Format: Sound Plus Doctrine PodcastDownload Session
Week after week, month after month, year after year, leaders spend countless hours with their musicians preparing for Sunday. They want to serve their congregations skillfully and well. But how do you know if you’re practicing enough? And is it possible to practice too much? In this episode, Bob, David, and Devon Kauflin seek to answer those questions and more.
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David Zimmer: Hello, welcome to the Sound Plus Doctrine podcast. My name is David Zimmer.
Bob Kauflin: My name is Bob Kauflin, and we have a special guest with us today.
DZ: We are so excited.
Devon Kauflin: Am I really a special guest though?
BK: No, you’re not a special.
DZ: Every single time Devon.
DK: I’m not a guest and I’m not special, so.
DZ: Devon, and every single time.
BK: Okay. We have a random guy with us today, and it’s my son, Devon. Devon, welcome.
DZ: Everyone we have…
DK: It’s great to be here, I feel so welcomed.
BK: You should feel very welcomed.
DZ: Everyone we have on this podcast is special.
DK: Yeah, you’re right.
DZ: Even if they have been on this podcast like 15 times.
DK: That’s right. That’s exactly right.
BK: So David, what are we talking about today?
DZ: We are talking about band practice, how long…
DK: Say what?
BK: Band practice.
DZ: How long should we rehearse with our bands on Sundays?
BK: So just on Sundays or talking about mid-week rehearsals.
DZ: Any rehearsal. Any rehearsal.
BK: Any rehearsal.
DZ: How long should we be rehearsing for our Sunday gatherings?
BK: That is a great question. Well, let’s begin by saying, depending on what kind of band you have, that’s gonna affect it a little bit.
DZ: Very much so.
BK: So if it’s just me and my guitar, probably a lot less than say someone with 10 people in the band.
BK: So Devon, what do you think?
DK: So you’ve been doing this for?
BK: A long time.
DK: A long long time, longer than I’ve been alive.
DK: Can you tell us the history of what you’ve been through when it comes to rehearsals and band practice, and what that’s looked like in the different contexts you’ve served in?
BK: Yeah, well, I remember, so I was leading the music in a church in inner city, Philadelphia in the late ’70s. And I remember coming to the meeting and we didn’t rehearse. We had no rehearsal, we just said, who is there, who’s gonna, who will be up, hey, anybody playing drums. Okay, great. And we just start, I’d have a song in my mind to start with, and then we would start from the beginning.
DK: So not only did you not rehearse, you didn’t plan either.
BK: No, I didn’t plan either.
DK: Kinda hard to rehearse if you have no plan.
DZ: You were led by the spirit.
BK: We were led by the Spirit, and God met us powerfully many times. Although we did the same thing a lot of Sundays as well. I wouldn’t recommend that. So we went from that to, yeah, thinking more about what we’re gonna do, and we’d have these practices, which looking back, I think were probably just really long, because what we tended to do, was just play through everything and then play through everything again. And over the years, I probably got to a place where we were seeking to, especially like the ’80s and ’90s, you had a lot of kicks in the music, a lot of chord changes and that we had to do everything the same. So we’d go over those and as time went on, you just realize, that’s really not adding anything of substance to our gatherings. I look back at some of the chord charts I wrote up in the ’90s and think there’s like a thousand chords in here, how…
DK: Not written for guitar players.
BK: No, no, not at all. So…
DZ: So you’d have to practice.
BK: We did, well yeah, to make sure everybody knew where the chords came. So over the years, I thought more about, what do we need to practice? And so my rehearsals have gotten shorter. But I think you Devon have jumped on that, and your rehearsals are even shorter than mine. Although I do remember at a conference, you like going through a song, just like playing through the whole song for rehearsal. And I said, “Devon you don’t need to do that, you don’t just need to walk through the whole song.”
DK: Yeah, and out of my humility, I really took that to heart.
