Thanks to all who joined us on August 17, 2019 at Christ Church United Methodist Church Sugar Land (Sugar Land, TX).
The TUNE UP gathering is an annual event in the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod for contemporary church musicians. Over 50 participants from 20 different churches gathered in the Houston area in August for a day of training and networking. This was the sixth annual event that brings together a diverse group of leaders and participants to work on issues related to band-led worship in a congregation.
One of the unique things about TUNE UP is the multi-denominational atmosphere. This year musicians and worship leaders from Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Nazarene, and non-denominational churches all participated in an ecumenical and collegial environment.
The gathering began with opening worship and presentations from Clayton Faulkner (Director of Worship, Faith Lutheran, Bellaire, TX), Craig Gilbert (Purposed Heart Ministries, Alvin, TX), and Mark Swayze (Pastor of Contemporary Music and Community Growth, The Woodlands United Methodist Church, The Woodlands, TX). Words of welcome were offered by DeAndre Johnson (Pastor of Music and Worship Life, Christ Church Sugar Land, TX). The opening worship band was formed by the track leaders for the day. This included music led by Brian Christopher Clay (Worship Leader and Director of Communications and AV technology, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Knoxville, TN).
Healthy relationships among band members quickly emerged as one of the main takeaways for the day. Many of the struggles and conflicts that bands run into can be best addressed through healthy relational connectedness both at and away from church. Leading worship together begins with mutual respect and care for one another.
After opening worship everyone divided into instrumental, vocal, and tech breakout groups. The instrumental breakout groups were divided by specific area (worship leader, acoustic/electric guitar, bass guitar, keyboard, drums, vocals, and sound tech). There were also conceptual track offerings in the afternoon that included sessions on leading in humility, working with what you’ve got in your specific context, invitational leadership, and running an effective rehearsal.
One of the highlights every year is the “Coaching for Bands” session. This was essentially a masterclass on arranging music for bands. A group of volunteers from the attendees were spontaneously selected to form an “instant band” that had never played or sang together before. They were given a popular worship song to lead together. After a run through, they received feedback and help with their musicianship and presentation from a panel made up of the breakout group leaders. By the end of the session the group had made great strides in improving their cohesion and leadership of the song.
One attendee who has participated for several years commented, “Each time we think, ‘We’ve gone every year – what more can we possibly get out of this?’ Then we attend and remark on the way home, ‘Wow! So glad we went because we learned this and this and that.’ This is why we want to see this keep going. We learn new things each time AND we also realize how far we’ve come in implementing items we’ve learned in the past when they are suggested to others during the current event. Such a great opportunity to exchange ideas with other groups that we do not currently get anywhere else.”
Another attendee commented, “The concepts presented are applicable to any style of worship, not just contemporary. Listening with an open mind uncovers the challenges we face and encourages us to use new thinking in our approach to worship and music and excellence in execution.”
Plans are underway to hold another TUNE UP event in 2020. This website (TuneUpGathering.org) will have updates and registration information.
Location: TUNE UP is being held at Christ Church Sugar Land (3300 Austin Parkway, Sugar Land, TX 77479). The event will begin in the sanctuary; look for the signs when you arrive.
What to bring: If you’re a guitarist, feel free to bring your acoustic, electric, or bass guitar (no amplifiers, please). This is optional though; don’t feel like you have to bring your instrument. You might also like to bring something to take notes with.
Schedule: You can view the schedule for Saturday here. Check-in and registration begins at 9:00 AM, gathering music starts at 9:15 AM, and the event will start at 9:30 AM. The event will conclude by 3:30 PM.
Tracks: When your group registered, you were signed up for an instrumental, vocal, or worship leader track. Please plan to attend the track you were registered for during the “instrumental track” option. After that, you are free to pick from the available options for the “conceptual track.” If you decide you’d like to switch instrumental tracks – no problem. You can view the track options here.
Food: Lunch is provided for this event. We’re sorry, but we don’t have a vegetarian or gluten free option. There will also be coffee and breakfast items available in the morning.
#TUNEUP19: #TUNEUP19 is the hash tag for the event. Share your tweets and instagrams.
Thanks for joining us and we look forward to a great event on Saturday!
Clayton Faulkner & Richard Birk,