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God of This City by Bluetree isn't exactly new, but I love the song - just wish the vocal range wasn't so huge.

The other one I really love is Hillsong's "You Hold Me Now" - a wonderful song about heaven without being cheesy. One of the reasons I love Hillsong's writing style is that they break the worship song "mode" with many of their songs. On this one, the buildup occurs in the verse and the chorus is the softest part of the whole song, but still so powerful.

I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I think of being on the worship team as a service to the church. But it doesn't take much of a stretch to say that if that implies musicians shouldn't be paid, why doesn't it imply that no-one should be paid?

Motivation is certainly an important consideration. I'd be deeply uncomfortable with an attitude that, "We can't worship without (insert hard-to-find-instrument), so we better pay one."

Musicians who are professionals should be paid. At the least they should be offered to be paid. If a musician wants his or her time and talent offered as a gift that is their decision. 1 Tim 5:18 comes to mind on this topic, although I don't think many musicians want to be compared to an ox!

We've hit some stagnation here, so I'll throw a hot topic out there: paying team members.

You may or may not realize that many large churches keep their worship musicians (both instrument & vocalists) on staff, or at least pay them a per-gig fee. The larger the church and the higher the commitment to quality, the more prevalent this is (although church plants are often pinned into this situation, as well). For those of us in large cities, it is an even bigger issue because church musicians are at a such a high premium with multiple mega-churches competing for the best guitar players, drummers, etc. in the Christian world.

Then there's this: when I tell people back home that I pay a couple of my musicians, they get up in arms about how church is "not supposed to be a concert". BUT, they've been paying their organists for years. When I first got into worship leading, the organist would make $75 for playing 2 songs and we got a pat on the back for leading the other 5 with a full band that required coordinated rehearsals.

So what do you musicians or no? And in what situations/how much?

Hi, Dan

Re scheduling of your Sunday volunteers (coffee hosts, ushers, greeters, sound techs, video crew, elders, worship team, etc) - someone here in Ottawa has written a piece of software called

We've used it for a few years now, and it does the job well.
Users can block out vacation dates - duplicate scheduling is blocked.
Master schedule can be printed.
Basic - but works well.

If you or anyone else drops me a note, I'll get you in touch with the developer.
Will be probably your lowest cost alternative.

Thanks for the comments, everyone. I do think this should perhaps be moved to a new thread, seeing as it doesn't have much to do with what we want to see on the website anymore, but is rather doing what we wanted to do instead of just talking about doing it (what a great problem!).

I will talk to our worship people tonight about this thread and hook them into this website. I think the advice to make sure that there's no "doubling", as you call it, and to make sure that there's one strong lead vocalist carrying the melody line is fantastic.

All very helpful. Thanks so much.

By the way, I would agree wholeheartedly that enjoying, or not, worship in a more "concert-like" fashion is mostly a matter of perspective. My tendency, however, is to say that there's a bit of a theological perspective that needs to be considered beyond just doing what people like (I know that's been said already). My take on it, though, is that:

  1. Loving God is the number one thing
  2. Loving others is the number two thing
    • But, figuring out just how to love people is the tough thing. We want to love those who come as guests (seekers, or whatever other term you use) but honestly church worship services are not, I believe, the place where people first come in contact with the gospel generally. Instead worship services are for glorifying God, refreshing and renewing the people, proclaiming the Word, being in fellowship with His people, etc.--in short, I think worship services should be mostly targeted to the "believers", while each believer should be a "missionary" in their own setting outside of the church. So, if that's the case, then worship services should help to bring believers into worship--not be attractive marketing for "seekers" (to put it crassly).
    • So, that means that worship services with traditionalists and contemporari-ists (for lack of a better term) ought to be designed to welcome and draw people into worship, whatever their "flavour". Not meaning that we ought to please everyone all the time (not possible, as was mentioned before, but...
    • Our people (and we're trying to work on this) must learn to see worship as something more than individuals gathering together in one place to worship God in their own individual way. Instead we must see worship as something we do together, as the body of Christ. This means letting go of personal tastes and embracing compassion and love fore each other.
    • But then back to honouring God. If we're the BODY of Christ, called together to worship Him, then surely there's some value in the participatory nature of corporate singing. Many of our people complain that if the instruments are too loud they are overwhelmed, can't hear themselves (or anyone else other than the worship leader) singing, and so they just stop and listen. Bonhoeffer thought that singing in parts was bad because it broke up the unity of the church as the body (along with being a temptation to some to show off). I don't agree with Bonhoeffer to the full extent of wanting people to only sing in unison, but isn't he getting at something valuable there?

