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Church players. What's expected?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Mike M., Sep 20, 2012.

  1. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    What's expected from those players...and I'm talking all instruments here...who play at church?

    I think I'm getting close to saying goodbye to playing at church. I'm having a very hard time dealing with players who seem to have the "it's good enough" attitude when I know it could be better. A lot better.

    Seems like more and more people come to practice very unprepeard. They barely know the songs, they leave out some very key elements of thier parts and in some instances they come to practice not knowing the songs at all. Sometimes some can't make it to practice and when they get there on Sunday they aren't prepared.

    I realize that we all have full times jobs, some have other outside interests, some have young children and believe me when I say I know how much time it can all take up. But the practice we had last night was a train wreck. Probably the worst. The 4 songs were posted 3 weeks ago and as usual I was the only one who came prepared.

    Maybe it's me and just I'm expecting too much. Listen, as a bass player I may not be this or that and while I feel I'm pretty decent I know there are thousands of bass players in the surrounding counties where I live in who can do it all better than me. I know this. But I always do my homework and I'm always prepared.

    I think the congregation deserves better than what we give them. Am I wrong? If so then tell me.
  2. jumpingjay


    Jul 19, 2010
    Bismark, ND
    I hear ya!! Our worship learder is always spot on, but he always drags the band along.
  3. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    It really depends on the pool of musicians to choose from. I commonly play with music teachers, music students, and even the pastor leads the worship team now and then. Or I should say, I used to. I just stepped down and am on a journey to find a new church. The attendance at this church is about 1000 weekly so we have a pool of about 30-40 very talented musicians to pull from.
  4. neebs


    Oct 25, 2011
    Manteca, California
    To go with a willing heart, to perform to the best of your ability to minister the holy spirit among the congregation.

    I recently felt like that, and brought it up to my worship leader and worship director. They said they are happy that I have a desire to do better. But she said, considering everyone works and has school.. we just have to work with the time we are given. I too felt like we could do better. I felt as if I was the only one practicing, and introducing new ideas. I wanted to perform to the best of my ability I feel God has blessed me with.

    Do most of the members, including the worship leader/director have a full time job/schooling? Mine works full time, and goes to school, and commutes 2-3 hours a day. I just came to the conclusion, I perform my part.. and do the best I can. I don't even know what songs we play every service. I just go with the flow, and I know for a fact it would be a better worship service if we had time to practice before service at a minimum.

    I feel the congregation does deserve the best you're able to offer them. My church is a tiny church. 30-40 adults+youth+toddlers, on a moderately packed service. 15-20 adults+youth+toddlers on a non packed service. But before this, it was even TINIER! My worship leader said she would be so heartbroken, when it would be her parents (pastors) her sister and brother inlaw, the only members of the service playing just drums, guitar, and vocals. She's happy to even have two different bass players( at the same time), keys, back up vocals, and congas.

    I don't know the situation of your church.. but for ours.. I'm thankful we ge to sing and play instruments for our worship service. We have sister churches who've lost their entire worship team, and had to resort to cd worship services.

    I guess what I'm saying is.. make sure you have your heart right and do your part. You can suggest the other people change, but unless you're the director.. there isn't much you can do.

    I came to enjoy the non structured layout, it keeps me on my toes! And when we have the pastor sing for services.. it's even funner! She sings in some weird ways.. so I get to come up with different time patterns (I am pretty sure this is what is happening.)

    It can suck, but you gotta carry your cross fool! No point in stressing over the others if they're not performing to their full ability (maybe they are! I don't know?) Be at peace, and do the best you can. Pray for the others and yourself to desire a greater worship.
  5. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I don't play on a worship team, but my mother was a choir director when I was a kid and had the same issues with the singers in the choir. She worked hard to turn them around. Her mantra was "Remember who your REAL audience is." I mean, imagine how hard you would prepare if you were going to perform for the President of the United States. How hard should you prepare to perform for someone greater than that?
  6. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    My church has a huge roster of rotating band members. It took me pretty close to a year to play with the same people twice.

