Developing Sensitivity

by Rob Packer

One of the main requirements for an effective worship team is sensitivity. Here are some key ways we can develop this in our ministry of worship.

There are 3 main areas where sensitivity is needed

1) Sensitivity to the Song
2) Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit
3) Sensitivity to the Atmosphere

Sensitivity to the Song
a) What sort of feel does the song have?
- What sort of feel does the lyrical content have?
- Where does the melody line go?
b) What instruments or sounds will be needed to give that feel?

Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit
It is important that we flow with and co-operate with the Holy Spirit in what He is doing in a service.

How can we recognize and understand what He is doing?

First of all, sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is a direct by-product of our relationship with Him.

How well do I recognize and hear His voice in my relationship with Him during the week? Do I recognize and respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in my day to day walk with Him?

Some things to look for

1) The things that I sense in my prayer and preparation for the service.
- the impressions that I receive while praying and worshipping
- scriptures that are brought to my mind
- songs that are placed on my heart

2) The things that I sense as I am participating in the worship.

Responses in my own heart as I am worshipping
- times when my heart is drawn out in a particular response to the Lord
- words or phrases that persist in my mind
- things that the Holy Spirit prompts me to do
- scriptures that are brought to mind
- the need to spend a little more time on a particular song or part of a song

Sensitivity to the Atmosphere
For musicians and singers there are 2 factors which come into play in the whole area of sensitivity:
1) The ability to sense what is happening in the spiritual realm
2) The ability to reproduce musically what you are sensing

A lot of musicians are stronger in one area than in the other. Your aim should be to develop both areas as much as possible.

Be aware of the 'CONCENTRATION FACTOR' principle! The more concentration it takes to operate your instrument, the less concentration you will have left over to give to sensing what is going on in the worship time.

If your level of sensitivity is low, then you will be more dependant on those who are more sensitive to help you know where the Holy Spirit is going in the service.

Be Aware of the response of the congregation as they are worshipping
- particular songs or parts of songs that the people really grab hold of and express with freedom and meaning
- prophetic words or songs from the congregation

When you sense that the Holy Spirit is causing a particular response in people's hearts during a certain song, if you are leading the worship, stay with that song (or that type of song) until you sense that His purpose has been achieved and then move on to something else. Have more songs on your list than you will necessarily use.

What if there's no common thread running between the various expressions that people bring?

When people respond prophetically ask the Lord for guidance as to which, if any, to pick up on and take direction from. e.g. If someone brings a prophetic word that the Lord wants to heal people's hurts, do you just carry on with your song list regardless, or do you change to a song that will minister to people, or do you invite people to respond to an altar call and have others pray for them?

What can you do if someone's contribution is way off beam and cuts right across the flow of the Holy Spirit at that time?

One of the following:
- go back to the place in the service where you last sensed the anointing of the Spirit
- move into another song to bring the worship time back on track
- bring people into an expression of free praise (avoid public rebuke or correction if at all possible)

Musical skills that need to be developed as much as possible are:
- the ability to use layering tools for creating different musical moods
- the ability to modulate smoothly
- the ability to use changes in tempo effectively

Some Layering Tools

KEYBOARD (for slower songs)
No sound

Single finger fill-ins
Pad chord
Soft block chords spread apart
Light fills

Soft block chords, double the frequency
Slightly stronger fills

Stronger block chords at same frequency
Pulse chords. Syncopation

Add single, double octave fills

Really strong block chords at half frequency
Double, triple octave fills
Two hand – two octave runs.

No sound

Slow finger-picking

Double frequency finger-picking

Slow strums, spread apart,
one per chord change

Normal, even strum

Accentuated strum, using chord damping, strong beat (3 or 2 + 4) = snare drum

Heavy accentuated strum, very light fill-in strums.

No sound

Brush/cymbal fills

Rim shot every 1 or 2 bars

Rim shot, double frequency

High hat with rim shot

High hat with snare (beat 3)

High hat with snare (beats 2 + 4)

Heavier use of snare, Tom fills, cymbals