    Anyway, that was a tangent too, I guess. What I really meant to say when I started all this was just "Thanks! You've all be soooooo helpful! I will definitely take this back to the worship folks to see what they think.

    By the way, I've been checking out and I think it will maybe suit our needs for coordinating ALL our Sunday morning worship people.

    Thanks again!


    Is there an administrator function that could move this conversation to the thread Mark started? Seems like a shame to have one lonely thread with replies on it!

    I read your post before Mark posted...and I was going to suggest roughly the opposite of what he did :). Assuming you're like most churches, where the "only reads sheet music" folks are the keys players, and the "only reads chords" folks are the guitarists, use the lead sheets from CCLI, and ask the pianist to play just the melody. They'll probably feel weird doing it, since they're used to playing so much more, but part of being in a group is that everyone needs to play a bit less than they would on their own.

    My situation: We have piano with 2-4 singers on melody on a large majority of songs. We also don't have one defined worship leader. Is it terribly authentic to the pop-rock genre? Nope. Do I like the way it sounds? Not always. Would I like to change it? Sometimes...but on the other hand...the congregation really sings pretty heartily the way things are, which is worth quite a bit. Maybe what we do just works for us...(though I've been to bigger churches that do a more authentic modern sound, and felt like I was the only congregant singing).

    I do think the difference between following a vocalist and following a piano is mostly psychological, like Mark says, but that doesn't make it not real. The piano and voice have different characteristics as far as the attack of the note, and if you're accustomed to following one, following the other takes a bit of a different ear. It can take time to learn how to do it. As far as how to teach that...well, at some level, you just have to go for it and give people time. I do think doubling can ease the transition. Maybe it works for your congregation; maybe the defined worship leader works better. I've also found that (if you organize music in anything resembling "sets") I prefer to put things that might challenge people a little more in the middle of the set, so it starts and ends on a more confident note.

    The number one rule in worship is: if you try to make everyone happy, you'll make no one happy. Some people think concert atmosphere is idolatry while others, like this emerging generation has grown up with it and thinks it odd when the lights are up full blast. Its really all a matter of perspective! As long as we all do what we do to the glory of God and the furtherance of the Kingdom, I believe we're on the right track. People forget: worship is not about us, its about God. In fact, I would say "we" are the third-most important people in the equation - its God first, then those on the outside (seekers, or whatever you're comfortable with) and then us. Too many people get that mixed up, especially in relationship to worship. But really, its the Great Commandment - 1. Love God. 2. Love others. Why don't we think this applies to our music? Tangent.

    The "I can't hear the melody line with guitars" line is a fairly common response in transitioning churches. But, the reality is that most recording artists and thousands of churches pull it off every Sunday with relative ease. Honestly, I think its mostly psychological. In the rock/pop genre that most modern music is written in, the melody is carried only by the vocalists (its important to have 1 "worship leader" that everyone else builds around that always sings melody for this precise reason).

    Greg Scheer's book "The Art of Worship" is a great resource on this. The goal of the worship band is to not double.....don't have the keyboard and bass play the same thing. Don't have the guitar and the piano play in the same range. Don't have 15 vocalists singing melody (I've seen that!). Doubling is not only unproductive, it often makes the band sound worse. The same logic applies to your situation - don't have the keyboard play melody if the singers are singing melody - its doubling! But, you need to be honest about how good your band really is. People DO have trouble singing with bad bands, but rarely have trouble singing with good bands. As the band's quality develops, the singability for the congregation will also improve.

    Given that....if your band is good and your vocalists are well-rehearsed, no one will notice the absence of the melody. Try it out. I double-dog dare you :)

    Thanks for your reply, folks. I read your blog post with interest, and I think it has valuable things to say for us at our church. A concern that I have though, is that many of our congregation are having trouble following along with worship led by guitars because they mostly work through chord progressions and not through playing the melody line. Many of the congregants are complaining that this kind of worship leadership ends up with songs that are not "singable" because they don't have the melody line to follow along with.

    My question then becomes: How do we "teach" our congregation to be able to sing with chords as their support and not the melody line of the piano.

