Spirit Led Worship (Reloaded)

Newfrontiers blogger Gareth McNab at Amos5 is doing me the very great honour of blogging through each of my 12 ways to increase congregational participation and adding his own observations and application based on 9 years of leading.

He’s raised a few great points so far on

Realise that some churches are too big for the congregation to contribute – it’s just that your church is not one of them!


Rehearse for every Sunday, not just next Sunday

For example

[a congregation of 200] is certainly not too big to allow the congregation to get involved in the meeting.  It is big enough for the following things to happen for the worship leader or the musicians, though.

  • It is a big enough audience to feel like you are the main attraction.
  • It is a big enough body of people that it is likely to draw a decent number of half decent musicians, and give them a stage that they would almost certainly not get anywhere else.
  • It is a big enough body of people that you will most likely get quite a few people coming along specifically for ‘the worship’ – by which they actually mean, ‘the music’

By way of illustration he says

Newfrontiers North recently had their regional weekend together, and had full on, congregation-participatory worship with tongues, interpretation, prophecy, spontaneous songs, words of knowledge and healings – with more than 1300 people.

My controversial point about hiring jazz musicians prompted the following comment

Practice ‘follow my leader’ – In many forms of jazz, once the basic pattern of the song is understood, the musicians are able to follow the band leader through the performance by means of commonly understood hand signals, vocal cues and musical patterns.  Going to the head, round again, go to the bridge – all are able to be done with hand signs that don’t look too Masonic or vulgar.  

Vocal cues are much under-rated in worship musicians, I find – everyone wants to come up with the Matt Redman one-leg-stand or the Stuart Townend guitar-lift, or the Al Metcalfe hand-slash (as witnessed at CCM’s recent worship conference!).  It is good to talk! 

As part of a movement that could be accused of preaching congregational participation more enthusiastically than it practices it, the kind of debate that Gareth is opening up has to be good news. Head over to Amos5 and start make your voice heard.

Read Gareth’s posts
Realise that some churches are too big
Rehearse for every Sunday, not just next Sunday

(You can read my original posts here)
12 ways to increase congregation participation – part 1
12 ways to increase congregation participation – part 2
12 ways to increase congregation participation – part 3
12 ways to increase congregation participation – part 4

Free songs by Matt Blick

About mattblick

Songwriter/Singer from Nottingham, UK. My 2nd EP, Everything In The World Is Fighting Everything In The Sky, is out now. I'm blogging (& podcasting) through the entire Beatles catalogue at Beatles Songwriting Academy. In my spare time I wish I had some spare time.
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4 Responses to Spirit Led Worship (Reloaded)

  1. Mark G says:

    Thanks for the post Matt – lots of great stuff in there and linked to within the post.

    One of the earliest things I was told to do starting out as a bassist in my first church was 'learn jazz theory, with it you can do anything'. And I can tell you that this advice has served me well since then. To any church musicians who have not explored musical theory beyond most standard 4-chord wonders, I would encourage you to dive into jazz theory and experiment. There are plenty of resources on the net such as Pete Thomas's website http://tamingthesaxophone.com/jazz-theory.html, or Mark Levine's 'The Jazz Theory Book', or even seek out some one-to-one lessons.

    I'm not sure I'd agree with the proposed blanket stance of 'it is acceptable to hire non-christian musicians for helping to play in worship teams', irrespective of those musicians' skill level or the lack of skills in a worship team. Yes, there is a requisite skill level for supporting spirit-led worship that is above merely playing from pre-arranged song sheets, but the heart of those who are leading others into worship is so important. How can people in a worship team help lead and support a congregation within the presence of a God that they do not know themselves? I am not unwilling to acknowledge that there might be situations where it is an acceptable course of action, but cannot quite grasp this as an acceptable general approach.

  2. Matt Blick says:

    Thanks Mark,

    The comment about hiring musicians was tongue in cheek! I guess my point is that if churches want this kind of free flowing music ministry you can't just hope it happens or lay on hands to impart musical ability. You have to rehearse.

    The only other options are just hope/pray that the right people come in or 'buy'em in'. I'm not advocating either option.

    Though you might be interested to know Tim Keller's very missional church in New York does hire professional non Christian musicians for their Sunday meetings. Hmmm….

  3. amos5 says:

    I entirely disagree with non-Christians leading worship – and by this I mean playing instruments as well. I feel a little less strongly about hiring a PA team or lighting technician, but still see so much benefit from these guys being Spirit filled and servant hearted that paying a non-Christian to do it seems a really poor option.

    I think the point that you have to rehearse, and then rehearse some more (and you have to rehearse the right stuff, not just the songs you want to sing on Sunday!) is a good one, and worth making to everybody who will listen. And worth keeping going until they've either stopped listening or they're actually doing it!!!

  4. Matt Blick says:

    @Amos 5 – Haha! well at least we can keep talking to each other if no one else listens!

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