The Rhythm of a Worship Team

Luke Barry

March 2, 2023
5 min read

Everything God created, he created with a rhythm....In the same way, the work of ministry happens within the context of this cyclical rhythm of life.

Luke Barry

One thing I have learned over my years in worship ministry is the value of a rhythm. Everything God created, he created with a rhythm. Years, months, days. Summer, winter, autumn, and spring. Seasons and stages. Epochs and eras. Life ebbs and flows with the rhythm of creation. In the same way, the work of ministry happens within the context of this cyclical rhythm of life. Each week we work toward another Sunday. Each year we prepare for another Good Friday, another Easter, another Christmas. While there is so much uncertainty in daily life, learning the rhythm of our days, weeks, months, and years can make a significant difference in the work we do as church leaders.

So today I want to offer a window into the systems and processes our worship department has developed over the years to create consistency on our team and in our weekly services.

1. PLANNING & PREPARATION

With the exception of special events and big projects, our team plans our worship experiences one month at a time. As we start a new month, we know it’s time to start looking ahead to what’s coming next. We have a few regular meetings that help us stay on top of our upcoming Sundays and ensure everyone is on the same page with service flows, unique moments, creative deliverables, etc.

Programming Meeting — Monday 3:30PM

Every Monday, we run a programming meeting with representatives from our worship, production, creative, and film departments, along with our location directors. In Programming Meeting we review flows for the next two weeks, including setlists, worship personnel, in-service videos, church online plans, courtyard environments elements, and more. This is a space for us to present completed plans, answer questions, and resolve any foreseeable issues before they arise.

Worship Creative Meeting — Tuesday 10:00AM

On Tuesdays, our worship staff comes together for a creative meeting. For 60-90 minutes, we bounce ideas off of one another for upcoming services, events, and projects. Each meeting has a focus that is communicated ahead of time and our staff comes in with ideas to share. It can be easy for us to get locked into our weekly work and fail to take time to think beyond our to-do list. Setting aside designated time for creativity helps us to mitigate this natural tendency.

On Tuesdays, our Programming Director shares a Sunday deck with our pastors for review and approval. This deck contains setlists, worship teams, service hosts, stage plots, and our plan for church online that week.

Weekend Meeting — Wednesday 2:00PM

By Wednesday, our goal is to have everything for the weekend squared away so we can free ourselves up on Thursday to work on things that fall outside of the regular schedule (things like VOUSCon, VOUS GIRL, a VOUS Worship album, etc.). In Weekend Meeting, we review Sunday service flows for our three locations—along with programming for whatever events may be happening that week—along with our logistics plan for transporting equipment and our Sunday staff distribution across locations.

Our goal each week is to have all Sunday resources—lyric sheets, chord charts, reference tracks, and vocal parts—completed and added to Planning Center Online by Wednesday afternoon. Songs that have been in our rotation may have these resources available long before this deadline, but often we are still finalizing unique arrangements and new songs up until this midweek cutoff.

Sunday Touchpoint — Thursday 12:00PM

Each Thursday, our worship staff hosts a Zoom call with our leaders for the upcoming Sunday. This group includes our scheduled Worship Leaders, Vocal Directors, and Music Directors. Since we currently have 5 teams serving on a Sunday, our invite list includes 12-15 people (since our worship staff may fill one of those leadership roles for more than one block). In this meeting, we review our service flow, share detailed notes on song arrangements and transitions, give our leaders an opportunity to ask questions, and pray together.

Sunday setlists are created a month in advance. Currently, we create one central setlist for all locations. Between our morning and evening blocks, we will typically switch out the first song of the set (adding something with a little more energy or a faster tempo for the night). In order to set our song leaders up to win, keys may vary slightly across locations. Here’s an example from last month:

BLOCK A (10AM, 11AM & 12PM Services)

1. Take You At Your Word

2. Take Me With You

3. I Surrender All / I Need Revival

4. The Dove

BLOCK B (6PM Services)

1. Not Ashamed

2. Take Me With You

3. I Surrender All / I Need Revival

4. The Dove

2. SCHEDULING & SERVING

As with our setlist planning, we prepare our servant leader rosters a month in advance. This process is a collaborative effort between several of our worship staff. On the third Monday of each month, we send serving requests for all teams at all locations on our monthly Scheduling Day. This regularity creates consistency across our teams and helps our staff and servant leaders to know exactly what to expect, no matter in which department they serve.

For our worship department, the process begins with a serving preference form that goes out two weeks before Scheduling Day. In this simple Google Form, we ask our servant leaders to share their blockout dates and serving preferences for the upcoming month. Having this information in advance helps us to build better plans and increase the likelihood of our servant leaders confirming for their respective requests.

All of our worship servant leaders are scheduled through Planning Center Online. PCO has all of the information our team needs on service flows and setlists, along with all resources required to prepare for their service. In addition to PCO, each week our team sends out an itinerary for the upcoming Sunday that reiterates their location, call time, and setlist, and provides a style guide that helps to create a cohesive look for everyone serving on stage that day.

Here are our current serving breakdowns for worship at VOUS:

SOMI Block A — 6:30AM-1:30PM

  • 6 Vocalists
  • 4-6 Instrumentalists

SOMI Block B — 2:45PM-7:30PM

  • 6 Vocalists
  • 4-6 Instrumentalists

CITY Block A — 6:15AM-1:30PM

  • 6 Vocalists
  • 4-6 Instrumentalists

CITY Block B — 2:45PM-7:30PM

  • 6 Vocalists
  • 4-6 Instrumentalists

DD Block A — 7:30AM-12:30PM

  • 4 Vocalists
  • 4 Instrumentalists

We are constantly reworking and refining this rhythm for our staff and teams. There will always be room to grow, and unexpected changes happen, but having a consistent rhythm has helped us immensely in creating an excellent experience for our servant leaders and our congregation. We are firm believers in making room for the Holy Spirit to flow. This rhythm is designed not to stifle but to support His work. The Spirit doesn’t only move in a moment; He is present in every part of the process. As we prepare our plans, we also prepare our hearts for what He might want to do in and through us.

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