I have done both. But now days, you see a lot of church praise bands and music programs that are using a lot of technology and digital enhancements in their worship. There's also a lot of "stress" involved with the teams that are creating this music to sound EXACTLY like the CD or Demo on Youtube.
I stopped trying. We have one hour on Sunday morning to be as authentic, to be as pure and true to our presentation of Jesus as possible. Why try to be something we are clearly NOT.
Authentic music used in worship can be strangely peaceful and relaxed. Instead of trying to make the keyboard hook up to the midi-controller and seamlessly generate smooth musical transitions introductions to songs that sound just like the band on the CD, why not use what you have been given and create a sound that is unique to your congregation.
There is a lot of money involved in all that equipment, and I just don't see that it is really bringing in new converts and making them totally sold out on Jesus. There can be money better invested in bringing quality musicians who know their craft and can create a beautiful sound, naturally and with much less stress to 'be exactly like the demo.'
Recently our church brought on a new drummer. He's from a large church in town that plays with all those fancy digital toys and he said, there was a lot of stress on the worship team to produce that exact sound -- and it just became meaningless to him. He and his fiance both came to our church and he's drumming for us now. Regularly. He says he enjoys that we like to just enjoy what we are doing and it is so much more fun and exciting to play and serve.
I couldn't agree more. When we want brass, I bring them in. Many times they are from the local high school. When I need strings or want them, to enhance worship, I bring them in. It's important to me to have as authentic a sound in our worship as possible. If that means that some people won't come or be involved because we are not using the latest toys and bells and whistles, I'm okay with that. Because we are still doing great things in worship and we are not synthesized. We are being authentic with our sound and our resources.
It's true. If you start off by creating a SWOT analysis of your new or current ministry, it will help you be more effective in determining next step goals. This will really help you establish yourself as a leader in your music ministry and your pastor can readily get behind you because he will know what you're planning.
Strengths within the ministry
Start making notes of all the strengths that are present. This will help you because you will already know what needs to be done to be an effective music & worship program... that was drilled into you by college professors. But you need to know what you've got going in or at least before you put your other foot in the water.
Weaknesses within the ministry
Ahem. Duh? What are some weaknesses you see right off the bat that can help you launch forward with a tighter better ministry? List them. Then try to put them in order of what needs fixed first, next and so forth. When I first came to where I am now, I realized quickly that we had several weak spots in the music ministry and in our worship program in general. Actually, this was basically a deck of cards. Which card do you pull out first to work on? The answer is, it doesn't matter, they will come down in the end and that's alright too. But do keep your Pastor involved in the goings on of your music program.
Opportunities for the Future
Yep. What are some opportunities you see right now that will have a positive outlook on the future of your current program. These are things to point out and celebrate and to keep close at hand so you don't lose heart or track of your forward motion.
Threats to the health of the Ministry
Believe it or not, there are going to be threats. People can be threats. Wrong Theology can be threats. Diva attitudes can be threats. A since of entitlement by members of the programs can be threats. You get the picture. Quickly try to identify these threats. Log them and categorize them by: Urgent Response, Needed Response, Final House Cleaning. This lets you and your pastor know what needs your immediate attentions and then what else. Encourage him to help you navigate these responses above so that together you can build a bright program that honors God, celebrates people and exalts creativity for the creator.
Goals for the Year
Based on the above, state significant new goals for your area of responsibility, being as objective as possible. The goals should be aligned to your job profile and the vision of your congregation. Seek out your Pastor's goals for you and the ministry as well... these will definitely help you and the process along. After-all, if the Pastor ain't happy, ain't no staffer happy!
It's Monday morning and you just received your Pastor's sermon notes and ideas for the week. You have a pastor that rarely plans his message themes and titles ahead more than a few times per year. And when he does, they are as vague as randomly opening the Bible for a reading session.
What do you do?
I get this all the time where I currently serve. While I'd like to say that I have the dream job of having everything 3-4 weeks out ... I rarely get anything more concrete than the week of. I don't despise this though. We are a church that follows a Lectionary cycle, and my Pastor's personal philosophy is: "If it's about Jesus, Communion, God, The Holy Spirit, A Creed, Confessional... it's all good!" With that I can plan a wide variety of services.
I suggest, you first get a lectionary and try to stick to common themes and ideas. Most lectionary programs now actually work within the broader scope of themes. You also have the seasons of the church year. If you do not use Lectionary or The Church Year cycles, then you may want to plan based on you hymnal or use a hymnal for more sturctured planning before you fill in with praise/modern songs.
Blessings as you try to plan your week.