BK: You sure did. “Devon, we should practice.” “Nah, we don’t need to practice.” So that’s kind of been the history of what I’ve experienced. So I was in a church not too long ago, and I was preaching and led two songs afterwards, and just came in for the last 15 minutes of rehearsal on Sunday morning, and found out that the two songs I had suggested, recommended, the church didn’t know them. So I didn’t know that, so I said, “We’re not gonna do two songs after the sermon that nobody knows,” so we looked through and said, “Hey, well, let’s just do these two songs.” And so we ran through those two songs or portions of those two songs in about 10 minutes and we’re good to go. And we sang with the church and it went great, so that’s kind of where we landed. But yeah, I think a lot of times people practice too long.
DZ: Where would you land, Dev?
DK: Where would I land in terms of how long we should practice?
DK: Or in terms of how long I normally practice?
DK: So I’m in a context, it’s a smaller church and in general, we practice as much as I think we need to in order to serve our congregation on that morning. We’ll have as few as just me playing, or me and a cajon, or me and a vocalist and a cajon, or as many as maybe six or seven people, and as far as actually playing music, and I call it normally just a sound check as far as what we’re doing. And we’ll go as long as 20 minutes on a Sunday morning. And that’s all we’ll do. I have noticed though… So recently, my dad and I had a conversation. We had this conversation where I asked like, “Should we even practice on Sunday mornings and does… ” And the reason I asked that is because I think sometimes the more time we give to practice… So if I have an hour and a half or a weekly rehearsal, I think I can tend to start aiming at things other than that, which I should aim at as we gather together as a church. And so then it becomes, I’ve got this space to fill, this container to fill, so then we start working out, “What new thing can we do with the song? We’ve been playing this hymn or the song or whatever it is. And let’s figure out something new and cool, we have an hour and a half tonight. Let’s do something fun.” And there, it’s not like that that’s wrong necessarily to do.
BK: Not at all.
DK: But in the terms of what we’re called to do as the church, it’s just not a high priority. And so with that, I started to wonder. But then I’ve also recognized more recently, there’s just… I’ve been doing this for a long time. And there’s a certain level of competence that I have and confidence that I have in what I’m able to do and I’ll tell people that I play with, “You know what, we’ll be okay. Even if you start playing the wrong thing, we’re gonna be okay. And the song is gonna keep moving forward. And the Word of Christ will still dwell on us ritually, and God is still here.” And I’m okay with that. But it is a result of a lot of practice over many years.
BK: Yes, that’s right.
DK: And so I think I have to recognize and acknowledge that. And so as I have other guys leading on Sundays, I’m being more intentional about making sure that they do have more time to feel like, “Okay, we’re prepared and ready to go as we go about this. So yeah on a typical Sunday morning, if our first service starts at 10:30, this coming Sunday, let’s say our time of corporate worship start at 10:30, I’ll be there, just to set some stuff up at 9:40 or so. And we’ll set stuff up and be playing at 9:55. And we’ll play probably for 10 or 15 minutes. And I like to talk about the picture I use in my mind is like a train going down the tracks. And that train is gonna stay on those tracks as long as those tracks aren’t broken, that train is gonna stay on those tracks except for when there’s a juncture.
DK: And so when we think about practicing, I just wanna go over those junctures. And so it could be in a song, it could be going from a verse to a chorus, or a chorus to a bridge or a bridge… Or a song to song and just talking through, “Okay, what are we going to do at this point.” And just making sure everybody’s okay with that. Or if we’re doing a newer song, I’ll just make sure, “Okay, do we all know the melody, and do we know how the song goes?” Covering that stuff. But I seek to cover the minimum. And the reason I do that is because I think that what we do, as we gather together as the church is far more important than what we’re just doing, musically. And I want that to be reflected in our practices. And so I do tell our musicians and everybody that’s involved in our sound team, like “We’re here to be a part of this body, not to just do our thing.” And so I wanna make sure that the thing that we’re responsible to do we wanna do it well, but I don’t want that to take away from or become the higher priority than being with the church and being with God’s people.
