So here we are. A new year. Worship leaders all over the world are ironing their skinny jeans, flannel shirts, and scarves (it gets cold up there under those hot lights), ready for all the new opportunities to sing songs incredibly high. In the spirit of new year’s resolutions, I offer worship leaders these suggestions to make 2015 even more epic (remember that Oceans drummer?!) than 2014.
1. Rename your worship team
“Praise team” is so early-1990s. “Worship team” is so 2000s. We need to throw those dorky phrases in the trash where they belong (along with transparency slides and foam mic covers) and embrace more modern names. Consider “The Brilliant Harmony Society Collective” or “Everyone’s Favorite Grandson” or “God’s Anointed Servants” (“GAS” for short). Bingo! Revival is already breaking out.
2. Retune the golden oldies
Why hasn’t “Shine Jesus Shine” been retuned yet? Has anyone heard the Mumford and Sons-esque version of Don Moen’s “God is Good (All the Time) yet?”. How about a techno/electronica version of “Lord I Lift Your Name on High”? There is a HUGE market out there that’s been untapped, people. You can thank me later. On your way to the bank, of course.
3. Develop your personal brand
Who needs administrative assistants, or music associates, or any of those antiquated ministry support roles? You need a personal brand developer. Band name? Check. Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Tumblr / Flickr / Noisetrade / SoundCloud / BandCamp / BingoClub / BowlingLeague presence? Check. Hipster logo? Check. Now how about your own personal FroYo flavor? Personal coffee bean supplier? Food taster? Skinny Jeans tailor? You have some work to do.
4. More effectively capitalize on the seldom-used “retweet” feature
Most worship leaders still don’t know about the hidden “retweet” feature on Twitter (even after I mentioned this oversight last year). We need to step it up in 2015 and use this feature more often (i.e. daily). Someone likes your Don Moen retune? Retweet it Someone accidentally said your name when they sneezed? Retweet it. If you don’t retweet any mention of you, then we might forget that you exist, and then we might forget that we need you to keep existing. Here’s the mantra: “We tweet the retweet because we treat our wee tweeters to retweets.” Say it. While singing “Oceans”.
5. Embrace the lip-sync
worship team “Brilliant Harmony Society Collective” is such hard work. Whether they’re volunteers, professionals, or somewhere in-between, it just takes too much time to work with actual people. Thanks to worship resources like Ableton Live we can already bring in string sections, timpani hits, techno-pads, and electric guitars with the click of a button. Let’s just go full throttle in 2015 and bring in the canned vocals too. I’m looking forward to standing at the mic this Sunday, singing my lips out to the latest worship hit, and hearing the congregation say “man, you sounded an awful lot like Chris Tomlin”. I’ll lower my prescription-less glasses so I can look them in the eyes and say “that’s because it was Chris Tomlin”. Then I’ll get into my limo and go home.
6. Incorporate more one-liners
After the 399th time of hearing you say “Good morning! Let’s stand together”, your congregation might die of sheer boredom. You need to pull a Taylor Swift and “Shake it” up with some worship one-liners to really get the blood flowing. Examples: “Ittttttttttt’s worship time!” Or “Here I am! I’m back! You’re glad to see me, and I’m glad to see you!” Or “Testing, testing, one, two, three / Who wants to praise the Lord with me?!?” I could think of some more but then you’d thank me too much and I’d have no choice but to retweet you.
7. Use reverse octave jumps
We’ve pretty much exhausted the octave jump supply of all of its awesomeness. Last year I suggested the “octave MONSTER jump” but that’s run its course as well. Now it’s time to kick that octave jump train into reverse and ride it for another solid decade. Here’s what you do. Step one: start the song in a singable range. Everyone is happy. Step two: build the second chorus. Everyone knows something is coming. Step three: drop down an octave into the sub-bass range, in which only the big/old dudes in your church can sing. Who cares if it’s awkward? It’s epic, man. If people can’t keep singing along it’s their problem.
8. Dance like never before
I really think that if our worship leadership is going to go to the next level, then we need to start dancing. Not just tapping our feet, but full-on dancing. And not spontaneous dancing, but pre-planned, choreographed, synchronized, banner-tastic, flag-a-riffic, throw-me-my-linen-ephod dancing. You want the Spirit to lead you where your trust is without borders? Then walk upon the water of dance, my friend.
9. Throw in some more “hey!”s
“No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from his hand. Till he returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand. HEY!” Cue the four-on-the-floor kick drum beat, mando/banjo solo, foot-stomping, and beards, and you’ve got yourself a hit.
10. Never smile
If you smile when you’re up front, people will think you’re having fun. If they think you’re having fun, they might think you’re normal. If they think you’re normal, they might not buy into your personal brand. If they don’t buy into your personal brand, you might not get your FroYo royalties! If this happens, have no fear. The royalties from your U2-inspired retune of “Days of Elijah” will make up for it. But try not to smile. It will throw off your scarf.
Happy new year!