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Posted on Nov 9, 2013 in Featured Slider, Worship Ministry | 4 comments

Conduct Rehearsals like a Pro with These 4 Essential Ingredients

As worship ministries have evolved over the past few decades, so have rehearsals. The evolution of rehearsals at my church is probably something you and your church can relate to. Once upon a time–if you can imagine it–folks would show up on Sunday AM, the director would pick some hymns out of the hymn book and away they went with an organ, piano & choir leading the way. Fast forward a few years and the planning process became more refined, as did the Sunday morning rehearsal time. As the ministry continued to evolve, the huge leap was made to a mid-week rehearsal; they tucked it away in a time slot right after Wednesday night programming.


That’s where our worship ministry was when I arrived. One of the first changes we made was to move our mid-week rehearsal to a dedicated night…a night when no other regular church programming was going on. For us, that was Thursday. This leant a greater sense of importance to mid-week rehearsal and helped people come focussed on music rather than whatever Wednesday night programming they may have just hailed from. With a dedicated night also came more time which allowed us to be more thorough and creative with our approach.

We’ve continued to tweak the system, making it better where we can. But I’ve found there are a few essential ingredients that have become mainstays and necessities. How we accomplish them matters little. Just that we do. Here they are in hopes they might inspire you to try something new or freshen up something old:

  1. Time with the band & vocals separateHaving them separate basically keeps them from wasting each other’s time. The band doesn’t have to sit around while the tenor figures out what he’s doing. The vocals don’t have to fall into small talk while the band discusses what went wrong at the break. If you’re not able to rehearse them separately at the same time, I recommend running the band through first. It’s hard to practice singing without solid music to back you up!
  2. Time with the band & vocals together. Of course, everyone needs to get an idea of what the final product will sound like!
  3. Time with you. Your vision, your passion, your reminders, your guidance. Don’t miss your chance to pour into your team in person! Teach them important concepts of worship ministry, share with them some background of why you planned the service they way you did, remind them of what you value in your worship ministry.
  4. Time with God. Missing out on this would be the biggest mistake you could make. Time in scripture and prayer will inspire your team’s worship. And an inspired team will inspire your church! Some nights you might pray for each other, other nights you may sit out in the seats and pray for the congregation in advance, and other times you may just sit and pray in silence. Any way you approach it, time with God is a must!

What’s one thing you love most about your rehearsals?


  1. I took over worship leading duties in Feb 10, 2012 and we already had the Thursday night practice established. I have been attending my church since Feb 2010 and filled in various roles. The worship team was fairly mature and thus most of the time comes prepared. We used to post the chord charts and mp3 files on a Google group page. This year around June we started using Planning Center and have loved it for what it does. Honestly, I am probably not even using most of it’s capabilities.

    The Thursday mid-week practice used to be 7-9 PM, but somewhere along the way it got shortened to 7-8:30 unbeknownst to me. We have never used a dedicated time for singers to get their parts and usually force the musicians to just wait while working on a part. I am not gifted at finding parts for others, but a recently added keyboardist is, so I often defer to him for assistance. The expectation has always been to come prepared and most of my singers are able to figure out their parts ahead of time or even on the fly. We have discussed setting aside time to have the singers go to a separate room to work on vocals and the musicians go through their parts as well. Another expectation for the mid-week practice is that we are not trying to perfect the songs or set that night, but to rather go through all the songs (usually only 4 songs) and make sure that we all know the expected arrangement, isolate any problem parts (leads, chord or key changes, etc) and work on those things individually and then we get together again on Sunday morning about 1 and a half before the service for another run through.

    We are not a large church (running approx 150-160) each Sunday, but I have a large worship team (approx 20-25) depending on who is home from college. I also have a few mercenary musicians available who can step in if there is a need due to vacations, summertime absenteeism, ha-ha). We usually have 10-11 on a given Sunday service.

    Of the 4 steps given in this article, I’d say we are doing step 2 & 3, but so well on 1 & 4. We certainly pray before each practice, but that is not nearly what you are proposing in step 4, is it? Our church has started doing a new thing on Sunday mornings. As the worship team is finishing our Sunday morning practice the prayer team comes into the sanctuary and prays for the service, It is a sweet time for all of us.

    • John, it’s great to hear about your context and where you guys are at! Your situation sounds similar to mine in a lot of ways. I definitely get what you’re saying about not trying to have everything perfect on Thursday night! It’s a great point. A lot of times we call it “Thursday night ready” :)

      Have you considered having your keyboardist break off with the vocals for a few minutes? I suppose, you could try it just with a new song or something to see how it went? When I first started it, we got some pushback from some of the vocals…partly because it was being led by one of their “peers” instead of “the boss”. But once we pushed through that, it’s been smooth sailing and it has made a very noticeable difference. I email some specifics to my “vocal coach” and so they always join us in the know and ready to go.

      Your prayer team coming in like that on Sundays sounds really cool! I think it’s great when ministries can cross over like that and encourage each other. One thing I’ve tried on Sunday mornings is having different team members bring a Psalm on Sunday morning to share with the rest of us. It’s as much to get them searching the Psalms that week as anything else!

      Thanks again for sharing. Oh, and “mercenary musicians” cracked me up!

      • That’s a great idea to have my keyboardist take the singers aside to work on vocals. The best part is he sings in my same range. The only issue I see is we don’t have a keyboard in another location of the church and he doesn’t play guitar. I guess one workaround to that is since we use Planning Center, which has a mobile app, they can bring up the songs posted for that service on either an iPad or any smart phone to listen to or through a part.

        Well, it’s Thursday night and I have to go get us “Thursday ready” for our upcoming church-wide Christmas Dinner service. All Christmas worship music; Joy (Unspeakable Joy), Angels We Have Heard On High (both Tomlin versions), Christmas Offering (Baloche), Glory in the Highest (Tomlin) and Winter Snow (Audry Assad) for the offering. My 18 yr old daughter sings this one so beautifully,

        Regards & blessings, John

        • Have you liked Planning Center, then? I’ve had a hard time understanding where the benefits would really come over what I’m doing already but maybe I need to just research it some more. The feature you describe here certainly sounds nice.

          Sounds like a great set, we’re doing Angels We Have Heard on High this week, too…pairing it with a hint of the Doobie Bros’ “Listen to the Music”. Always fun!

          If you’d be interested in writing a guest review of Planning Center, I’d love to post it on my blog here. Let me know and I can get you some basic guidelines. Have a good one!


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