The Church Music Mix Up

Jason YostEditor’s Note: This is a guest post from our friend Jason Yost. You can follow Jason on Twitter at @jyost or check out his website here. Many thanks to Jason for sharing this post with us!

The Church Music Mix Up is something that has been an issue within the church in America for years. I have experienced it in all four churches that I have been on staff as a worship leader. It seems to be more intense in a traditional or established church setting and less intense in a church plant context but it’s still there nonetheless.

Our church has experienced a burst of growth over the past year and we are beginning to re-think and re-structure a lot of our methods and systems so that we can better handle the growth that is imminently coming. The church music mix up has been in a lot of conversation. I have also spent some time consulting and connecting with a number of churches where this topic of conversation is on the forefront.

The Church Music Mix Up is the unending conversation about how your church’s music should sound and how exactly loud it should be. This is such an objective conversation and the only right answer is found in the context of your church’s community, style, and vision.

This conversation is an anomaly in the sense that historically anyone, no matter what their experience or credentials, has a right to speak into the worship music. I have seen it time and time again in many church settings. Hopefully these thoughts can help steer the conversation in the right direction.

Here are four helpful elements that could help your conversation about the Church Music Mix Up.

The church’s vision, which is usually established by the lead pastor, is the only vision that stands as the trump card during the Church Music Mix Up Convo. My goal as the worship pastor is to carry out the vision of the lead pastor for our worship experiences. The elements we use and the steps we take to accomplish this are very prayerfully considered and strategically planned. Our worship experiences are unique to Liquid and our vision. They are not open for discussion or to be spoken into by anyone who feels like they have an opinion about the matter. It’s who we are; it’s our thumb print on the Church world. I don’t explain it this way to sound harsh at all. I do however think it’s helpful to understand the process of what it takes to execute a worship experience for our communities.

Each church has a certain genre that they find themselves in. Our genre fits in the sound of singer/songwriter, EDM Pop, and Alternative Rock. What’s important is that you be true to yourself as musicians and be the best at your genre that you can possibly be. There is no need to make apologies for the genre that you are. There are plenty of churches around town that have different genres. People can choose a preference as they see fit. Embrace your genre, continue to stretch yourself in it, and always push yourself and your teams to get better and better.

Volume is a very important element that works for you or against you in a worship experience. At Liquid we want to create an environment so that people can seek God in the shadows (dark and loud) and be drawn in by the music and the message. Volume is very important for us to accomplish this. If the volume is too low we can completely miss our goal each week. Low volume can take your worship music’s breath away, in a bad way. If you find your engagement is low you may find that your volume is too low as well. We want people to be as engaged as possible in our services so we do our best to keep the volume high to draw them in. Keep in mind: too high can be distracting as well but if you have a good mix you don’t have to worry. We try and keep the DB at 95-100 according to our different venues.

The neat thing about volume is that it can be used to give you a desired feel in your services. For instance, there are many times that we bring the volume down for an acoustic song or a special song during the response. Bringing the volume down can help your worship experience have a reflective feel so people can engage in a response to the Word. Just be strategic with volume and find the best way to use it for your context and desired outcomes.

*Always be kind to the people that think they should share their opinions about the volume but don’t let them spook you. Somewhere along the line they got the idea that corporate worship was about their personal preference and not the sacrifice of praise.

One of the worship leader’s main goals is congregational engagement. The decisions on how to use all of these elements explained is to reach maximum engagement for all, not for a few. Always remember this is the goal. When you are approached with some kind of criticism about the music always gauge it by the masses. For instance, whenever I receive criticism about the music, I ask myself, “is this beneficial for this one person or will it help engagement for the entire church?” If it’s just a personal opinion for the preference of that one person I let it go in one ear and out the other. But, if its a criticism that will help the masses I always take it to heart and consider heeding it. I want to find maximum engagement and sometimes I need help to get there.

I hope these elements are important to consider when having the Church Music Mix Up conversation. I would love to hear your thoughts and any questions you have on having the Church Music Mix Up Conversation. Thanks for engaging.

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