One of my favourite things is being able to resource other worship leaders with tools and resources to help them do their job better. I love doing this not because I’m an expert or have all the answers but because I know there are people just like me who are looking for help wherever they can get it. Worship leaders are juggling so many balls and anytime we can find resources to help us do our job better, that’s a win!
Note: You may have seen the graphic over on the right for this new site worshipleadertools.com – not going to give away the whole story just yet but you might want to check that out and get signed up for the mailing list. Just sayin’!
I’ve made it a goal this year to resource and serve more worship leaders than ever before through my blog and one of the ways I want to achieve that goal is by releasing several ebooks to help you and your team. Today I’m excited to announce that my first ebook is officially available here on the blog.
How To Use A Capo might seem like a pretty dim topic for an ebook because shouldn’t every guitar player know how to use a capo? Yes. The answer is yes, every guitar player should know how to use a capo but the reality is that there are many guitar players out there who are playing on worship teams and don’t know what a capo does or how to use it. There are also lots of worship leaders who are looking for a way to help younger musicians on their team get better at playing guitar and the capo is one tool in our toolbox to help us do that better.
As a guitar player on a worship team, one of the must-have tools in your kit is a capo. Some guitar players are purists about using (or not using) capos but for 99% of you, knowing how to use a capo properly and what it does will serve you very well. Whether you play on your worship team, lead worship, perform as a singer/songwriter or play in a band, guitar players need to know how to use a capo.
And how exactly are you going to get this ebook? Well this ebook is free. And by free I mean free. No email list, no tweet, no signing up for a course. It’s free. All you need to do is click the cover image below and you should be able to download the PDF right to your computer.
Easy as that. No strings attached. If you think this would be helpful for other worship leaders or musicians, I’d appreciate you being willing to share this post on twitter or facebook using the share buttons. I’d also love to hear from you if you read the ebook and found it helpful or have suggestions for other similar ebooks that I could put together for you!
A few of the things I cover in this ebook:
Basics of using a capo
Different types of capos
How to buy the right capo
How to use a cut capo
Using a cut capo for alternate tunings
Advanced capo ideas
Next level suggestions and creative capo uses
Like I said, it’s a real joy for me to offer resources like this How To Use A Capo ebook for free just to help you do what you do and do it better. Thanks for downloading and sharing this ebook. Enjoy!
Ok two quick posts back to back to get caught up on this blog goals recap thing.
I set out at the beginning of 2013 with three pretty significant blog goals – something I’ve never done before. I love writing this blog as a way to serve worship leaders, to help you find resources and tools to help you lead worship better and more effectively. Serving more worship leaders and sharing more resources and tools is definitely the big goal for 2013 and I’ve broken those down in to three smaller targets.
Blog goal #1: I looked at my stats from the last few years, thought about some new things I wanted to try this year and decided that my target would be to see 100,000 unique visitors to the blog in 2013.
For some of you, 100,000 is chump change. For others, 100,000 is stratospheric. That’s not the point. The point is that I wanted to be able to serve a significantly higher number of people this year through my blog and that’s the number I landed on.
So.. how did we do in March? Thanks to Google Analytics, here’s what I can tell you:
Number of unique visitors in March 2013: 10,361
One month’s target to reach 100,000 unique visitors in year: 8,333
Over/under that target number in February: Over by 2,028
Number of unique visitors so far in 2013: 20,673
Over/under the cumulative target for 2013: Under by 4,326
Blog goal #2: Write and release three ebooks this year. Two of these three ebooks have been written – one has been released over at WorshipTraining.com and will soon be available here. This will help with attracting some new readers but more significant is that they will be resources to help worship leaders do their job better.
Blog goal #3: More series of posts. This hasn’t really happened yet but I do have more Final Friday posts in the works.
So where did the traffic come from this month? Mostly from Google thanks to some posts which do really well every year around Easter. This is a good reminder to have content which can be discovered by new audiences either yearly or monthly or on some other cycle.
The beauty of setting goals like this? I’m already way beyond what I would have expected for a typical year and it’s forcing me to think of new, creative ways to generate unique visitor traffic to the blog.
