Worship planners at conferences and events today need to learn the skills of any big show. One of the biggest things happening in the worship world right now is in Redding, California. Redding’s Bethel Church is in a small city, but it has a global influence. With its own music label, Bethel compares in influence to ministries like Hillsong because it has learned how to connect the organized needs of production to the organic aspects that give an authentic experience.
Production experts understand there is a psychology behind audience connection: They play music in a tempo close to the average heartbeat to help sync the crowd, connecting people to the event and to each other. We all know the need to be professional and pull off the technical aspect of production, but the difference between those who put on a great show and everyone else is that they know how to adjust to the moment and read the room.
It’s a prophetic sensibility. All great speakers and musicians do this. If you go to a U2 or Coldplay concert, Bono and Chris Martin take you on a journey beyond expectation. Similarly, the best worship leaders and planners know how to change directions. They sense where people are and what God is doing in the room, and can change directions based on that awareness. Although it is a skill that can be taught, it’s better caught. It has to be nurtured and discipled so we don’t fall into the trap of simply formulating something so experiential.
We should try to engage with that mystery rather than define it. The plan should be a tool and not become a prison, which is why the best plans have built-in flexibility. There are always two parts to consider: the organized and the organic. You have to leave room for both. The organized is there to allow the organic to thrive. Often the best moments happen when people follow the plan, but are also open to organic moments and can accommodate the unplanned. Those who are unable to deviate often miss their desired impact.
Jim Zartman founded Talkie Records as a composer and audio producer. He has also been a worship leader in the Vineyard Movement for more than 20 years.
Photo credit: Darrin Ballman