Earlier this year, I worked with a worship team that insisted on doing every song exactly like it sounds on the recording. Needless to say, this was a frustrating experience. It wasn’t a lack of talent – overall, the worship team was one of the most skilled I’ve helped out. The songs sounded great, but the arrangements and vocal ranges left most of the congregation behind.
And if you have a small team, like many churches do, the problem is magnified.
Let’s talk a bit about arranging songs for your own congregation. I’ve seen lots of worship teams trying to copy well known versions verbatim, mostly from an album or a live version from a conference on YouTube. But most of the time these arrangements have at least one element that makes them completely unusable for normal churches. So here are a few ideas that’ll help you make songs more usable.
Here’s a great example:
There are lots of worship songs with 8, 16 or even 32 bar intros that build a sense of dynamic anticipation. These can work at huge conferences and worship concerts but let’s remember the entire point of congregational worship is maximum congregational involvement. If they have to wait around while the band enjoys a long intro they will disengage.