Have you got any blog or social media goals this year? I’d love to hear what they are and what you’re doing to achieve them!
PS Since we’re two thirds of the way through April I already have a pretty good sense of what April’s numbers are going to look like. You will be in for a surprise!
Gone are the days of hymnals, overhead projectors and pitch pipes being the main tools for worship leaders. Technology has allowed us to do so much in our worship preparation, planning and presentation but the amount of information is overwhelming. We want to make our jobs easier and take our worship experiences to the next level but getting from here to there is sometimes difficult to figure out.
In this post I’ve gathered specific digital tools, websites and mobile apps every worship leader, regardless of church size or budget, can use to help prepare yourself for worship, plan your worship services and present on Sunday.
As an aside, this is very important: None of these tools are required for worship. Could you do just fine if the tools you use are hymnals, overhead projectors and pitch pipes? Of course. Let me say again, none of these tools are required. But they are available.
Remember that tools are never neutral. Tools have an impact on their environment. Take a saw to a piece of wood and what do you have? Two pieces of wood. The saw (tool) has impacted the wood (environment). The tool itself isn’t good or bad but it’s not neutral. Same with tools for worship – these aren’t inherently good or bad but they will impact your environment. Choose wisely the tools you use.
Leading worship comes first from our own experience of worship. Paul Baloche says this all the time that the ministry of worship is primarily ministry to the Lord. What we lead people to on Sunday comes from a place we’ve already been in our private lives. Here are some tools to help you in your on-going preparation as a worship leader:
You may already have this app on your phone or refer to youversion.com regularly. Of course spending time in Scripture is vital to not only our development as worship leaders but also in our following of Jesus. We can never neglect the priority of reading Scripture, learning from Scripture, reflecting and meditating on Scripture. Neglecting time in God’s Word comes at a great cost.
So how can you use YouVersion to help you as a worship leader? One of my favourite ways to use the app is with reading plans developed specifically for worship leaders. Open the app, click the Plans tab, enter Worship in the search bar and then begin a journey of looking at specific passages or devotionals which will help you as a worship leader. Great stuff.
Screenshots from the YouVersion iPhone app
Blogs One of my favourite things is to connect and track with other worship leaders through their blogs. Blogs have definitely had a bit of a rise and fall over the past couple of years but there are still some great ones out there worth following. Here are only a few of my favourites:
iTunes U I’m convinced that iTunes U is one of the greatest educational resources available to us yet so few people know about it. If you have iTunes, you have iTunes U and can take advantage of thousands of lectures from educational institutions all around the world.
Remember that we are supposed to love God with our mind as well as our heart, soul and strength and iTunes U is one of the ways we can do that.
How? Open iTunes on your computer and click into the iTunes Store. Click iTunes U at the top along the menu bar. You will see a plethora of choices – over on the right is a dropdown menu where you can select “Religion & Spirituality”. Click that and you’ll see new courses and collections.
Not sure where to start? Maybe ask your pastor for suggestions. Maybe you want to start a study group with your worship team, have them listen to a lecture and then come together to discuss it.
Let’s move from digital tools that can help us on an on-going basis in our preparation as worship leaders to ones which have a concrete role to play as we plan services for Sundays. There are so many out there but here are the ones I could not do without. #overstatement
If you have not figured out how Twitter is the most incredible resource for worship leaders, here are two of the easiest ways:
#worshipset hashtag – just search this hashtag to see hundreds of posts from other worship leaders outlining which songs they are using in their services on Sunday. Twitter essentially becomes a giant brainstorming room where you get input from worship leaders all around the world. Look for songs you’re planning to lead or ones which are familiar and how they are connected to other songs. Although these tweets to spark new ideas in your head.
Worship leader lists – right now I have been included on 292 lists on Twitter. Other users have added me to lists about ministry, leadership, worship, Canadians, whatever. You can go to my lists page and see where I’m included. Look for a title which might show that there are other worship leaders who are part of that list. Following that list will get you lots of tweets from great worship leaders. Another way to curate the glut of information all around us.
Planning Center Online Planning Center is one of those duh tools that every worship leader should use. Scheduling, planning songs, attaching chord charts, listening to mp3s, communicating with your team – Planning Center does it all. There are free and paid plans depending on how many users you have.
