only when it’s for a definite purpose.
Otherwise, it’s not the Holy Spirit, it’s
hypnotherapy. A song ends when the
feelings, images and ideas are fully expended. Know when you will end a
song before you begin. We may think
we are inviting the Holy Spirit more by
repeating a chorus three times for four
consecutive songs, but all audiences
have a battery. We want to charge it
up, not run it down. Designate someone to sit in the pews during rehearsal
and give you feedback on the song set.
How you feel onstage is not how it
feels in the seats, which is how theatre
directors stay employed.
stand the big picture. The choreographer talks
to the set designer, the musicians to the director
about what action comes before, after – and during – each song. The sound and lighting crew don’t
show up on the first performance. They read and
notate the script and set levels and rehearse cues.
Every participant understands not only the who/
what/where/when, but also the why.
Ensure the sound crew sees
themselves as part of the worship team. Give them a “script”
(order of service). Rehearse
the sound and A/V with the
musicians. In rehearsal they
also serve as the eyes and
ears of the audience.
Make Worship as Seamless
Directors admonish actors, “I could
drive a dump truck through the gap
between those lines! Stop milking the
moment!” Just as songs have an appropriate tempo, so does the whole event.
PHO TO: DENNIS HASSELL PRODuC TIONS
Performers don’t explain the
obvious – they perform it. Writer
Garrison Keillor said we should pity
pastors and other worship leaders “...
because every Sunday morning they
have to stand up in church and interrupt what people came there to do.”
I’m confused by worship leaders who
say “It’s not about me, it’s about the
Lord,” and then talk far more than
necessary. And I am the chief of sinners! One sentence, or none at all, is
explanation enough to move from
one element to another. A change of
lighting or movement is often enough
to redirect our focus. As we say in the
theatre, less is more.
Use Music Artfully
Martin Luther set Christian lyrics to beer hall
songs because he desired to break out of what
people had classified as “spiritual.” If songs pull
you by the ears, the head and heart must follow. Musical theatre
respects the nature of each song, its unique DNA. And if you
treat a lion like a lemming, it languishes. Slow an up-tempo song
I saw a play where an orange fell out
of a basket onto the stage floor. The
actors ignored it, but the audience did
not. We stared at that orange. It glared
back, like the evil eye of Sauron. We
didn’t hear or see anything else for
the rest of the scene, because in real
life someone would have picked it
up. The orange became a distraction.
Satan sought to tempt Christ in the
wilderness, and every temptation was a strategy of distraction.
Contemporary worship is full of distractions. Here are a few
common ones, easily fixed: