Suggestions For Using Youth Sings
A few weeks ago I started a series of blog posts based on a book that I found called “Youth Sings”. It’s an old Youth Group song book that includes a page of suggestions on leading worship for youth groups. Even though it’s an old book, I think the advice is pretty timeless - especially when placed in the right context.
Today, we’ll look at point #2:
2. Plan the singing and choice of numbers in advance, but keep an informal atmospere by having occasional request numbers.
The last blog I wrote stressed the importance of preparation and I don’t think that point can be over emphasized. I talked about how it’s considerate to the person operating your lyrics and it will greatly help you as you lead your congregation. This week though, let’s talk about how preparation will improve your ability to lead your worship team and in turn your whole congregation.
I’ve had the opportunity to be in several positions on stage. I’ve been the leader and I’ve also been a background vocalist and instrumentalist. This blog post could be entirely driven by personality and preference - so keep that in mind - but whatever position I’m in on stage I feel like a prepared leader, who has the songs mapped out and has a clear direction, adds so much to the worship experience for everyone.
As a worship leader - I want to be respectful of my worship team’s time and talent. So, it’s very important for me to know what songs we are going to be rehearsing, the structure and key of the songs, and how the songs will fit together. I want to get the songs to my worship team in a timely manner so they can practice them on their own and I will do my best to make sure the charts and mp3’s of the songs match the structure and key that we will be playing them. When my team arrives for rehearsal - I will do everything within my power to make sure the rehearsal space is ready to go for my musicians to plug right in. For the majority of churches - your worship team will be made up of volunteer musicians. They have jobs, famillies, hobbies, friends, and responsibilities outside of the church. So I want to show them that their time is valuable to me. The best way to do that is preparation.
As a volunteer musician I would say much of the same. I want to be respectful of my fellow musician’s time and abilities. I always want to go through the songs on my own to make sure I’ve learned my parts, the songs structure, and so I’m able to engage with my fellow musicians without being tied down to a chart.
So where does “keeping an informal atmosphere by having occasional request numbers” come in?
As a leader, I think it comes with holding loosely to being the ultimate authority on song selection and structure. I would recommend keeping open lines of communication with your worship team members on what songs they are listening to and songs that may fit well in your congregational setting. Also, creating an atmosphere in worship rehearsals that allows your team members to say things like “I really felt like we should have gone into that chorus again right there” or “do you feel like we should all hold back on that verse.” By doing this, you’ll also begin to see more leaders develop within your team.
As a worship team member - it means making a song your own (within your talent level). I would encourage you to learn a song well enough that you can freely worship and follow where you’re being lead. Know your strengths and weaknesses as a musician. If you can’t pull off that sweet guitar riff that’s on the recording - that’s okay. Create something that falls within your skill level or just play the chords really really well.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself though, because point #3 will be “learn the numbers well.” Being prepared has to be the foundation that we build everything else on.