by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 6/28/20.
Leading worship is something most church leaders delegate. Yet it is also something that a church leader needs to understand and to give leadership.
One of the most confusing areas for church leaders who are not musicians is the importance of tempo. First I will explain the basics of the song tempo. And then I will show the importance of evaluating it and giving leadership in an area where the church leader may not (yet) have expertise.
Having evaluated hundreds of churches, I find that in many plateaued or declining churches their worship leaders are choosing songs in the Lento/Largo tempo (40-60 beat per minute), which means “very slow.” And even when worship leaders pick up the tempo, they usually only do so slightly, to the Adagio tempo (66-76 beats per minute) which is “slow and stately” or Andante (76-108 beats per minute) which is “at a walking pace.”
Now, there is nothing wrong with worship songs in these “slow and stately” tempos. But in the plateaued or declining church a lack of higher tempo songs (in tempos which are more celebratory) creates a sense of “slogging” through a worship package.
Worship in the scriptures clearly at times involves an uptempo and celebratory spirit. Look at Psalm 150:1-6…
Praise God in his holy house of worship,
praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power,
praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance,
praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!
Hallelujah! The Message Bible
Monotony can be elevated when a preacher also preaches in a “slow and stately” or “at a walking pace” tempo. In one client, I witnessed how the entire service seemed laborious, forced and tiresome. The preacher was a gifted and stately speaker. But coupled with a slow and stately worship package, the entire service seemed tiresome. Rather than the preacher’s slow and stately preaching offering a respite from uptempo music, the worship package of only slow and stately music created a Sunday service with little variety, but much monotony.
For many leaders they will want to encourage the worship leaders to intersperse Moderato and above tempos (108+ beats per minute) into most worship lists. This creates ebbs-and-flows during the worship package with both …
Here is how a non-musical leader can evaluate worship (and what they should do if they need to lead improvements).
- Record each song and measure each bpm (beats per minute). Applications are available to measure this.
- Is there a variety? When do songs under 108 bpm occur? When do songs over 108 bpm occur?
- What needs to change? Are uptempo songs needed during the worship package to energize the worshippers?
- Find songs in the tempos needed to create variety and inspiration.
Here is a helpful chart of the most common tempo markings with definitions and bpm:
- Prestissimo (> 200 bpm) very very fast
- Presto (168 – 200 bpm) very fast
- Allegro (120 – 168 bpm) fast
- Moderato (108 – 120 bpm) moderately
- Andante (76 – 108 bpm) walking pace
- Adagio (66 – 76 bpm) slow and stately
- Lento/Largo (40 – 60 bpm) very slow
- Grave (20-40 bpm) slow and solemn
Remember, every leader may not be a musician. But every Christian leader is called to be a worshipper.
Read the original article on BiblicalLeadership.com https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/how-to-keep-worship-from-becoming-monotonous/