EXW >  Forums
Search:

Your Stage Setup?

All things related to contemporary worship services go here.

Moderator: EXW Admin

Your Stage Setup?

Postby Laudio » Thu Aug 23, 2007 11:33 am

I'm considering giving our 20 to 40-person choir (attendance for services varies wildly) a break for a couple of months, and would replace them with a smaller ensemble -- about 6 to 10 auditioned vocalists. (The choir is not an auditioned group.)

We have a three-person vocal praise team leading with me each Sunday. This rotating team would continue to be in front of the other backup vocalists. Instruments consist of acoustic, drums, bass, electric gtr, piano, organ (sometimes), and percussion.

Music is technically "blended," but leans to a contemporary style (a la Passion Worship Band). The kicker is that I lead at a Southern Baptist church, and while they're actually good at being receptive to change, I would expect a bit of a negative reaction if we moved the whole band onto the main stage. Currently the drums, bass, and piano are in that typical "Baptist" area off to the side, where the piano would usually go.

I'm interested in knowing if anyone has implemented any change like this (choir to ensemble), or if you've found that a particular stage setup works better than another for any reason.

I actually think that the song selection on the first few Sundays will impact how receptive the congregation is to the change. If the more "contemporary" visual is offset by a slightly more traditional song set, I'm thinking that it will be better received. That make sense?

Also very interested in knowing about pitfalls to a scenario like this (personality conflicts, rehearsal adjustments giving more time to vocalists, etc.). Don't want to go into it without being aware of what to expect.

Thanks for any input!

Dean Lusk
User avatar
Laudio
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:03 am
Location: Madison, AL

Re: Your Stage Setup?

by Sponsor

Forum Sponsor
 

Postby ZionFire » Sun Sep 23, 2007 2:26 am

First of all, I have to ask, why put singers and musicians on the stage at all? Their ministry is not visual, it is auditory. They can minister effectively without being seen, so why take up stage space with musicians and all their often bulky and ugly equipment?

Worship should have a focus, and the focus should be God in whatever symbol your church uses: cross or altar. At the center of the platform. Without barriers. It should not be the music team, the drumset, the projection screen or even---the pulpit. *waits for inevitable gasps to subside* Leaving the platform open allows it to be used for occasional dramas, dance, prophetic activity and ministry--all things that should be seen. (Ever try to crawl up to prostrate yourself in front of the altar but can't get there because of all the microphone trees, speakers and electrical spaghetti in your way?) If it is felt the song leader needs to be in visible communication with the congregation and must be on the platform, an appropriate place would be off to one side.

As for the personal change in reduction in your singers, if they have a unity with each other and a desire to serve, they should be open to a new plan. If they all want to be used, perhaps a rotation could be used for the back up singer group. Have they been praying with you as you make the decision on this change, or will you be springing it on them? That could make a big difference on how receptive they are to the change.

I realize some of the ideas I have proposed here are radical by some standards, but think about this in the context of facilitating and directing the congregation's worship to the Lord, rather than how to the musicians and other ministers can best be displayed. That's where these thoughts come from.
User avatar
ZionFire
 
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Nov 14, 2006 4:57 am
Location: MO, USA

Postby Laudio » Sun Sep 23, 2007 4:44 am

Thanks, Zion.

I do appreciate the fact that you don't think inside the box that we're guilty of creating (and often trying to put God in).

I hope I remember to come back and post some specifics -- I'm up later than usual the night before services, so I can't ramble like I'd like to -- but we (the Church) do have Scriptural precedent in setting the ministering musicians before the congregation. They are not to be the focus of worship -- but neither is a symbol such as a cross or an altar.

2 Chronicles 5 and 6 immediately come to mind. The singers and trumpeters were dressed differently from the congregation and were in front of the congregation during a mind-blowing worship service, after/during which Solomon addressed the assembly of Israel.

I'm going to take what you've said and dig into it some more, though. Certainly won't dismiss what you've said.

And yes, I've been praying with the pastor, the choir, and the worship team about this, specifically. It definitely won't be a quick thing, whatever happens (or not).

You come across as possibly a little bitter about the state of "worship" (or better stated, "music") in the Church. I assume this is because it seems that we as leaders rarely question why we do things the way we do them.

Or maybe you weren't bitter at all...? Not assuming anything negative here.

Thanks for the reply!

Dean
User avatar
Laudio
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:03 am
Location: Madison, AL

Postby ZionFire » Sun Sep 23, 2007 1:40 pm

Not bitter, just observant, and a bit incredulous that so many churches put (for instance) a huge caged-in drum set in the center position on the platform, and yet put their dance ministers on the floor and even in the back of the room where they can't be seen. It doesn't make visual sense. I tend to be direct--apologies if that appears as shortness. I do feel that I have the benefit of a somewhat unique perspective, in that I minster as both a music leader, and a dance and pageantry leader.

