When? •When do we hold auditions? •When would we like to launch?
By discovering answers to the above questions I now had a working criteria to make an assessment of purpose, philosophy, format, goal(s), personnel, and timetable. My initial assessment after four weeks on the job helped me understand that the church, while wanting to sing meaningfully as a congregation in corporate worship, was presently entrenched in and committed to a traditional style. It was all they knew. Additionally they had never been discipled in the area of Biblical worship. Elements like corporate recitation of scripture, moments of meditation, and antiphonal praise were quite new to them. Incorporating these new elements they had never before experienced as a group in public worship would be step one in leading them toward meaningful change. Since they were an already established church, I knew we would have to go slowly for the sake of body unity.
Step Three – Establish a New Comfort Zone
Because I was an interim music director I was able to lobby as a “consultant” for gradual but needed changes (this leverage may not have been possible for a full time staff member). About every five weeks the choir would sing a new song that was contemporary but arranged in a more blended style. This created a “tolerance” for new music. Then I would go back to the familiar choir library for some old favorites. That would be followed up with
another newer song, again, letting the choir introduce the piece to the congregation. After a few weeks I would lead the congregation in singing a congregational arrangement of the new songs. This way we were enlarging the repertoire of songs for the worship service while helping newer songs become familiar “friends” before adding more new songs. We rode this wave for about eighteen months. Variety in the service was accomplished weekly by •Occasionally departing from the weekly template or bulletin. •The slow introduction of new music. •Utilizing the public recitation of Scripture, a Responsive Reading, or someone presenting a short drama to help introduce the sermon. In short, we established trust and credibility with the pastor, staff, musicians, tech team and congregation.
NEXT STEPS Enter-Drums!
Utilizing drums as part of the worship service took over two years. Since we were already incorporating new elements we didn’t have to make this an issue early on, but it was a logical next step. It was needed to help mature the church body and in growing the music/worship experience for the worship leaders and participants. We decided to use drums for the Easter service. Then we left them
on the platform, un-played, for several weeks. Over the summer we played them twice a month and by fall we were using them every week.
After successfully incorporating the drums with the organ and piano we also added a guitar, bass, and keyboard for the Christmas program. We now had a full sound that was blended in style with a 35 voice choir and six vocalists on mic.
What Can We Learn?
Transition is optional but revitalization of any style of worship, be it traditional, blended or contemporary, is non-negotiable. We must always be asking the Lord for: •Definition – As we listen for His instructions (“do this…don’t do that”) we become defined. Confidence is renewed. •Direction – As we ask “Where Lord,” He will show us where to go, not just geographically, but philosophically as well. •Vision – As we gain definition and direction, we begin to “see” the big picture of how we can lead people toward meaningful worship revitalization. •Passion – Having a clear vision ignites the fire to launch us enthusiastically toward a desired and worthy goal. •Diligence – rehearsing our definition, experiencing his direction, seeing His big picture will keep the fire burning which in turn causes us to put the shoulder to the sled and do the work of the ministry.
The Best Practices for Church Revitalization and Renewal