Chi Alpha @ Stanford’s Worship Philosophy

Our Goal: Creating a Worship-Prone Environment

Worship is more than singing, but in this document we're focusing on the musical singing that precedes and follows the sermon in our weekly Chi Alpha meetings. In that musical segment of our meeting, our goal is to create a worship-prone environment - an environment in which believers find themselves compelled to glorify God and unbelievers find it hard to ignore Him.

Our Convictions About Musical Worship

Some of our convictions about musical worship:

Worship Jazz: Structuring Spontaneity

With those convictions in mind, let us turn our attention to the actual practice of musical worship in our meetings. We are striving for structured spontaneity - something we sometimes call “worship jazz.” We assemble our worship experience using Biblical ingredients.

Our Ingredients: Biblical Expressions of Worship

All of these are appropriate and welcome at our weekly meeting (although some may require a few moments of explanation to the community).

Our “Reverse Mullet” Model

Simply having a list of Biblical ingredients isn’t enough to create the structured spontaneity that we’re striving for. Many people are intimidated by spontaneous worship because they don’t think of themselves as spiritual enough to participate fully.

By providing structure we make participation less intimidating and we minimize the magnitude of the mistakes that people can make, which means more people will feel free to worship without holding back.


Expectations for Rehearsal & Soundcheck

We need you to be on time for both soundcheck and rehearsal on the weeks that you are scheduled. If you have a schedule conflict and cannot make one of the rehearsals, please notify the worship leader as soon as possible. Here are some general guidelines and expectations for practice:

  1. Be prepared for rehearsal. The songs are posted on Planning Center Online over the weekend, so we highly encourage everyone to listen to and practice the songs before the first rehearsal.
  2. Pay attention to what the worship leader is saying during practice.
  3. Be alert and on the lookout for hand signals used by the worship leader during songs. (i.e. verse, chorus, bridge, etc.).
  4. Notify the worship leader if you are running late to practice.
  5. If you need to borrow a Chi Alpha instrument for worship practice, please let the worship leader know a day before practice so that they have time to track down the instrument.
  6. Musicians should set-up their own instrument including related cords and direct boxes (as applicable) at practice and soundcheck. If you need assistance, please ask one of the leaders.
  7. Vocalists will need to learn how to set-up microphones and also be familiar with the channel your microphone is connected to. If you need assistance, please ask one of the leaders.
  8. When soundcheck has started, all members should give the worship leader their undivided attention.

Planning Center Online (PCO)

Planning Center Online (PCO) is an online system that we utilize to plan our weekly services. It also stores chord charts and YouTube links for most of the songs that we use for services.

The worship leadership team specifically uses PCO to post the worship song setlists, to plan and schedule musicians and vocalists, to send reminders, and to communicate rehearsal and soundcheck information. Scheduled team members are encouraged to promptly read all PCO emails so that they are up-to-date on the plan for the week.

Gaining Login Access

To gain access to PCO you will need to be added to the system by a member of the worship leadership team. Once a preliminary profile has been created for you, you will be sent a PCO welcome message via email. Please click on the link provided in the email to create a  password. Your login ID will be the email address that you provided to the worship team.

Worship Team Scheduling

If you are scheduled to be on a worship team for a specific week, you will receive a PCO email request from the worship leader over the weekend, if not sooner. The email request will indicate which position you are scheduled to serve in (i.e. vocalist, guitarist, etc.), and will request that you confirm your availability by clicking “Accept” or “Decline” at the bottom of the email.

Confirming Availability to Serve

Worship team members should confirm their availability as soon as possible. The worship leader will need this information to determine equipment needs and to plan for rehearsal and service. 

To confirm your availability, click on “Accept” or “Decline” at the bottom of the PCO email invite. Alternatively, you can logon to PCO and on the home screen you will see the invite to serve with an option to “Accept” or “Decline”.