BK: Yeah, as you’re talking, I’m thinking that, obviously, how much you practice is partly dependent on the skill level of your musicians. So if you have a new drummer, say if you have a drummer in your church, or a guitarist, or a piano player, whatever, and they’re good, but their level of musicianship isn’t what maybe some of the other people in the church are, or maybe some of other people in the team, you will probably need to practice a little bit longer than you would if you’re with one of your best musicians. And I know when I am with someone who’s new to the team, I will take the time to go through a whole song, because I want them to feel, “Okay. Yeah, I know this song pretty well.” There are different ways of thinking about this. I’ve talked to leaders for decades, who said, “I can’t get people to practice in the week, I can’t get them practice.” And there could be a number of reasons for that. Some bad, well, just the person doesn’t care, doesn’t think it’s important. But it could also be that people have busy lives.
DZ: For sure.
BK: You know, they’re doing a lot of stuff. And so I wanna make it easy for them to participate on the team. So I might take a little extra time that Sunday morning to make sure we know the song. And so we’ll go over it. And we might go over some vocal parts or… Those kinds of things. But the other thing that comes to mind as you’re talking, Dev, is, the difference between trying to replicate a recording.
DZ: Oh, yeah.
BK: And making music. So I’m much more of the school of, “Let’s make music, let’s just not play something. Let’s make music together.”
DK: When I think in the context of the church, too. It’s even more specific than that. Not just making music, but it’s just helping people sing. Let’s help people sing.
BK: Well, that’s why. Yeah. Exactly.
DK: At its most simple form, that’s what we’re doing as musicians on a Sunday morning. Whether we’re… The music is accompany… I mean, the singing is accompanied just by a piano or an acoustic guitar or full band. We’re there to help people sing. And so that’s… It’s a different thing, than, Can we reproduce this recording?
DZ: Yeah. Well, yeah. And I think what helps your people sing, and also what helps your band not feel like they have to be ultra-prepared or they have to rehearse so much longer is also if you have a smaller pool of songs you’re choosing from.
BK: That’s a great point.
DZ: Because I think your congregation will pick up on those songs and they’ll be able to sing them. And then your band doesn’t feel like we have to work so hard to learn this brand-new arrangement for this Sunday. And this brand-new arrangement for this Sunday. And I remember I would play at a church in Los Angeles that it was… There were new songs every single week.
DZ: And it was like, I felt so much pressure coming in and playing at a church and going like, I had to nail this and nail these transitions and know this song in and out and I had a chart, I’m writing notes on it. And I think it can exhaust your bands, your musicians, I mean to say.
BK: Well, and that begs the question, why are we doing what we’re doing? So if a church is teaching new songs every week or a lot of new songs or trying to replicate songs on recordings, you got to ask, “Why are we doing this? What’s the goal?” I mean, unless you assume that everybody’s listening to the same songs throughout the week. That’s not necessarily helping people sing those songs. What’s helping people sing a song is knowing what key it’s in, knowing the tempo and knowing… Being able to see the words somewhere and knowing when the song starts, knowing when they should sing, that’s what you need. So all the other stuff, the turns, the licks, the kicks, all that it… They can certainly be done, but are they crucial? Well, no, not necessarily. So I think a lot of times we’re practicing the wrong things.
DZ: That’s right.
BK: Because we have the wrong aims. You know our aim is to replicate what’s on this recording, okay if that’s your aim, then yeah, that’s gonna take more rehearsal. With our church Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville I want people to be familiar with recording, if there is a recording of the song, but realize we’re not necessarily gonna do it that way, because this is our church, and this is as a Sunday morning, a specific Sunday morning and we might start the song just with a guitar rather than like with a big intro.
DZ: Right. Exactly.
BK: And it’s always a… It can be a shock sometimes to someone who’s used to doing it differently to come in and get, “Yo, I’m ready for the big intro,” and you don’t do it, and it’s like, “Oh, what about the big intro?” “Well, we don’t need the big intro.”
BK: For this moment.
BK: So we can practice the wrong things ’cause we have the wrong aims, and then we can practice… If you’re not gonna pick-up on that. I have another thought. We can practice unintentionally. So I read this book by Geoff Colvin, Talent is Overrated, where he talks about intentional practice, and I resonated with what he was saying, just as a Piano Performance major in college, just being very specific about the things that I practice and Devon you were referring to this earlier about the junctures you know… I have been with church bands regularly, as I’ve traveled that their rehearsal consists of just playing through all the songs and sometimes twice, and no one is saying anything. It may be, “Well, why don’t you start this song or… ” But once that gets going, everybody just plays to the song.
