“Giving God Our Best…We Can Be More Excellent!”
By Ed Melendez
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.
1 Chronicles 25:7
They, along with their relatives, were trained, skilled musicians for the LORD.
I would like to open by thanking each of you for your time and talents. As we say goodbye to this year, we can now take a moment to see what we have accomplished through God’s power here at Hannaford. We have seen the building up of new teams, the introduction of new songs, the internalization of more new music, writing new worship music, producing our very first worship album. Most worship ministries might find it hard to check off two of the items on our list, but God has been very generous to us and I am thankful that you each have contributed so much to His ministry.
I also want to encourage each of you. We have come so far as a ministry of techs, vocalists, and musicians in the time we’ve had together and I know our God wants us to continue to excel and be excellent – And that will be the theme throughout this manifesto – “Be More Excellent!” As we close this year, I would like to offer up a few items to consider for this coming new year. I believe these will help us as ministry leaders and as believers who have volunteered for this important ministry. It is a very serious responsibility you have each undertaken.
The items below have come about primarily through experience and situations I have observed as we have gone through our worship time and rehearsals, services together over these last few months.
This has been mentioned previously and I believe can only be beneficial for me to mention it once more. I would like for us to be on stage and prepared to play before prayer has ended for our closing song of each service. I have seen improvement in this area. Perhaps we can continue to keep each other accountable in this. I would like us to avoid hurrying into the sanctuary and trying to get on stage after prayer has finished. This is now a minimum requirement for members of the worship team. If personal circumstance change during a service we can discuss that on an individual bases. That being said, your attention to this matter is very important and appreciated. “Giving God Our Best…We Can Be More Excellent!”
Following the Leader…
Another area we can be more diligent in is our rehearsals. It’s not an “ego” thing, it’s an essential thing. Once our rehearsals have begun all team focus must be on the worship leader/music director. It benefits everyone on the team. It will help everyone to be on the same page and information will not have to be repeated or missed. You are also guaranteed that you will not miss information that may change at the last minute.
This also applies to times when we are required to listen to our sound and tech people. They need our full attention and it will make the sound check process run much more smoothly if we are all focused on the task at hand. This is vital if we want to raise the bar. “Giving God Our Best…We Can Be More Excellent!”
Building Up New Leaders…
One of the many joys of doing what I do is being able to help cultivate new leadership. My hope this coming year is to help build up individuals from our worship ministry. Beginning January 15th, we will be launching a women’s praise team that will lead a Sunday service every other month. The team will be led by our own Amber Olsson. We currently have a men’s team that leads once a month with Gary Blom at the helm. We will have the men’s and women’s teams each lead every other month – the women in January, the men in February and so on. If you have already spoken with me about the 15th then I have you scheduled for that date. If you would like to be a part of the new group and haven’t spoken to Amber or myself please feel free to do so.
My goal is to begin giving members of our ministry an opportunity to take on the role of worship leader. The worship leaders will in turn pick their music and the worship order, scriptures and prayers. They will run both Thursday’s and Sunday’s rehearsals and oversee the entire service. This is a heavy responsibility, so I would ask that you keep both Gary, Amber, and myself in your prayers. For my part, I will take on all the administrative aspects. Creating chord charts, posting the audio samples, placing music on the Ministry Lounge website and on stage for the rehearsal, and creating the MediaShout presentation and any other elements such as videos etc.
The leaders will not be limited to Gary and Amber. If you too would like to take on a role as worship leader and lead a team please speak with me. I would love to have multiple leaders in our ministry. Please know up front that, like most important things, “Giving God Our Best…We Can Be More Excellent!”
Calendars are sent out in two-month increments. They can be found in your weekly emails. They are also posted behind the tech booth and the stage. They are also available to view on the ministry lounge website in the calendar section. So please know when you are scheduled. If you find that you are unavailable for a day you are scheduled for any reason, I simply ask that contact me via text, email, or by phone. The earlier the better. This cannot be stressed enough. We do worry about you when you don’t arrive on time or at all. This too is a minimum requirement as a member of the worship ministry. “Giving God Our Best…We Can Be More Excellent!”
We have two rehearsals each week. Thursday nights at 6:00 pm and Sunday mornings at 7:30 am. These are our start times and will remain as such unless otherwise changed. If you require time to set up your instrument please allow for that in your arrival time. Starting on time is essential to a productive rehearsal. “Giving God Our Best…We Can Be More Excellent!”
Working On Our Own Parts Of Music…
If we plan to play parts to songs not written or if we plan to write our own parts to songs such as chords, solos and alternative arrangements. We need to have those parts worked out as much as possible before our rehearsal begins. I ask that you do this before rehearsal. Again, our rehearsal time is designed to rehearse and not write. In doing this it will give us a better understanding of what we will be doing and where we are going in the song’s arrangement before Sunday morning. This is not meant to be a limitation to ones contribution to the music but to help solidify and better prepare each of us for what we as a team will be playing in its totality. “Giving God Our Best…We Can Be More Excellent!”
Internalizing God’s Music…
This was one of the first challenges I offered to each of you when I first arrived. Many of you have seen the benefits of what internalizing worship music can have in a worship service.
