Because A Merry Music City Christmas wasn?t a typical Christmas church service?more of a concert?the Cross Point Church team?did things quite differently. There weren?t many opportunities for a traditional worship experience at the event. But even though the concert was a very different beast from their Sunday mornings, the worship community and culture they?ve established during their weekend services contributed to the success of the event.
Recruiting Quality Musicians
Cross Point Church is only twelve years old. Their worship leader, Matt Warren, has been there ten years. Five years ago they asked him to come on staff. This gave him plenty of time to connect with the heart and vision of the church.
The team believes good attracts good. So they seek excellence in everything they do. Not perfection, but excellence. That doesn?t just mean excellent music, though they believe in that. But they believe excellence in all the arts attracts good musicians. So they focus on valuing things like art, culinary culture, and quality videos. People recognize when things are done well.[quote]Excellence in all the arts attracts good musicians.[/quote]
While it?s true that Nashville is filled with quality musicians, many Nashville-based churches don?t experience the quality Cross Point has on their teams. Their worship team is around 300 people across all 5 campuses. They have 38 drummers!
Matt has found that he?s had to seek out some of the best volunteers on his team. Generally speaking, average and good people will ask to be part. But some of the most awesome ones are the guys you have to seek out a bit. The deeper the artistry flows in them, the more sought out they want to be. It shows you value them.[quote]The deeper the artistry flows in them, the more sought out they want to be.[/quote]
Matt experienced this firsthand when he was attending. He didn?t sign up to be a volunteer. But when someone asked him to step up and be part?knowing he was already busy touring with a band at the time?he was happy to do it. The personal ask is what got him onto the team. And he carries that truth today when he approaches musicians to be part of the team.
Many of his team get off tour busses at 2am in order to get to church at 6am and play. They don?t pay the musicians. It?s a service act. But because they value art and because they strive for excellence, the musicians don?t feel a dip in their experience. For most of the musicians, their experience with Cross Point Church is as good or even better than their experience touring with an artist. Plus this is a chance to serve, so it naturally attracts volunteers.[quote]Their experience with Cross Point Church is as good or even better than their experience touring with an artist.[/quote]
They also strive to make the audition process as painless as possible. Whenever someone auditions, whether they pass or fail the tryout, they assign the musician to a mentor on the team. If the musician didn?t pass the audition, Matt gives them notes on what he wants the mentor to help the musician work on. The mentor works with the musician over a couple of sessions and evaluates whether or not the musician can get to the level they need.
The mentor also helps the musician have a less scary first Sunday experience. They?re there for questions and to help out in any way possible.
The Philosophy of Cross Point?s Worship Team
The different Cross Point campuses have a broad range of facilities. Putting five worship leaders in their?200-seater wouldn?t make sense like it would in their auditorium that seats 1,600. Because of that, there?s a bit of a difference between what worship looks like at each campus.
But generally, they go with a typical rock worship set:
- Bass guitarist
- 2 Electric guitarists
- 1-2 Acoustic guitarists
- 4 Vocalists
One of the issues they?ve had to be intentional about dealing with is working with their phenomenal singers. Because, again, they?re in Nashville, many of their vocalists are classically trained. They?re tempted to do full harmonies and more stylistic singing. They?ve learned to tell them, ?We?re going to dumb it down.? Their goal in worship is to engage the room, which means more focus on the melody. This means they generally have one or two singers on the melody line, and only one or two on a harmony?generally one harmony line.[quote]Their goal in worship is to engage the room, which means more focus on the melody.[/quote]
This policy is also reflective of the changing music styles in our culture. If you look at the iTunes top 100, you don?t hear much music that sounds like music at a church. You?ll hear EDM tracks on almost every song in the top 100, many with hip hop verses. The team at Cross Point is constantly looking for ways the music can connect to the culture around them?not in an attempt to chase trends, but trying to meet people where they are.
Matt?s perspective is that our current worship music was started by a youth movement trying to reach the youth culture. That served the church well for the last 20 years. But Matt sees that we?re on a transitional verge with new music. You see this perfectly with bands like Hillsong Young & Free?very track and EDM based music.[quote]Our current worship music was started by a youth movement trying to reach the youth culture.[/quote]
They?ve found when they sing songs like that at Cross Point, they see a difference in the room. It?s a different energy that reaches younger people.
So the worship team at Cross Point is always changing, always evolving, and connecting to the core of people with what they?re doing. They?re not just looking for the truth of lyrics, but also the spirit and energy of the songs.