in the importance of perfecting and honing your craft. But I believe that’s important not so that you can be the center of attention. In fact I believe the opposite. I think the most important reason to perfect your harmony and musicianship is precisely so NOBODY will be paying attention to you. The objective is to remove all hindrances, not to focus on the importance of the performance itself.

However when you spend that kind of time and effort on perfecting and honing your delivery there is indeed a danger of  beginning to place too much importance on the performance itself. The author does a great job of addressing this in danger number 3.

Danger #4: Burnout

“Rehearsals and multiple services can drain our time and energy. If you are naturally active, you can be so involved that you grow to resent the time drain of the team.”

Danger #5: Ignoring Spiritual Disciplines

 

“You might assume that serving on the team gives you all the spiritual nourishment that you need. Well, it doesn’t. Like every believer, you need to practice the spiritual disciplines if you expect to have any vital spiritual strength.”

Ok is this great stuff or what?! I read the whole thing guys, and I INSIST that you do the same. The Article was written by Thamuss. You can find his bio on his HubPages profile.
Read the article in it’s entirety at 5 Spiritual Dangers To Praise Teams.

50 Choir And Praise Team Songs For Thanksgiving

50 thanksgiving songs

So Thanksgiving is upon us already! And if your music department is anything like ours you must be thinking “isn’t there anything else we can do for Thanksgiving besides Thank You by Walter Hawkins?? I’m glad you asked! The family over on the Fan Page has done it again, creating yet another fantastic list of great songs.

This time I asked for songs great for Thanksgiving. You’ll see songs tagged as good for choirs, praise teams or both. As usual I like to embed the actual post here in the article, because these lists have a tendency to keep growing over the next couple of days.

So click on the like button of you’re not connected yet, then click on the comment button below to go straight to the live post on the Fan Page. If you don’t see the post below right away give it a couple of seconds to load. May not work in Google Chrome.

https://www.facebook.com/TheMusicMinistryCoach/posts/679136215437788

4 Possible Reasons Your Congregation Didn’t Like The New Song

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So you hear this great song and think it’s great for your choir or praise team. You go to all the trouble of learning it and teaching it. You perform it in the front of the congregation next Sunday and…. (insert cricket sounds here). The song bombs! It’s a very peculiar thing, isn’t it? Sometimes you’re just sure a song will bless everyone, because it blessed you! And then sometimes a song you don’t really care much for will tear the house up. It’s a very hard thing to predict sometimes. The good news is there are some pretty common things that can cause this to happen. Knowing what they are and making a couple of slight changes to your song selection process can dramatically increase your success rate with new songs.

Let’s start with the 4 most common reasons a song you loved ends up bombing:

1. Great music, weak message.

Gospel music isn’t like secular music. While we love our music, it is in fact still ministry. So if the song isn’t really saying much of anything people will pick up on that. We as musicians and singers love music on a deeper level than the average person sitting in the congregation. So we may grow so attached to a great musical arrangement that we become willing to overlook or justify lyrical content that is maybe more fluff than real message. This one is perhaps the most deceptive of the 3 I’ll give you today, because music just moves music lovers. But if you’re not very careful in this regard you could end up with a song that only moves the people in the music department, while leaving the congregation feeling like outsiders.

2. Great message, weak music

I know it’s hard to accept or even admit (which is why nobody else talks about this) but even a song with a good message can fail to go over well with the wrong arrangement. This one can get more complicated to explain, because of the propensity of songs to speak to people on such an individual way. So I’ll give you a case study. We had a director once who chose a song for us to sing. The message ministered to him in a deep and personal way, and he believed the message was too important not to do. Well, to make a long story short the song just went over like a rock with the choir. None of us liked it. We couldn’t feel it spiritually, and we just couldn’t get into it. The director felt so strongly about the song that he forced us to do it anyway. We obeyed. The song bombed. And we never did it again.

The thing about Gospel music is that it has to have both. It needs a great message AND a great musical arrangement. In the above example the message was a good one, but it was a very personal one. It was a song about God bringing someone back from the brink of suicide. Encouraging, but not something everyone can relate to. But that’s not what killed it for us. What killed it for us was the arrangement. It was a very slow, somber kind of musical arrangement that was very quiet and didn’t really build any sense of triumph until the end. Even the melody of the vocal arrangement had this sad, somber delivery through most of it. We were so depressed listening to that song we just couldn’t get into it. But because it meant so much to him, we did it anyway. You already know the results.