We have used Planning Center since 2007 and I can’t imagine doing my job now without it.
There are all kinds of great media websites out there but I’ll highlight WorshipHouse Media because I really believe they gather the best of the best. It’s the first place I look for any kind of illustration, mini movie or countdown video and 9 times out of 10 I will find exactly what I need at WorshipHouse.
Yes I’m a WorshipHouse affiliate which means if you buy any media on their site after clicking the link on my page a percentage of the sale comes back to me as a thank you. Thank you if you support WorshipHouse by doing that.
PraiseCharts PraiseCharts is another great site that I love to use. So many great products from chord charts to lead sheets to orchestrations to click tracks. I love how integrated their products are across the board and generally if I’m looking for a resource to help my worship team play a particular song, I can usually find it at PraiseCharts. It doesn’t hurt that this company is run by some of the best people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing!
So we’ve prepared for worship, we’ve planned for worship and now we have to present what we are doing on Sunday morning. We’re not presenting as a concert or presenting to a passive audience, we are presenting for engagement! We are presenting what we have prepared and planned so that our congregations will engage, turn their hearts and their minds toward God and actually give Him worship. That doesn’t happen by accident and their response comes partly (let’s be clear on that) from our presentation - how we lead people to worship is very important.
So here are a few tools that we use in our Sunday morning worship services to help lead people in worship.
SoundCue SoundCue is an iOS app I discovered a while ago that is still doing exactly what I need. There are both iPhone and iPad versions and we use the iPad version to run click tracks on Sunday morning. Click tracks are stereo audio tracks which have a metronome in one channel and some musical element (pads, percussion, maybe an additional electric guitar part or even some background vocals) on the other channel. Metronome is sent to our musician’s in ear monitors while the loop/track channel is sent to our ears and to the house.
So how do you get the stereo audio files to run in SoundCue? There are some people who are talented enough to produce their own click tracks – I’m not. There are also websites out there which gather click tracks from their user base – you can produce a click/loop track for a particular song, upload it to the site and offer it for sale.
My favourite of these sites is Multitracks.com because I’m not buying a user-produced click but a multitrack audio file of the original studio recording. This is incredible. For $39 (not cheap!) I can get my hands on the exact guitar, keys, bass, background vocal parts that I’m used to hearing on the original recording to add to what my band does on Sunday.
Here’s a screenshot of the multitrack audio file for Man of Sorrows by Hillsong that we used Easter weekend. I’m using Presonus Studio One to do the editing which is basically muting the audio channels I don’t need and exporting a stereo wav file:
By knowing the basics (and I mean basics!) of multitrack audio editing, I can take out the tracks I don’t need, mixdown a stereo audio file and move that to my iPad to run the click on Sunday morning. We don’t do this for every song or even every Sunday but it’s a great way to add some depth and fullness to a song on Sunday.
You might not want to use click tracks with additional instruments but you may want to use a metronome at least for your drummer on some songs. Tempo is another great app to help with this. Choose tempo, time signatures, subdivision patterns and then build a setlist of tempos for your songlist. Run the audio out of your iPhone into your drummer’s headphones to make sure you’ve got the right tempo for each song when you play on Sunday.
Screenshots from the Tempo iPhone app
Hopefully that is helpful for you as you think about some digital tools which are available to help prepare, plan and present worship with your congregation on Sunday mornings. I’m always on the lookout for new tools so if you’ve got some that you’re using which aren’t here, I’d love to know about them!
After Good Friday our church gathered again on Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The beauty of our reality is that Jesus is always and forever alive so every Sunday is resurrection Sunday yet we have this amazing opportunity to shout this truth loud and invite anyone and everyone to come and listen. Easter Sunday tends to be a day when we get lots of visitors, people are excited about inviting friends & family and we just get to focus 100% on what God has done for us in Christ.
Easter Sunday for us is a fairly typical Sunday morning service, just dialed up.
These go to 11.
