Recently I became the worship pastor of a much larger church with multiple worship services per week. The sheer number of services requires a lot from our volunteer musicians so up until now there has never been a separate night dedicated to rehearsals. Currently, rehearsals are held an hour and a half before each service. This approach is new to me, and quite honestly a little stressful! In all my previous ministries I have had a separate midweek worship rehearsal to get parts dialed in, transitions tightened up, and see how the set flows.
I would be lying to say I don’t miss my midweek worship rehearsals. There are at least six reasons why I miss them and why I think you should consider having a separate midweek worship rehearsal for your teams:
1) Discipleship, Scripture, and Prayer With Your Team
When you only have an hour and a half before service to get five songs prepped and ready, there is very little time allotted for prayer, scripture, fellowship and discipleship. It is all very rush rush, with a lot of focus on the music (and rightly so). But a mid-week rehearsal gives you space and time and relieves the pressure of a looming service which allows you to focus your team’s attention on the Lord. Because you have the time, you can dedicate a half hour to reading a Psalm, sharing prayer requests, praying for each other, and learning what’s going on in each others’ lives. This time is invaluable and knits the team together on a spiritual level and keeps everyone focused on what we are doing when we stand on stage. If for this reason alone, I’d suggest holding a midweek rehearsal.
2) Have Crucial Conversations
Sometimes we need to have sensitive conversations with our team members. It might be a team member you need to confront about being consistently late. It might be a team member with a bad attitude. Or perhaps there’s a team member who is going through a difficult time that needs encouragement and prayer. Sunday mornings aren’t usually the best time to have conversations like this, because the topics are often sensitive and may result in high emotions. The last thing you want is to distract someone’s head and heart with a heavy conversation and then ask them to stand on the stage to lead the congregation. Crucial conversations are best done after a mid-week rehearsal, when there’s enough time before Sunday for everyone to process their thoughts and emotions.
3) Tighten Up Music and Transitions
Besides the relational side, having a dedicated rehearsal night allows you to tighten up your music. There might be a new song that you want to teach your team, a particular part of a song that needs some attention, or some technical things to iron out like breaks, rhythm section grooves or vocal harmonies. It also allows you time to work through transitions from song to song to make sure that you don’t have any awkward pauses in the set flow. Instead of rushing for “good enough”, having a dedicated rehearsal night allows you to take the time to get things sounding great.
Instead of rushing for “good enough”, having a dedicated rehearsal night allows you to take the time to get things sounding great.Click to tweet
4) Dial In The Sound
It’s not only your musicians who will benefit from having more time, but also your sound technicians. When you have a dedicated rehearsal, your sound techs can spend time on things that they wouldn’t normally have time for. They might want to try a different microphone on the lead vocalist. They might want to tweak the mic placement of the toms. Perhaps they can dive a bit deeper into the effects unit, or work on making the in-ears sound better. Maybe they can train a young sound tech by letting them experiment with the board without worrying about it ruining the weekend service mix. When you have a dedicated rehearsal time, your technical teams can dial things in week after week to continue making things better.
5) Give Other Singers A Chance to Lead
In the same way the sound techs can experiment risk-free during a mid-week rehearsal, so can the worship leader. Maybe you have a background vocalist with a strong voice. In a midweek rehearsal you can ask that vocalist if they can lead a particular song for the rehearsal. If it goes great, you can ask them if they’d be willing to lead it during service as well. If it doesn’t go great, you can thank them for singing for the rehearsal. Perhaps if you do this enough over time, that vocalist will grow in their skill and be able to successfully lead a song, and perhaps ultimately a whole set!
5) Experiment Musically and Technically
Another benefit of having a dedicated, non-pressured time with your team is that you can try new things. You might want to tweak the arrangement of a song, or try leading from an electric guitar. You might try having a jam session with your team. Jam sessions always help musicians lighten up and let their inner creativity out! You might even try writing a song together! Or perhaps you want to introduce a major technical change, like in-ear monitors, or a click track. Sunday morning is not the time to introduce major technical changes that have the potential to cause a train wreck. It’s much better to experiment with these things when there aren’t 200 (or 2000!) people watching!
6) Analyze A Recording Before Sunday
Finally, and possibly most importantly, having a mid-week rehearsal allows you the time to analyze how things are sounding before Sunday. I always record my rehearsals and listen back to them the next day. I inevitably hear something that doesn’t sound good or a part that needs to change. I also send the recording to my team members so they can hear what they do and don’t like and make the appropriate changes before Sunday. This has been, by far, the fastest and best way to improve my team’s sound. I am surprised how much I don’t hear during rehearsal, but recordings never lie. Having a mid-week rehearsal gives me the time to catch these issues and fix them before Sunday’s service.
Vital for Growth
As you can see, mid-week rehearsals are vital for growth. When you have the time and spend it wisely, you can keep improving upon things. When things are rush rush, you move into maintenance mode, settling for good enough, because it’s all you have time for.
I realize that in some churches, mid-week rehearsals are just not feasible for one reason or another. But perhaps you can hold a once a month gathering where you apply some of these principles. Any extra time that you dedicate to making your ministry better is going to pay off, and your church (and Jesus!) deserve your best!
Also see: 6 Tips For Great Worship Team Rehearsals