Help! I Need a Bass Player!

Have you ever received the worship leader’s most dreaded text message? That text you receive on Saturday night from someone on your team and it goes something like this, “Hey I feel awful but I am puking my guts out and there is no way I can play tomorrow! SO SORRY!” You’re nice so you respond, “No problem! Hope you feel better soon! We will figure it out.” But inside you are SCREAMING! Maybe you are at a small church and there are no back-up musicians to choose from. What do you do?

One of the primary jobs of the worship leader is to eliminate distractions and point people to Jesus. No bass player, inconsistent sound, and bad timing are all distractions. Thankfully, there is plenty of help out there for you.

Click tracks are your best friend. Click track? You ask… How is a click track supposed to help me fill in my missing bass player? Well, the first step to moving down the road of filling in the missing gaps is to start using a click track. There are entire articles written on this subject but in short: click tracks help your band play in time and open up a world of possibilities for all worship teams (smaller churches included) to greatly improve the sound of their team. Try just giving your drummer an ear bud and run a click into one ear from a phone metronome app or a click generator such as a Boss DB90. This is a simple and inexpensive step towards taking your band to the next level. You will find yourself spending less time in rehearsal getting the band to speed up or slow down and more time on other musical elements such as dynamics, voicing, and transitions. Introduce the click slowly in rehearsals only for a few weeks, then once your drummer is comfortable, you will be able to start using it every week in live worship.

Loops and Multi-tracks. Now that you have your band playing in time, you are able begin to introduce loops and multi-tracks. Have you ever been to a concert and saw the keys player or drummer with a laptop beside them? Odds are they are using software to run a click track and cues into the ears of the band and tracks out to the front of house. Good news! You can use the same technology to help fill in the gaps of missing players on your worship team! Perhaps you have heard of other churches doing this and thought it was too involved for your small church setting or maybe you are just hearing this for the first time. Either way, I am convinced that using tracks is one of the best things you can do for a smaller churches. Worship music today comes out with so many layers of sound. Many tracks may have 4 or 5 guitars, 3 keys, and auxiliary percussion. The artists don’t have that many people on stage (they are running tracks), and you do not have to in order to accomplish a consistent, excellent sound either.

Maybe your bass player calls in sick on Saturday night. Used to this meant that you would spend all night scavenging to find a bass player and sometimes that hunt ends in disaster (believe me, I know, I’ve been there). Using multi-tracks allows your band to play along to a track that plays the bass part for you – or guitar, keys, synth, drums.

Don’t be afraid. This technology is actually very easy to use and there are many resources out there to help you from square one. Loopcommunity.com is a great resource that has all the info you need to start using multi-tracks with your church band. Here are a few resources that you will find helpful:

·      Loopcommunity.com PRIME App. This is a free (yes, free) mobile app that lets you mix what parts you want to play and it runs right from your iPad or iPhone. Click Here 

·      Don’t have money to buy Avioms or personal monitoring systems? You really only need to get the drummer set up to start. Here’s a simple way to make that happen. Click Here 

·      What’s the set-up? Here’s Basic hookup diagram – Click Here

If you have any questions at all or just want to learn more about using these resources, I am happy to chat with you about helping your team grow in this area! You can reach me directly at wade@loopcommunity.com (social - @wadehuggins)- please, don’t hesitate to contact me! I have seen first hand what a difference using loops and multi-tracks can make for smaller churches. I love to help worship leaders discover the benefits of using this technology!

Leading Students in Worship

Many times, the first venue for a new worship leader is at a youth gathering. What’s next? How do you best invite these students to join you in worship? I’ve had this conversation with many youth pastors, bands, and worship leaders. We all agree, students are not the easiest to lead in worship. Let’s be honest there is a lot to compete with in the lives of the average student today.

If you’ve ever felt discouraged after leading a youth gathering, you are not alone. So how do we best direct their attention away from so many competing interests and guide them towards fixing their eyes on Jesus? Here are a few things to keep in mind next time you step in front of a youth group to lead worship.

  • Meet them where they are and be in that moment with them. I can’t stress how important this is. I remember an evening not long ago the students looked worn out. It turned out that most of them had just finished a long day of standardized testing. I knew that there was going to be no way to get them going and energized. They needed rest. It was a great opportunity to lead them to a place of rest in the presence of God. Then there are the nights where the students have all seemingly consumed two 12oz Red Bulls and are bouncing off of the walls. You may not have any chance of knowing where they are at until twenty minutes before things start. So plan for this. If you’ve planned and rehearsed for an energetic start to the night, but notice they need some rest, be willing to change your planned direction to best meet the students where they are.
  • Give them direction. Some worship leaders like to think that if they just get up there and sing through the song, God will do the rest. There is both truth and myth at work in this philosophy. While you have to allow the Spirit to break through and guide the hearts and minds of students into worship, consider that it is through you that the Holy Spirit is doing that work. Be prayerful about the worship set. Find ways to give guidance in the spaces between songs. Use transitions to guide the student’s hearts and minds in worship. This can be as simple as guiding them to repeat a small phrase of scripture with you, or it can be a devotional thought, or it can be a simple scripture reading. Remember that you are taking a part in raising up the next generation of worshippers. Teach them how to unleash their spirit to worship God. Talk about why we sometimes raise our hands in worship. Talk about why we bow down. Talk about why we worship. Aaron Keyes has some great thoughts on the Hebrew words for worship and praise. Share some of these thoughts with the students. I have found them to be incredibly helpful and think you will as well.
  • Don’t treat them like children. – This seems self-explanatory but the fastest way to lose a group of students is to treat them like they are kids. You would be surprised by how the phrase, “Hey kids!” causes them to immediately disconnect. Respect them by not treating them as children and they will be more willing to follow you where you lead them.
  • Know why they may feel uncomfortable – In a room of students ranging from 6th graders to seniors in high school, honestly, you are going to have some who are very uncomfortable singing. I’ve found this to be especially true with middle school boys. Their voices are changing and some are embarrassed to sing. We need to be careful not to lead them to think that loud singing equals worship. That misses the mark. Instead of encouraging them to sing louder, try encouraging them to find words in the song that are really speaking to them. Give them direction to worship silently if they wish. The singing will come as their heart grows in worship for God.
  • Invest in the lives of the students you are leading. – Be more to them than the guy or gal up there on the stage singing songs. Be their friend. Recognize that you are in a position of influence and use that influence to point them to Christ.
  • Be Yourself – Students today see right through the façade. Authentically worship God as you lead. Do not be afraid to be vulnerable. You are not Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, or Hillsong – don’t try to be. Be yourself and allow God to use you to lead the students in worship.
  • Lead Familiar Songs – They want to sing songs they know and are more likely to engage in worship when they feel they know the songs. Sometimes it takes singing something over and over to really allow the words to be written on our hearts. Help them embody the songs through leading songs they are familiar with. Find two or three songs that the students really enjoy singing and try to sing one of them every week.

Now, go out there, be yourself, and lead the next generation of worshippers!

his post was featured on the blogs of WorshipLeader.com and loopcommunity.com.