    A note to go along with this is that if our vocalists are "too loud" then people complain that it "feels like a rock concert" (although others rejoice that it "feels like a rock concert" ;-)).

    Anyway, thanks for your continued insights.


    Well, indeed I do!

    Allen is right on when he says SongSelect is intended for modern music. The hymns that are there are basically a bonus. The main reason is that most well-known hymns (at least in their original form) are free in public domain so there's no reason to make people pay to access them. There's two sites I use: (huge site, sometimes pretty slow) and For both, you'll need a web plug-in called Scorch, which is free. You can also get about any chordsheet you need off and various other sites. Just type your song plus "chords" into Google. Finding hymn sheets online is pretty difficult, other than the three sites already mentioned. I do really hope that the upcoming hymnal will have PDF capabilities, but my guess is that it won't be transposable, so those websites will have to do. Have your folks contact Allen or I if they really can't figure that stuff out.

    I probably differ a little from you two in that I think playing organ only for hymns and band only for worship songs only drives home the stereotypical thoughts of people about music (ie, playing some hymns with the band helps show unity....I can't say much for the organ though.....just don't try Hillsong on the organ.....ouch).

    As far as our Google Docs, we don't use them....I just know it works because we used it in Seminary. You can see part of our Google Calendar usage on our website -

    One more word about using keyboards in bands: the one "fault line" that seperates churches who do modern worship well and those who don't often comes down to how they use keyboards/pianos. I encourage you to read my latest blog post so I don't have to proliferate it here :)

    Good luck Dan.....keep those questions coming and don't be afraid to have your worship people call or email us directly.


    Do you mean coordinating with Google Docs and the calendar? Not sure what you're getting at.

    We are attaching our sound people with a worship team so they all get to know and work with each other. Sure they switch out from time to time. The nursery, greeters/ushers are all coordinated by someone else either via email or list. There are too many who don't use internet or email here.

    Regarding blended worship and SongSelect. The truth is that SongSelect is set up more for modern music, but it does have some hymns. As a guitar and bass player some of the real classical style hymns are not friendly and were not written with guitar in mind. I prefer to let the piano and keyboard pound those out. Many are also not drum friendly unless played as tympani (accents only, not the driving beat). I'm not sure forcing certain instruments on certain music is doing anyone any favors and it takes away from the authors intention and emotion for the piece. The same is true with trying to fit the pipe organ with many of the more modern pieces -- it kills them.

    If you have SongSelect premium, you can access all of the sheet music available and it allows you to transpose keys. You can also find some hymn sheets through You just have to make sure if you're pulling guitar chords from one place and full notation from another that they are in the same key. We've also invested in a few good books that have a good assortment of modern and hymn music that include chords.

    Hope that helps. Maybe Mark or others have more to say.


    THANKS for your suggestions, guys! :-)

    Truth be told, we've been pretty disappointed with SongSelect. We very much are a "Blended Worship" congregation and we've been consistently disappointed on a couple of levels:

    • We have musicians who either: 1) Can only read chords, or 2) only can read traditional sheet music. We've been disappointed to find that many, many times we have not had both available to us.
    • Because we try to be blended, we've had many times where hymns that we wanted to use were not available at all, or not in chord sheet form
    • .

    Anyway, I guess that's a bit beside the point (and I'm not really a musician, so I'm probably not describing the issues properly anyway!).

    I do appreciate all your suggestions, especially the GoogleDocs & Calendars ones.

    Questions for you: Is there a way that I could look at your church's set-up for using these things so I can get ideas for organizing our own "bundle" (at least the Google stuff)?

    Also, we'd like to be able to coordinate not just praise teams, but Sound and A/V people, Ushers, Greeters, Nursery Workers, Coffee servers--in short: everyone involved in a Sunday service. Do you do that? If so, how's that working for you? If not, why not?

    Thanks again. I'm already appreciating "The Network" big-time!


    Absolutely right Mark,
    we use SongSelect all the time. It's is totally worth the investment. That way you can also download the Hymn Sheets too.
    We have recently started using Google Docs to lay out the worship orders, bulletin, etc.

    I don't know anything FREE like you are talking about Dan. I know that when we used Song Show Plus in our other church, you could collaborate with it if it was on a network in-house. It lets you do the same thing as the website you mentioned, but you own it outright and it does all you projection and keeps track of CCLI usage. It's the big kahuna of Worship projection software.

