There Were No Easter Baskets

Time just keeps moving us forward. There’s no greater reminder of this for me, lately, than holidays. What once was a foregone conclusion; holiday, big dinner, everybody home – has morphed into something that requires a lot of mobility and flexibility.

Such was Easter this year. The boys are gone, off on a mission trip with their dad in New York City. Sarah is in Savannah. Shannon and Sydni came home for the weekend. Tony and I are still here, and everything swirls around us. 
No complaints. Just the way it is. And I’m okay with that.
Easter was an amazing celebration at our church. I read this post today and realized that I have moved past the emotions he describes into something that is grounded in joy and optimism, more so than in recent years. It is tangible and it is good, and today was an explosion of grace and goodness that I still find

Connie Kottman’s art

inexplicable; but I accept it for what it is and give thanks for a community of faith that gives us room to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

And a good bit of singing and shouting.
There were no Easter baskets for our family this year, which felt a bit odd. But church and a full table and good conversation made up for the absence of candy, fake grass and chocolate bunnies.
It’s been a busy few weeks around here, but I’ve been taking notes. Here’s some links I highly recommend, from writers all connected with PCC in some way:
You can watch today’s service here



To quote David Bowie.

I’ve been on staff at PCC as the primary worship leader ever since I’ve started here, seven years ago. The church has grown, our team of musicians has grown.

And I’ve grown. Sideways, sometimes. But that counts, too. I’ve probably learned as much from my failures and mistakes as I have from things we’d say were successful.

When I came to PCC I was very broken, very unsure of myself in many ways. The one thing I knew was that worship was my lifeblood. I’ve been a musician all of my life. I am most myself when I am making music. The invitation to make music at PCC – and to carefully tend a leadership role – was a pivotal point in my life, not only professionally, but also spiritually and emotionally.

So I started singing and playing and leading. And growing.

And the church grew, too.

Growing things change.

It’s been obvious that God has directed some incredibly talented people towards the creative arts team, and in order for them to grow and learn, we’re shifting a few responsibilities around in our leadership structure. These changes won’t make a huge difference in your Sunday morning experience, as you’re accustomed to seeing these folks on stage already; but I thought I’d make an official introduction to you.

Matthew O’Donnell has been at PCC for about 18 months. He came with his family, started making music with us and basically never stopped. Matthew is talented, passionate and loves God. He has a unique mix of intelligence, musical ability and leadership gifting that presented us with an obvious responsibility: To help him grow and learn to use those gifts here at his home church. That’s what we’re doing. I’m glad to share the news that Matthew is the new Worship Coordinator at the Powhatan Campus.

Matt O’Rear came to PCC in the spring of 2012.  Matt and his family worshiped at the Westchester Campus for several months; we had a chance meeting at a local restaurant. Sammy introduced Matt to Lindsay and I and mentioned that he played music. We invited him to come play for us right then and there; he got directions, grabbed a guitar and came to the Powhatan Campus and played for us. Matt’s background includes music business studies at NYU,  music production and engineering studies at Berklee College of Music and church music at Southeastern University. He loves God and is passionate about musical worship. Matt will be the Worship Coordinator at the Westchester Campus.

And although she’s not named “Matthew”, Laura Krzyston has joined the PCC staff as well. You might recall a blog post introducing Laura as our Artist In Residenceit’s been wonderful to have her on board as part of our creative team. She’s written some amazing songs and continued to grow as a part of our community, working with our musicians as well as student ministry. Laura feels strongly that God has called her to travel, but for this current season she is responding to a strong tug towards Fork Union. She will partner with Chauncey Starkey to build a team of musicians at Fork Union, and plans to be part of that community as a resident. Laura holds a degree in music from VCU, has a passionate love for God and is committed to the work of the local church.

I am thrilled to see these three talented individuals step out to invest their time, talent and resources in the work that God is doing in and through PCC. We are better for their presence among us, and as they continue to grow as leaders we will benefit from their imprint on our church. Nothing makes me prouder than to stand in the back of the room and worship under their leadership!

And that’s what I’ll be doing…on some days. Matt, Matthew and Laura will carry a large part of the scheduling and rehearsing for weekend services, and they’ll be on the platform leading consistently. I’m still part of the worship team, and I’ll still  play and sing – but, a lot of my energy will now be focused on equipping and encouraging these new leaders and helping them to be successful. I’ll continue to lead our programming team as the Creative Director and serve on our senior leadership team as we develop strategy and systems for growth.

