How to Plan and Lead Heavenly Worship Team Rehearsals

Are your rehearsals heavenly?

My blogging friend David Santistevan recently posted about The Rehearsal From Hell and How To Avoid It.

It’s a great post and I recommend worship folks check it out. His concluding challenge was “If you blog and have written about rehearsal before, leave a link to your post.

Well I didn’t have a post on rehearsal yet and thought, heck,  there’s no time like the present to start. So here we go.

Worship dudes and dudettes, your strategy for rehearsals – and yes, you should have a clear strategy for rehearsals, depends on the structure of your ministry context. [Check out the principles behind  “The Standard Answer” ]

Generally speaking, there’s two widely used approaches.

1. A mid-week rehearsal with the core worship team to prepare for one or more services upcoming. Sometimes these will be divided into sectional’s, part of the time just for the instrumentalists,  part of the other for just the singers.

The day of the service(s) there may be a partial rehearsal as part of the sound check.

OR

2. A “full” band rehearsal sometime before the service begins. Sink or swim. Most of my experience has been in this context, with worship teams that rehearse the set 90 minutes before the service begins.

There are pros and cons to each approach. What’s right for your situation depends on your culture, what you’re trying to accomplish, as well as the skill level, spiritual maturity and availability of your volunteers.

People are busy and their time is valuable, so no matter what your rehearsal frequency it’s wise to respect that.

7 Obvious Best Practices for Heavenly Rehearsals

1. Have a clear plan and practice it personally ahead of time.

  • Think through the flow of your transitions.
  • Think through the things you will speak and pray. Rehearse those if necessary.
  • Keep most of the set simple, unless you have plenty of time and a high-quality talent pool. Hey it could happen.

2. Use Planning Center On Line to communicate ahead of time with your team. Using PCO  helps your team be better prepared musically so they can focus more spiritually.

3. Have music copies printed for the singers and players.

  • Yes this is obvious for everyone except …. you know who ….
  • It also helps to have notes and a road map (if necessary) written on the song chart itself.
  • Don’t let everybody get their own random chart off some internet site (yes I’ve heard of this happening) .

4. Plan to make it easy for the team to know what’s going on and how to follow you.

  • This includes the audio-visual technicians as well as musicians.
  • Give clear, simple direction, like “We’ll double the chorus after the 2nd verse and repeat it after the bridge …”
  • Do not close your eyes,  get lost in the wonder and burn up most of your rehearsal time on 1 song.
  • Also, don’t go overboard and micro explain every little thing. Let it be intuitive and easy to anticipate.

5. Plan to start and end the rehearsal with prayer.

  • I prefer to plug-in, tune-up, get a quick line check, then have a short prayer.
  • All of that should take about 5-7 minutes.
  • It is amazing how much better things go when we pause and pray first.
  • Leave enough time after rehearsal to have quality prayer. I confess I frequently have not  done well with this.

6. Plan to have fun.

  • Being tense, fussy, uptight or fearful just isn’t enjoyable for you or your team.
  • Playing and leading worship is one of the most joyful activities we get to do on this planet. So bring your “A game” and have a good time.
7. Debrief and Celebrate the Win
  • Encourage a culture of debriefing the rehearsal and service after each.
    • What was good?
    • What could be better?
    • Was anything unclear or missing?
  • Celebrate the win
    • Especially try to stop and pray with your team afterwards
    • Give thanks to the Lord for his grace that day.

These practices are simple and obvious. If you do them, it will go well with you and  you’ll enjoy heavenly rewards. 🙂

If you don’t, you just might have to endure The Rehearsal From Hell ….

Question: What would you add or change about this checklist? Leave your thoughts in the comments. We love comments!

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Thanks for reading! The purpose of this blog is to encourage wholehearted worship worldwide. Partner with us!

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15 thoughts on “How to Plan and Lead Heavenly Worship Team Rehearsals

  1. Rob –

    One of the things I heard throughout your post (and with which I totally agree) is to make sure you do not over-rehearse. The goal is not to nail the tune or make it sound just like the recording, the goal is to create an environment for people to engage with God through song.

    Making sure the team is comfortable with the changes and a basic roadmap (and some possible places where that may change) are the most essential elements of a rehearsal time in my opinion.

    Love number 6 – have fun. If making music for the Lord, in the company of sisters and brothers doesn't bring joy, we really need to rethink some things.

    TT

    • Great insight Terry. We can burn up a lot of energy trying to reproduce the production of the record, very rarely does the song really need that. Sometimes it's cool though …

      I'm curious – do you have a weekly rehearsal or is it "day of"?

  2. Rob –

    We typically do a Thursday evening full team rehearsal – no more than 90 minutes where people discover what they don't know about the song, have Friday and Saturday to spend some time in the woodshed. We do a brief soundcheck on Sunday am. and it is usually amazing how much song evolution there is between Thursday and Sunday.

    T

    • Awesome, great plan. Love this "it is usually amazing how much song evolution there is between Thursday and Sunday."

      So true. Thanks for commenting!

      • Well, because of schedules (and this is a huge Nashville issue) I never seem to be able to have consistent week-night rehearsals. So we just do the Sunday mornings 90 minutes before thing. But we are about to go to 2 Sunday am services though and that will change everything.

        Mark

    • Thanks buddy, once again you inspired this post. I think debriefing after rehearsal really helps smooth out the kinks, practically and relationally.

  3. Great & practical, Rob. I wouldn't change a thing. I haven't always done well with the debrief with the team as a whole. Usually it's happened with a smaller planning group a few days later. I can affirm, however, the very real impact the attitude of the leader has. When I've been stressed and crabby, it's definitely spilled over into rehearsal time and negatively affected it. I've more than once had to go back and apologize later.

    • Thanks Chris. I'm sure the more we have to go back and make amends, the less we need to do it moving forward. Appreciate you sharing your thoughts and experiences bro!