Preparation Time Principle – “Three To One”


Here’s a principle for worship planning, and in many ways, planning in general.

The concept is Three to One.

For every minute you’re leading, you need to invest three times that in preparation.

We see this play out in music prep. The worship team sees the songs two or more times what the congregation sees and hears it. On a side note, too often, we as worship leaders shelve songs too early. The congregation is just finding its footing with a particular tune about the time we feel like it’s old. Remember this principle as you pull out songs to sing.

I don’t think this idea of three-to-one preparation has to become legalistic, once you get into the groove of a routine, prep time becomes natural. But it’s still good to think about.

Most often, if a worship team leads music for about twenty minutes of the service, they probably have at least an hour of rehearsal – three to one.

If a team member is preparing for a rehearsal at home, you may find yourself setting aside around three hours cumulative over the week getting ready – three to one.

If you’re charting a new song in Planning Center, you may find that it’s 30 minutes to listen through an eight to ten-minute song and arrange it for your crew – three to one.

If you’re planning to speak during songs or transition in some way during worship this Sunday, you might want to take an hour to plan the twenty-minute set. Reading scripture, writing out a prayer, inviting someone in the group to participate in leadership through great transitions.

When you’re planning to share a five-minute devotion with your group before rehearsal or on Sunday, you want to invest at least 15 minutes planning and praying for this moment.

Each of these is about three to one.

As we use this principle, we can gauge how our preparation is going as we head toward each week. Where in your calendar do you find time to practice, plan, and prepare for worship? It might be a great time to write this down for your planning.

This piece of preparation can also help as a church discerns the number of hours / pay for part-time staff ministry roles, which there are many in worship. What is seen from the stage is the result of preparation. A church investment in paying a staff person to help lead is more than the hour or so of worship leadership, it’s the prep time as well.

Preparation is a key to leading well in the church.

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