My friend Walter pointed out that I have a strong maternal streak; I want to protect people in our ministry. I want to see them soar, too. As I grow older, I am beginning to understand that this maternal instinct is a part of my leadership style. It might not be a good fit for a Fortune 500 company, but it’s part of the unique wiring that God gave me. I think it’s a good fit for His people, too.

I’m glad for it.

I hope you’ll welcome Matthew, Matt and Laura – and I hope you’ll prayerfully support and encourage all the leaders of PCC as we move into a new, exciting year of change!

Advice To Worship Leaders

I was driving home this afternoon, and I had this thought:

I’m really humble.

No, really.

Isn’t that crazy? I mean, what kind of person calls themselves humble and is, in fact, humble? Isn’t that a big, fat oxymoron?

I remember being in a conversation once – for the life of me, I can’t remember who, but that’s par for the course these days, because I’m lucky if I can remember my own name. It’s hormonal, I think.

Anyway – where was I? Oh, right. That conversation.

Somebody was telling me about themselves in regards to serving on our arts team, and the comment they made was, “Oh, I get humility. I’m the most humble person you’ll ever meet.”

Now that is messed up.

But back to my point: It has to do with the way I do my job. I had lots of meetings this week, with lots of dialogue and conversation. I’m working on some strategic planning for the summer that involves a good bit of collaboration. And in every one of those situations, I’m investing time and energy into processing, thinking through and then pitching ideas – my ideas. That’s what I get paid for, that’s my calling, that’s my role and responsibility. I’m often invited into places where my opinion or evaluation is requested, and I tread very carefully; but I use my brain and my experience and my discernment and I offer ideas and suggestions and plans. Sometimes with a great deal of passion.

Then there’s the music leading part, too; I have strong feelings about how we’re called to serve the church and one another as musicians. I also have strong feelings about how songs ought to sound and how a service ought to flow, about who has potential and a calling to lead worship and who might not be quite ready. I’m not ashamed of voicing those opinions, of pushing through to create things that I believe will honor God and inspire people. Things that will be excellent.

But undergirding all this opining and leading that I do is a very specific underlying assumption. I rest my pride and ego upon it, and I also balance a great deal of confidence here, because I know, ultimately, that working from this premise makes me better. And makes our team better.

Regardless of all my great ideas, I always believe that somebody else has a better idea. 

I always believe that somebody else is more on top of things, smarter, brighter, more effective, more efficient. Not just that they might, but that they are. And that they have better ideas than I do.

At its worst, I’ll cling to this life-raft of insecurity and cry myself a pity party in which I am old and decrepit and useless and jealous. Oh, yes. Sometimes that happens.

But at its best, I passionately believe that I am leaning hard into Paul’s words in Philippians*, which I think are dead on:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others. 

Or, as creatively voiced by Eugene Peterson in The Message:

Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

This is important to me. I think it’s important to my job, to our church, and ultimately, to the community. I think it resonates with me because I’ve screwed up so royally by looking to my own selfish interests first and foremost, by being obsessed with getting what I wanted. I’ve swung the pendulum the other way.

It’s better this way. And it matters.

If I could give counsel to any person leading in the creative arts field, most especially to worship leaders, I would say this: the sooner you own this sort of humility, the better. You’ll be better. The people you lead will be better. And even though you might say stupid things to yourself like, “Gee – I’m really humble!”, in the long run it’ll be fine. It works.

*Philippians 2.3

Dripping Wet

We’re leading worship at Eric’s church tomorrow.

We practiced tonight.

There was something magical about it. Comfortable, familiar, but new and transformative.

I miss the part of making music that changes me. Leading – always leading – is hard, because the leadership always has to transcend the artistry. If there are other people on the stage with you, you have to lead, if you’re the leader. There’s no escape. Sometimes – most times – that’s an awesome privilege. Sometimes – most times – it’s also very heavy.

When somebody else is wearing that hat, the opportunity for pure joy arrives. And when you trust that person implicitly – on a personal level as well as a musician – say, for instance, that person is your brother – then heaven cracks open to give your soul a chance to sing.

