In the past few months, we have had to completely reimagine what church looks like. I’ve seen countless articles and Facebook group posts offering up really great solutions for how to quickly transition to online platforms, and many of us have done exactly that. If you’re like me, this road has been bumpy and humbling. And whether you like it or not, you know the bumps are going to continue for awhile.
Now that the initial coronavirus panic has passed and we’ve moved into this interim normal, I want to offer some ideas for how to move your worship forward. This can be a time of great growth for your church’s worship identity.
1. Keep what works and change what doesn’t
Just because everything has changed in the past few months doesn’t mean churches have forgotten their long-standing commitment to “we’ve always done it that way!”
Now is a great time to allow yourself some room to stretch your adaptation muscles. If something in your service worked great in-person but falls flat since you’ve been live-streaming, be willing to scrap it and reimagine something new. Especially with all the new technology many of us are trying out, there’s no reason to stick with something that doesn’t work. Be willing to cling less and experiment more.
My church went through many iterations of live worship before we landed on uploading a pre-edited worship video live on Facebook premiere. This then opened us up to letting members send us videos of them reading our weekly scriptures. We also tried three live-stream platforms for our midweek Facebook Live program before we landed on Streamyard, which allowed multiple people to present at the same time. If we had clung to our first iterations, we’d miss out on important ministry opportunities.
2. Stay in community with your musicians
As a worship leader, the saddest part of being away from church is not playing with the worship band. I care a lot about keeping momentum with my musicians, so here are a few ideas I’ve tried to help us stay in touch. (Plus, I just miss them!)
- Send them new songs to learn. This is a great way to remind your musicians what it was like to play together, and it gives you some new songs to play once we can gather again.
- Make space to gather online. I’m blessed to have a band that genuinely likes being around each other, and we all noticed right away how much we missed not only our music, but our friendship. So I’ve created a private Facebook group for us to hang out in. I post sometimes if there’s a lull for a few days, but often the members post on their own! What a great way to stay in community.
- Find creative ways to play together. After some research, I learned how to use Premiere Pro and made a video of us all playing together to use in worship. It took a lot of preparation and editing work, but this video blessed not only my band, but the whole community as well. You can do smaller-scale videos like this on the Acappella app, as well. Check it out:
3. Plan with hope
When we go back to worshiping in the same place again, things will not look exactly like they did before. So let’s work now on laying a foundation for the kind of worship band you dream of.
For all you worship leaders who inherited a band that operates under a set of rules you wish didn’t exist, now’s your chance to rewrite those rules. For all who have overgrown repertoires and golden calf songs you’re so sick of, now’s your chance to send them to “a farm upstate.”
I’m here to help. While church buildings are still closed, I’m going to focus new Worship Forward posts on bringing the important structural change your worship band needs. You can look forward to posts about:
- Creating a Worship Band Values Statement
- Planning for your first Worship Band Town Hall
- New worship songs
- Rehearsing without wasting time
(This list will be updated as we go)
And in the meantime…
4. Don’t put up with racist crap
Hey, progressive worship leader! You can still be progressive over Zoom. Any anti-Asian sentiments, even if they’re jokes, should meet their end upon reaching your ears. The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor (and increased violence toward Asian Americans) show that racism isn’t taking a break just because it’s a pandemic.
As we’re planning with hope, we must also plan a more progressive future. Now is not a time to stall on antiracism, LGBTQ+ inclusion, or dismantling the patriarchy. It’s time to continue our work so we can come out the other side of this pandemic with a firmer grasp on the kingdom of God. Onward, friends!