I’d like to start off with a bit of a story.
I grew up in a Southern Baptist environment. We were at church almost every time the doors were open – this was made easier because my friends group revolved around church, and it was a great outlet for singing.
Fast forward a bit to college, and I sought out similar types of Baptist churches. I shopped around the first year or so before having one of my best friends, both then and now, John Calhoun, hand me a Won by One CD (yes, it was 2004 and back then I had a computer capable of even playing a CD). Anyway, I played that CD day and night all summer long. I’d never heard anything like it. For me growing up in a Baptist environment, the acappella style was not really framed as something cool or contemporary but more like something relegated to barbershop quartets. College is such a formative time for young adults, and like many I was making my faith my own for the first time. Acappella worship quickly became the catalyst and the core of that journey.
Please indulge one more quick story about the power of acappella. Claire and I met in VA, and at the time I had been singing tenor at the local Fairfax CoC for a couple months. Claire knew this and decided to preview the church without me one week while I was, serendipitously, out here for the LA auto show. Like my story from college, she was unfamiliar with the CoC and wanted to see what it was all about. The service back in VA ran its normal course I assume, and weeks later Claire came clean about the sneaky move. More importantly, she also came clean about being moved to tears during one of the songs. To me this was an incredible reminder of the powerful ways God works and touches us through this worship style. The way music can speak to people has to be cherished, and the way we specifically do it here has the power to move, inspire, convict, and connect us with one another and with the Lord.
Simplistically, having a team lead the University Church of Christ worship portions of our time together allows for fuller tone and for all parts to be represented. When I accepted the role of leading worship, it was not out of excitement for being able to single song lead every week, it was because I personally know what life changing, and even better – life giving, impact that communal acappella worship can bring. Claire and I are proof points for the power of this musical tradition.
All that being said – It’s time for a UCC worship team 2.0, reborn, re-imagined, or whatever buzz word you like most…
Starting when students return in August of this year, it is our goal to resume having a five member worship team lead singing every Sunday morning. Our goal is these five are THE team, and that the same individuals are leading consistently every week.
I will continue to lead the team through song selection, encouraging/executing practice, introducing new songs, and leading the singing on Sunday mornings. Here are some additional thoughts that are paired with this vision:
- As mentioned, the same five team members should, largely, be singing every Sunday together. Rotations and subs should be the exception, not the norm. This means we will need a committed soprano, alto, tenor, and bass passionate about being part of singing every Sundaymorning
- The team should reflect our congregation and would then ideally be composed of a diverse mix of full time members as well as students.
- In terms of time commitment, we will practice every Sunday immediately following the service. Songs for the following week will already be selected, and we will practice for 30/45 mins at this time in addition to meeting at 9am on Sunday mornings for a final run through.
- We will learn and introduce our church to cool, current, contemporary songs without losing the soul and core of acappella worship and reverence for timeless hymns. We will seek to find ways to crossover with the Well and reestablish consistency with our long time members while increasing appeal to our important student population.
- Finally, the team begins in August, and I’ll single song lead though the summer. Based on possible team composition during holidays and summers, single song leading will be the default during those times.
If any or all of this sounds interesting to you, that’s a great thing. Starting today and going through the end of March, we would love to gather the names of any and all who are interested in being part of the worship team. Please see me, Al, an elder, or a church staff member and give them your information by Easter Sunday, April 1, so that selections may be announced before Seaver students leave in late April. At this time, there are no tryouts, there is no pressure – we just want to capture interest.
An important final note: If you’re not able to be part of the team week in and week out but are still interested in singing, please also let us know as we certainly will need the support of subs from time to time. Even if you have led singing in the past, please consider the slate clean, and see me or one of the other leaders mentioned to register your interest level as well.
Thank you for your kind attention and consideration.