Preparation is Key
The Bible is full of stories about what happens when people are unprepared, and worship is no different. By the way, this is true not only for those who minister in worship, but those who worship as well. A prepared heart is essential for entering into worship. The Word says in Psalm 100, verse 4:
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful to Him and bless His name.
The psalmist gives us a clear indication of how to enter into God's presence in worship; with thanksgiving, praise and blessings. Not harried, not worried, not distracted, angry or halfhearted. This is especially true for those of us who minister in worship. For years, I've liked to take time to prepare throughout the week for worship. Here's a couple of things that I do:
- My worship week starts on Tuesday, which is generally when we get the setlist for the following Sunday. At GLCC, we rotate the responsibility of picking the songs among the members of the worship team, so that each member can get an opportunity to express themselves and allow the Spirit to flow. I will usually look over the list as the email comes and run through it in my head, but I leave it at that.
- If it's my week to pick songs (we do two at a time) then I usually start thinking and praying about it as soon as service is over on Sunday. I try to find one song that really speaks to me, and build everything off of that.
- On Wednesday or Thursday, I generally we look at the list again. At this point I will fire up OpenSong and build the setlist and look over the charts. By this point I will generally be listening to recordings of the songs on my mp3, either ones we have done, or the original artists. This is especially true for songs that are new to us. I will usually pick up my acoustic and run through some of the passages quickly, to get the sound of the tune in my head. I might spend a couple of minutes on the piano as well, playing through the songs.
- Friday nights are cell for our GLCCKidz groups. We do worship at these times, and often I will choose one of the songs that we will be doing that week. I might especially teach the kids a new song we're doing, so that 1) they are familiar with it on Sunday, and 2) it gives me the opportunity to play it in front of people other than the worship team.
- Saturday is Major Practice Day. I will generally spend quite a bit of time on Saturdays, first doing scales and excersises, and running through the songs completely. Sometimes, I will plug the electric into my laptop and run some lines there. (I keep my amp at the church. I have a couple of different programs that do different things, mostly in Linux.) I will generally have a good feel for everything at this point. I also work on new music, random songs, solos - all that good stuff.
- Sunday's the Big Day! Rehearsal starts at 7AM. (we used to do two rehearsals, but have found one longer one far more productive.) We spend twenty minutes where the musicians warm up and tune, and jam, and the vocalists warm up and do some excersises. By 7:20 we pray and then dive into the set. We usually have that done by 8 or 8:15, and then will work until 9 on new music, team building, instruction, team business. After service, I go home and write my setlist blog, and read some others. I've found it helpful to write when I'm fresh, because it helps identify ideas for the future.
- Mondays - DAYS OFF! I try to use Mondays to clear my head, get back into the weekday grind. Sometimes I will do guitar maintenance - change strings, polish, whatever.
It's important to have a routine, and a plan when it comes to worship. I try to find something to do every day that contributes to the ministry, to keep it fresh and relevant.
What's your routine?