You are right about the musicians being in front in the 2 Chronicles passage, but they were not at center, which was my real point:
2Chron. 5:12 Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar.....

Jesus atoning sacrifice rent the veil of the temple, allowing full access to the presence of God. A symbol of that is just that....a symbol that can help us transcend from the earthly places to the spiritual reality. The symbol is not God, and the symbol itself is not worshiped. Just as there is nothing spiritually blocking a believer's access to the throne of God, it seems right that there should also be nothing visually blocking our view of the symbolic place of that access, whatever that is in our worship setting. Perhaps a better way to have said it would be to say a focus for worship is what should appropriately be at center. In the temple, it was the ark resting between the cherubim. But the priests and Levites were not standing in front of it.....the scripture says that they came out from the holy place and then assembled at the east end of the altar.

Does that clarify better what I said above? I am truly not trying to be combative or set absolutes. I just want to raise some questions for those who have never considered or questioned certain customary practices.
User avatar
ZionFire
 
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Nov 14, 2006 4:57 am
Location: MO, USA

Postby Laudio » Sun Sep 23, 2007 6:47 pm

Hey.

Direct is good! Again, I didn't assume anything negative.

I do understand where you're coming from and the point you make, and it's a very valid one Scripturally.

I think we actually meet somewhere here. I will not set us up for an entertaining concert feel or look when we're having a worship service.

Thanks again for the input. I feel like I'd be argumentative to drone on about why I believe that it's Scripturally sound and generally logical to have the musicians on the stage and not off of it. So I'll leave it at that. And again, I will definitely be taking what you've said into account.

Dean
User avatar
Laudio
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:03 am
Location: Madison, AL

Postby ZionFire » Sun Sep 23, 2007 11:08 pm

You're welcome. :) I appreciate your graciousness, and also your desire to make whatever transition that happens be a smooth one for the people both in the choir and in the congregation.

I notice that it's been a month since you first posted your question, so I'm curious. Has there been any progress toward your goal or any decisions made?
User avatar
ZionFire
 
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Nov 14, 2006 4:57 am
Location: MO, USA

Postby Laudio » Mon Sep 24, 2007 1:57 am

Since this is something that there really is no pressing need to do quickly (or at all?), I've taken it at a slow pace, wanting to learn how our people (senior adults, young adults, pastoral staff, etc.) view things like this before doing anything. I don't take it for granted that every member of my congregation trusts that I seek the Lord in everything I do. I fully expect some people to think that I'm trying to build a show or something.

Does that make sense? My whole calling as a "Worship Pastor" is to shepherd a flock and lead them to understand what worship really does mean. I don't want to erect a stumbling block instead.

And that's all the more reason that it's important for me to examine my motives in this kind of thing.

I really do appreciate the input. I'm glad to see someone finally read it and spoke their heart about it.

Dean
User avatar
Laudio
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:03 am
Location: Madison, AL

Re: Your Stage Setup?

Postby Gimble » Wed Oct 03, 2007 3:56 am

Laudio wrote:I'm interested in knowing if anyone has implemented any change like this (choir to ensemble), or if you've found that a particular stage setup works better than another for any reason.
Various thoughts from a rookie "Music Coordinator". All are, of course, IMO. I'll focus on stage setup (as opposed to choir/ensemble transition), as I have thought more seriously about that.

Stage layout - practically speaking - is dependent on the following:

Physical characteristics of the venue. By this, I mean what can be done varies greatly between an open-air ampitheater, a "theater-style" stage, a traditional church sanctuary, and a church held in a rented facility.

As an example, my own church has a fairly traditional stage, fairly wide and not particularly deep prior to the stepped area for the choir space. As a result, our band location has to be driven to one or both sides, unless we're willing to tear down the choir seating, deal with stepped areas, or want to do more major construction in the area.

Composition and skill of the musicians. By this, I simply mean (1) how many musicians you will have and (2) what kind of equipment and space will be required. A church with a pipe organist and a full orchestra will likely have very precise requirements on what space is allowable : while a church consisting of a guitar player or two has a great deal more flexibility in location and size.

At our church, we normally have a one or two guitarists, a bass, drums, and on occasion either a keyboard/piano player, saxaphonist, or harmonica player. When we use the piano, its fixed location tends to create challenges for the band.

Composition and ability of the equipment. By this I primarily mean what kind or sound equipment is available and where it is located. The availibility of sound inputs, and location and quality of monitors, can really impact where musicians can practically be and still hear other musicians.