3. Great music, great lyrics, wrong style

Sometimes a song just has it all. Awesome musical arrangement, powerful message….but it still doesn’t go over well. Usually that’s because the style is wrong for your congregation. You should definitely bring variety to your music ministry. The key is being smart about how you use them, and knowing how far to go in either direction. There’s almost no extreme in the backwards direction. Older songs had a tendency to put much more thought into having both the music and the message. Then there’s that old-school sound that takes us all back.

Contemporary songs though, offer a lot more potential to get it wrong. Even with an audience that is receptive to contemporary music you have to be very careful how far you push the envelope. You are much more likely to end up with a song that fits scenario number 1 above when you’re dealing with contemporary Gospel/Christian music. The key is learning, observing and getting to know what your house responds to best. If you’re making the effort to do that and adjusting accordingly, your chances of success increase significantly. For example, even if your audience loves old traditional songs you have to be smart about how you incorporate them. In most churches an old traditional song will have a much more powerful effect if it’s used as a “throw-back” now and then instead of something that’s happening every Sunday. A really edgy contemporary song might bomb if the sanctuary choir did it but get a standing ovation from the junior choir.

One change you should consider if you don’t already do it this way, is to involve more than one person in the song selection process. We’ve done it this way for many years and it works very well. This gives you a system of checks and balances, so-to-speak.  That way you’re never choosing songs based on how it affected just one person.  Allowing a small group to listen, evaluate and vote on a song gives you a much better idea of how well it will go over.

4. Great Lyrics, Great Arrangement, Bad Performance

Let’s face it guys. Sometimes a song has everything it needs. It’s a great song, from front to back. Perfect for your audience, lines up with you Pastor’s vision, everything. And we just don’t pull it off.

A great song, no matter how amazing it is, can not overcome a bad performance. That’s why I’m such a big advocate of doing two things:
1. Choosing songs appropriate for your group’s skill level
2. Perfecting those songs to the best of your ability.

It takes a lot of honesty..and frankly, a lot of time…to realize a song is just not right for your group. It may be any number of reasons. And the thing is we often won’t know until we try it by learning it. But if you’ve tried it several times and just can’t get it down, it may be one you have to let go of.

Sometimes though, a great choir learns a great song but is still a bit unsure. But because they learned it they sing it anyway. Mistakes happen and it doesn’t go well. So don’t sing it until you have it down. There are other scenarios of course, but the main point here is to choose songs you can do and do them to the highest level your ministry can do them.

Help take your performances to the next level with professional vocal training. Study in the comfort and privacy of your own home, at your own pace. More Info:

Image courtesy of “Grant Cochrane”FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The one unpleasant thing every music ministry MUST have

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If there’s one thing all choirs, praise teams, and pretty-much any other music ministry with more than one member have in common it’s personnel issues. That’s a broad term, to be sure. But I’m speaking specifically of the common problems most ministries deal with in regard to people just consistently being there and being on time.  It can really throw a monkey wrench in things when you’ve rehearsed material for Sunday morning and you’re depending on key people to be in place, only to find them absent or simply arriving too late.

There are times when a choir or praise team can’t do the song they planned to do because the leader who was supposed to sing it isn’t there, or the musician, or the director, or half the alto section- you get the idea. And while every music ministry who is preparing themselves well at rehearsal will have back-up songs in place for just such occurrences,  when it’s happening all the time it can really become a hindrance to the group’s ability to minister effectively. Not to mention it’s just plain frustrating and unfair to everyone involved with the process of learning, teaching and perfecting the songs.

While I haven’t always felt this way, as I’ve grown and matured over the years I’ve come to understand that you can’t always assume that what things look like from your vantage point is the Gospel truth. There may in fact be- and there usually is, to be honest- very valid reasons why a person is consistently late or absent at key times.  But if we’re going to be honest, we must also point out that for every person having a serious life circumstance that causes them to continually be absent or late, there must be 2 or 3 who could absolutely be on time with a little more effort.

There’s really only one way to effectively and fairly handle issues like this. But it’s one many choirs and praise teams don’t want to resort to. It’s the one thing that is, I believe, necessary and vital to the success of ANY organization, but especially music ministries. This unpleasant thing is:

Rules.

Rules are a no-brainer for most organizations. It just makes sense. It’s expected. Music departments though-especially smaller ones who don’t have many members to start with- have a hard time enforcing rules. You see if my choir only has about 10 members then I need every single body. So if 3 Sopranos come in late, I’m just glad they showed up. Come on up here!!

There is also the emotional difficulty of the task itself. It’s no fun telling people they can’t sing today. Especially when you really don’t know what the underlying issue is. But the truth is, the consequences of not having any rules in place-or having them and not enforcing them- soon become greater than the unpleasantness of enforcing them. When there are no rules that govern attendance and timeliness, then spotty attendance and tardiness become the acceptable norm for many members.