Sometimes you don’t know how dry you are until somebody pours a bucket of water on your head. Tonight, I’m soaked.

Like Jonathan

My heart is swelling.

I’m sure pride is sinful in some way; “pride goeth before a fall” and all that…

But I am PROUD. No other way to say it.

Three of the young men pictured have been part of my life in some way since 2000, when we first moved from Texas to Chagrin Falls, Ohio. We met Steve Smith (center), his brother Jeff (fourth from the left) and Dan Prout (furthest to the right) at Fellowship Bible Church. They were awesome, intelligent young men who appreciated the challenges of living a life of faith. They loved God. They loved their families. They loved their church.

And they loved music.

Some of my very favorite memories are from summer VBS weeks, where these guys and a few others would get together to be the worship band. I got to lead with them for a few years and we had such amazing times, learning ridiculously fun songs for kids and leading them in worship every morning with crazy passion. I was privileged to have some incredible moments of worship with Steve, Jeff and Dan – the kind that sear your soul with the presence of God and leave you changed.

These guys are all amazing musicians. Gifted songwriters, good friends to one another and to others. Passionate about life and people and Jesus.

They’ve just released a really good EP. I really hope you’ll check it out. The depth of writing is excellent, the recording quality is stellar, and they’ve got some great music on this album.

You can listen to them here.

Better yet, buy the EP at iTunes here.

You might want to familiarize yourself with their music, because we’re working on getting them down here in October to be part of some PCC worship experiences. Now that will be incredible.

I can’t wait to introduce you to these guys.

I am SO proud!

Having Myself A Moment At The Dedication Service

Dedication service tonight.

So many passionate musicians on the stage. So much sound and passion rising from the platform.
Technical stuff pulled off – sometimes at the last minute – inspiring and honoring God. Lights. Staging. Transitions.
An amazing video piece, written and narrated by Angie Frame. Filmed and edited by Regina Revels, with musical selections suggested by Brian Hughes. A powerful and to-the-point message from Brian. A violin!
In the midst of all this, I heard a whisper from God. At the risk of sounding incredibly presumptuous, I am going to share it here. Because I feel like it’s not just for me.
As we closed our celebration with “He Is Yahweh” and “You Are Good”, I had myself a moment. Overwhelmed by the people around me – people whom I have come to love and care for so deeply – I hear this whisper. Tiny, quiet, brief – but more powerful than I can possibly convey. We worshiped. God responded.
In my heart, I heard five simple words:
Meant the world to me.
I hope you were there. If you weren’t, I’m sorry. But it was just a brief taste of heaven. And I can’t think of anything I’d rather hear than those five words, from the Creator of the Universe. I just talked about that today in the morning service – how God meets us, shows up, changes us, offers transformation, helps us “get it”. And tonight, I had myself a moment.
It was awesome.

Pianos And Prayers

We had rehearsal tonight in our new space – our first “regular” Wednesday night rehearsal. Last week was so frenetic and packed with energy that it didn’t seem normal.

Tonight was normal. It was really….weird…to be out of the the little trailer, where we all practically stood on top of one another to practice. Now we’re on this huge expanse of stage.
We’re rehearsing with the Avion in-ear monitors.
We can hear (for the most part).
We’re running video to set up songs.
We can leave our gear out.
I don’t have to perch the keyboard on the conference table.
The singers don’t have to stand in Lori’s office because there’s no room for them in the main room.
It’s “real”.
And it feels so funky.
I’m so, so grateful – there are so many things that we’ll be able to do in terms of our vision and the mission of our church. Having this building opens up so many possibilities. In the long run, it’s going to be terrific.
But these first few initial weeks of change feel a tad bit painful, honestly.
I realized tonight, as we went through “None Like Jesus” (yeah – if you love that song, don’t miss this Sunday…), that I was grieving something specific.
I miss the grand piano at the high school.
I’ve never played at a church that didn’t have an acoustic piano as an option. I am, first and foremost, a pianist. My preference is to play the real deal. I love the keyboards we use, and I’m grateful for them. But the sheer pleasure of sitting on the bench and making music on the instrument that I’ve played for over 30 years now; that’s unmatched by anything in my life.
In this building, that option is gone. There’s no baby grand hiding in the wings.
It makes me sad. I’m hoping that at some point in the future, we’ll be able to get one. Funds are tight right now; although it’s part of the big picture in terms of equipment, it’s sunk pretty low on the list of priorities. Actually, it’s probably not even ON the list any more. There are so many things more necessary right now. Like ceiling tiles and tables. Flooring for the youth room. Asphalt for the parking lot.
So I’m hoping that one day….
Shoot, let’s just be honest. I’m hoping that somebody in Powhatan will read this and remember that there’s a baby grand sitting at home – preferably a Yamaha – that they would love to donate.
I’ll be praying about that….

