How to Handle the Unexpected

September 18, 2015

With any live performance, there's always the possibility of something unexpected happening. I was reminded of this once again last week during worship. The tracks/click we were using went wacky during the first song. I had no option but to kill the tracks and click. After the tracks went down, the whole band was on edge having to adjust. And of course that led to a mistake. Me, the keyboard player, started a song while still transposed a half step down. I didn't realize it until the singer came in. That's the worst feeling in the world - trying to decide between two equally awkward options.

So after the message I decided to restart my iPad and maybe get our tracks back online for the last song. Not today! As soon as the iPad powered off it sent a bone rattling buzz into the mains that wouldn't stop until I yanked the cable out of the iPad. At this point, I was ready to curl up in the fetal position and go to my happy place or grab the prayer oil and begin casting the demons out of the room.

Why do technical issues always arise right before or during the actual service? You can rehearse for 2 hours with no problem and as soon as you go live, something bugs out! Here are a few tips on how to handle the unexpected problem:

  1. Own the problem and recognize it. When that unexpected feedback happens, the best response is to acknowledge it. Say something like "Wow, did you guys hear something?". Making light of the problem helps everyone relax.
  2. If a song starts wrong, it's better to stop and restart instead of continuing to ride a wounded animal! You've probably heard the Holy Is the Lord capo debacle. People will forgive you for starting over, but they would forever hold it against you if you torture them for 4 minutes with half the band in the wrong key!
  3. Be ready for a lyric fail. Computers work "most" of the time. If your projector or computer fails, the church will not have lyrics to sing along. This will definitely affect your worship that day. But you not knowing the lyrics yourself will create a worship disaster. So either learn the lyrics or bring a lyric sheet back up just in case. Recently, I was leading at an event and the computer bugged out. It was just me on acoustic gtr, so I shifted songs from the new current songs I was planning to lead to some oldie but goodies. We also had everyone call out praises from the congregation. The worship time was amazing!
  4. Always have a few well known songs in your head. In the off chance that the whole sound system fails (I've had it happen), having a few well known songs to lead with acoustic gtr or just singing will salvage your worship time.

There's no way to totally prevent the occasional worship fail. It happens to all of us. I love to hear other people's worship fail stories. Be sure to post your personal nightmare in the comment section :).

Q: Bellarive isn’t just a band but a community of like-minded believers. How does this personal camaraderie help shape the songs you write? 

We live and experience life together. Like most families, the people closest to you know you at your best and at your worst. We are directly linked to and aware of each other’s greatest triumphs and darkest failures. It leaves us all very exposed. Sometimes that can feel very scary, but it is actually extremely freeing. God has the uncanny ability of reveling Himself the most in those moments of vulnerability. In those moments, it’s not about hiding from reality or keeping up the façade, it’s about recognizing your position towards God and surrendering to Him. In those moments, you really mean what you say. We pray these songs are always a response to those moments. Be it an anthem or a confession, may it always be vulnerable, may it always be sung with conviction, may it always be in spirit and truth.

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There are big differences in starting a band and building a worship team:

  • A band picks members that all fit together. A worship team picks members to represent the body.
  • Image is really important in a band. Image is not important on a worship team.
  • A band is typically the same people all the time. A worship team should be different people a lot of the time.
  • Bands pick songs that make them sound good. Worship teams pick songs that the church needs to sing.
  • A band always works toward the better gig. A worship team serves faithfully every week regardless of attendance.
  • Bands pick songs that they know will get a response. Worship teams pick songs that sometimes say things we don't want to hear.
  • Success to a band is the applause of the crowd. Success to a worship team is the applause of one.

What are you building?

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The In-Between Songs

September 18, 2015

There are stages of every Christian life: Justification (salvation), Sanctification (working out our salvation) and Glorification (heaven).

Working with worship songs and songwriters, I hear a lot of songs about salvation and heaven, but not as many about sanctification. I believe there is certainly a need for songs that address all three. We need to praise God for salvation, even singing to the lost how God has saved us. We also need to look ahead at times to heaven when we will finally worship Jesus face to face.

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Yes!

Okay, that would a pretty boring blog post, so allow me to digress. I've been in church pretty much my whole life. Admittedly, my church experience, as with most of us, is limited to a pretty narrow stream. But why is it that most of the time when I worship at church, the band looks like they are either mad or bored?

Now I don't believe for a minute that most of the people in the band are mad or bored. My hypothesis is that we have issues with having fun while playing church music. That somehow we are more "spiritual" by appearing melancholy. I also think 50% to 75% of the people on stage are scared out of their minds to be in front of people, but that's a different discussion.

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