When you know you can be a half hour late on Sunday morning and still come on up, that’s exactly what you’ll do. As I said earlier, not every person that is late or absent is habitually doing so without cause. There are people who have real challenges that are valid. Challenges that they are working through and praying about. Issues that they’re fighting through in order to be there. But there are also people who simply aren’t putting forth the effort to be there on time.

As unpleasant as it is to do, rules are the only way to filter the two and make the whole thing fair for everyone. You will find that when there is a consequence for tardiness, for example- that people who are tardy for a reason they can’t help will come to you and discuss a solution. They will come to you in humility and explain their situation, offer to sit out for a while, try to work something out.
But the first time the person who is just late because they don’t want to leave home earlier has to sit in the audience and watch that ministry go forth in the Lord, they will feel something they haven’t felt before. They will feel the unpleasantness of not being able to come up and participate in the ministry. That is a powerful motivator, believe me. I’ll never forget one time my keyboard was in the shop for a while. Now, I didn’t sit in the audience, I simply went up and joined the Tenors in the choir stand. But the whole morning I was looking over there at the band going forth and just burning inside wishing I was over there too. And I LOVE to sing! So imagine what a person who enjoys singing in the choir or on the praise team would feel sitting in the audience unable to participate.

That feeling alone is often enough to motivate a person who is habitually late on Sunday mornings or absent at rehearsal to make an effort to be there that they simply hadn’t made before. But if I can miss rehearsal and still sing Sunday; AND I don’t even have to get up any earlier because I can still go up and sing even if I’m late…then there just isn’t much motivation for me to make any additional sacrifice to improve my attendance or my tardiness.

And as long as we’re talking about sacrifice, the fact that enforcing rules comes with sacrifice for the whole ministry isn’t lost on me. I understand better than anyone that when you start enforcing rules that force people to sit out when they miss rehearsal or show up late on Sunday, it can really put the ministry at a disadvantage. That’s especially true of smaller ministries where every member is critical.

This is in fact the most common reason most ministries don’t have, or don’t enforce rules that govern attendance and tardiness. But the fact is, your ministry will be held hostage by the issue until it is addressed with some kind of consequence. Your choir may have to do the crutch song  one Sunday instead of the one you rehearsed. Or the Praise team may have to go with plan B. Or there may be fewer bodies up there than you’d like.

But in all likelihood you won’t have to deal with that scenario too many times once you start enforcing some standard that does not allow people who habitually miss rehearsal or come in late to perform anyway. Rules are unpleasant to enforce and can be hard on everyone, really. But they have a very powerful way of making people either step up or step aside. Either way your ministry ends up better off in the end.

4 reasons your music department should hang out regularly

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It’s common knowledge to most people that musicians who play together over a period of time start to get tighter and tighter at their craft. After a while watching them play together feels like you’re watching them read each other’s minds or something. This bond- this “gel”, if you will, is something that bands work very deliberately to develop. They do so by practicing together a lot, of course.

But bands have a tendency to do something that other groups- be it a choir, praise team, ensemble or other group- don’t tend to do.  Simply put, band members tend to be a lot more likely to hang out- together socially. I shared with you a while back in another blog how the band at my church and I have developed such a bond that they anticipate what I want when I’m teaching, even when my back is to them. That same cohesiveness extends to Sunday morning when we play together. We have gotten to a place where each member knows every other member’s style, their strengths, their weaknesses- we even know each other’s musical preferences.

Aside from the fact that we have worked together for so many years, I believe a big part of what has created this bond between us is that we regularly spend time just talking and laughing with each other. This usually happens at musician’s rehearsal, but it’s something we always take time to do. Musician’s rehearsal for us is like going out somewhere and just enjoying each other’s company as friends. Sure, we’re there for a reason and we have an agenda we need to get accomplished. But we just enjoy the process itself. We love playing together. But it’s the time we spend just laughing and clowning around that really makes the difference.

So, how often does your choir have a social event, like a dinner or some other outing? When is the last time all the members of the praise team or band got together away from the church?  This is something most ministries just don’t think about, actually. For some- and understandably so- they see it as yet another thing to do, or another place to have to be. But a group that spends time laughing, talking and just spending time together reaps huge benefits in their ministry.

Here are 4 ways your music ministry benefits when the members hang out regularly.

1. The members get to know each other more personally.

Although it’s common for some members of a group to know each other and perhaps even call each other regularly, most of us only see and communicate with each other at church and then at rehearsal. Having regular social gatherings gives members a chance to get to know each other more personally. This often leads to more cooperation in the group, less disagreeing, less jealousy, pettiness, etc.