My Heart Turned Violently

We got in late last night – like 3:00 AM – from the Unleash conference at NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC. My two previous posts were the raw, unedited notes from the two breakout sessions I attended. We also sat in two main sessions with worship and teaching from Perry Noble.

Between the information shared by NewSpring leaders, the worship and the fun time hanging with the 19 folks from Powhatan, it was an incredible 36-hour experience. It’s a whirlwind and it’s an exhausting travel schedule, but I think this was one of the most valuable conference experiences I’ve had in the past few years.
I had the huge privilege of being free to truly worship through the music led by the NewSpring team. Since that’s my primary weekly responsibility at the church, it’s difficult to ever escape the role of “leader” week to week. Even when I’m not leading from the stage, my heart is still engaged in a leadership role as I worship with our home congregation. I’m grateful – it comes with the territory, and I am not complaining. My daily, personal worship is valuable – but a time of pure, unfettered corporate worship is precious to me.
I got that yesterday, and it was good – freeing, focused and pure. It is an overwhelming gift. It is life-changing.
Yesterday these words reverberated through the room:
oh, how he loves us so
how he loves us
how he loves us so

The rhythmic push disappeared; the instruments pulled back and the gauzy film of worship hung in between God and his people. There was a tangible presence in the room – holy, pure, loving and merciful. Indescribable.
we are his portion and he is our prize
drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
if grace is an ocean we’re all sinking
heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
and my heart turns violently inside of my chest
i don’t have time to maintain these regrets
when i think about the way…oh…

I know that everybody walks into a conference like that with a unique set of circumstances. Many folks were wrestling with big issues. We all carry burdens specific to our situation.
Whatever we carry can be radically, supernaturally changed when we open ourselves to complete vulnerability in worship.
I was changed yesterday. I had carried some tension into the room, an underlying issue of estrangement that tinged my comings and goings. Without even seeking it out, God reached into my heart and brought freedom.
I sang with my hands stretched towards heaven, wanting to honor God with my attention and affection. Unexpectedly, I felt a great surge of attention and affection returned back to me. Through these simple lyrics, I was reminded, over and over and over again:
he loves us
oh how he loves us
oh how he loves us
oh how he loves….

All of us. Equally. In light of the cross and the overwhelming, all consuming, unfathomable love of God, our regrets are reduced to simple distractions. My heart was so beautifully broken by grace – a state that offers freedom to seek forgiveness and to embrace reconciliation.

I literally was with Jesus yesterday in a beautifully, heart-wrenching way. I continue to be surprised by the revelation of God. It helps me long for heaven just a bit more each day.

Unleash – Service Planning

Notes from Shane Duffey’s session on Creating Services @ NewSpring.