Each week the worship and tech teams are provided with an email that includes scripture to meditate on and to encourage you in your week. A song order with song keys, chord charts and audio samples, a group schedule for that week and the following week. I have also recently added a monthly music schedule that can be found on the ministry lounge website. It is designed to help you see what music we will be leading weeks in advance.
The purpose of these tools isn’t only for the team leading that week but also meant to be a tool for those who will be leading future weeks. These are designed to help us all be better prepared with our limited time together.
The reason I stress the importance of this is because I’m afraid I’m finding that we are far too often using our rehearsal time to “learn” songs and not to rehearse them. Our rehearsal time is very important but limited and it would be preferred that our rehearsal time not be used to learn songs. A rehearsal’s purpose is to fine tune particular parts of our music. My hope is that I am giving each of you ample time to listen and learn the music we worship with each week. With very few exceptions we are not adding new music every week as we might have been when I first arrived. You may find a new song every few weeks but, aside from that, I believe there is enough of a cushion that should allow anyone who takes the time to learn the music to become familiar with it.
Also, for those who are not on every week, it is even more imperative that you use that time when you are not leading and spend it becoming familiar with the music for that week as well as the week you’ll be leading. So I ask for your commitment to really listen and learn – not just the music for the week you’re leading – but all of the songs in our worship catalog. I’d really like us to raise the bar here. “Giving God Our Best…We Can Be More Excellent!”
Cell Phones One Stage…
Anther item to note. I am implement a “no cell phone zone” on the stage during each of our rehearsals and services from this point forward. If you have a special circumstance that requires your cell phone being on during a rehearsal, please speak with myself or one of the other leaders, Amber or Gary before our rehearsal. The goal and purpose in this is to remove as many distraction as we can during our rehearsals.
Fellowship and Study…
Beginning in 2012 on the last Thursday of each month at 6:30PM we will have a time just for fellowship. It will be in an informal time just to connect and go over the events of the month. I will provide some snacks or we can simply go somewhere and hang out. I ask that you bring a bible.
We will have a normal rehearsal start time at 6 pm, but we will cut it by a half an hour. This is why it is imperative that we implement the items listed above. Some of the areas we will explore will include discussing God’s views on worship, prayer, the Psalms, videos on worship, discussing new music, and anything in between. It will launch with a half hour run time. I am open to expanding the time in the future if we see a need. All are welcomed, especially if you don’t currently have a home study. Also, if we have people who like to cook or bake, let me know. That would be appreciated too.
My hope is that this will be an opportunity to help us better connect with each other as members of this very large ministry.
Because of the nature of things, we are often rushed in trying to do our morning ministry rituals and rehearsals. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a point in our Sunday morning service were we can decompress, connect and discuss the morning service we’ve just completed. i.e., What worked? Were there issues? Let’s pray for the coming week. Of all the items being discussed here, I believe this one is essential if we want to be excellent and accountable to one another. This is a concern of mine. I would like to avoid us simply coming in Sunday morning, “doing worship” and then going home. I’m afraid if we stay on the path we are currently on, that’s exactly what could occur. I realize there is a large commitment of time already for each of you, but I would not want to lose this opportunity to be seeking and glorifying God, connecting, being accountable to each other and praying for one another. Here is what I am proposing: I would like to implement at least a five-ten minute meeting/gathering at the end of each Sunday morning service down stairs in the “Awana” room. This would include the Worship and Tech teams. It would be a time to quickly go over the service and address any issue (if any) before the following Sunday’s service. I would like it to be seen as part of our ministry scheduling. It would close in prayer and be the official close of our service for that Sunday morning. “Giving God Our Best…We Can Be More Excellent!”
I have prayed about each of these items above and believe implementing these can only enhance our ministry and relationship with God and one another. The items above are offered to help us become more excellent. Our purpose is to glorify the living God of the universe. He is the reason we do what we do. I know many of us are already doing many of the items listed above to varying degrees. So I hope you will join me in continuing to raise the bar in a way that gives honor and glory to our Lord and Savior.
With the success of Hannaford’s first worship CD, which can now be found and purchased from the Ministry Lounge Website. As our annual Pastor’s Conference gets ever closer, I would like to offer up a new challenge for 2012. I would like us as a ministry of musicians and songwriters to offer up a new 2012 Hannaford worship CD for next year’s conference. It would be wonderful if you could all participate in one way or another. We will be looking for songs, lyrics, music and your talents to make this happen. Please be in prayer as we approach this awesome undertaking. If you have any questions please let me know.
I very much appreciate each of you taking the time to read through this. I want you to know that everything written here is meant to encourage and help us become more excellent. Being in a ministry is hard work. I can’t stress that enough. It is very hard work, but the rewards are immeasurable. So please consider these and let us all recommit ourselves in this coming year to a mission of deliberate commitment to God His ministry and being the best for God that we can be.
Please know also that I am available to each of you. Many of you already know that my door is always open. If you need to talk about ministry related issues or just life issues, I am available. Thank you all again for your tireless work here at Hannaford.
In His Strong Name,
Pastor of Worship Arts