John Gorveatte is the Pastor of Corporate Worship at Stoney Creek Community Church near Detroit, MI. Recently, John talked to Worship Links about managing a worship team, thematic planning, and making sure you’re in the right key.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for us. It’s truly appreciated! The first question is an easy one. Tell us a little bit about yourself in five sentences.
My name is John. I have an amazing wife named Lindsey. I really enjoy great BBQ. I live in a northern suburb of Detroit, MI. I love Jesus.
How did you get started in worship ministry?
I first got started leading worship my senior year of high school in our local youth group. My first year was a consistent train-wreck of pitchy singing and my eyes being closed. Regardless, my youth pastor gave me a chance and I kept leading from that point on.
What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?
My first approach is prayer. Without it, I’m lost. The second is much more pragmatic and I try to be 2-3 weeks out song-wise. I’m checking our “last scheduled” column in Planning Center and working through our past services and seeing what songs connected, where we could plug in new ones, and the series themes. This takes me into our service-planning meeting with our senior pastor and a few other staff pastors that work through the service thematically before finalizing it.
Desert Island Worship Mix: You’re trapped on a desert island, and for reasons too ridiculous to explain, you can only have one CD with five worship songs on it. What are they?
- I See Heaven – Bryan & Katie Torwalt
- Great Are You Lord – All Sons and Daughters
- Ascribe – Desperation Band
- And Can It Be – Page CXVI (or Charles Wesley)
- Make a Way – Desperation Band
What have you found are some of your greatest challenges in managing a worship team? How do you handle the balance between being a musician and being a manager?
Great question. Some of the greatest challenges for me personally land more on the administrative end. It’s hard to balance schedules or inform everyone that needs to know about last-minute changes. It’s also hard to balance investing in people corporately as well as training up other leaders who can do that too.
The tension between musician and manager is a great one to constantly have in your head. As worship leaders, we must try harder than anyone on our team to best at our craft in the room – that’s the musician side of it. As worship leaders, we must also be the first to give grace, correction, and empowerment to our team – that’s the manager side of it. We aren’t running a business, we are stewarding God’s people with God’s gifts for God’s glory.
What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?
Psalm 73, 95, 100 are big ones for me. I think rich theology fuels worship and so I love reading through Ephesians 2, Colossians 3, or 1 Corinthians 15.
If you could give one piece of advice to up and coming worship leaders, what would it be? Conversely, what’s some advice you wish you’d received earlier on?
You’re not as great a leader as you think you are so keep learning and asking questions to get better. I wish people had given me this hard truth earlier. We cannot rely on past experience or talent to get us through each weekend. We desperately need the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us grace for our team. We need Jesus to paint a beautiful picture of His church for us so that we weep at the spiritual brokenness around us. And we need a greater understanding of the Father’s heart for us personally to help us lead others.
What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?
I think the Church will become increasingly localized and smaller. This will change the emphasis that many worship leaders look for. I think there’s a temptation to gravitate to the convenient rather than the beneficial and with technology making the convenient way more convenient, we must fight the urge to simply throw new songs together and pursue the hard work of prayer and devotion to Jesus to plan our services.
Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?
I’m late on the All Sons and Daughters train but their songs are refreshingly simple and I’ve been listening to a lot of their stuff. Brady Toops has some really great songs that are useful for the Church. I would add people doing more liturgical/hymn based rewrites too like Page CXVI or The Brilliance to my list too.
What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?
Started “Not To Us” (in A) 2 keys too low and then proceeded to look at another volunteer to ask for the starting note – this is while playing the song in the right key on the guitar. Not sure what happened there.
Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?