Consistency is king. Create a way to do things that allows freedom.
Our “industry” goal is to create a clear vision of who Jesus is. Create a distraction-free environment to present the message of who Jesus is.
Excellence is removing distractions that prevent people from hearing or seeing truth about Jesus.
Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Planning puts things through our filter before it gets into the house so that people can see Jesus.
2. PREPARE (equip)
3. PRACTICE (nothing happens on Sunday that hasn’t been seen)
First, the leadership team maps out Perry’s teaching schedule – general teaching ideas (series on marriage in the fall, etc). These meetings happen a few times a year.
Weekly, the creative team gets together to plan a service – usually between 3-5 Sundays away. Creative team works off of Perry’s notes, sent to SD. (Meeting is 10 – 12 Wednesday) SD sends notes to 8 – 12 people, who read in advance, then come into meeting to walk through the message with Perry. Creative meeting includes talk-through of upcoming Sunday.
This entire process starts with a pastor who works ahead. PN creates that environment. Every few weeks they discuss “theming” the series.
Assistant to SD makes a list of everything that needs to be done; all those responsible for executing the service report to him. His job is to make sure it all gets done.
8:00 tech run has a HARD START where they run it EXACTLY as it is in the service.
After 9:15 service, if something doesn’t work, they drop it.
Multi-site feeds are on a 5 minute delay.
Technical people see technical things; they are often self-correcting. Creative meetings are to evaluate how the people in the seats are experiencing the service.
NewSpring leadership trusts their ability to discern between valid criticism and personal preference. They do not do surveys or seek out third-party opinions. Their primary marker is whether or not people are receiving Christ.
Distractions include bad notes in songs; lagging lyrics; a creative element that has nothing to do with the main point. Distractions capture attention from Jesus.
Know each leader’s primary purpose – the senior pastor should typically lead the church and preach the word. Leaders need to be informed but not necessarily involved in everything. Honest communication helps leaders stay balanced. He should never be surprised. He should not dictate.
Primary worship leader leads weekly meeting where set lists are planned that work at each campus. MULTISITE – WE DONT’ WANT A BUNCH OF NEWSPRING CHURCHES. WE WANT NEWSPRING IN A BUNCH OF PLACES. There is flexibility; they invite everybody to invest. Don’t strangle a campus by forcing a song without personnel to maintain excellence. By inviting everybody into the planning process, you can avoid difficult conflicts.
EX: Kids on stage at one campus, not as many kids at another – add a chorus to a song to stretch it out.
“Need To Know” – 10B4 – great bumper, announcement, etc.
Perry gives basic notes; creative staff can read between the lines as necessary. Scripture, questions, illustrations, stories. Only the senior pastor can create advance prep margin for the creative team.
Everything we do as a staff member or volunteer is holding up the arms of our pastor as he leans into this calling from God to lead the church.
SD (creative arts director) and his assistant are responsible for communicating the changes that come in preparation. You must think of EVERYBODY who will be affected.
In group meetings, the Holy Spirit is in everybody. If you are challenged to decide, if there is a difference of opinion, they either defer to PN or to next week.
At Anderson Campus they have two full-time lighting people.
Band rehearsal is Monday night; it is recorded and the lights are cued in for the show based on the recording. Same for the audio mix – cues from the rehearsal audio. Camera shots, video set up on Sunday AM.
Last minute calls are rare. PN has only done it 3-4 times in the past 10 years. You’re asking for trouble in terms of having excellence.