DK: Well, that was the experience that you mentioned earlier when I was leading at a conference, you were leading with me…
BK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
DK: And we had, let’s say, two hours to rehearse for these 45 minutes that we were gonna lead.
BK: Oh man.
DK: And I remember you saying afterwards like, “How come we’re playing so much? Like to what end?”
BK: Wearing everybody out.
DK: And yeah, I mean you show up exhausted to the actual event that we’re leading for.
BK: But we know the songs.
BK: Yeah, I think we sometimes have this mindset, and I’d be especially concerned about a younger generation, has this mindset that when we lead, it has to look like Passion, or it has to look like Elevation or it has to look like Hillsong or it has to look like whoever. It has to look like that, with everybody…
DK: Or the Sovereign Grace Music live recording.
BK: Or the Sovereign Grace music live recording. Thank you, thank you. Exactly. No, totally. Like it’s gotta look like this. We don’t even do things like that.
BK: I mean in our church we do some. Some of the arrangements they just work and we’ll do them that way, but we don’t do our songs the way we record them all the time.
DK: Oh and in a smaller context, we never do…
BK: Oh absolutely.
DK: A song how it’s recorded.
DK: And we don’t even… I don’t even make attempts to. Certainly, we sing the right melody, but as far the accompaniment…
BK: It’s helpful to sing the right melody.
DK: We just wanna help people sing.
BK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
DZ: Yeah, Bob, when you say aim, I feel like a lot of people listening to this will think, “Well, but I wanna be effective on Sundays, I wanna be well-rehearsed and well-practiced, I don’t wanna be a distraction.”
BK: Yes. Amen.
DZ: How do you find… How do you find that line of not over-doing it, because we feel like it has to be perfect, but also… The other side that says, “Well, we’ll just see how it goes.”
BK: Well, it gets back to the idea of intentional practice, like what do you need to be intentional about? Do I need to be intentional about matching the recording? Well, unless you’re telling people or you’re being told, “Yes, this is what we need to do,” that’s not like a key element. So I might have a electric guitar player who wants to… Who can’t quite get the lick in a turn. I said, “Yeah, just play something else.” The Holy Spirit is not only in that lick.
BK: In fact you know that’s not where we’re banking on, “You’ve gotta get that lick right.” It’s about, what does the church need to sing these songs well? So yeah, we should be rehearsed in the right places, a church has helped when they know like when the song begins, when they’re supposed to start singing, that’s important. I would say they need to know when they come in on a verse, when the song’s over, those kinds of things, they just don’t take a lot of rehearsal.
DK: And a lot of those things can be covered just by talking about them. As far as that’s what… I find and I’ve seen this in you as well, more of my rehearsal consists of just talking about what we’re gonna do, rather than actually playing it, and I serve with musicians of a wide degree of skill.
BK: Degrees of skill. Yeah.
DK: Very wide. But that’s fine. And I just want them to know why we’re doing what we’re doing as far as helping people sing. And once we know those aims, that can then inform those decisions, and then there’s also that reality that what you just mentioned, just you know what the Holy Spirit is not dependent on you. God is not dependent on you doing this thing or that thing at this moment. God is present with us as we gather together.
DK: And that’s enough. And that’s fine. And so I think along with all of this it’s just that having that category for what’s the most important sound as we gather, besides hearing God through His word, it’s… Our response as a congregation, it’s our voices, as we lift them together, and so we wanna make room for that. And so it’s being intentional about not being music-dependent or production-dependent in everything that we do. And so building that into the fabric of our church. I think that also plays into how we think about, “Okay, how long should we practice?” And so in this case, I think it’s like having times where it’s just acapella and it’s just the voices singing and we’re not like… Or when somebody’s praying, there’s no music. I just had a conversation this past week about…
DK: Somebody is asking and should I play? When the pastor’s praying at this time, should I play? It’s like you can, but you don’t need to, and that’s fine. And I think… And we wanna be comfortable with that. And so it’s… I think we can lose sight of the very occasional and particular nature of what we’re doing as we gather together as churches. We wanna serve this group, in this place, at this time. And a lot of times, I think in how we think about arrangements, we start to think about playing as if we’re serving some other group in some other place at some other time.
