Connecting the Heart to Physical Communication
It was a moment when heaven touches earth. Lisa stepped onto the stage to sing, took the microphone and something powerful happened through her song that morning. What was it? What allowed this experience to move through every heart in the room? Lisa brought her whole self onto the stage that day, and what she shared with us was an intimate conversation between herself and the God of the universe. Her authenticity and vulnerability gave each of us the opportunity to engage in our own conversations with God, to crack open the door of our soul and hear what He might be saying to us. And guess what? He was speaking.
It wasn’t merely Lisa’s vocal ability that opened people’s hearts that day, it was the way she communicated the song. She understood the message of the song and connected it to her personal story. As vocal artists, each of us has the ability to effectively communicate our songs and worship in this way, and it doesn’t require that we possess Grammy award winning vocal ability. While it is certainly important to develop our skills in order to realize the full vocal potential God has given us, how we choose to communicate the song is just as important when it comes to experiencing moments of transformational worship in our services.
Know the Song
When she deeply impacted her church congregation, Lisa did more than sing words to a song. She was in touch with what the song meant; she knew its message. Over the years as I’ve coached vocalists, I’ve been amazed at how many times, in the final stages of the rehearsal process, singers can’t tell me what the song is about. They can recite all the words, they can sing every note, but they can’t explain in two or three sentences the heart of the message of the song. If we’re honest, we’ve all probably been there before. But if you don’t take the time to become intimately familiar with the message of the song, then you can’t connect your heart with the music you plan to sing.
Here a couple of simple, practical steps you can take to get to know a song prior to singing it:
1. Read the words. This seems obvious, but it can be difficult to internalize the words to the song if you only read them while you’re singing. Sit back, relax, and simply read through the lyrics, asking God to open your ears to what He might be saying through the words of the song.
2. Take time to listen. Get a recording of the song and just listen…don’t sing! Simply receive the song and listen to what it has to say to you.
Taking this first step of knowing the message of your song launches you into the meaningful journey of connecting your story to the music you sing.
Bring Your Story
Every one of us has a story – experiences and relationships that have become the script to our lives. Vocal Artists allow the songs we sing to intersect with our life stories. We reflect on how the words of a song speak to the current events of our lives, or the past or present conditions of our hearts. We ask ourselves if a song’s message has implications for our relationships or the way we are experiencing God in our lives.
Let’s take Chris Tomlin’s song “Enough” as an example.
All of You is more than enough for all of me; For every thirst and every need. You satisfy me with Your love, and all I have in You is more than enough.
OK… cool song, catchy melody, great guitar-driven groove… it would be really easy to get up and sing it with your “worship smile” on, just movin’ and groovin’ with a default stage presence. But if you look at these lyrics reflected in the pages of your life, there is an opportunity for you to truly engage your heart in the communication of this song. In what ways has God proven that He can satisfy your deepest desires? Have there been times when God provided for you in ways that filled your heart to overflowing? Are you acutely aware of the areas in your life where you are looking for other things to satisfy the needs and thirsts that only He can satisfy?
By bringing your story to a song, you open yourself more fully to God’s presence with you as you sing. You engage in an authentic conversation that connects your heart to the words of the song and, suddenly, your communication comes to life.
This type of transformational communication takes only two steps, but it requires vulnerability and commitment. What’s the alternative if we don’t take the risk or invest the time? Communication can end up being about what we think we should be doing-with our hands, our body movements, our arms and our facial expressions. We try to bring “energy” to our worship, attempting to look engaged in order to draw people into the experience. But all of these motivations are externally focused, and what ends up being communicated is an artificial performance. We want our congregations to see something real, something that draws them into what is happening and something that motivates them to open their hearts to God in the same way they see we have.
So take the risk. Take the time. This Sunday, bring your story with you onto the stage. Allow your song to be an authentic dialogue between you and the God of the universe. See the song as an opportunity to connect with God and allow Him to speak to you. If you do, you create an opportunity for heaven to touch earth.
All God’s best to you and your ministry as you develop the full potential of the talents the Creator has given you!
For a limited time, the Vocal Artistry Training Series (a collection of training CDs and a DVD) is available through Creator at an exclusive discounted price at http://cmag.ws/jd.