Posted by: worshipguitarguy | May 21, 2007

Leading Worship in a Small Church: Wearing Many Hats

First thing first, sorry for the lack of posts lately… I started a new job 6 weeks ago, and I’ve been busy getting up to speed there. Things are slowing down though so hopefully I’ll be on a more normal schedule now.

If you regularly play or lead in a small church setting, more than likely you’re well aware of the fact that you and your team have to wear many different hats each week.  Besides singing and playing, you may also be a sound tech, roadie, lighting tech, media expert, and ministry coordinator and organizer.  Many small churches have a very limited number of technical people in them, and if you’re one of them, you’ll often be stretched in many directions. 

To make matters worse, if your service is in a facility where you setup and tear down each week, you’ll often have a whole other dimension to deal with.

If you’re in this position I can relate.  For the past two years, my crew and I have been in that same place and here are a few things we’ve learned along the journey:

Buy Smarter:  Let’s face it, if you’re in a small church you probably don’t have a blank check to buy whatever you want.  Most small churches meet tech needs on a shoestring budget.  (And if you’re an international reader who’s learned to make things work with very little, I have even more respect for you.) 
Well, just because you don’t have a huge budget doesn’t mean that you can’t come up with a good sound setup, you’ll just have to put the time into planning and shopping around so you can do things right. 

Obviously, one of the best places to shop is ebay. The big thing is before you buy anything, make sure to research what you’re looking for, including talking to other people who use the same gear. Going in blind is a huge way to experience disappointment. If you know someone with a ton of ebay experience, you may want to pull them in as you buy, so they can point out potential “fine print” details

One thing I’ve found off ebay is if you make a purchase from a real life retailer on things you need multiples of, talk to them and ask if they’d sell you some more for a comparable price. I’ve done this a couple of times and saved 30-50 percent on new items. If you commit to buying a few things, some retailers will jump at the chance to offer you a deal. (Note, I’d be much more wary about trying this with an individual selling on ebay.)

Mark and Label, then Mark and Label Again:  If you’re part of the setup and teardown scenario each week, this one’s for you.  A while back, our team went through and documented every sound connection, every lighting connection, and every power connection.  We either color coded everything or number labeled everything so when it comes to setting up, we can plug and go, instead of wondering which cord goes in which jack.  Since doing this, we’ve rapidly sped up our setup time, and minimized delays from finding that we wired things in wrong.  For instance, we set up lights each week, and we color marked each par can to match the extension cords they go into.  We’ve also color marked or number marked each of our monitor lead cables so we don’t have to figure out which amp is supposed to run which monitor.

If this seems a little overkill, trust me, it isn’t.  When setting up, our team’s often going in twenty different directions.  And even the sharpest of our team can forget and miswire something when the pressure’s on to get things done. 



  1. Hey good to see you posting again, Gerry… hope the new gig ERR job is going well.

  2. Great post!

    Being in a small church has its limitations for sure (I know from experience…mine runs 70-90). My challenge for those of you who are in a small church is to not get bogged down in the “what ifs”.

    My wife and I are moving (so I can go to go East Texas Baptist University) from our home church of 15 years. I find myself spending the little time we have left at the church dreaming of greener grass on the other side, when I should be playing out of response to how magnificent and glorious and awesome our just and good God is.

    No matter where you are, God has you there for a reason. If something is worth doing, its worth doing right. Strive for perfection, not only in musicianship, but in God’s eyes.

  3. Hi, I’m a regular (and appreciative) reader, and I was wondering if you could please contact me. There’s no email links on this site, and I’d like to talk to you about starting an inter-blog conversation about worship. Email me and I can explain further and hopefully get you involved.

  4. Nicely said G,

    We really need to look at recruiting more people to help us out every week. Have a great week!


  5. AMEN!
    great thoughts and advice for those of us in small churches…

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