Over the next few weeks, we are spotlighting different ministries at Brook Hills to inform as well as to celebrate how God is working within our faith family. To read our post on Preschool Ministry, click here.
For today's post, I joined our Worship Team (Matt Mason, Audrie Appel, and Philip Townsend) in their weekly Worship Team meeting and got a behind the scenes look at this ministry at our church.
BH Women: So what all goes into preparing for Sunday's Worship Gatherings?
Matt: It starts with knowing the sermon passage. That drives it all. Knowing the text and the pastoral theme allows us to think about songs that echoes that theme. For example, in Romans 8, God as our Father and the Spirit guiding us are themes that loom large. We choose songs that echo the sermon and have a gospel shape - that tell the story.
Once we know where the sermon is heading, we lock in on the songs. We especially focus on the song that comes right after the sermon since it serves as a response and a reinforcement of what was preached.
A third layer we consider with song choices has to do with any songs that we've recently taught our faith family that we want to continue to learn or emphasize.
Audrie: We also don't want all of the songs to be the same type of song - not all upbeat or not all slow. We don't want them to all sound the same. We also ask whether or not the song is accessible to the congregation. Is it singable? Does it have good content?
Philip: And we think through how the songs tie into the sermon. Does anything need to be said to make the Worship Gathering more cohesive or to make things flow from one element to the next?
Matt: We have default settings for the order of a Worship Gathering - baptism, intercessory prayer, the sermon, and the Lord's Supper. If the sermon suggests it, we set things up differently. For example, with a sermon on the resurrection, we would put baptism after the sermon to make the truth of the resurrection pop - where people could hear about it then see the truth through baptism. So our worship order is not set in stone. Based on the sermon, our team will make suggestions, but the preaching pastor for that Sunday makes the final call regarding the order.
Audrie: We also communicate with other ministries such as when Global is commissioning people.
Matt: And we try to look in advance to see what goes together, what themes are coming up. So we moved Kids Choir to sing on April 12 since that is a Local Emphasis Sunday and since the New Parent Commissioning is that day.
BH Women: Outside of planning for Sunday's Worship Gatherings, what all does the Worship Team do?
Audrie: Well Matt is preaching these days...
Philip: There's the logistical side of things. And Audrie handles the finances now for our team.
Student Ministry has its own Worship Team with student musicians who lead every Wednesday and on one Sunday a month. We incorporate a few adults on Sunday, but it's mostly student led.
We help these students think through the same processes - gospel shape, Scripture to read, etc. It's a microcosm of what we do as a Worship Team.
The students arrive at 3:30pm on Wednesdays, and we have Bible study for an hour before they practice. This is time to invest in them on a deeper level. They're absorbing and are much farther along than I was at their age.
Matt: Philip takes point in this.
Philip: And Audrie works with the vocalists and their ability to harmonize. And Audrie also works with the Kids Choir.
We also write Bible verse memory songs for Children's Ministry that go along with what verses they are already memorizing.
Matt: It reinforces what those guys [Kids Team] are doing. So in our meetings, we'll ask, "Who wants to write the Romans song?" or "Who wants to write the John 14 song?"
Audrie: Working on lyrics are another thing. And auditions for vocal team and for the band.
And we have 3D Nights where all of our worship volunteers gather together. This time together looks different each 3D Night.
Matt: The 3 D's stand for doctrine, discipleship, and devotion.
- Doctrine - We sing about God all the time, but we also want to study more about Him. So we might look at a particular doctrine such as an attribute of God.
- Discipleship - We fellowship together, bear one another's burdens, pray together, and ask how we can better serve the church.
- Devotion - We sing together and pray together.
Philip: It's the one time that all of our Worship volunteers gather together.
Audrie: This past year, we had a time of training for our vocalists.
Philip: And we'll do band camp in the summer for a week with our students. We have them do push-ups and sit-ups everyday... We teach them the musical aspect of leading in worship, which is important especially for the incoming sixth and seventh graders.
Audrie: We have a new normal now that Matt is preaching regularly.
Matt: The routine for us during the week is:
- Worship Staff Meeting on Mondays - We pray a psalm together, review Sunday's Worship Gathering, track areas or themes we're emphasizing, discuss things to reinforce, etc., and we read through a book together. [They're currently reading Tim Keller's Every Good Endeavor.]
- Worship Planning Meeting on Tuesdays - This is with the preaching pastor, the Communications Team, and anyone else who is involved in that Sunday's gatherings.
- Songwriting Meeting on Tuesdays - We carve out time to write songs and work on upcoming projects.
BH Women: What resources have been influential for helping you think through Worship Ministry at Brook Hills?
Audrie: Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin. We've gone through that together as a Worship Team. And we've been to a Sovereign Grace Worship Conference together.
Matt: John Frame's Worship in Spirit and Truth
Philip: Doxology and Theology - and not just because Matt has a chapter in it... [Chapter 13 on "The Worship Leader and Singing" in case you're curious.]
And Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges
Audrie: We've read Fellowship with God by Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Philip: And Kevin DeYoung's Why We Love the Church
BH Women: Are there any upcoming projects or events that Worship Team is working on?
Matt: Adult Choir this Sunday, Kids Choir on April 12, Easter, Secret Church, auditions in the summer for vocalists, and two songs at the Look at the Book Conference.
Philip: We're wanting to record the memory verse songs for Children's Ministry.
Matt: Our rotation for vocalists and the band starts or resets in August. We ask our vocal team and our band members to serve for a year - this is not applicable to choir, though.
Choir members are not deacons, but vocalists and band members are.
BH Women: Is there anything that y'all would like for the church to know about the Worship Team or about Worship Ministry at Brook Hills?
Audrie: I'm not sure how many people are aware of the projects we've released, like Death to Life.
[To see all of the albums put out by Brook Hills Music, click here]
Philip: And we are going to continue to write music.
Matt: We're looking for more people to get involved to serve with us.
Philip: It's not difficult to audition. Feel the freedom to contact us and to set something up.
Audrie: If you're wanting to be a vocalist or in the choir, contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you're wanting to be in the band, contact Philip (email@example.com).
Matt: The choir practices for the three weeks leading up to when they sing in the Worship Gatherings, and they sing every six weeks, except in the summer.
Philip: Anyone can do it [sing in the choir]. There are no auditions for that.
Matt: And you do it when you can. Unlike vocalists or the band, choir is not a one year commitment. If you can join us on the Sunday the choir is singing, then just come to practice. We even have rehearsal tracks that you can use if you can't come to all of the rehearsals.
To keep up with Worship Ministry, you can also follow them on Twitter (@BHWorship) and like them on Facebook (Brook Hills Worship).