The Dirty Word
Preparation seems to be the word that the talented ignore and the developing dread, yet the excellent maximize.
Most who are naturally talented at something tend to ignore preparation, resting on their abilities to pull them through. They get it done, but they don’t grow and don’t usually achieve excellence.
The developing dreads to think about the work that goes into preparing to do whatever they do. Since they are committed to growing in their craft, they know the preparation that is needed is daunting and often takes a lot of effort.
However, those who are excellent at their craft have come to understand and maximize their preparation. They often have a system down that helps them to prepare efficiently and quickly. They don’t have to rest on their talent alone, and their system allows them to succeed easily within it.
I think its safe to say that we all want to be excellent at what we do, especially if we are leading worship. So, whats the best way to prepare for a weekend service?
Personally, I’ve been all over the map with preparation. I’ve always had the knack to pick up on things quickly and to be able to do them well. Not great, but good enough. Same with worship leading.
I’d even say that that tendency haunts me even today, as its much easier to rest on my natural ability than to put the work into preparation. I could walk in on a Sunday morning, spend 15 minutes looking over a set list, and be good to go. That can be great in pinch situations, but its terrible for someone who is stewarding part of the worship of a Church.
I’ve felt really convicted of this recently, so I’m trying to develop a new system of preparation for leading worship. Before I let you in on what I’m trying out, let me note that preparation will look differently for every person. I don’t think every worship leader should prepare exactly the same, just like every pastor has their method of preparation that works for them.
A New Routine
- Before I get into weekly specifics, it’d be safe to say that the best thing that we can do to prepare to lead worship is to be consistent with our personal time with the Lord and to be reading the Word. If we’re not being filled up, we’ll have nothing to pour out. Bottom line: Read your Bible, pray, worship, and do it all outside your responsibilities of leading.
- On Tuesdays. I begin my week by looking over the songs and working on memorization. Yes, memorizing them before practice. Not just the words, but the overall vision for the songs, including transitions and moments the worship leaders might speak around them. I spend about an hour or so practicing these songs only musically, so its in my hands for rehearsal.
- Wednesdays tend to be my music production day where I’ll work on clicks, loops and any other tracks I need to create. I also spend my afternoon looking through the message for the weekend, the themes of the songs, plotting out where I’ll say things, not say things (which is just as important to determine), and maybe even pray or teach. After working through all this, I’ll write up my weekly Weekend Preview post for the Journey Blog from a template.
- Thursdays I focus on future planning and content. This includes everything from creating custom charts to development training to even long term team stuff. After this, I finalize all the rehearsal prep I started on Tuesday. I make sure everything is set for rehearsal and that all the clicks & tracks are setup as well.
- Finally, my Fridays consist of lots of finalizing details for the weekend. I make sure all the media pieces are in place for Sunday, including our ProPresentor set and lobby stuff. If any element for the services is not already done, then I chase down all the loose ends to make sure everything is set for our team to walk in ready-to-go Sunday morning.
What About You?
That’s what I’ve been trying, and I’m going to give it some more time before I say anything about it either way. Some of you read that and were amazed at how overkill my system is. Others of you are literally salivating. Like I said, we’re all different and our preparation should vary accordingly.
Feel free to totally rip my system off, or take bits and pieces, or to smash it to pieces. Either way, make your plans to prepare! I’ve heard several teachers over the years say, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
And you know what? They’re right.