Our service began with a strong set of three songs:
This Is Amazing Grace – Jeremy Riddle/Bethel plus Multitracks Light Shine In – Vertical Church Band Christ Is Risen – Matt Maher
These are three songs that our church loves to sing and people brought it strong at both services. The “O death…” bridge on Christ Is Risen might be the favourite song section at Compass. People sing these ones loud!
After an opportunity for people to say good morning to each other and receiving our offering (yes, we do that on Easter Sunday) we came back and sang Man of Sorrows from Hillsong and this time included the resurrection-focused fourth verse. We used tracks from Multitracks again which adds so much to these songs.
Out of that song our pastor came and preached the resurrection from the perspective of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus from Luke 24 with a focus on this incredible statement in verse 32: “Were not our hearts burning within us?” The call of the morning was essentially once you have an encounter with the risen, alive, resurrected Jesus you have a passionate fire burning within you and that changes everything.
Coming out of the message we went into a time of singing Set A Fire a la Jesus Culture and Martin Smith Live in NYC version and then closed with the chorus of Christ Is Risen.
Easter Sunday was a powerful morning, very meaningful, Jesus was exalted, people felt and demonstrated this passionate fire within their hearts that comes only from an encounter with the risen Jesus.
At Compass we do a Good Friday service where we focus squarely on the crucifixion of Christ and what it means for us. Good Friday is a holiday in Canada and most people are able to attend a daytime service. Good Friday becomes an event on the spiritual calendar with a significant amount of anticipation in our own church community as we approach the weekend.
As a worship leader I find the challenge of Good Friday is to keep the focus on the cross. Yes, we live in the reality of the resurrection. Yes, the cross is not the end of the story. Yes, Jesus is alive, hallelujah! Yet the death of Christ is so significant and carries so much weight, bringing the focus of this service to the cross and leaving people there is completely acceptable but also a significant challenge.
Romans 5 speaks so clearly of the importance of the death of Jesus yet we tend to fall into the trap of making it significant but not significant enough. We’ll give it the focus and the attention it deserves but move quickly to celebrating (which we should do!) the resurrection. Good Friday is an invitation to worship God under the weight of the cross, the reality of our own sin and the sacrifice of Jesus. What an opportunity.
We ran this video on our centre screen with verses from the scenes the video is referring to on our outside screens. It was a great way to open the service and definitely set the tone for the rest of our time together.
From there we moved into a set of songs: I Stand Amazed – traditional hymn Jesus Paid It All – hymn plus the Passion bridge The Power of the Cross by Keith & Kristyn Getty
In our creative meetings we had talked about including an element which would be something like someone telling the story of Good Friday as though they were hearing it for the first time. So often the crucifixion of Jesus becomes far too familiar and we lose our own offense, disgust and shock at what is actually happening.
At first we considered bringing in our own spoken word artist but then I came across this video produced by Central Church in Las Vegas:
We moved straight out of that video into…
Oceans! off the new Hillsong United album. At first listen, I didn’t think any of the songs from Zion would really work in our context but after hearing it at Seeds Conference, working on the arrangement, knowing we had a singer who could pull it off and some great rehearsal with our team this song was a homerun!
Of course having a great product like the tracks from Multitracks.com on this song added tons and really helped our band.
From that song our pastor came and preached through Luke’s account of the crucifixion – the response of the crowd and the response of the criminal. Our encouragement, of course, was for people to respond like the criminal, see Jesus as the King and call out to Him. We responded by taking communion together as a physical demonstration of the rule and reign of Jesus in our lives.
We closed our service with two songs: Man of Sorrows – new Easter song from Hillsong I Stand Amazed – we came back to the first verse and the chorus
Man of Sorrows is an incredible song which we used both Good Friday (without the final resurrection verse) and Easter Sunday. Great song! People picked it up very quickly and sang loud both days. Again we used tracks from Multitracks on this one.
All in all, a powerful morning of reflection, celebration and worship. Good Friday is a significant day on our calendar and an incredible opportunity to again call people back to the profound reality of the cross.
Chris Vacher Married to Sonya, dad to Avery, Emmy, Isabelle and Anderson. Director of Worship at Compass Community Church near Toronto. Founder of WorshipRises and doing my best to follow Jesus in the midst of it all.