Unleash – Worship Leadership

Notes from Lee McDerment’s session on Worship Leadership at Unleash 2010.
Worship leadership begins with worship lifestyle.
  • If you don’t tithe, you’re not a worship leader.
  • First, you must be transformed by Jesus; your mind must be renewed.
  • Your intimacy with God is the most vital part of your ministry. It is the best work you will do every day.
  • Leadership – of any sort – is as simple as listening to Jesus and doing what He says.
  • Get in the place where you can hear from God clearly so that you can avoid trusting wisdom, common sense, etc. and trust JESUS.
  • Be honest with God so that you can be honest on stage.
  • Your calling is simple: to be with Jesus. It is not to strum a guitar or sing in a microphone – those are steps of obedience.
  • “I’m called to be a worship leader” – can get things sideways. The simple calling is to be with Jesus.
  • As a worship leader here (or at PCC), we never walk in the door alone – we carry our band, our pastor, the staff, JESUS. We are connected, in context, to a whole host of other people. Being a worship leader in a community means you live in a fishbowl. It is accountability and support but also a heavy load at times. You are living as light in a dark world. You never walk in the door alone. You must live authentically in every place in life.
First calling as a ministry to people is to minister to the pastor (NewSpring’s DNA).
  • Greatest opportunity for a church split is between worship leader and pastor. Support is essential for unity.
  • The worship leader has the best perspective for understanding a bit of the burden of the senior pastor’s burden.
Minister to the people beyond the songs.
  • Your accessibility and availability offstage really affects your impact as a worship leader – empowers your authority onstage.
  • Serving people is always more powerful than a song. We are MINISTERS.
  • You cannot make yourself too small – honor the mandate to consider others better than yourself and Jesus will lift you up. Serve, serve, serve. God will count you faithful. Philippians 2.3-4
  • Leadership responsibilities in the Bible apply to worship leaders.
Build character.
  • Your talent can take you places your character cannot sustain you.
  • Be skillful in playing. God has given you a gift. Play it in His presence.
  • Know your Bible so you don’t mess somebody up. If you’re going to say something, it needs to be true and accurate.
  • It takes 40 hours to read through the Bible out loud.
  • Romans 11.34. You didn’t start your ministry. God began it, He will sustain it and He will finish it.
  • It is better for worship leaders to operate from godliness rather than giftedness.
  • Writing music should be part of the worship leader’s job. Seek a new song. Go before God and let the song inside of you come out. Write with your friends.
  • “You won’t be judged on one song, but you will be held accountable for your entire body of work.”
Responsibilities of NewSpring worship leaders:
  • Worship leadership on Sundays is the most important part of the job for NewSpring worship leaders.
  • Pastor to musicians – they are vital.
  • Pray that God will send you band members more talented than you. Seek them out.
  • Disciple church members and ALSO leaders at other churches.
Excellence at NewSpring:
  1. Priority – begin with the end in mind. Salvation and repentance are the two major indicators of success for the worship music. Life change is what matters.
  2. Process – every service must be carefully planned by the spirit, via the team, in advance. Tech teams must be informed. All information must go out on time. Practice happens at home – rehearsal is what the team does.
  3. Product – Every service must thoughtfully move people towards the message and the movement of God.
The process must be as important as the product.
Know the songs so well that you can talk to Jesus while you’re singing it.
Working under authority is a great learning process.
Learn to say, “Yes – here’s what it’s going to take to pull this off.” Lee always says “yes” to Perry; he just gives him all the info and is honest.
“Artistic integrity” may be Satanic.
Managing a band.
  • Email letters to the band – pray up, be prepped, be punctual. Failure to do those things will get you NOT CALLED BACK.
  • NewSpring invests financially into the players, along with counting them as friends.
  • Excellence reflects GOD.
  • Auditions are held with grace and truth. They exalt the nursery and the parking team. Our charge is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. A small handful of people are meant to have stage ministry. Most people who have been told they can sing have not been told the truth.
  • Stage ministry can be toxic to a person’s faith and growth.
  • Planning and song prep: style should serve people, repeat songs a lot, pray.
  • Don’t play too much new music – let people obey the Biblical command to sing, which they cannot do with too much new music.
  • Pray for every person you need.
  • Why trust your ability to add when God is a multiplier? Keep your needs on a whiteboard and be reminded DAILY to pray for what you need!!!!! I NEED A SOUND GUY. I NEED A GUITAR PLAYER! ETC.
  • Face-to-face communication is essential.
  • Gossip and communication – negativity that goes up is ok, because the leader can do something about it. Sideways negativity is gossip.
  • Expectations: avoid the word “should”.
  • You don’t have to have a band to have excellent worship.
  • The worship team has the greatest power to encourage the staff. They get to play and have fun and do what they love! Show love to the lowest person on the totem pole.
  • Don’t be the guy in the Hawaiian shirt, obviously too old. Lead and develop a younger generation of worship leaders. Pray and ask for God to send them.
  • Challenge the young leaders – have you read the whole Bible? BIBLE FIRST – MUSICAL SKILLS SECOND.
  • Wait for margin to do a new thing (like produce a record).
Theology of songs is important.
NewSpring wants to be peers and move forward together spiritually, which means that they generally do not involve folks who are not following Christ. You need people who are following the same things and ideas.
Don’t be afraid to cover a Lady Gaga song with an acoustic guitar and a guy. Keep it fresh and make it excellent.
How to manage external expression (deadness on stage, looking distracted): critique dvds. If you are going bonkers for Jesus inside, don’t fake it by being still. Don’t keep it inside – let it out! Bring the band to the critique meeting and let them see themselves!
“This is just the way I play” – respectfully disagree. You are in the band – you are a leader. Let it out. Is it that you don’t know your music? Are you not prepared?
Set list is planned about six weeks in advance, though sometimes it goes to two weeks. Lots of advance notice helps.
Hard start for rehearsal is 6:30 – get there early. Prayer starts immediately at 6:30. Check monitors. Check ears one person at a time. They start with a familiar song and end with an unfamiliar song. Record every rehearsal to make mp3s available to the band, especially with a new arrangement.