When it comes to training musicians and leaders for Concerts versus Church Worship Services, both of which can be useful in the Kingdom of God, many of the required skills are the same, but here is my list of the main differences in emphasis.

Do you agree?  Have I left some out?  Give me some feedback please!

 

  1. Theological accuracy and simplicity of the lyrics/prayers (-versus poetic and artistic license)
  2. Encouraging/modeling congregational participation (-versus entertaining)
  3. Leading/Shepherding/Mentoring a rotation of volunteers with varying commitment and skill levels (-versus relationally keeping a small consistent band together)
  4. Musical flexibility of styles and instruments (-versus achieving high degree of excellence at one instrument in one style)

Expanded:

1. Theological accuracy and simplicity of the lyrics/prayers (-versus poetic and artistic license)

If I were trying to write songs for a concert band, I would feel much more free to be lyrical and vague with my lyrics.  The focus is on trying to convey some of the transcendence of the human experience with things such as personal stories, descriptions, …

When it comes to songs sung as part of a worship service, I need to make sure the lyrics, which are prayers set to music, are theologically accurate and appropriately mature ways of interacting with a Holy God, and accessible and easily understood by as many in the congregation as possible.  For the most part, we are asking people to sing along, so lyrically we need to keep it simple enough that people can participate.

Musically speaking, there are differences as well, … we need to make sure the melodies are singable by the average Joe, which means we may need to be careful about how complex we make it.

 2. Encouraging/modeling congregational participation (-versus entertaining)

In a concert venue the focus is on the people on the platform.  There are definitely times when you want people to participate by singing along, but a lot of the time you are trying to inspire them and communicate creatively with the unique gifts that God has given you.

In a church worship service setting the focus is not as much on the players on the platform.  They are the backup band for the congregation.  They are servants to the congregation that is singing to God.  Showcasing the creative prowess of the people on stage is not the focus. The focus is on encouraging maximum participation by God’s people in pouring out our praises together.

3. Leading/Shepherding/Mentoring a rotation of volunteers with varying commitment and skill levels (-versus relationally keeping a small consistent band together)

In a performance band, you are dealing with a tightknit family, with all the joys difficulties that brings.  Keeping people in a good spot relationally when they have to spend lots of time in close proximity to each other brings a specific set of challenges.

In a church setting, you are more likely to deal with a wide variety of skill, age and commitment levels from people who may barely even know each other.  The skills needed to recruit and maintain a crew of worship musicians in a church setting is quite different.

 4. Musical flexibility of styles and instruments (-versus achieving high degree of excellence at one instrument in one style)

In a concert setting, you need to focus on musical excellence on your single instrument and can probably afford to really concentrate on one single style of music.

In a church music setting, you never know what instruments might be required.  If you happen to have 3 guitar players and no bass players, it might be helpful if you knew the basics on the bass to train a new bass player or to fill in.  Same with drums, keys, … you name it.  And stylistically, you are more likely to have to spread at least a little wider so you can encourage people from a variety of style preferences to participate.  The singular focus on one eclectic style and one specific instrument would not be nearly as helpful as a “jack of all trades” so to speak.

Again, here are my questions folks:

Do you agree?  Have I left some out?  Give me some feedback please!

 Thanks!
-jason
 

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