In our traditional service, we still have the prelude. In case you’re not familiar with the term prelude, this is the instrumental music that happens to begin worship. At times, people are still visiting a bit, other times it’s quiet, but this official and formal part of the liturgy is meant to help gather and focus the congregation on Jesus and the worship service.
In our worship venue, the music is led with the worship team and begins in a variety of ways. Sometimes, it’s a video or countdown, other times the welcome greeter stands up to welcome, pray and begin the service. Sometimes, the lights fade and we begin the service with a song.
But every once in a while, we begin with an instrumental jam. We come up with a simple chord structure and let it begin. Below is one three minute example — you’ll see the team playing live, but for the first few moments, the music is over the announcement slides.
What does the opening instrumental jam do?
- It signals that the church is gathering for worship.
- It says, let’s prepare our hearts, be energized, awakened, and ready to give God praise.
- It gives people time — to find a seat, visit briefly and settle in without being called to action.
- It provides a buffer for the gathering, the coffee, and the chaos of getting to church and the actual service.
Ways to structure the instrumental music at the beginning:
- You could do an instrumental of a new song you’ll be leading later in the service.
- You can choose a simple song you’ve done in the past, and play it instrumentally.
- You could choose some chords and come up with riff — in the above example, it was two different sections of three chords – the first was Am, G, D, if I remember right.
- You could have someone play a unique instrument — harmonica, violin, etc along with the band.
Like other components to worship, each one should have it’s purpose. And you should change things up a bit so that it’s not predictable. Remember, the more predictable, the less people engage mentally.