I wonder whether you've asked the question "God- do you only like Coldplay or U2 'cos that's all I seem to hear at every church I ever go to...?"
I actually really like both of those bands and I'd be quite happy with listening to that kind of music most of the time. It does seem though that the Church has settled for an acoustic soft rock vibe for most Sunday morning meetings. Maybe the student or 20's meetings in the evenings are a bit more "edgy" by throwing in ANOTHER electric guitar or TWO MORE singers!! Extreme!!
If God is the source of all creativity and if we are made in his image to create things then surely we shouldn't be settling for what we have at the moment in our churches. If God really is the source of all creativity think how our Sunday mornings really could sound!?
I think it's good to sometimes change around the worship band a bit. At times in the past I've used a small choir- 10-20 good singers and work out vocal parts and hooks that they can sing. It really lifts things when you have an extra 10-20 enthusiastic worshippers on stage and gives a different sound to the band.
I've tried to use a brass section and a string section when I've led at events over the last few years and one of my highlights was using a rapper at Forum 2012. Lots of people listen to rap music but it's very rarely used in our worship. An inspiring rap that relates to what we've been singing about can really stir people's hearts to praise!
Playing and leading at Mobilise (NewFrontiers students and twenties conference) the last couple of years and working with some great and creative musicians from CCK (in Brighton) has got me thinking even more about band formation.
The last couple of times I've led at my church I've ditched the acoustic guitar to give the band a slightly different sound. I led on synth for the first time- cranking out some sweet oscillating sounds then some trancy sounds(!!) It was quite different- out of my comfort zone and felt strange BUT I've never had a Sunday morning when I've felt as encouraged by people in the congregation- during and after the worship time.
This week I've been working with some musicians from my church on a couple of backing tracks for different songs (picture left). We all had synths and worked out some sweeping synth sounds, some bass sounds and some dub step sounds for a break in the middle of the song. DUB STEP!? Yeah- it can really work well. It was used at Mobilise for the song "Blessed Be Your Name" and went down very well.
I think the thing we need to keep on asking is "Are the sounds we are creating distracting people from worshipping Jesus or are the sounds fuelling people's worship of Him"? From my experience different sounds really inspire me to worship and if God is calling us to be creative not just in the week but on Sundays then I think we should be enjoying musical creativity.
I desire to get to a stage where us as musicians and leaders in the church aren't just thinking "what music is out there in the world that we can use" (dubstep has been around for years) but actually pioneering new sounds that people around us take notice of. We need to pray for God given creativity to be birthed in our worship teams!!
So why not
- Ditch the instrument you normally lead on and try to lead on something else?
- Make a backing track for a well known song for your band to play along to?
- Remix an old song with a new feel?
I'd be interested to hear your experiences and thoughts on creativity in worship! Feel free to comment below...
Written on 15/05/13 by Olly Knight
Breaking out of the soft rock mould