While I was in Pennsylvania earlier this year, I got to catch up with my old friend Milton. I haven’t seen him in over ten years and I welcomed this opportunity. Milton grew up with my wife in a prominent Southern Baptist Church in Nashville. I met him as a high school student. Milton is now a professor of education at Messiah College in Grantham, PA. (He also writes a blog here).
In preparing training for our worship teams recently, I came across a startling definition of communication.
15% – content
30% – tone or emotion
55% – body language
There is was, 55 %, the ammunition that I needed to convince our teams that they simply have to invest more time preparing so they can be more expressive on stage. When reviewing our services on video, I still see frowns and unsmiling faces which communicate that they don’t believe what they are singing and playing.
It sometimes feels fake or as if I am asking for a performance to teach about stage presence in church, but I feel we must. A performer makes it all about themselves, a lead worshiper makes it all about God. I feel compelled to help them embrace this definition of communication.
If the definition holds true, and I feel it does, than our content can be completely lost in the delivery. There are times that we have worked to choose just the right songs to support the Pastor’s teaching, prayed over them, convinced that they were God’s choices – only to find that they seemed to fall on deaf ears with our congregation.
As I review our services on video each week, the biggest difference I see is in the delivery. When the team looks distracted, under prepared or unhappy the congregation just stands there.
I direct our services. But, I force myself to remove my head set and walk up front and worship during our final service each weekend. My worship is directly affected by the team leading. I am either encouraged, by their body language and emotion to join in – or, when their body language distracts from the content of a song, I close my eyes avoiding distraction.
That is what my training will try to convince them of: the CONTENT, EMOTION and BODY LANGUAGE all have to match to look authentic in worship. People cannot hear the content unless your body language supports what you are saying. You cannot sing “Praise to the Lord” and frown!
The second part of the training I will be doing is to let them watch a silent sample of our 4 worship teams.
What better way to see if your leading is distracting, then to watch yourself in silence. This is brutal evaluation! No beautiful melody to fall back on, no amazing guitar skills to mask what isn’t happening on your face. Just your silent body language.
I pray God will use my time with our teams to encourage them to live out their love for Him on stage!
I count it my privilege and responsibility to continuously look for ways to lead our teams to a higher level of connection with our congregation and our Lord.
I would love to know, do you teach stage presence to your teams? Why or why not?
Will appeal to: fans of Casting Crowns, Caedmon’s Call, and Philips, Craig, & Dean
Highlights: “Be Glorified”, “Declaration”, & “61”.
If you’re not familiar with my story, please start here with Part 1.
Author’s Note: I need to emphasize that considering the situation, I was handled with MUCH grace. The following confessions are not intended to paint anyone in a negative light or to shift blame. I’m just sharing my story, my emotions, and my experiences.
Part Two: Rock Bottom
Fellow worship leaders, you will find many nuggets of wisdom and experience in the following letter. Although it was written with a very specific leader in mind, I would encourage you to ask yourself if this letter could’ve been written to you. Do we need to grow in the same areas as this leader? And are we excelling in the same places as this one? Find challenge and encouragement in the words. ~mandy thompson
Today we bring another installment of our series written by everyday church goers. As you read the words of these letters, I pray that you receive in your heart what is being communicated. That you listen as if someone from your own congregation is writing. And that you consider their words. We may not all agree with what is being expressed at times, just as we don’t agree with our own congregants at times. Setting aside debate and disagreement, may we have hearts to serve them. ~mandy thompson
Attention, Members and Guests of TheWorshipCommunity.Com (TWC)
TWC Founder, Fred McKinnon (blog | twitter), will be teaching a live “webinar” next Monday, Nov. 9 for Worship Leader Magazine called “Worship + Web 2.0″. We’ll be talking about some of the online tools and resources we use as worship leaders and technicians. Of course, TWC will be highlighted as well! It’s basically the same class that Fred taught the last two years at the National Worship Leader Conference. To register, click here.
Worship + Web 2.0
taught by Fred McKinnon
Monday, November 9, 2009
11:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (duration 1 hour)
(that’s 2:00 PM EST)
Facebook, Twitter, Blogs – can all these web-based technologies really enhance our worship services? Do you ever hit a creative “dead end” in your efforts to plan an impacting worship service? Join Fred McKinnon as we discuss how worship leaders and service planners are using the web to network, share, and collaborate on service planning through these tool
(Fred McKinnon is the Worship Pastor at St. Simons Community Church on St. Simons Island, GA. He is the founder of TheWorshipCommunity.com and blogs daily at FredMcKinnon.com about worship, leadership, faith, and ministry. Fred has been using social media as a tool in worship ministry and has been a guest speaker at the National Worship Leader Conference for the past two years.)
If you haven’t attended a Worship Leader Webinar yet, this is a great place to start. Offering the most accessible high-quality training available in the skills worship leaders need to lead their congregations, all you need is an Internet connection and a telephone. For only $39.00 a session, individuals or entire teams can attend.
REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR
(limited to 100 attendees)
In Imagine That: Discovering your Unique Role as a Christian Artist, Manuel Luz, the Creative Arts Pastor for Oak Hills Church in Folsom, California, compares Jazz music to Biblical community, claims that the Levites of the Old Testament had the “ultimate gig” and makes a convincing case for art as a spiritual discipline.