BK: Like something that you’d be able to post on YouTube and people would go, “Oh, that’s amazing.”
DZ: Yeah, yeah.
DK: Or if there was something that you’d be able to play in an arena and we’re sitting here in a middle school cafeteria.
DK: And like… That’s not who we’re called to serve. That’s not where God has put us. And so we wanna serve these people. And that just… I think that just changes the nature of a lot of the conversations we have around. Alright, what are we supposed to do? And how much time should we spend at doing this? And so being faithful then is being faithful to make room for the voice of the people of God and to prioritize the proclamation of the Word of God, and those are the things we wanna serve. And we don’t need a lot of time to do that.
BK: Now, going back to something you said earlier, ’cause I think this ties into your question. A person wants to be rehearsed, they want to be well-prepared. I think a lot of that rehearsal preparation comes not week-to-week, but like month-to-month, year-to-year.
DZ: Yeah, yeah. Over time. Yeah.
BK: Because I recognize that being able to play like I do is an immense gift. I just don’t think much about the music. I remember we were having this conversation about… We were talking about looking down at… How much do you look at your music when you lead? And I said I look down… I look down at a line and look up. I try and engage with the congregation as much as I can when I’m leading. I just… It’s a joy to see people singing, it’s a joy to find out… It’s helpful to see where they’re at, those kind of things, but you said, “So do you remember the chords, too? Do you look down at the chord?” I said, “No, I… Like, I know the chords.”
BK: Just ’cause I know theory. Well that’s a gift. It’s a gift that I have worked at for years, decades ago, but that really serves me now. So if you’re wanting to rehearse, practice for Sunday morning, do your best… It certainly could help to practice the songs for that Sunday, but better than that, I’d say practice chords. Just learn chords, become very familiar with chords, familiar with theory. Theory helps so much to know like a one chord, four chord, five chord, six minor, two minor, three minor. Like what those are in every key, what they sound like. So you’re not kinda tied to just your muscle memory, either as a keyboard player or a guitar player. Just if my fingers don’t remember it, “Ah! I’m stuck.”
DZ: Right. Well, and in many ways it frees you up. Theory frees you up, practicing frees you up. That sort of practice over a long period of time frees you up and also not being so married to the arrangement that’s on the CD or on the YouTube channel also frees you up.
BK: Yes. Yeah.
DZ: And I think it creates a sensitivity in song leaders to say, “You know what? As a response to the word we just heard, we’re actually not gonna do that big loud intro. We’re actually gonna, like you said, just an acoustic guitar going into it.”
DK: Then that gets back to that just particular nature of what we’re doing. And so, if you’re singing a song after a sermon and the sermon ends in a… Just, like on a convicting note and it’s a call to confess sin or reflect, and the song we have afterwards, like kicks in with four on the floor. I mean like all this stuff, it’s like, no, like, no. We don’t need to do those things. We wanna serve these people at this time. And so, yeah, we’re gonna scrap what we planned, and do this. And it’ll be fine. It’ll be okay.
BK: And that’s where, again, talking about how much should we rehearse, there are just certain things you can’t rehearse. ‘Cause you don’t know what’s gonna happen in the course of the meeting. Now, for some, the goal is to execute exactly what you rehearsed.
DZ: Yeah. By the minute.
BK: By the minute, by the second. And if you think that’s the aim, that’s the goal. Well that, yeah, you’re gonna need a lot more rehearsal. No question. I’m just not so sure that’s the best goal, that’s the best aim. Now, I’m sure there are people listening and saying, “Well, no, in our church, everybody leads by notes and you don’t want them playing wrong notes.” Yeah. That’s right. Amen. You should play the right notes and those things are helpful. But there’s nothing in scripture that says that’s the kind of music that we must have for congregational singing. Excellence is not defined simply purely as musical technique…
BK: Proficiency. It’s does this serve our purposes, you know, that the Word of Christ dwell in people richly as they sing, that we encounter the Lord, that we hear from Him, that the glory of God in Christ is exalted in people’s minds and hearts and wills as we sing? That’s the goal. So, I wanna do everything I can in terms of rehearsal to aim for that goal. And that just means, yeah, being intentional about what I’m gonna practice. So, as Devon was saying earlier, circling by back around to that the way a song ends, the way a song begins.