    I have never heard a bad performance from any assortment of players, and I have never been involved in a bad performance. I always figured the band gets an extra ration of Grace on Sunday morning.

    I think a lot of the success goes to the WL's. Song selection, preparation, and being familiar with the talents and abilities of the people on the schedule for any given week.
  7. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Obviously that will vary across a large spectrum from church to church. What's expected in Church A will be "professional musicians who nail everything." What's expected in Church Z will be "please please please bring your warm body on Sunday morning."

    In my situation, a small laid-back church, no one practices the songs at home. We try to get together once a week on Thursday night to learn new songs and rehearse stuff we already know for Sunday morning. Sometimes that occurs ON Sunday morning the hour before the service. We're closer to Church Z above.

    I understand your frustration. I don't know how much time I've spent looking at the ceiling while the guitarists work out leads and such. But we all work together on getting the structure figured out. It's actually kind of fun for me.

    You say the congregation deserves better. How do you sound in your service? Does it come together or do you sound as bad then as you do in rehearsal? In my case, we pull it off pretty well IMO. We work on stuff and experiment a lot at rehearsal, but when we play the service it sounds pretty darn good. If it didn't, I would be saying something.

    I don't know what to tell you. If you guys sound like crap and you're unhappy, talk to someone about it. Personally I would not quit playing over it unless it just sounded terrible and I had exhausted all possible means to correct it.

    Good luck!
  8. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I don't do the church thing but from many of the posts I read here and on other forums, is that there are no rules besides that the MOM is in charge! Songs change from one minute to the next. Keys may change. Rehearsed songs thrown out at the last minute. On the other hand, seems like many of the musicians are virtuosos and it must be something to be able to play with musicians of that caliber!

    A couple years ago, I got involved in a Christian group but the leader worked way too freestyle for me. He would just play random songs (I had no music or recordings to reference) and he wanted me to just follow him. It became way too tasking for me.

    Bless you all who can thrive in such a freestyle environment!

    s/n: My mother has been the MOM at my home church in NY since the 70's and she's about to turn 80!
  9. Skygonzo


    Jul 8, 2012
    I have never been a believer...I attended church just to play a "gig". Needless to say, I had little patience with the "worship leader" tools. One thing I always heard was the "it's good enough as it is" when I knew it was crap. I mean, guitars out of tune, freakin' 30 singers all doing their own thing...the works. Long story short, I decided to just stay home, avoid the useless jibber jabber and just bury myself in playalongs and theory books. Win for me.
  10. neebs


    Oct 25, 2011
    Manteca, California
    Freestyle is fun. =p

    What is MOM? Other than.. mother?
  11. pastorjamesc

    pastorjamesc Cheap Ability, Expensive Taste Commercial User

    Jun 26, 2012
    Waco Texas
    Owner/Operator of Cotten Patch Sound Design. Burns of London Guitars and Basses retail. I do sound design, resetting, and education for churches, organizations, and small venues with no Sound personnel. Studio for "self-produced" rental use.
    As one who has never played in church. (I do that other part....preaching) You're dealing with music being central but NOT the point of the service. So a lot of times the warm body approach is the one we take. BUT with that said, it always really bothered me when folks would show up and phone in an anthem or the music. Makes the whole service sound like we just don't care. Maybe try and find the middle ground by getting a smaller ensemble that can really practise and learn the stuff, and help feed your need for excellence, and perform occasional special music pieces. Then work to bring up the level of professionalism as a whole.
  12. I hear you, it happends the same in my church. Every sunday after the worship time I had to go outside to relax myself, I was getting really frustated. But I decided to layback and just pray for it. After maybe 6 months we´re begining to see some progress.

    You cannot do nothing about it....but I´m sure you know someone who can.
  13. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    What's expected? Depends on the person setting the expectations!

