The Week After: An Easter Weekend Retrospective

I'm going to throw my fear of being seen as immodest aside.

We brought it this Easter Weekend.

We set the bar high and we executed with precision and energy. Good Friday was a great mixture of solemn reflection and hopeful expectation, and Easter was full of joy, and I really think our musical contributions had a lot to do with the feel of both gatherings. Our arrangements were well constructed, our musicality was on point, and our presence was emphatic, dynamic, and highly facilitative. Again, at the risk of seeming overly proud, I sincerely believe that we should celebrate times when playing on our worship team feels especially gratifying, and I am certain that this Easter was one of those times.

These "extra-gratifying" sets seem to be concentrated on Sundays that have special significance, like Easter or Advent celebrations, and it can be disappointing or frustrating to switch back into our mundane weekly routines after the high of something like an Easter celebration. Its totally understandable, really. 

Except that it doesn't really make any sense. 

Why would we treat some Sundays as more special than others?

Why would we prepare more, give more to our performance, and care more on some Sundays than others?

Easter may be the official celebration of Jesus' resurrection, but is Jesus not just as alive and victorious over sin and death on every other Sunday of the year? We criticize some of our friends for being "Christmas and Easter" Christians, but are we guilty of only showing up on Christmas and Easter as worship musicians, phoning it in on every other Sunday of the year? 

Hyperbole aside, I genuinely think we have the potential to "blow it up" on every single Sunday that we play. If we're honest with ourselves, we really aren't breaking our backs to prepare parts for any given week, even on the special occasions when we are explicitly expected to care, so it's not too much to ask for a little preparation, energy, and commitment from ourselves. I don't believe you can really turn every day into Friday, but here are some ways that you can move towards blowing it up like every Sunday is Easter: 

  1. Remember why you're here
    1. Every Sunday is a celebration of the love that God has for His people, and the glorious work of Jesus Christ. The music that we play is an articulation of the response of our hearts to the unmeasurable grace of our God. It should be a party. 
  2. Take a look at the setlist before Sunday
    • In the modern, "Planning Center" era, there really is no excuse for unpreparedness. You improve nearly every aspect of your performance by being familiar with the songs you play, and therefore, you increase the chances that people will sing. If people sing, we win.
  3. Treat it like it matters
    • Ever heard someone talk about a band that had great presence? Usually part of what they say goes something like: "It didn't matter if they were playing to ten people or ten thousand! They still gave it all they had." Those bands are generally held in high esteem because they believe in the music that they play, regardless of the environment in which they play, and it shows in their performance. Wouldn't it be awesome if we could say that our worship teams gave everything they had in the middle of November, just like on Easter Sunday? 

I try to remind any musician that plays on our team that they are the "threshold of engagement" with the songs we play. That may seem convoluted, but it boils down to the fact that people will rarely engage with the songs at a higher/deeper/more intense level than the band at any given moment. If we are disconnected from the words that we sing, and we phone in the parts that we play, how can we expect people to engage in any significant way? Why should we expect people to see the words of the songs we sing as meaningful when the people playing those songs seem disinterested? We should exemplify what it looks like to go all-in in the context of musical worship. We should set the bar as high as each of us personally can. 

Easter feels special because no one even thinks about questioning the authenticity of the words we sing. Lets make that true for every Sunday.   

Ian