Wednesday, December 15, 2010

5 Ways That Worship Leaders Can Enjoy Christmas

Last week, we discussed five valid reasons why worship leaders (and possibly any musician) could possibly dislike the Christmas season. If you didn't read that post, you can check it here.

Since we're all about encouragement over here at the Todd Blog, we couldn't be content with leaving it at that. So, this week, we're talking about ways that worship leaders can fight these seasonal blues and hopefully lead from a place of joy when they step up to sing these songs of praise.

If you're a musicians, you've no doubt encountered this, either yourself or in other musicians. If you've got additional tips and thoughts, share them by all means!

  1. Look at a calendar.
    This might seem silly, but I guarantee it works. For all the stress and expectation and time requirement, most churches only expect or plan to sing Christmas songs for three or four weeks. (Churches that celebrate Advent typically do more than that.) Regardless of where you serve, keeping a nice birds-eye view on the calendar will remind you that your only have to do this for a limited amount of time. I'm not saying don't care or don't work hard, but if you're only thinking week-to-week, you'll trend toward frustration.

  2. Remember that your job is to please God.
    Hang out with me and my team for any stretch of time and you'll hear this all year round. Worship teams make the mistake of playing toward an idea or vision of what worship should be. Many teams think their job is to make people raise their hands or to create the same crowd response we hear on some CD.

    Not so. Your job is to please God. That means that you'll pick songs, scriptures, prayers and other media that are intended to exalt God and not the emotions of man. Your job is to make sure people are singing - and understanding - the great work that was accomplished when Christ came.

  3. Work what matters.
    We work hard at worship, but at Christmas time, it's easy to get distracted. It's easy to focus all our energy on getting those 3-part harmonies in "Angels We Have Heard On High" or finding the perfect soloist for "Mary, Did You Know?"

    Those are good things, but make sure that you're working just as hard to teach your people what Christmas actually IS. If you're not talking about justification and prophecy and God's plan to glorify Himself through the birth of Jesus, then change your game. Start making sure that you understand Christmas and know how to teach on it. Work hard on your spoken transitions and prayers. Make sure you've got a reason for why you're singing these songs.

  4. Be prepared for haters.
    Let's be honest - you're probably not going to sing "O Holy Night" better than Josh Groban or rock "Carol of the Bells" like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. And when you don't meet some of those expectations out in the crowd, you're going to hear about it.

    Dealing with criticism is tough, but being prepared for it makes a big difference. Whether you decide to answer their issues or simply smile and say, "Sorry you didnt' care for it," a little preparation goes a long way. You're not going to please everybody. Expect it, handle it and move on.

  5. Have some backup.
    A few weeks ago, my bass player asked if he could go all out on the bass line of "The First Noel." He wanted to make it big and creative and outside-of-the-box. I told him to go for it, but to be ready for me to nix it if it didn't work. This guy's a great player and a good friend. He and his wife are a part of our Life Group and they're great people.

    When he came to rehearsal, he told me he wasn't doing the bass line. When I asked why, he told me that his wife had remembered me mentioning at a previous life group that Christmas music really stressed me out. She encouraged him to remember that about me and to maybe pass on the new bass line.

    Not only is that a remarkable story of somebody in Life Group caring for me, but it's a great reminder to have back-up. Make it a part of your fall music ramp-up - line up some folks that you can share your frustrations and hopes with. Having a good group of people who love you and are for you will cover a multitude of stresses and insecurities.
I hope this makes sense. I'm still working through what Christmas should look & sound like within the church and I, in no way, have it all figured out. But I would encourage you to consider these tips this Christmas season. And for many more to come!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the good encouragement! I'm feeling the stress more than necessary and getting a little grinch like these days!