Why Small Churches Need Loops
There are countless blogs and websites out on the inter-web right now spreading the gospel of loops, their benefits and why you should use them now. I’m in that club but many of these blogs and lessons are geared towards the larger church. I’m a worship leader in a plant church and have been at several other small churches and have learned quite a few lessons in introducing loops to your team and implementing them in your service. Here are my reasons why loops and the worship leader of a small church, specifically a mobile church, should be best friends.
“We talkin’ ‘bout practice”
Who has time to sit down and practice at home? Loops offer the benefit of playing with the exact same track, arrangement and feeling at home. Our rhythm section can try new things, become familiar with our arrangement, which might be different than the recording, and mess up where only their cat will hear. Our rehearsals are more efficient when we’re rehearsing not teaching. This becomes even more important in the small church where sometimes there isn’t a space available to rehearse during the week and the only option is early Sunday morning.
Prepare The Vocals
Sometimes we’ll do a song with complicated harmonies or vocal parts and the hour and a half (most of the time much less) we have to rehearse before service isn’t sufficient for everyone to be comfortable with their parts. With loops our vocalists can have the same benefits as the rhythm section has with the added benefit of their vocal part exaggerated on the track. They will hear the melody along with their harmony which will be a little bit louder. By listening to that throughout the week their harmony will be burned into their brain (hopefully) and we can work more on blending than teaching parts.
Time is Tickin’
Nothing can derail a rehearsal, or set for that matter, than time fluctuations. Even if your drummer is still getting used to playing with a click and/or loop, the benefit of at least starting a song at the right tempo can save a ton of time and frustration. Nothing will tighten up your rhythm section and gel your sound like everyone playing together in time. The pocket gets deeper, rhythms get tighter, and your guitarist’s dotted 8th delay will sound like The Edge instead of like he’s falling over it.
“If I had…”
Every worship leader lends themselves to mediocrity when they allow themselves to fall into the “If I had” mentality. It’s easy to look at the bigger church down the street and think, “If I had all that, I could do that too.” They don’t see the work and effort it took to get to that position. One thing we’ve had to learn at our plant church is that God sends and brings and gives exactly what we’re meant to have at this point in time. Loops won’t necessarily grow your ministry but it does allow you to be more adventurous in what you can do right now. If your team is small or your talent is limited, you and loops should get to know each other. When I started at Freedom Chapel there was a drummer…and that’s it. So we started producing full tracks with keys, synths, percussion loops, etc to fill out the sound so we weren’t limited to doing a candle lit unplugged set every week. It transformed our thinking from, “We can’t do until we get more.” to “We can do and believe God will send more.” (Matt. 25:14-30)
It’s Not The Same!
Loops will never replace the energy and feel of a live human being playing an instrument, but they can add to your team and make your time together more efficient. Think of some areas in your team, rehearsals, or practice time that you or your people struggle with. What are they? Loops may not be the end all solution but they can probably help put you on the right path.