DK: I think if we prioritize, ’cause I’m thinking about somebody that might be listening to this and they’re thinking, they’re… Let’s say they are a worship leader, and they’re not confident musically and they’re passable vocally. And they’re thinking, I mean like, “What do we do? What do I prioritize?” And I think first, you prioritize the melody and it’s can… Do I know the melody of this song or do we know the melody of the song, if I’m not confident in the melody, is there somebody else that can help sing with me that can be confident in carrying this melody, because that’s, I think the thing that’s gonna serve the voice of the congregation the most.
BK: Yeah, yeah yeah.
DK: So there’s that, and then there’s the, Alright, do we know how we’re starting the song, do we know how we’re ending the song, do we know how within the song, we’re going from one section to the next?
BK: The chorus to the bridge. Okay, it’s a little different there. Alright, does everybody know that?
DK: So yeah, typically train wrecks don’t happen going in the middle of the verse, normally they don’t happen.
DK: Going from the verse to the chorus and normally they don’t happen.
BK: And if they do, it’s a serious problem.
DK: Practice more.
BK: Yeah, practice more.
DK: So we’ve talked about the melody, the song beginning, ending, part to part; other things you’d add to that as far as, this is what we need to practice?
BK: If you are doing harmonies, I would practice those. Now, I’ve talked to guys who, I don’t know a thing about the first thing about vocals. First, I’d say harmonies are overrated in terms of… And we could probably do a whole podcast on this. Like how should we think about vocal harmonies on Sunday? But I would say generally, churches, that are more free-flowing, sing too many harmonies and everybody just kinda…
DK: Everyone does what is right in their own eyes.
BK: Yes, exactly. Which it really works out well. So focus on the melody, but if then if you’re gonna have harmonies in some point, just make sure that people have a good idea of what they are. So you might take a moment to work on those, and if you’re not getting it, I mean there’ll be times I say “Don’t worry. Just sing that and that’d be great,” ’cause again, it’s not a performance, it’s not like people in the church are gonna be like “Oh, my gosh, they didn’t even do that harmony right, oh. Just didn’t encounter the Lord today at all.” It’s like, no. And I know a lot of decisions I make are more for, “I think this will sound really good, and I think it’ll bless the church,” but if I don’t have someone there who can do that, not a problem.
BK: And I think some churches have gone down to just two vocalists, ’cause someone sings harmony occasionally, and that’s great. And that’s okay.
DK: That’s what we do most Sundays.
BK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
DK: Normally, I’ll be leading and we’ll have a female vocalist and she’ll ask me like, “Oh, what do you want me to do?” And I say, “I mean, I’m gonna carry the melody in.”
BK: You do what sounds good.
DK: “Really whatever you wanna do as long as… I’ll tell you if it sounds bad.”
DK: I think another thing to prioritize in practice, and this is even in a small context, it’s just the rhythmic feel of a song. And just making… So I’ve recently, I’ve been incorporating different, we don’t have drums but we normally have a cajon, and so new people playing the cajon, and that’s often the challenge as far as they’re wanting… Like, “What do I play?” They’re, again, wide degrees of skill. And so well actually that’s the one thing I normally do end up spending a little bit of time on and just making sure… Okay like, do we understand how the song goes, and how I accompany it because it can be very uncomfortable for a lot of people, if that person playing cajon or drums is very lost.
DZ: Yes. For sure. Not only the band but obviously the congregation.
DK: So then depending on the skill level… I love how Harold Best talks about excellence and the pursuit of excellence, he talks about excellence is simply becoming better than you were yesterday. And so it’s a relative idea, and so what’s excellent for you, specifically, is gonna be different than what’s excellent for this other person over here, ’cause it’s being better than you were yesterday. And so when it comes to cajon, in this instance, if somebody’s having trouble in playing, I’ll just kinda keep stepping back or “Well, okay, I think maybe what you’re doing is a little bit too complicated, maybe just play the one in each measure,” and that’s gonna add something and that’s gonna contribute. It’ll help us dynamically. That’s great. And then sometimes maybe it’s, “How about you just don’t play at all in this song?”
