expressive worship

A Better Way to Bring the Word

Southern Gospel music is steeped in tradition, heart, and of course, the gospel message. It’s a sound like no other genre, has been around for over 100 years, and is still going strong.

In Part I of this blog, What Would Southern Gospel Do?, I pointed out some things – good and bad – that stuck out to me at a Quartet festival I attended recently. Here are a few more observations on that night.

(And even if you’re not a SoGo group, you can learn from this.)

Most Likeable Trait. One thread I noticed that ran through all four groups that night was their sense of humor. They like to tease each other and tell stories – even about the other groups, since many of them share history and perform at the same events. This brought a relaxed ‘down-home’ feel to the night, which everyone loved.

Most Curious Missed Moment. At the beginning, the emcee thankfully told the audience not to sing along, and said there would be opportunity to do that at different times. But, in that 2 ½ hr set, NONE of the groups asked us to sing along! And believe me, these people were dying to… especially my Dad, whom I had to shush once. That told me that the groups weren’t paying as much attention to the audience as they should have, and they missed a great audience participation moment.

Least-Used Spaces & Tools. The sides of the stage, mic stands, and stools. This was a big stage, but only ONCE did I see a singer walk (slightly) away from center stage and engage the crowd there. They mostly stepped up and back and missed the opportunity to use all the space.

Typically, each act used the mic stands for maybe one song in their 40 minute set and that was it. Please mix it up a bit! Most of you use only tracks and piano, so there’s not much variety. You can arrange the stands so that whoever sings lead is out front or on one side, and the rest are on stands behind or on the other side of the stage. Sit on stools for a song or two to change the pressure on the audience. It would be a nice change for us visually and would enhance telling a heart-felt story or a ‘ministry-moment.’

All in all, I think these groups both entertained and blessed their audience that night. The Good News of the Bible’s message and their faith were both evident. But I’m all about better. Better and more creative ways to bring that message. And this is why I do what I do with artists and worship teams. I nitpick because I love!

Take an honest look at your group or worship team. If you feel you’re not connecting to your audience or congregation, we can help you with that. A great place to start is at our Expressive Worship workshop coming up in October.

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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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