    I don't subscribe to the 'good enough' practice. Our structure is that we have a music pastor, who is one of five worship leaders. These are the people who, in turn, select the songs and then lead the music section of the service. They will schedule the songs on Planning Center (a web-based service) which then gives the singers and players MP3s, lyrics and chords. This is done a week or more in advance. Part of my role as MD is to act as the 'translator' between the WL and the band. At the start of the week I'll e-mail everyone with notes and directions on the songs so that, when we turn up to rehearse on a Thursday night, there's no excuse for being unprepared. If someone hasn't practiced, they stand out - sometimes people have been asked to drop out for the Sunday and a more reliable player who knows the songs is brought in.

    We're all people with day jobs and lives to live (the worship pastor, whilst a church employee, is mainly employed as an administrator). There's one professional musician amongst around 20 of us. Are we going to be a pro-level band? No. Do we make allowances for new people? Absolutely. Is "I suppose it'll do" an acceptable attitude? No way!
  14. Church services are a very different "gig". I can only speak to my experience which has been the expectation is playing at a service is an act of worship. Many times you may be playing with other musicians who have little or no experience or training. Still, the expectation is that you offer up the best of what God has given you to help the congregation open their hearts and ears to the message that will be shared. You seem to describe an experience where it is the accepted norm to just "throw something together and it may do". Most of the church leaders I have been around would challenge the musicians to make more of a sacrifice of their time and effort to offer something pleasing to the Lord, rather than a few crumbs they swept up in their spare time.

    Having said that, people do what they want. I have played with some of the most talented musicians in amazing performances. I have also had some of the most frustratingly poor perfromances, that could have been avoided with a small amount of effort.

    If it is in alignment with your beliefs, challenge the other musicians to "give their best to God". It is really not about anything else. If they are there just because it's the only "gig" they can get, it might be better to just go set up in the park on Sunday and play for whoever walks by.
  15. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
    Well, there is a way to find out. At your next open meeting (as non-profits, most churches are required to hold at least one business meeting open to all members of the congregation a year) suggest that a portion of the church's yearly budget go into paying the praise band, such that you could get better players. You then suggest that the congregation can increase offerings in order to make up this extra cost.

    I'm betting my HOUSE you will be given a resounding NO. In that case your congregation does not, in fact, deserve better. And you should adjust to this situation, or cease playing in the band.
  16. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Minister Of Music.
  17. neebs


    Oct 25, 2011
    Manteca, California

    OOh, that's a ruthless move. I like it, haha! Too bad it doesn't work towards only the members of the worship team. Now that'd be something!
  18. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I should note that music wasn't my main ministry in the church, I was active in the Christian Education department (teaching adults, special programs, and such), lead a weekly Bible study, and sat on various committees. I purposely avoided making it well known that I was also a musician. Having suffered burn-out in a previous church back in the eighties I knew what had put me over edge. But, when someone in the church says "we need" I was always (too) quick to respond if I could help.

    I was tapped as a fill-in for the regular bass player once, and that morphed into a semi-regular thing. Getting calls on Saturday night to play the next morning kinda thing. I can read and play from charts, so not a big deal and it usually went well ... except where they deviated (significantly) from the chart they distributed. I didn't care much for it, although the musicians were OK, the vocalists were the issue. I started making excuses not to play, which was my first sign that my worship band days were over. I began avoiding the music director, and some of the band members ... but the calls kept coming. I left that congregation last year, and I was burned out once more.

    The bottom line, if there is one, is to know your spiritual gifts (which may or may not be the same as your temporal talents) and to minister using those, because that's what you are equipped for. Saying no to a minister of music is NOT the same as saying no to God.
  19. Well said
  20. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    I think you have to be realistic.

    In general, you should be prepared and good to go. But once in a while, life just gets crazy and you're not quite ready to play. Everybody else shouldn't get resentful about it. You usually can tell if people are slackers or not.