2. Your members start to develop similar goals and wishes for the group as a whole

There’s nothing like being in an environment where you can talk freely. Groups who hang out find that the members get closer. When people become close they often take on similar views about things that are important to them. When a choir, for example, begins doing things regularly as a group, you’ll find that the members begin to share a common vision for the ministry. A greater sense of pride and “ownership” develops.

3.  Hanging out socially on a regular basis creates a strong bond

When a group starts making a deliberate effort to hang out and do social events together on a regular basis, they quickly start developing that same kind of “gel” effect that most musicians feel. Becoming closer as individuals makes you closer as a group. You’ll soon find the effects of this closer bond showing up not only in rehearsals, but in performances.

4. Having regular social gatherings for fun breaks up the monotony

Most music ministries have a similar routine; Have rehearsal to prepare for Sunday. Sing Sunday. Announce next rehearsal. Repeat. You’re not careful the repetitive nature of it can cause your ministry to slide into complacency or “autopilot” as I discussed in another article. Having regular social events helps keep your group’s ministry fresh and exciting by breaking up the “routine”.

So whether it’s a praise team, choir or some other group, try to make an effort to do some kind of social outing regularly. Do simple things like a “pot luck”, or bowling, skating, etc. Monthly may be too often for many people, so consider doing it every other month or even Quarterly,  even  for example. Any musical group that spends time laughing, talking and enjoying each other socially becomes, a tighter, closer, more cohesive group. And that makes for some powerful ministry.

 

 

Finding the worship flow; 3 ways to break your praise team out of the “A & B selection” mentality

Do you ever feel like your praise team is kinda missing something in their delivery of worship? You’ve seen those praise teams that just have this “flow” in their service. Things just naturally move from one song to another in a kind of organic way.  Sadly though, for many younger, newly established praise teams it’s more like “and now for our next number”.

I referred to it in the subject line as the A&B selection mentality. I realize that I have readers from many backgrounds, nationalities and even a few different countries who might have NO CLUE what I’m talking about there, so let me briefly explain. The term “an A & a B selection” is an old term that has been used for many years in the black church.  You’d hear the emcee announce “And now the choir will come to us with an A & a B selection”. It simply meant that the choir would be singing 2 songs (I’m speaking as if this term isn’t still being used, lol!).  The two songs don’t necessarily have anything in common with each other besides the fact that they’re both Gospel songs.

This is fine for a choir, group or ensemble. For a praise team though, it’s not the ideal way to go. A praise team’s job is to help set an atmosphere that encourages  corporate praise and/or worship. We want everyone to be in a place where they are communing with God in a very personal way.   As such a praise team must seek to do more than just simply sing two praise team songs. Many praise teams, for example, feel that because it’s “praise and worship” we must sing a fast song (for the praise) and a slow song (for the worship). There’s not much thought put into it beyond that though.

As a result, many praise teams find that even when the audience is enjoying their selections, they fall short of creating that atmosphere of worship. It ends up a lot like a mini version of the choir. So in order to really be effective a praise team has to break out of this “one song, then another song” way of ministering. Here are 3 ways you can help your praise team develop that natural, organic worship style where worship seems to just kind of evolve from one stage to the next.

 

 

1. Look for songs of similar subject matter.

Find songs that have similar lyrical content. These songs will feel more natural when you sing them back to back because one will feel like a continuation of the same thought or message.

2. Try doing songs with similar tempo/feel

Don’t get too locked into thinking you have to do a fast song and a slow song. Think instead about songs that have a similar tempo or feel. I.e, two up-tempo songs rather than one really up-tempo song and then a very slow worship song with totally different subject matter.

3. Try to avoid the “dead stop” between songs

Even if the tempo of the next song is dramatically different than the one before, the most effective praise teams find ways to make the transition between the two feel natural and smooth. Your musician(s) (can be an integral part of helping make this happen). Try to avoid ending a song and completely stopping down. Instead look for ways to connect and transition out of one song and into the next. Here’s one example we did recently using two songs with totally different tempos but very similar lyrical content.

We sang VaShawn Mitchel’s “Chasing After You” and transitioned out of that into a very slow song, More, More, More by Joan Rosario. The two are very different as far as feel and tempo, but they worked great together because “Chasing After You” ends with the lyrics repeating  “more and more”.  We simply came out of that and into the chorus of More, More, More.

Get the idea? This is not only a very effective way to help take your praise team’s ministry to new heights, but it’s really fun to do and you’ll get into it once you get started.  In fact, let’s start now! Leave me a comment below and tell me two praise and/or worship songs that would be great together back to back.