Little Easter Eggs of Wisdom

In case you haven’t noticed, Easter is just around the corner. This is one busy week for worship leaders and church musicians with a lot of extra rehearsals, added stress, and raised expectations. Last year I wrote a post on keeping it all in perspective, so this year I thought I’d offer just a few random lessons I’ve learned over the years of leading worship on Easter. These are in no particular order of importance.

“Christ the Lord is Risen Today” is too high in D major. Most hymnals have this classic hymn in the key of D. That’s fine for the first two lines, but then towards the end you start hitting some high F#s. Too high, especially at a 7:00am sunrise service. Go with C major. It keeps the high note to an E, and the lower notes are still singable.

Make sure your overflow room is staffed and pretty. I’ll never forget walking past our overflow room one year and seeing a room full of nicely dressed people, sitting in a dark room, staring at a grainy video image, listening to a low quality audio feed, looking like they were at a funeral. Easter shouldn’t feel like a funeral (obviously). If you’re anticipating having an overflow room, make sure it’s bright and has flowers, has a great video and audio feed, and put some live singers in there to sing along with the music and encourage the people to do the same.

Don’t forget the food. I wrote a post a few months ago on how important it is to feed your team (literally). Easter Sunday is usually a long morning for the pastors, musicians, and volunteers. Make sure to get some coffee, juices, water, and food for people to snack on all morning long. It will keep morale up and keep people’s energy going strong.

Stick with familiar songs. On Christmas and Easter, people want to sing familiar songs. This can be tough because there are many more familiar Christmas carols than there are Easter hymns. Do throw in some newer songs, but I would caution you against trying anything brand new. Your congregation won’t mind singing familiar songs, and your visitors will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Stay away from the cheese. It’s hard to find good art/graphics to use on your screen or in your bulletin. The internet abounds with images of bunnies, eggs, and cute sunrises. Unless it’s good quality and adds something – don’t use it.

Dress up. Guys, wear a tie. Ladies, wear something nice (and modest!). Unless you serve in a setting where wearing a tie or nice clothes would make you stand out, go ahead and dress up on Easter. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed, and this way you don’t run the risk of coming across as flippant.

Treat this like your super bowl. This is most likely going to be the best-attended Sunday for your church this year. Make sure your campus looks nice, your signs are clear and in place, your chairs are well placed, and you’re ready for visitors.

Remember where the power comes from. The gospel will change people’s lives, not your music. Make sure the good news of Jesus Christ – our risen Savior who conquered sin and death on the cross – is proclaimed with clarity and passion. Make it plain, make it clear, make it central, and make it the focus. 

Are You Dreading Easter?

The rehearsals.

The expectations.

The extra services.

The visitors.

The planning and preparation.

The full week of services: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, etc.

It’s during this week – one of the biggest and busiest of the year for people who work at churches and/or lead worship in some capacity – when it can all get to be a bit overwhelming. We long for the ho-hum summer Sundays of mid-July or August when everything is normal and the pressure is dialed down.

If we’re not careful, we can get calloused. Just get it over with. Just get through it. Wear a tie, sing some traditional hymns, throw in some newer songs, throw in some razzle dazzle somewhere in there, and then take Monday off.

So, my worship leader friend, with the biggest Sunday of the year quickly approaching, here’s a quick heart check: am I dreading Easter?

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:14 and 17:

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…” “… your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

Easter is a big deal. But not in the way church musicians think.

We can think it’s a big deal because it’s when the most people attend church all year-long, everything is nicely decorated with flowers, we have extra services, and people expect the music to be a bit more special. We feel the pressure of having to perform, and having to impress.

Easter becomes our time to shine and so we dread it.

But Easter is a big deal for a different reason: without it, our “preaching would be in vain“, our faith would be “futile“, and we would “still be in (our) sins“. By his death, Jesus has destroyed death, and by his resurrection he has won for us everlasting life. Jesus is victorious over death! We proclaim and worship a risen and victorious King!

And that King is who we exist to make shine this Easter Sunday, and every other Sunday, and every other day of our life.

Every rehearsal, every flower arrangement, every hymn, and every bit of preparation is all for the shining forth of Jesus this Easter Sunday.

And if we’re dreading this day and hoping to just get it over with – perhaps it might be an indication that between now and then we need to seriously pray for the Holy Spirit to rekindle a flame of passion in us for the glory and honor of Jesus. And perhaps, whether we realize it or not, we’ve fallen into the trap of thinking Easter is when we have to put on a good show.

We’re not in this line of work to put on a good show. We’re in this line of work to point to a great Savior.

Prepare and rehearse well this week. Get some good sleep on Saturday night. Pour yourself into your services this Sunday. May Jesus shine brightly in our hearts and in our services. Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Happy Easter!

Christmas 2009 has come and gone. Now worship leaders can sit back and relax.

Right?

Wrong.

Guess what? Easter 2010 is three months away.

April 4th, 2010. It will be here sooner than you think.

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent, is Wednesday, February 17th. Palm Sunday is March 28th. Then Maundy Thursday on April 1st (the night Jesus was betrayed), and Good Friday on April 2nd.

You can’t relax just yet.

Now is the time to start planning for Easter. How can you communicate the glory of the Risen Savior most effectively? How can you improve on last year? What went well last year and what didn’t? How could you serve visitors better? How can you handle the increased crowds more smoothly?

Think through the big things. Think through the small things. You have a three-month head start to make sure that this year your church’s Easter services are intentionally planned, prayed over, thought through, and Christ-centered.

Don’t let Easter sneak up on you this year. Resist the urge to do the exact same thing you did last year. Get the ball rolling now and you’ll be grateful you did once March rolls around.

Now to take my Christmas tree down.

Merry Christmas, happy New Year, and happy Easter.