expressive worship

A Great 15 Minute Set in 2 Hours?

Maybe this comment resembles the obstacles YOU face in putting together a worship set…

Playing in a worship band is more like an amateur house band for a dance club than a touring band. It’s nice when you have time to arrange your stage movements, but we don’t usually have time to work the arrangements that hard. We barely have time to make it through working on the basic musical arrangements of the songs. How can you build a great 15 minute set in a 2 hour rehearsal?

For most worship teams I’ve talked to, it’s pretty common to be dealing with limited rehearsal time. The answer to your question then, is… “gradually.”

No, you probably can’t put together a great 15 minute set in that amount of time all at once. But eventually you can.

For starters, make sure everyone is learning the arrangements ahead of time, so that when you get together it’s just a matter of putting together the pieces. If you’ll be changing the arrangement to help create a moment, outline the changes in a note along with the song so that everyone can rehearse accordingly.

Next, try to repeat a song or two from the last week that everyone already knows. This will free up time to work on creating a moment or two – maybe with a fresh arrangement or feel, different staging, etc. I covered some of this in my blog Giving the Stand the Boot.

If you can even create just one great memorable moment, great! Start there.

Most of the ‘heavy lifting’ on this falls to the worship leader. Get a vision for how you want Sunday morning to look and feel. What kind of experience do you want the congregation to have? Is the sermon going to be joyful? Contemplative? Pick your songs accordingly and brood over them a few weeks ahead of time to see what moments need to be created.

We work one-on-one with worship teams and can help show you exactly how to create moments in the songs you do. Get a core group together for us to work with, then ask the rest of the team to watch us work. Or get 2 teams together and we can work with each on different songs while the other team observes.

This experience will be invaluable for your team. It will also give you the tools to continue creating great worship sets after we’re gone.

Another option would be to get the crew to our Expressive Worship Live workshop in May. Have the team check out the testimonials from other teams that have attended.

I know this might sound like a commercial to ‘sell’ you. Sorry, but it’s just that I’ve seen the difference this makes in teams being able to engage the congregation every service. I’ve seen the freedom in the room that’s experienced once leaders get a hold of these principles.

Every worship artist and worship team member needs to know these things.

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Amy Wolter

Amy has vast and varied experience in music, from keyboardist to lead singer, from songwriter to producer. She fronted a nationally touring Christian rock band that garnered some top 10 CCM hits. Playing in a variety of venues and churches gave her a real understanding of what audiences and congregations connect with. As a member of her church’s worship team, Amy understands the challenges that come with this, and enjoys helping Christian artists and Worship Teams create freedom in the room to truly express their worship.

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  1. Great point, Amy – it’s got to be a progressional thing, if that’s all the time you have. But, the spark of that one “moment” can help make all the difference in how a team works together towards making it happen again!
    And the Expressive Worship Live workshop is a valuable tool to help kickstart everyone being on the same page…I highly recommend it!

  2. Jim Drew says:

    I have been working hard on the performance side for my band and working the details. I guess I was wondering what the difference was between how you approach a stage for a concert and how your information or approach might change for a time of allowing corporate worship to take place. My band is really getting the points of how to present a concert. I can easily see how the freedom to move about a stage and handle a mic and stuff like that can cross all the boundaries but what is different as well?


  3. Amy Wolter says:

    Good question Jim. I’ll answer briefly but may need to do an entire blog on this soon! Obviously in a worship service setting, your job is to engage the congregation and LEAD them to a vertical place. You’re not concerned with ‘putting on a show’ but rather, drawing them to a place of praise and worship and setting the groundwork; creating moments by your song arrangements, the way the stage is set up, what you say to set up a song verbally so they will get the most out of it, etc. The difference lies in directing the congregation’s attention not to you but to God.

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