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The creative team members at Christ?s Church of the Valley are big proponents of planning ahead. Before the first rehearsal, they?ve planned their entire service down to a T on Planning Center. They make every asset available to their band a week before rehearsal. So when the players show up, it?s more of a run-through than a practice.

When they?re planning to perform versions of songs differently than the available MP3?s, they?ll cut, splice, and change the key of the MP3 to make it perfectly represent the version of the song they?ll perform. If they?re doing a completely unique version of the song, they?ll demo it in-house and make that version available through Planning Center. They want to make it easy for their musicians to know exactly what?s needed of them through clear communication.

Because of this, they didn?t need extra rehearsals beyond their Thursday night rehearsal. It went a little bit longer than usual because of the extra elements, but it was pretty much business-as-usual for the worship team.

Philosophy of Worship on Easter

Because these were their Easter services, and they knew there would be many new guests at the service, they approached the programming a bit differently than normal. Instead of opening directly with a worship song, they performed a Queen medley pre-service of ?We Will Rock You? and ?We Are the Champions? to break the ice of the room. Then they played a spoken-word video that led directly into the worship set.

The whole order and structure of elements was meant to act as a sort of funnel. They wanted to bring the uninitiated to the same location as their normal attendees?to bring them to focus on God and specifically His greatness.

Because of the importance of the service theme, they thought a bit more thematically than usual when planning the songs. They generally put a lot of time into transitions and flow of the songs?there are rarely happy accidents in what they do. But for these services, they wanted all elements to speak to the greatness of God to support the message ?I Am the Greatest?.

The Spiritual Moment

On all of their major weekends, they try to find a spiritual moment for the service. Especially for Easter (more than Christmas) they look for a ministry moment. The entire worship set led to that powerful, emotional moment where they could culminate one big idea. They chose the song ?Your Great Name? to act as that moment?right after the time of meditation and communion. All the buildup to that song was meant as a chance to soften people?s hearts and prepare them for the moment.

Programming

Part of that powerful moment was the sequenced, backing track that you can hear when you listen to the service.

They do sequencing on almost every song. But they?re very intentional with supplemental sounds. They have great bands at all their campuses with fantastic musicians. So they don?t put lead lines into the tracks. They only add percussive elements, string lines, and atmospheric pads when they build the backing tracks. This allows their great musicians to shine through with their talents.

Minimal Vocal Presence

Another thing they do rather intentionally at Christ?s Church of the Valley is to keep the vocalists to a minimum. Ben Gowell, their lead music pastor, avoids the ?wall of praise? as both a musical decision and a visual decision.

His philosophy is that any time you have more than three singers on a stage, you?re duplicating parts. Musically, he feels this takes away from the experience. You get less tight harmonies or you experience the front-of-house engineer turning down certain vocalists so nobody hears them. This can lead the singers to feel like they?re not needed.

Also, you rarely hear 4-part harmony in modern worship music. When the CCV team?does decide to bring in extra singers, they prefer to do this through a choir.

Beyond that, visually, having more singers feels a little more feminine. Because their goal is to reach men in order to reach their families, they?re intentional about creating more of a rock band setting. This means less ?praise wall?, and more instruments than vocalists.

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