At our own church, the piano is located on one end of the stage (in a 'pit', and the majority of sound input/output (for mics, monitors, etc.) is located on the other end of the stage. As a result, it is difficult to use the piano in conjunction with the band while keeping both 'ends' of the stage together and on the same beat.

Flexibility of the congregation, meant as kindly as possible. The best possible stage arrangement may not be the best, if it's arrangement is going to cause too many distractions to the congregation. Placing the electric guitarist "front-and-center" may be in some locations too distracting from a worship experience, despite any acoustic advantages it might provide.

What is allowable. Simply put, needs of other ministries, desires of the staff, or other factors ( such as fire code, etc. ) may place constraints on what can be done where.

At my own church, the piano (as listed above) is on the "wrong end" of the stage from the I/O locations for the band. However, moving it is not an option, because of the impact it might have on other ministries (in this case, the traditional choir program).

------------------------------
From a personal perspective, about five months ago we did some stage re-arrangement as the summer months began. I sought input (and approval) from the staff as a whole, as well as input from the band members. We ended up moving the (electronic) drum kit and bass from the floor to far stage left, behind the guitar players (who were already on the end of stage left because of lack of space on the floor).

The move was not done to be more "showy" or performance-based, but strictly from a hearing perspective. Rearranging the band members moved them closer together. It increased their ability to hear one another (our monitor system isn't very good), and as a result we had a noticable improvement in the overall sound of the band.

And, quite frankly, a better-sounding band makes fewer distractions in the service, and helps people think more about the content of the music (e.g. lyrics) and less about the presentation (being off-the-beat, off-key, etc).

I'm certain we may have had a few who were unhappy with the change, but after the adjustment period it's no longer any kind of issue. I feel it was the right decision, and honoring to God. I'm still not particularly happy with the distance between the band and the piano, but haven't found an arrangement that would improve the quality of music without providing new challenges to other portions of the service.
Gimble
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2007 3:01 am

Postby Laudio » Wed Oct 03, 2007 10:50 am

Thanks, Gimble!

This sounds uncannily similar to our physical stage layout and team of musicians.

We do have issues with hearing one another correctly, and I would hope that a move would allow us to address some of those issues. As I mentioned, I'm not totally ready to do this yet on a few levels, but I'm believing more and more that it's something I should do.

I'm headed to the Catalyst Conference today with the rest of the pastoral staff at my church, and I'm pretty sure I'll come back with a head filled with layout ideas. :) From what I know about Catalyst, it may even be stretching me a little; certainly will be pulling the senior pastor and another out of their comfort zones.

I intend to blog about the conference each night. If you guys are interested, that will be at link-report/www.myspace.com/laudio. By the way, my "real" blog (which you're of course invited to read daily) is at http://deanlusk.blogspot.com.

Again, thanks for the input and specifically addressing so many physical aspects of it!

Laudio
User avatar
Laudio
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:03 am
Location: Madison, AL

Postby imkeys » Sat Nov 17, 2007 2:26 pm

This is my fourth church position. My first two were Southern Baptist church plantings so we went straight to a praise team/instrumentalist format. The third position was at a Baptist church founded in 1964 that had changed little when I took over. It had an established choir with 35-40 members. The pastor wanted change but the rest of the church was reluctant. I followed the pastor's lead and experienced a short lived and very difficult time there. I've been at my present church since July and had the same consideration about the choir, seriously considering disbanding it the first week. They had been singing their choir special to backing CD's that the previous leader had played on Sunday mornings WITH the backing vocals turned up. They were doing little more than lip syncing. So.... the first week I took over I chose music with just the live piano backing them. I kept that up for the first six weeks, pretty much just giving them praise songs that I wanted the congregation to eventually be singing. Then I started giving them their backing tracks again with no recorded vocal support. I encouraged a more freestyle approach and constantly tell them to PRAISE instead of singing to the floor. The change has been dramatic. Now the choir really shines and is gaining membership. We do mostly soulful Brooklyn Tabernacle songs for them. I'm still trying to build a praise team of singers, God will bring that, but for now the choir gives us the more traditional service that a lot of our congregation still enjoys. I see I keep saying "I" when referring to the changes, but every step of the way has been given up to God in prayer. We're being blessed.
imkeys
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 1:48 pm



Similar topics


Return to Contemporary Worship

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron


       


Experiencing Worship, The Study
Used by churches all over the world to help teach worship, the Experiencing Worship study can help your worship team too. Your team will learn why we worship and gain a better understanding of how to worship. One user said..."Your 5 week study course has made a tremendous impact on my life in the study of worship... I would like to express my thanks for a well written study course that leads into a higher realm of praise and worship."

Order the study today!