"Best Practice"
Worship Leader Course

3 Secrets to Make Preparation a (REAL) Priority for Your Team

Secret #3: Rotate Fewer Songs More Often

Hi Worship Leader!

Today, you're about to learn Secret #3 on how to make preparation a (real) priority for your team.

This secret will transform your team's preparation AND get your church to sing and engage more.

Worship Song Conspiracy Theories

What's the "secret" that will help your team be more prepared every Sunday AND get your church to sing and engage more??

It's not a "secret" in that it's hidden knowledge or something only a few gurus know.

Nah, that's nutty.

I've run into a bunch of worship leaders who have discovered this "secret" on their own. But why don't most worship leaders figure this out?

Without trying to like a conspiracy theory nut, it's this: because the "industry" is doesn't want them to.

And which which industry is that?

The "Worship Music" Industry. Or as I like to call it: The Worship-Industrial Complex.

There's a big machine cranking out new worship songs. Every week, another worship leader/church/artist releases their latest album full of songs that might just work for your church.

Are there people in the record business who just want to profit from worship album sales?

Yes. Without a doubt.

HOWEVER—and please hear me on this—I do believe that most of the "industry" genuinely loves local churches and wants to serve and bless them.

But that doesn't change the fact that can choose from 9,467 new songs every month for your set lists.

(A tad bit of hyperbole, but you get my point.)

Not Enough Space

Let me ask you this:

Does it feel like you never have enough space to introduce all the fantastic songs to your congregation?

It feels that way because it's true!

Most worship leaders know this instinctively. They know they have to pick and choose.

But even then, there's a subtle pressure for many leaders to…

  • Stay current.
  • Be relevant.
  • And NOT miss out on a fantastic new song.

It's one part FOMO (fear of missing out) and one-part "keeping up with the Jones."

So what does all this have to do with getting your team practice enough? You've probably guessed it by now....

Because of the almost infinite number of worship songs available to us, too many worship leaders rotate in too many new songs. The more new songs, the more your team needs to practice.

In fact, because of all the songs available to us, most worship leaders rotate too many songs, period—new, old, or somewhere in between.

Here's a typical scenario that I see in too many churches. A worship leader requires his/her team members to...

  • learn at least one new song each week,
  • relearn three to four others they haven't played for six months or more,
  • and then brush up on another one or two songs they "mostly know,"

That's a ton of practice time!

No wonder those team members come to rehearsal without their parts learned!

It's OK if you've resembled this leader. I did too!

(Not So) Great Expectations

Let's face it. The expectations for "modern worship" are little outta whack. Many worship leaders feel pressure to sing the latest songs. The pressure can come from...

  • team members, or...
  • the senior pastor, or...
  • people in congregation, or...
  • other worship leaders, etc.

The person pushing for new songs is well-meaning. He loves the new songs and is blessed by them. He wants these songs to bless the whole church the way they're blessing him.

But this guy isn't looking at the big picture.

Your team can only do so much. Unless they're comprised of professional musicians who get paid a weekly stipend...

  • They're volunteers giving of their limited amount of time.
  • They're decent musicians, but most can't quickly learn and internalize songs. (That's why most church musicians have their head buried in their music stands or eyes glued to the confidence monitor.)
  • Rehearsal is when many team members learn their part, because they didn't have time to practice.

So Secret #3 to make preparation a (real) priority for your team...

Secret #3: Rotate Fewer Songs More Often

Rotate fewer songs more often.

What does that mean? It means you need to maintain a smaller active song list so each song gets scheduled more frequently. This will help solve the problem of your team members coming to rehearsal without their songs learned.

But you know what? That's just the by-product benefit. The real benefit affects your church.

Your church sings from the screen and not from the heart.

(Read that again...and think about how you see that in your church.)

You know the difference between "singing from the screen" versus "singing from the heart."

You know what it sounds like. You've heard it. Think about the last time you were leading a set of songs you've introduced in the last twelve months. People seem to be singing, right?

But then, you start into an old song that the congregation has sung for years and...


Suddenly, the roof is blown off by the sheer volume and number of voices singing.

It might be an old praise chorus, a hymn, or a modern worship song that has resonated for a long time. Regardless, it's a "heart-song."

Your church knows this one. Intimately.

They might still be looking at the screen, but they're singing from their heart.

Please hear me. I'm NOT saying…

  • Never do new songs.


  • Always do old songs.

What I'm saying is this:

If you rotate fewer songs more often—and introduce new songs purposefully—your church will sing more from the heart than from the screen.

And guess what—your team will have very few songs to learn or relearn. Not only does a limited song rotation allow your church to worship more freely, but it also lets your team members…

  • Invest fewer hours practicing.
  • Come to rehearsal prepared.
  • Play and sing more confidently.

