Becoming one of the chosen (or how to get to play at Christian conferences)
Recently a question was asked concerning the best way to get yourself involved in playing for large events such as Spring Harvest, BCDO, New Wine etc… (these are British conferences but as you’ll know, most countries have a fair few of their own home grown festivals, conferences and events too). Sue Rinaldi, worship-leader and A&R for Elevation Music, which is linked to Spring Harvest, offers a response…
I remember the first time I was asked to lead worship in the Big Top at Spring Harvest – I was very excited. Even though I’d been leading worship around the UK and beyond for many years, Spring Harvest was a special event for me because I’d been serving at it year after year in an assortment of ways and really valued taking part in such a great and diverse programme. (Actually, my first ever Spring Harvest experience was playing guitar for Ishmael in the Glorie Company way back in pre-google times!)
Obviously, for the bespoke Big Top, I needed a band skilled enough to manage the 5,000 crowd without making too many mistakes, and known enough by me to feel relatively confident that we’d function well together as a team. Initially I chose musicians and singers that were already gigging and travelling with me. I knew their character and heart as well as their level of skill. One or two were unavailable, so I asked them and other trusted musician friends for possible alternatives they would recommend. For all the major festivals I’ve contributed to, my selection of band members and singers has followed, and continues to follow, the same process.
From years of observation and discussion with other worship leaders, the way I operate seems fairly standard. I guess it’s all about relationship. More often than not, band members are either, established friends and already working together, or invited into the team as a result of a networking circle. By no means is this a closed system but it does suggest the presence and importance of networking circles – for example, a friend of a friend, part of your church, recommended by a record company or even, although to a lesser degree, a completely off-radar person until the email CV appears in your inbox.
I’m currently a freelance A&R for Elevation Music and very involved in the live worship recordings. Fully aware of the skill and rehearsal requirements needed to ensure the album will sound great, I observe first-hand the make-up of the bands over the various weeks and I do see a flow of new musicians and singers coming through. But generally, they find their way into the band as a result of becoming part of one of those networking circles.
Dreams & Reality
The dreamer in me likes to think that divine and developed talent in the hands of the humble WILL find a way. Be faithful in the small things; trust the sovereign door-opener and God will make a way! I do believe that but at the same time, God asks us to join in as co-creators, collaborators and partners and in real-time, take steps of faith-fuelled ambition in the holiest way we know how.
If you have aspirations, prophetic words or dreams of being part of a worship band at established regional or national events, then go for it – but please recognise the active ingredients of relationships and networking circles and do not get discouraged if your efforts are unrequited. By all means send an email, a CV, a video or CD of your credentials to a conference organiser, record company or whomever you’d like to play for, but think relationship first.
You could even attend seminars or conferences led by one of your chosen worship leaders or worship teams, strike up a conversation and begin a connection. BUT be careful not to stalk, do everything out of peace and not striving and through everything, keep praying and be open to the promptings of God.
More excitingly, there may be people you already know and play in a band with and together, organically, something wonderful may grow from those relationships. You never know, others may eventually want to play or sing with YOU…