A rehearsal by definition is a time to practice. In the church environment this is a crucial time to allow staff and volunteers of the church to practice Sunday worship . Let’s look at this in two terms. First, the broad aspect of the rehearsal and second, the narrow aspect of the music/worship rehearsal.
So let’s start with the broad aspect. In our humble opinion, the rehearsal should fundamentally be treated as a church “rehearsal” time. In the best circumstance, all departments and ministries that take part in the Sunday worship experience should carve time away, once per week, to rehearse their role in the worship experience. Designating a time for the church as a whole to “practice service” allows for an “off-air” performance of the church. Leadership is then able to provide in person guidance to correct experience issues.
Many might say this is impractical. To gather everyone from each department and ministry would be impossible if not simply impractical. The argument is usually that the musicians need the rehearsal space cleared and the usher/greeting team can’t charge the space, for example.
Make up your own scenario, but our simple rebuttal to these arguments is this, if you don’t rehearse as a group before the service day how will you be prepared? From the perspective of musicians, if they don’t rehearse as a group how are they to be confident they are prepared for the worship.
Now another group of you may say I agree but how can we implement this without upsetting current church rhythms and include every department and ministry.
Here a few steps to get everyone onboard for a full church worship rehearsal:
Schedule and communicate
Reach out to each ministry leader including the senior leadership and pastors if necessary. Share your vision of an “all-church” rehearsal.
Organize and plan
Collaborate and negotiate with our ministry leaders to build a plan on how to bring all ministries together for a full rehearsal. Identify your schedule of events including when people should arrive and when the rehearsal will begin.
Execute and refine
Execute your plan and be prepared for refinement. If you're doing this for the first time you may find a lot of resistance and obstacles. Learn from the challenges and adjust accordingly.
The Music/Worship Rehearsal
It may be impractical for many churches to host an “all-church” rehearsal as described above so at minimum your tech and/or AV team should meet weekly along with the music/worship team to perform a full rehearsal. This AV rehearsal should run concurrently with the musicians rehearsal as it is the most practical way to perform an AV rehearsal. This does not mean your AV team can’t rehearsal or practice without musicians. Working together with musicians provides a “live-subject” for the AV team to interact with in the rehearsal process.
Gather enough team members to fulfill every role you need. Don’t leave out a position that you would normally need for traditional Sunday service tech operations. Everyone and every role needs to rehearse. If you're a “one-man-band” then it will be just you!
You should have your audio members arrive with enough time to set up and check the audio system before the musicians arrive. Your video team and lighting teams can show up at a later time or arrive together and work as a team to assist the audio team. Nonetheless, before your musicians arrive: your video team should prepare any “content” (i.e. graphics, videos, presentations) as well as work out camera shots and check video displays. Additionally, your lighting team should program and set lighting levels.
Here are our 9 tips for an AV Ministry Rehearsal:
Have team members check the equipment is in good working condition and that all cables are properly connected and labeled.
Designate a Tech Team leader in charge of overseeing, setting up, and breaking down the equipment.
Ensure that everyone has access to the necessary equipment and are familiar with how to use it.
Perform a sound check and make sure the sound levels are consistent and appropriate.
Have the graphic team run lyrics along with the musicians songs
Check the sound mix regularly to make sure it's balanced and the vocals are clear and if you have a digital console save your scene by the end of the rehearsal.
Have the video team rehearse video shots while the musicians rehearse.
Check the lighting levels to ensure the worship team and pastor are visible to the audience and if you have an automated lighting system: check, program and perform lighting cues while the musicians rehearse.
Create a technical plan and distribute it to the team.
Tech or AV ministry rehearsal do not have to be complicated. For many churches you have “naturally” conducted this kind of rehearsal in part or whole. For others you don’t operate or agree with our method or ideology. Nevertheless, executing a rehearsal is not complicated. Plan, communicate, and then execute and in time your teams will find their rhythm.
Take note of best practices and tips on conducting an AV rehearsal and consider the benefits of including your entire church (additional ministries) into your weekly rehearsal process. You may find it beneficial to your Sunday-to-Sunday worship experience. As detailed earlier, you will find that providing a rehearsal space for everyone can benefit the congregation’s experience and ultimately their ability to worship freely.