DK: And we’ll be… It’ll be okay.
BK: That’s what I was gonna say. Part of rehearsal is just telling people when to play and when not to play.
BK: So it might be, you know, your drummer always plays all the time, and just saying, “You know, why don’t you and the bass player just lay out for the first verse, and then on this fourth verse, why don’t we lay out there too?
BK: And just thinking about those things in rehearsal, now, I also wanna be able to, in the meeting, have some kind of way of communicating, you know, “Hey, let’s just bring this down.”
DK: Knock it off.
BK: But you can rehearse those things, there’s generally… We found with four verses, you wanna do one of those verses softer, rather than just everything the same, but maybe the third verse like Come Thou Fount, which we now use five verses for. But “Oh, to grace how great a debtor, Daily I’m constrained to be,” we usually bring that verse down.
BK: It’s just like, “Yeah, let’s just reflect on this for a moment.”
DZ: Dynamics. It’s so wonderful.
BK: Yeah the dynamics are… [laughter] So that’s another thing you can practice is just… Is this… So I might say talking through it first verse, just guitar, second verse, why don’t we bring bass and drums in, third verse, everybody, and fourth verse, let’s just go acapella. And that, you don’t need to rehearse all that, just everybody knows, and I think just to sum up, ’cause I don’t know if we should be finishing this or not. Yeah, we should be evaluating as leaders and musicians. Are we just mindlessly going through what we’re going through and just thinking, “Oh, we’re rehearsing,” or are we being intentional about looking for the best ways to serve what God wants to do through us as we lead through in the meeting.
DK: What would you say to that worship leader who’s serving at a church and the pastor’s expectation is that it’s gonna sound like the album sounds.
BK: The recording, yeah.
DK: Or that it’s just gonna be un-distractingly excellent and well executed, and so that necessitates, or this worship leader feels like it necessitates, a lot of rehearsal. What would you say… How would you encourage that person?
BK: I’ve talked to a number of those people, and what I generally say is, make sure your heart’s right, that you’re there to serve, you’re there to serve the vision of your pastor, you’re not there to tell him what’s right, what’s wrong.
DK: “Bob said I don’t need to rehearse.”
BK: Yeah, yeah. And then just… I think I’d try to have conversations about the nature of congregational worship, and to do it with joy, to practice those things with joy and to seek… It’s not that doing it like the recording is wrong, it’s just not like the aim, it’s not like God can only work through this means. So I’d seek to bring content to that, I’d seek to bring comments to that, and just in terms of filling out what a song could be missing, or an arrangement could be missing, but mostly talking to the pastor about, “So how do you think about this?” And just trying to work out, “I would love to see us grow in this area, and see if there can’t be a meeting of the minds in terms of how we pursue congregation worship,” but what I found too often is that the pastors would say, “No, no, we want this to be high quality, high performance, high… ” And often those guys have… The worship leaders have ended up leaving, because you’ve gotta be… You’ve gotta be in sync with what…
DZ: It’s too much pressure.
BK: What the purpose of the congregational meeting is, and yeah, if you’re spending every Sunday just feeling this weight, this burden of getting it all right, that we just don’t find that anywhere in the New Testament. And it kind of undercuts the reality that Jesus is the one who perfects our offerings. 1 Peter 2:5, “Our offerings, our sacrifices are made acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” And we will never offer the perfect offering. We can seek to serve the church well, and do things in a way that’s edifying, but it’s not about getting every note perfect, every kick perfect, and all those things. So yeah, I think it unintentionally can undermine the gospel, which says, “Look, we’ll never offer anything perfect to the Lord, but Jesus has.”
DK: Amen. Amen.
DZ: Amen. Well, we’ve gone over time, but there’s so much more we could say on this topic.
BK: There is.
DZ: But thank you, Devon, so much, for being here. And…
DK: Great to be here.
DZ: And thank you for listening and tuning in.