Why do we have rehearsals? What do we hope to accomplish when we gather together to rehearse? Are we just trying to learn the songs and know the music?
If you want to see the worship leadership of your choir go to another place, you’ll have to aim higher than pounding notes and rhythms. A choir that knows the song sings one way. A choir that has made personal application of the truth of it sings a different way. I want to lead that second group.
How do you do that?
It starts by setting a different target. The goal in rehearsal is not just to learn the song and get it to the point that you can sing it accurately. If that was the only objective, you could rehearse the music one week at a time and be ready for that. No, the goal of rehearsal is to prepare the music to the point that the singers and players can unleash their spirits on the song. That can only happen when they not only know it well enough to pull it off, they know it well enough to pour their heart into it.
That goal is why the folder of my choir had music that went 6-8 weeks out. The list had one or two new songs we had never sung before, two or three we had sung once or twice before and two or three we knew so well the choir or group got excited to see them on the rehearsal list.
The excellence of the familiar became the standard for them all. Then at some point in the preparation process, we would unpack the meaning of each song including testimonies from individuals who had experienced the truth of the text in a powerful way.
I want the choir to experience the song as I teach it to them. It is just as important to me that they start associating meaning to the song as it is that they learn the notes of it. That’s why I avoid too much starting and stopping. When you do that, accuracy becomes the only goal. Aim for the expression of spirit and truth in the first and every rehearsal.
Why? Because I want my people to associate meaning with everything we do. Our purpose as a group is not just presenting a song – it is leading worship. That is why the song should produce something in us so we can lead the church with it when we sing.
Rehearsals should be spirited and meaningful spiritually. The songs we sing should move us. If they don’t move us in rehearsal, I would question why we would ever sing it on Sunday? The people in choir should feel spiritually refreshed at the end of a rehearsal. If they don’t, then I’m doing something wrong. Years ago, I realized that God would do something in us before He did something through us.
Here is the paradigm to aim for – don’t just rehearse a song until they own it. Rehearse until the song – and the truth of it – owns them. Then watch the choir unleash the Gospel when they sing.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book (checkout his latest book: Worship Essentials). In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family (and his two new grand-babies). Visit MikeHarland.com to keep up with all that Mike has going on.