Planning…some worship leaders consider that a dirty word, yet others plan to the Nth degree. Regardless of your persuasion on this topic, planning is required to pull off a successful worship service on a weekly basis.
Having had the opportunity to run lyrics for some of the biggest names in the worship music genre, and serving in the media booth at my local church for many years, I’ve been able to witness firsthand how different worship leaders plan a worship set. Some worship leaders have a general idea of the songs they will sing and have a set list that they loosely follow, and others plan from beginning to end the songs they will be singing including the order and transitions. Both approaches can create a worshipful atmosphere.
But let’s be honest, none of that is needed for a worship service to be successful. Every one of the artists & worship leaders I’ve been able to run words for would likely agree; you only need your heart turned toward Jesus and nothing else for successful worship. Their job is to help you get your heart into that position. They do that most commonly with worship music. The people in the media booth support the people on stage with lyrics and media. They are just as important as any band member. Here are some helpful tips that will help you plan ahead, regardless of the style your worship leader prefers.
The first step in the planning process is communication. If your worship leader isn’t a communicator, you’ll need to be. Not everyone is wired the same. Some are natural communicators and others aren’t. Make sure you get an idea of how your leaders communicate. Look for ways to get into the information flow. You may get lucky and they may come to you with what they need, but you may need to go to them and ask. Also, learn how they communicate from stage. With one music minister I learned that he had hand signals and sometimes he would change the song after preaching. I learned to listen to the pianist and pick up on the tune she was playing and load that song up just in case we needed it.
That brings me to the next step in planning; compiling a database. You can’t present what you don’t have. You can load songs on the fly from SongSelect, but that can be stressful and the song may be half over before you get lyrics on the screen. Since you’ve established a good communication pipeline with the worship leader(s), it’s time to get an idea of what songs they will be singing. Maybe get a list of the songs they have been practicing with the musicians and have already been rotating through their worship sets. Get a list of the songs that they are thinking about introducing to the congregation. Get them loaded into the database from SongSelect and break them up just in case you need to pull one up on the fly. I’ve worked with worship leaders that have a whole database of songs, and I needed to pick up on the tune and display the song at a moment’s notice. Then others would give me a list to load up ahead of time. Either way it doesn’t hurt to do a little bit of homework to make sure you and your worship leader(s) are pulling from the same list of songs. I think your worship leader will appreciate this, too.
So, what happens when you are thrown a curve ball? Either you missed a song or slide in the set list, it wasn’t communicated for some reason, or the Lord has given a song to the worship leader that you don’t have in your database. Use your communication pipeline to determine what the worship leader wants in that situation. Do they want you to black/clear the screen? Do they want you to find the song on SongSelect and scramble to get it loaded and presented? I’ve actually had the Lord prompt both me and the worship leader to use a specific song at the same time. Those are sweet moments in the media booth. Just remember when you get a curve ball, don’t get frustrated, just let the Lord use you. Be a servant. If you need to scramble, then scramble, if you need to black the screen, black the screen. Just make sure you are on the same page as the worship leader as to what you will do in that situation.
These are three of many things I’ve learned to consider when preparing for worship in the media booth. Just remember good communication and a servant’s heart will take you a long way in the preparation for a successful worship service.