"For Those Who Are Passionate About Reaching The Younger Generation"

Youth Ministry Topics Developing Student Praise and Worship

Worshiping Our Audience of One (Part 3)

Cynthia Cullen

THE NORTHSTAR BAND

There’s a very stringent audition to become a band member or an alternate. Currently we have two bands that rotate and play every other weekend. We have some alternate players that are not what you would call "in a band" but they rotate in and out and play once a month or so. The audition consists of each band member being able to read a rhythm chart and being fairly capable of learning a song on the spot. Most of our music is learned at our Thursday rehearsal and played that weekend. I make CD’s available to the team in advance for them to listen to the songs if we have thought that far ahead! Prior band experience is a real requirement for the Praise Bands.

Band people are different from singers! I learned that early on in my musical life. I desire that each member of our team have the opportunity to grow musically and spiritually wherever they arrive at NorthStar and this is very different with each person and each team. The style of music we’re playing was born out of the early 70’s and 80’s rock and roll. Musicians who learned to play that style well typically played it in bars, on the road, and with all kinds of musical groups - not necessarily in the church. Thus, a lot of our band members learned how to play in different environments and for many of them NorthStar is their first experience with church.

Early on we made a commitment to accept people at different levels of the spiritual journey in the band, but they must have STARTED on that journey towards God, since we believe that there has to be some unity of spirit within the band. I ask each member of the band to have come to that decision for Christ, but that may be as far as they have come. With the bands, the members aren’t rotated very much because I want them to form accountability and relational ties with each other. It’s important for them to become united as a team. Since I am more of a "band person", they have a very special place in my heart. God has blessed us with some great leaders in our bands that have really poured their lives into younger Christians in our bands.

At NorthStar the band and the singers get along exceptionally well. Both of the teams are very aware that they are different and unique, but there is such a love and respect for each other, it truly amazes me.

THE WEEKLY REHEARSALS

On Thursday nights, the band meets alone in the worship center until the singers join them to learn the music for the next weekend’s services. This gives the band time to be together for 30-40 minutes. The worship director stays with the worship vocalists until about 8:30 (we go from about 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.) and then at 8:30 p.m. the worship team for that weekend comes in and joins the band. That night we run through all the music for the upcoming weekend.

As a worship director, I’ve realized as I’ve tried to equip different volunteers and different people in key leadership positions that my greatest gifting is in the rehearsal. I don’t have to lead worship every weekend. In fact, I’ve told Pastor Ike that I could probably take six months off and you would never miss a beat as far as me being on the stage, as long as I was there on Thursday nights. That’s where my gifting is and that’s something that I consistently do every week.

The bottom line? We’re facilitating worship, not singing at you. This is our worship philosophy.

THE NORTHSTAR PLAYERS

The third ministry team is the NorthStar Players, our drama ministry. It is a totally volunteer directed ministry. We don’t have drama every week, but they’re called on to do various things depending upon what the series needs. The Players give our creative announcements or highlight a portion of the message. They rehearse twice a month and have become their own small group. They also help out with the kids upstairs in Planet NorthStar and do a lot of that drama.

Drama definitely adds that little touch every now and then. Drama at NorthStar Church is best received if it is presented in the form of comedy. Also, our Pastors use humor in their messages and don’t incorporate serious drama as often as comedy. This is very much the character of NorthStar Church. There's a lot of fun and laughter in a weekend service. We are introducing people who don’t like church to a different version of Jesus than they’ve seen in other churches, or the caricatures they've seen of church by the media.

The worship ministry reinforces our Pastors' leadership. So we need to be consistent with their personality and style. The NorthStar Players write the majority of all our dramas and video sketches.

THE TECHNICAL TEAM

The fourth team is the Technical or Media Team. This team is the backbone of everything that happens at NorthStar weekend services. This is includes the video, audio, lighting and stage management people. It has been absolutely amazing to watch God develop this team. Every member is from a different walk of life from artsy people to computer technicians to professional video editors. Many of the team contribute their skills during the week and have no responsibilities on the weekends. Our Video Director oversees the NorthStar News, which is the weekly piece that we do to communicate announcements that run in a video loop before each service. In addition, we’ve got a weekend team for lighting, sound and stage management.

Our technical director feels that it’s his job to give his job away and equip everybody so that on a weekend, he’s just a communicator, walking around making sure everything runs smoothly. He tries to not physically handle one specific position on a weekend. We get a lot of flak about that sometimes, to be honest, but that was another philosophy decision. A lot of churches feel that whoever is running the technical aspects should to be a paid person because it needs to be just perfect. We don’t have that philosophy. Excellence is very important, and we do not settle for less, but the people always matter over the program. So maybe sometimes the drums don’t sound as good as the week before – that’s not our goal – our goal is to equip others to do the work of the ministry with the right tools and knowledge. They are better technical team members today than they were a year ago – training is key.

Winfrey does a lot of training with our guys; he really has brought them under his wing. There are some weeks I think it’s incredible over other weeks, but people matter to God and we’d rather invest in a larger number of people and get them into a ministry utilizing their gifts rather than strive for perfection every weekend. There is a fine line between perfection and excellence and people will win every time over the program.

These volunteers shoulder a lot of responsibility. They know that the success or failure of the weekend services is up to them. I communicate to them ad nauseum so that they know how much we value and appreciate them. Typically technical people hear nothing until something goes wrong, since they work behind the scenes. I consider their part of the ministry to be the backbone. Without excellence with the technical team, we couldn’t create the environment we need for worship.

To continue with Part Four, click HERE.