I received an email the other day that went a bit like this…
Dude. Music stands. Where do I even start?
They were asking how they might go about transitioning from using music stands to not using music stands in their church. So I’ve asked my good friend and follow worship leader Fuller to answer this question. Fuller has a ton of experience leading worship, and has made the ‘no music stands’ transition several times.
Before we get started, let’s just get something out of the way. The music stand thing is such a hotly debated topic. Once you suggest that music stands are a negative thing, people get mad. And they like to tell you about it. So here is a bit of a disclaimer…
We are not saying that every church should get rid of music stands. Every church is different. Every worship team is different. For some churches, using music stands is necessary (you don’t have rehearsals, your leadership doesn’t decide on or distribute music early enough – which is a separate issue, your team isn’t ready to begin memorizing everything, etc). There are great churches who use stands. But, in our church, we don’t use music stands and we think it really helps elevate the level of worship. If you want to read more about why we don’t use them, click here and/or watch this video.
We also want to say that everything we do should be done through the lens of honoring God and honoring people. That is the most important thing here.
So if you’re ready to transition from a culture of using stands to a culture of not using stands, here is a 4-step process. And remember – take things slow – this is a process that involves changing culture. And changing culture never happens quickly.
Step 1: Assess the culture
First you need to decide if your team is ready to make the transition. You’ll need to ask questions like this:
- Is my team capable of memorizing 4-5 songs every week?
- Do we get music to the team with enough time to memorize?
- If we don’t get music and resources to our team in time, are we prepared to start doing this?
Step 2: Lead by example
If you are the worship leader, and you want to stop using stands in your church, it starts with you. Start this week. Don’t use a stand at rehearsal and on Sunday. This will accomplish several things. First, you will raise the level of engagement in your church. Removing that stand will take away a physical barrier between you and the congregation, and it makes a difference. Even if you as the worship leader are the only person on stage without a stand, it will help.
Secondly, you will know if your team is getting enough time to memorize songs. Are you able to come to rehearsal with everything memorized? And in my opinion, you should try to prep for rehearsal outside of your office/working hours (if you work for a church part or full time). That’s what your team will be doing – put yourself in their shoes.
Step 3: Cast a compelling vision
If you decide to get rid of music stands and just spring it on your team, things will not go well. Spend time understanding what this will mean for your team, and craft a talk that you will share with them. Communicate why this is going to be awesome. Communicate how it will help the atmosphere of worship in your church. Communicate that you and your church will come alongside them and support them in every way possible. Communicate that you believe in them and that they can do this!
Step 4: Take baby steps (and remember – Grace Abounds!)
Think through some small steps you can take. Maybe you lose the stand first. Give people time – don’t make a massive change in a week. Find one of your team members who is ready and ask them to come alongside you and lose their stand, too. And remember – grace abounds. Some people will love this, and some will hate it. Some people just have a harder time memorizing than others. Remember that your volunteers and your worship team are there to serve and to do the best they can – think the best of your people, and always elevate people above process. If your bass player needs charts on a stand (or on the floor), don’t kick them off the team – give them grace.
If you make the change from using stands to not using stands, we want to hear about it! Leave a comment below, or send a message through the contact form. And be encouraged! You can do this!
And again, if you use stands in your church, we are absolutely not saying that you’re doing it wrong. We are simply here to help you create the best worship environments you can in your situation.