    Hey Dan.....

    Have you considered bundling a few free internet resources to try collaboration? We use a combo of Google Docs (for the order itself), Google Calendar for scheduling, (now bought out by MySpace) for the free mp3's and CCLI's SongSelect for the chord/lead sheets. You can also print the chord/lead sheets onto PDF's and make them downloadable/emailable. That is essentially most of what PlanningCenterOnline does.

    I have to say, CCLI SongSelect is BY FAR the best thing available for worship team development if you can't afford anything else, in my opinion.

    The BIG thing that I'm struggling with right now is finding a good, and INEXPENSIVE (read: "free is best") resource (software or online) that I can use to plan worship services in a collaborative way. I'm a pastor at a church of about 100 families in an area hit relatively hard by the economic times we live in. I would love, love, LOVE access to a CRC-hosted worship planning sight that actually allows people from our church to work together on planning, scheduling, etc.

    Something like, except for CRCs especially, and free (or really cheap!).

    I'd love to hear more from you, Sandra, about what you're looking for and what you find lacking in RW. Is the challenge in the area of music only? Or are there other elements in the liturgy that you are wrestling with as you strive to stay connected to our Reformed heritage while also connecting to today's community?

    I would just like to respond by saying ditto to Mark and Allen's comments. I'm a Worship Coordinator of 8 years and have turned to the Reformed Worship Magazine for worship idea's and that has been helpful at times however it's often just a jumping off point for us as I often have to revise the services to fit our worship style of incorporating a good blend of traditional hymns and more contemporary music for our worship bands. I've attended the Worship Symposium a couple of times and really enjoyed it but did not find the workshops overly helpful with assisting us in the transition of developing in the area of modern worship. The cost of attending from Ontario Canada just wasn't justifiable.
    I long to keep our worship “Reformed” and theologically sound as we practice a style of worship that is culturally relevant to our community.
    I’m very excited about this new initiative of having a place to network with others that serve in Worship Ministries. It sometimes can be a lonely world out here and after eight years of serving some fresh ideas would certainly be appreciated.

    Between Allen and I, it appears that the beta testing for "The Network" is heavily weighted in favor of Classis Rocky Mountain. Represent!

    Allen brings up a good point here, especially with respect to the topic of worship. There are, of course, divergent preferences for worship style within the CRC from traditional to contemporary to modern to post-modern to what I like to call "CRC neo-traditionalism", which is the seeming desire of folks in our camp to let the worship revolution "fad" pass over. I agree (with lament) that the CICW & Worship Symposium seems to cling to the latter style. This has, in effect, alienated those of us in the CRC who want to do modern worship in a way that is both theologically reflective and culturally relevant. Unfortunately, we've been forced to look to other places for resources and support. What's really sad is that a fantastic network of CRC-modern-worship-practitioners already exists under the radar and is not being tapped as a knowledge base for the betterment of the CRC as a whole.

    For instance, I spent this past weekend coaching CRC churches in Iowa and Michigan on moving towards contemporary worship. They called me, some hack guitar player in Texas, because they don't know where else to go. Its amazing how basic the questions are and how easy they would be to answer!

    To the point of this "Network", however, it seems to me that the type of people who will use this sort of technology are also the type of people that are probably involved in modern styles of worship. So, if we're going to make this useful, we need to start getting real about nuts and bolts and real about the fact that modern worship is not a "fad". It is, in fact, an evolution in music and we seem to be choosing extinction over adaptation.

    I say we do this - lets encourage our cronies to get on here and lets get some information available for the churches that are pining for it. Let's give them a reason to log on!

    Hey John,
    I think this has great potential if enough people get on board. I hope you guys promoted it at the symposium. Couldn't make it this year.

    Anyway, I think that the worship end of this site would best be served if it included discussions on resources, best practices, developing a balanced worship ministry. I think people are also looking for how to do contemporary well. My only concern with CICW is that it seems to promote a more high church model for worship which doesn't fit every context well. I think it would be helpful to people who haven't a clue about getting started with contemporary to have discussion on how to pick songs with good theology and biblical content, how to develop worship teams with all the instruments, training for techies whether sound or projection. I think we lack this in the CRC so it is being done quite poorly, especially in rural places.

    Just some thoughts.