Mega-Church Worship Music – How They Run and What to Expect
Grace Community Church of Noblesville, Indiana serves 6,000 to 7,000 members each weekend. Steven Potaczek, Senior Director of Musical Worship at Grace, is one of several worship leaders who lead the community of God into the presence of God.
Grace has three full-time music director positions that oversee weekend worship experiences: Director of the Vocal Community and Choirs, Director of the Band Community, and Steven’s position, which oversees all the weekend worship staff, volunteers, and leaders.
Prior to arriving at Grace, Steven and his wife were on the road with their worship band “1,000 Generations.” Steven said that after eight years on the road, he stopped enjoying it. When he was contacted about the opening at the church, he began praying for direction.
I asked Steven about the process of auditioning at Grace and what one could expect when doing so.
For the weekend services, Grace Community Church has over 150 Worship Team volunteers, and holds auditions two to three times per year. To fairly evaluate each applicant, 3-6 staff and/or worship team volunteers are brought in. Steven said, “This is not necessarily how every mega-church does worship; it’s just how we do it. We audition everyone and anyone who’s interested. Prior to the audition, applicants are asked to fill out a form which allows us to get to know them, their musical experience, and hopefully their level of spiritual maturity. [Here are the links to view the audition forms. Here is the Vocal Applicantion, and the Instrumentalists Application.] If an applicant comes from another church, often we’ll follow up to ask if they have any spiritual baggage which needs to be addressed prior to jumping on board here.” Musicians at Grace must be proficient at playing to a click track, be able to read a chart, and have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
So what happens to those who don’t meet the standards? “Because we’re such a large community, we have many folks who want to be involved. As a result, the bar is high. If someone doesn’t make the cut, we are more than willing to resource them to help them improve and grow. We’ll recommend instructors or match them with some of the other praise teams throughout the church so they can improve. Additionally, anyone can re-audition down the road. Recently I auditioned a player who made the team musically, but spiritually had some issues. I asked him to go back to some of the people from his old church and spiritually work things out. It’s more than just musicianship. We’re asking our team members to lead the people of God into the presence of God.”
I asked how they work with multiple guitarists, and how they expect multiple guitar players to know their parts when most songs overdub multiple guitar parts on a studio recorded song. He replied, “I use a website called MultiTracks.com/ It has an annual subscription rate, and it allows me to download separate parts or tracks of a song. I can give each player the separate tracks to learn.”
“Once someone makes the team, we expect them to have their parts nailed when they come into rehearsal. We use Planning Center Online and work out six weeks in advance. A week before, the worship leader will upload everything into Planning Center. That way, musicians will have a full week to get ready for rehearsal.”
Grace rehearses on Thursday nights. Prior to the first Saturday evening service, they run through the entire service two times without stopping. This allows all the Production team members (whether they are operating a camera, running sound, changing lighting, etc.) to have their own rehearsal with the band.
“The band usually plays to a click track. Most of our worship leaders use Ableton Live, which allows them to utilize loops and even trigger separate sections of the song. To do this, we’ll use either a MIDI keyboard or a foot pedal to trigger the intro, then verse, chorus, etc., if we desire. This allows us to follow the Spirit’s leading if we sense that we’re supposed to repeat a chorus or something. I am all about utilizing technology; I just never want to be a slave to it.”
Steven Potaczek has created a website just for worship leaders, which provides resources on using technology in addition to regular devotionals at www.ForWorshipLeaders.com.