Worship Loopers… I mean Leaders.
As I’ve been using Loops, MultiTracks and Ableton over the past ten years, it’s been amazing to see more and more churches adapt the use of music technology in their worship services. You don’t typically see just a Boss TU-2 Tuner on the ground in front of the worship leader anymore. Now you see all sorts of gadgets and electronic music wizardry – laptops on stands, bright LEDs, foot controllers, MIDI keyboards, iPads, audio interfaces, wireless transmitters, a pile of XLR cables, etc. Lots of fun stuff… right? #SmilingBig
I was talking with a producer the other day and he said that he believes that the laptop computer will be to this upcoming generation what the acoustic guitar was to past generations. I agree with him 100%. The acoustic guitar will definitely always be around, and there will always still be “that kid” at youth group sitting in the corner playing to the girls. But this is a new day, and what kids can do on computers now is amazingly affordable and accessible. Computers and software are their instruments… and they are electronic music producers.
One of the main reasons I use loops is because I really enjoy “playing” them. I see them as another instrument that I’m able to play while leading worship – which I find really enjoyable. An endless possibility of fresh sounds and creativity at my fingertips (or feet).
Loops and MultiTracks are also a very effective and simple way to tighten up the sound of your worship team – whether your church is big or small. It’s something that ANYONE can do with the right tools and training. That’s one of the reasons I started LoopCommunity.com – to resource the church and provide worship leaders with the tools they need to take their worship services to the next level.
However, I have a nightmare – and this is what it looks like:
Worship leader Joe from Spring Valley Church is up on stage getting ready to lead people in worship. He’s been leading for a long time, however it’s his first time using loops during the weekend services. He proudly has his laptop, new foot controller and audio interface all configured and laid out at his feet. Service begins and Joe starts fumbling around with his feet trying to trigger his Loops – but he keeps hitting the wrong buttons and the loops are misfiring. Whoops – Joe also forgot to wake his computer screen from sleep before they started! So he bends down in the middle of the song and starts fiddling with his computer. All the while, the band slowly starts to fall apart and people are staring at Joe wondering why he is checking his Facebook during service. I think you get the picture… instead of focusing on leading the congregation into God’s presence, Joe is focusing on all of this technical equipment.
The primary role of the “worship leader” is to do just that – lead people in worship. Not be completely distracted by a bunch of electronic music gadgets. Here’s my heart – the last thing that I want is for worship leaders to start buying all the latest technology and implementing it into their worship service on Sunday morning just because it’s the “cool”, “hip” thing to do. It would be a sad day if all of a sudden worship leaders were neglecting their primary responsibility of leading people in worship, because they have transferred their focus to their computers and loop rigs instead of the Glory of God. If that sounds like your story, we have failed you. LC is here to help enhance your worship service. Don’t let technology become a wall between you and the congregation. I feel the same way about music stands, but that’s another post for another day.
Now hear me out – I am NOT saying that people shouldn’t use loops and technology in worship. Not at all. In fact, I believe that we can (and NEED to) raise the bar of excellence in our worship teams and music creativity. Loops and MultiTracks are an easy and highly effective way to do this. We most definitely have to give our all and BEST in our musicianship, continually growing and learning our instruments… never staying stagnant in our musical development. But what I am saying is that before you start using Loops and technology in worship, make sure that you’re comfortable with it before you get up in front of 300 people to lead. That is another reason why LoopCommunity.com exists – to train and resource worship leaders how to use technology in their worship services. It should be something that helps you, not distracts you. We are here to make it EASY for you and are committed to that.
As worship leaders, we must remember that our primary responsibility is to lead the people God has placed in front of us. It is a huge responsibility every Sunday morning and we need to really feel the weight of that. Sunday morning is not the time for our own personal worship time (eyes closed), or our time to play with MIDI controllers and computers. Those 30 minutes are precious – so lets make sure we’re making the most of it and leading people into the presence of God.
Loops and electronic music are a blast, and I believe the future of worship music. Let’s just make sure that we’re still focused on what really matters.
SOME TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS:
1. If you’re new at using loops, use the resources and training at Loop Community to prepare before you start using them in your church service. We have an active forum of people who are more than willing to help, as well as Ableton personal training. It’s easy, and once you get the hang of it – you’ll be rocking in no time. Practice makes perfect.
2. Before using new technology in your church service, try it a few times in your band rehearsals. That way, you can iron out all the wrinkles before you stand up to lead on Sunday morning. Just like you would practice singing a new song or guitar chords before you lead, Loops and MultiTracks should be treated the same. Be prepared.
3. Never let technology take charge of the worship service. Remember that its there to enhance and improve your music sound, but should never dictate or take away from your primary leadership responsibility. It’s a tool to help you, not rule you.
About the Author:
Matt McCoy is a worship leader and songwriter from Chicago, IL. He is also a founder of LoopCommunity.com