Again, that's secret #3: fewer songs rotated more often. It gives you a more prepared team AND a more engaged church.

It's NOT Easy

I want to warn you, if you start limiting your songs...

  • You won't win points with those who LOVE new songs.
  • Your setlists won't look as hip and cool as some of the #SundaySetlists posted in that worship leader Facebook group.
  • And even some of your team members are going to complain—"Ugh, we're doing this song again??"

Here's what I tell my team: "When you're getting sick of a song, the congregation is just now catching on."

Also, fewer songs/rotated more often serves the congregation. The worship ministry isn't about the fulfilling the musical desires of your worship team. It's about helping your church worship God together.

"Fewer songs rotated more often" is actually good stewardship of your and your team's time.

If you begin scheduling fewer songs and rotating them more often, within six months your church will be singing more—and your team will be more confident with less practice time.

Practical Next Steps

Now, this isn't a quick-fix.

I wrote an entire book on this concept. It's called The SongCycle: How to Simply Worship Planning & Re-Engaged Your ChurchI also have a video course that teaches this concept too.

I'm telling you that because I know how complex it is to balance new songs with old songs (and fewer songs vs. too many songs). When you start analyzing your song list, it will feel overwhelming.

Most worship leaders' master list is a "monster list." Cutting it down seems impossible.

So let me give you TWO practical "next steps" in this lesson.

The first "next step" is this:

Get more intentional about your new songs (if you haven't already). Here's how:

1. Tally up how many new songs you introduced in the last 12 months.

If the number is more than an average of one song per month, you probably added too many new songs too fast.

2. Begin to schedule each of your new songs more often, so they have time to catch on. It'll help get your church to sing them from the heart and not the screen.

BUT, that inevitably means you can't do as many new songs. So...

3. BE SELECTIVE. Pick the best songs for YOUR church.

Your team will appreciate that they don't have to learn as many new songs. And your church will catch on sooner to the new ones you do introduce. Those tunes will become "heart songs" quicker.

3 Secrets Review

Before I give you the next takeaway, let me review the three secrets we covered during this free course, Best Practice.

Here are the 3 Secrets to Make Practice a Real Priority for Your Team.

Secret #1: Teach Your Team to Practice

Some of your team members need to learn HOW to practice.

But that's only part of what your team needs to learn. All of your team needs to be taught your expectations of...

  • what to practice,
  • when to practice,
  • and how much to practice.

And, to motivate them, they need learn WHY practice matters.

Secret #2: Eliminate Excuses.

You need to take away any reasons your team has for not practicing—at least within your power.

  • Plan your music in advance. Get them setlists, charts, and mp3s several weeks ahead of the service.
  • Be clear about the arrangement and the part they need to learn.
  • And as the leader, model preparation. Be the most prepared person in the room. Show them what good preparation looks like.

Secret #3: Rotate fewer songs more often.

Once you implement those two strategies—Secret #1 and #2—Secret #3 will be the 'time multiplier.'

When you implement Secrets #1 and #2, your team have better practice skills and higher expectations for preparation. As you reduce the number of newer songs (and repeat all your active songs more often)...

  • Your team's practice time will be cut in half.
  • They'll come to rehearsals with their parts learned.
  • They'll sing and play more confidently—and as a result, worship more freely.

And because of secret #3, your church will be singing more, too!

Watch for the special bundle on Thursday that will walk you step-by-step to accomplish these three secrets in your worship ministry.

The Second Next Step

So what's the second practical "Next Step"

Thursday, I'm going to send you information about a bundle of resources that I put together to help implement each of the secrets at a HIGH LEVEL:

Secret #1: Teach your team to practice

You'll get a done-for-you worship team training program that teaches your team why practice matters, how to practice, when to practice, what to practice, and how much to practice.

Secret #2: Eliminate excuses.

This bundle contains training for you, the leader. It will help you tear down the reasons and excuses for not practicing enough.

You'll get a 9-step process to change the culture of preparation on your team. It will show you step by step how to create healthy practice expectations for your team AND how to get your team to rise to those expectations.

Secret #3: Rotate fewer songs more often.

The bundle also contains done-for-you plans to...

  • Introduce every new song so it sticks...
  • Rotate your current songs enough so the church knows them, but they don't get stale...
  • Sing the old songs your church loves, while still making room for new ones...

Again, your church will sing more, and your team will have to practice less.

So that's the two, practical next steps:

  1. Get intentional about your new songs.
  2. Watch for the special bundle on Thursday that will walk you step-by-step to accomplish these three secrets in your worship ministry.

If you have any questions about this secret—rotating fewer songs more often—shoot me an email. When leaders first hear about this concept, it can be overwhelming. I'm happy to answer any questions you might have.

Also, if you have questions about either of the previous two secrets, let me know.

Talk soon!




Jon Nicol
Creator of the course Practice Matters |


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