Viewing Worship Plans on PCO 

You will receive a notification to view a worship plan if you are scheduled as a worship team member on a specific week. To view the songlist for the week, click on “View This Service” at the bottom of any PCO email for that week, or go to PCO and click on the service you are scheduled for on your homepage.

Questions And Answers

Q: How do I join the worship team?

It’s a pretty simple process. Meet with one of the worship leaders, go over the material in this document, and then begin attending rehearsals until the worship leaders feel you are ready.

Q: How rigid are these guidelines?

We’ve spent time thinking about this, so we’re pretty committed to these guidelines. That having been said, nothing is written in stone. If you have a good reason for changing things up one week then talk to the worship coordinator or one of the staff members.

Q: If we value spontaneity so much, then why the rules about the songs we sing?

What we sing is important because worship is both expressive and formative. It reveals how we feel but it also shapes who we become. The fact that a song sounds cool is not sufficient reason to make it a part of our worship.

This is why we have an established song repertoire. These are songs we have carefully considered and have decided that they represent Biblical truth.

That is also why we include one hymn in our worship each week – these are lyrics which have stood the test of time. Feel free to change the music to make it sound cool, but be sure to incorporate the wisdom of the ages into our worship.

In addition, by having a limited repertoire we make it possible for the worship leader to change things up on the fly knowing that the musicians will be able to flow with them.

Q: How do we add new songs to the repertoire?

If a worship leader wants to sing a song not in the repertoire then give it a try in one of the meetings. Afterwards the worship leaders will discuss the song and decide whether or not to add it the repertoire permanently. If it’s added, we’ll make copies for everyone and add it to this notebook. If it’s rejected, then we won’t sing it again.

Q: What if I want to introduce a nontraditional element like a dance or a song I wrote myself?

We welcome such creativity. There’s a much lower threshold for doing something like this once than for adding a song to the repertoire forever. Just do it. If you get a chance, talk with the speaker about how best to integrate it into the flow of the meeting, but feel great freedom in expanding our experience of worship.

How To Be A Good Worship Administrator

Being a worship leader is not just about the weekly meeting - it is about building and equipping a team. Here are some tips to help you excel:

  1. At the beginning of the fall quarter, make it clear that you welcome new members to the worship team and have some sort of interest meeting/audition within the first three weeks of school.
  2. Be prepared for the first two meetings of the fall quarter before you set foot on campus. That doesn’t mean that you have to have every song picked, but it does mean that you have your musicians lined up. Things get chaotic, so get ahead of the game.
  3. Start each quarter strong - get your most experienced and gifted musicians and vocalists on deck. It is a rare chance to make a first impression. Specifically, it is a chance to make a first impression on prospective musicians. Musicians are attracted to quality music.
  4. Be sure to thank your team for their service regularly.
  5. Be sure to spend time personally connecting with people in Chi Alpha before and after the meeting. You will have a lot on your mind, but this is important. If people feel personally connected to you then they are more open to receiving what you offer them. Ministry is maximized face-to-face (see, for example, John’s comment in 2nd John 1:12)
  6. Remember to pick songs that are easy for non-musical people to follow and sing along to.
  7. Ensure that the worship setlist and the PCO emails are sent out on-time.

Tips For Running a Rehearsal

  1. Have songs prepared and printed out beforehand.
  2. Have the BPM of your songs written down before rehearsal.
  3. Rehearse your rehearsal - run through the set in your mind (and possibly out loud) before you meet with your team. Your confidence will fill them with confidence.
  4. Have someone you trust and respect to bounce your song selection off of before the rehearsal. They don’t have to be a fellow worship leader, but often another worship leader (whether in our ministry or somewhere else) will have particularly helpful feedback.
  5. Practice the transitions between songs! Most musical and time-eating mistakes are made going from one song to the next. Get it right in practice and you won’t have to worry about it in the moment.
  6. Have an efficient practice. Do not waste people’s time. A typical practice should take between an hour and ninety minutes. If you need more time than that, adjust your songs or schedule an additional practice.