Rehearsal Structure with Adam Countryman

By Steve Young / Uncategorized / 07.07.15

The Importance of Structure


In part 1 of our 3-part series on leading effective rehearsals, we examined the importance of time as it relates to our rehearsals. No matter how long we’ve been in leadership, we always need to refer back to the value of people’s time. Always!

Now, the real meat of the matter is, what do we do with the time that we now have? In order to lead effectively, we need to create a rehearsal structure. A plan. The days of “let’s get together and jam” won’t work. We can schedule time for experimentation, but it needs to be planned and scheduled. 

As I mentioned in part 1, a good rule of thumb is: always start by rehearsing things that you cannot cut. For instance, if a value of our congregation is participation through singing together, then our worship choruses are likely more important than the special music of the day. We should adjust our rehearsal structure/plan accordingly.

Here’s an example of what a worship service might look like:

  • Pre-Service Music: “This is the Stuff” – Francesca Battistelli
  • Welcome + Announcements
  • Handshake
  • Confession + Absolution
  • Call to Worship: “King is Calling” – Kip Fox
  • Scripture Readings
  • Creedal Song: “We Believe” – Newsboys
  • Words of Institution
  • Communion Songs: “Take My Life and Let It Be” – Hymn
  • “Majesty” – Delirious
  • Prayers of the Church
  • Lord’s Prayer 
  • Offering 
  • Offering Song (special music): “Grace Alone” – Kings Kaleidoscope
  • Message 
  • Closing Song: “This is Amazing Grace” – Phil Wickham

Ok…so this may or may not look anything like what you do, but what we are looking for is the structure of our rehearsal. What is the most important piece to start with? Assuming our goal as leaders is to have people engaged in participation, the worship choruses should be first priority. I would allocate the time something like this:

  • 6:30pm-Call Time/Sound Check 
  • 7:00pm-King is Calling 
  • 7:20pm-Take my Life and Let It Be
  • 7:40pm-Majesty 
  • 8:00pm-We Believe 

If you follow something like this, at this point there are a couple of options:

  1. Give your team a break to get a drink and use the restrooms
  2. Let any personnel go that are not involved in the special music

Since pre-service songs and closing songs are the most likely elements to be cut if we run out of time in rehearsal or if we know that the service is likely to run long. That leaves us with the Offering Song (in this particular service): 

  • 8:15pm-Grace Alone

Once we have conquered that piece, then we knock out the remainder of the content. 

  • 8:35pm -This is the Stuff
  • 9:00pm – Rehearsal ends

By having a plan and a structure for your rehearsal you are sending important messages to your team:

  1. I thought about you before tonight. 
  2. Your time is valuable and I understand that.
  3. We need to make sure we give these songs the attention they deserve, which in turn gives our worshiping body the attention they deserve.

If you find that you’re running behind for any reason, you will likely have to start cutting songs. Now that you have a structure in place, you can simply edit your schedule instead of creating anxiety among your team when they realize they won’t be done at 9pm. Because, remember from part one, if you said you will be done by 9pm, you WILL be done by 9pm!!!

Many of you are probably doing something like this and you have this part down. Some of you have never thought about formalizing your system in this way. We have a tendency to over-think this time together or sometimes even over-spiritualize our time together. We have a job to do. It is not a choice to get it together in a timely fashion. Just take a little while before your rehearsal to make sure you are ready to go and let people know that you were in fact expecting them. 

Remember to have fun and be upbeat throughout the process. A smile goes a long way! 

Good Luck Out There!


Adam is the Music Director at River Pointe Church in Richmond, TX.  He can be reached here.