About me (Gary Gerdes) - Leader of the "Portable Worship
Team" & Consultant on Contemporary Worship:
I have led, and played in contemporary "praise and worship
teams" for nearly 10 years running (and still am). Most of
this was at regular services at four different Calvary Chapel churches.
I've also led and played at retreats, home fellowships, weekly studies,
memorial services, etc. I've also done a fair amount of studying
and reading on the nature of worship, and the role of the worship
team musicians and singers.
I am also personally available to consult with
you regarding any aspect of contemporary worship - ranging from
worship material, worship team issues, and even recommendations
on musical and sound equipment.
I've seen a particular situation, which troubled me. God put an
idea into my head, and several pastors I've spoken with thought
it would fulfill a need. So the "Portable Worship Team"
was created (on the 8th day?).
The problem occurs where a church has a worship team(s) that play
virtually every week. This can occur at a small church that doesn't
have the talent pool or resources to have more than one team. I've
also seen it occur at a large church that had one team always playing
first service, another always playing second, and a third team always
playing the evening service. I was in one of those teams and likely
played 50 out of 52 Sundays for five or six years.
The Main Problem is "Burnout"
Leading or playing on a worship team is a sacred gift and trust
that God appoints some of us to. I'm sure that anyone presently
playing on a team would acknowledge this, and is likely humble,
thankful and joyful for the opportunity. (If they aren't, what are
they doing there?) However, week after week it can start
to feel like a chore. At times I felt like I should be thankful
and joyful, but there were weeks when it felt more like an obligation
than a privilege. This is not the attitude for a worship team member
to have in preparing for and leading worship time.
Once I got into a situation where I was not regularly playing every
Sunday - the joy returned. Those Sunday mornings I got up refreshed
and excited about where the Spirit might lead worship this week.
A Second Problem is "Perception"
A team leader or member loses perspective of what worship is about
if they are always "on stage". They get wrapped in the
"performance", sound issues, and their technique. A team
member needs to have time "on the other side". They need
to have times sitting in the congregation where they can:
- Experience anew the joy of worshipping without the distractions
of leading it.
- Learn from the body members around them what types of songs and
lyrics seem to lead them into deeper and more active worship.
Perfection isn't everything:
There may be others in your church who would love to lead worship.
Maybe their skills aren't as honed as your "A-Team". But
the heart of worship is not a perfect performance. It is the attitude
of the team, individually and as a group. (The group dynamic
is trickier. In all the incarnations of worship teams I've played
on, with people coming and going - I've only been on two where it
felt like a truly unified family called together by God. One is
the team I play regularly on at my church. The other is the "core"
of the "Portable Worship Team".
So, if you have only one team, look around. There may be others
who are feeling led to participate. If they can sing on key, or
have some solid basic skills on an instrument - maybe they can help.
You can put the "B-team" together from these folks or
mix and match among better and more moderately skilled people. It
gives more people in your congregation a chance to participate and
you're developing skills among others who you may need when someone
leaves or is on vacation.
Variety is good for the congregation:
You can't make everyone happy all of the time. Not everyone is
moved to actively worship by the same type of songs. Some like upbeat
foot-stompin' joyful stuff. Others prefer the slower meditative
songs. Some like hymns. Some like the Top-40 Christian radio hits.
Others like to hear songs from when they first accepted Christ.
Some like the old-timey Southern Gospel standards. Two worship teams
(with two distinct leaders) are going to select different types
of songs, and their team will perform them differently. That way,
if this week isn't my cup of tea, I know next week will be.
Some churches I know of personally have made some changes to address
these problems. Some with two morning services have one worship
team do both services on a given Sunday, and their other team does
both services the following week. (Less rehearsal and setup time
is a side-benefit). My best friend's Lutheran church has an A-Team
and a B-Team that alternate weeks. Another church (with one service)
has their A-Team play the first 3 Sundays, and the B-Team does the
4th (Not sure what happens in a five-Sunday month - maybe they use
a dee-jay). 8-)
So how can the "Portable Worship Team" help?
First off, we are not a solution to all of the problems above -
we're at best more of a Band-Aid. We can't be your "B-Team"
every other week - we are all actively involved in our own churches.
But - a few examples on how we might be of service:
We might be able to arrange to come in regularly once
every other month to at least give your team a break that Sunday.
(To worship in the congregation? I don't like to call it a day
Maybe your worship leader is out of town and you haven't found
a strong secondary leader. Or maybe they are both out of town.
We filled in at one church where 85% of their team was on a
short-term mission to Mexico.
I'm not sure we could pull it together quickly enough if your
worship leader (or whole team?) was ill. Although if you knew
on a Saturday morning, that might be enough notice for us.
Here's a current list from
our book of praise and worship songs.
Our approximate geographic area of service would be from Auburn
to Everett and east to North Bend - but that's not a hard line.
We do not have a set "fee", but if possible it would be
nice to get at least a small honorarium or whatever to help support
this ministry and its travel and equipment expenses.
Anyway, we are all here to serve the Lord. If we can help you in
your service, please contact me via phone or email - or use
one of the short forms below for general queries.
In His name:
- Gary Gerdes