Date: Sunday, May 12, 2013
Location: Oakville Site at The Meeting House
Time: 9:30am service
One of the most common conversations I have with worship leaders across our sites is how to eliminate as many distractions as possible to allow for a clear opportunity for people to worship our God together in community. Sometimes, the “distractions” come whether we like it or not.
We kicked off the 2nd service on a fairly energetic note — full band dropped in at 0:00 on the clock leaving me no time to say anything but, “Hey, let’s stand up and sing together” … and we’re off.
I immediately regretted this “strategic planning decision” to start without saying anything because I couldn’t shake the feeling that this group needed a bit of refocusing to get into the zone. As I’m leading through the first song, the back of my mind is fast forwarding through the planned-to-the-second set, trying to find a window of opportunity to say something that might bring us all onto the same page … I couldn’t find it.
We had transitions planned that flowed seamlessly, so without pulling the plug on the whole thing and throwing my team for a loop I decided it was best to play this one out, lead well, drop a little prayer between the first couple of songs and see what God does through it.
Three songs in, the “refocusing” came in the form of a loud pop through the sound system, projectors going black, the house and stage lights going black and the emergency lights turning on … the power to the whole building cut out.
… I guess we’re now going acoustic!
**Side Note: For all you tech people reading this, since yesterday’s situation, the board is now plugged into a UPS.
This really is the worship leader’s worst nightmare (right up there with the realization that you’re on stage in only your underwear).
What do you do in this situation when you’re standing in front of 750 people. Do you stop? Do you try to keep going? My mind is scrambling through a list of songs that we could go to that people would know without having lyrics. I see Matt, our lead pastor rushing around the back, getting ready to make a move if we needed him to.
It feels like an eternity, but after probably what was only a few seconds, I realize something that I should have checked for initially … People are still singing!
When I thought I had to come up with some elaborate maneuvers to bring a room of so many people back to focus, God was demonstrating that he had them focused already … regardless of what circles I’m running in my head in the moment.
My band, I can tell they’re trying to figure out what’s going to happen as well, but I can also tell that they’re continuing to play, even though there’s no sound coming out of their instruments. The leadership in the moment changed from us flowing through songs, to now us trying to keep up to where everyone else was going.
Our drummer, Stefen, pulled everything back except for the 1/4 notes on the kick drum, and to the beat, people started clapping and kept on singing “Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul. Worship You’re Holy Name! Sing like never before, O my soul! I’ll worship Your Holy Name!”
My mic obviously wasn’t helping me anymore, so after ripping out my silenced in-ears, I kept on playing the acoustic (which really couldn’t be heard over the volume of people’s voices) and occasionally yelling out directions as we sang through another verse and more choruses of the same song.
After a couple of minutes, we could tell the system was kicking back in so a big drum fill from our drummer landed us into one last BIG chorus with everyone truly singing “like never sung before!” It was a holy moment.
So, how can you prepare for those distractions that will come regardless of how much practice you’ve had? You can’t.
All you CAN do is make sure that the band is on the same page walking into the set and make sure that if everything goes awry, you’re ready to make a quick decision about what is needed in the moment. Thankfully in this situation, that decision was made for me. With all of these things in place, buckle up, because when God has something else in mind, we need to be ready to go for a ride!