Name: Ashley Bowersox
Church currently leading worship at: Hammock Street Church
Years leading worship: 14 years
Primary instrument: Piano
Do you lead vocally? Yes
What percentage of the songs do you lead vocally? 90%
What is your approach to male-led and female-led songs? If I have a male singer I will gladly do a few songs in a male key. Most of the time I take male key songs and change them so that I can sing them.
Does tempo factor into your decision for songs? Yes, just to have a good balance. I generally try to pick two fast songs, one medium song, and one slow song.
What songs are you currently leading that your church really connects with? Desert Song and Your Love Never Fails.
What’s a normal Sunday/weekend attendance at your church? 250
How many volunteers/people on your team total? 27
What does a normal Sunday look like for you as far as your personal schedule? I get to church at 7:15 and set the stage and troubleshoot for any problems that may have happened over the week. Rehearsal begins at 8 with a sound check and run through. At 8:50 we have preparation in the office and pray. The first service starts at 9 followed by a 10:45 service. After the second service, we eat from noon until one. Then from 1 to 2 is rehearsal for the next week.
What does a normal Sunday look like for your team (instruments on stage, # of vocalists, # of songs in your setlist)? Drums, percussion, electric guitar (varies between one and two), acoustic, piano, bass, and 3 singers. The setlist usually ranges from 4 songs to 5 if there is communion or a special.
When do you rehearse or practice with your team? Sunday from 1 to 2.
How do you approach rehearsals? What are your goals and strategy? Overall, when it comes to rehearsals, I want them to be fun but I also want them to be efficient. I want people to feel like they can give suggestions. Sunday afternoon is a lot different than Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon is laid back and I am looking for making sure everyone is familiar with the songs while Sunday morning is little more serious because everyone should know what they are doing.
How do you get resources to your team (CDs, online, etc)? Everyone has a notebook of 62 songs and if we are doing a new song I will email the song and chart to them.
Where you do you get charts for your set lists? Praisecharts.com or MusicNotes.com. If I can not find them on either of those I will write them out myself.
How far in advance do you plan set lists and bands? 2 weeks ahead.
Where do you normally find new songs? I get a lot of suggestions from people. I usually check out new albums and see if I like any of the songs on there. Most of the time it is just word of mouth. I don’t really go searching out for new songs, they generally find me.
What’s your process for evaluating lyrical content of song? If i can listen to it and it puts into words how I feel or how someone else might feel then I will go for it. Some songs I pick for their groove and energy while their lyrics are weaker. Slower songs I pick because they have really great content in their lyrics.
What’s your approach to teaching your congregation new songs? How do you do it? I introduce the song and tell them its new. We do it two weeks in row and then skip a week and bring it back the following week. I actually heard that model from Lincoln Brewtser at a conference.
How do you encourage musical growth and development on your team? Work shops! We have work shops every other month. I have done one on the basics of singing and back up vocals. Our second one was on reading music notation. Our percussionist Tony did one last month and now eight people are currently attending twice a month to learn more about percussion.
I have had our vocalist sing a solo song of their choice in their favorite style. I told them their strong points and what they could work on. I plan to reevaluate them in six months. Now I know where people fit in. I’m a teacher so I love the idea of giving them the tools to get better at it and then watching them own it. People want be apart of a ministry so I give them plenty of opportunities.
How do you encourage spiritual growth and development on your team? (How do you disciple your team?) That is a lot tougher right now because I really like using the music program as an outreach to bring people in. I know a lot of musicians and students and if they’re open to coming to church and open to learning worship songs then I let them play. The main reason is because it is a great way to reach out to them. I know them all so well, and I know the kids all go to youth group and they’re inviting their friends and the adults as well. It is trickier to hone that in, but it Is church and we pray and we try to do everything around the point of why we do this. It Is already just there as a focus. I’m not one to be like, “lets start one extra thing, let me take up more of your precious time and say that I’m developing you.” The way Hammock Street Church is that it is a small community and a lot of them are already in small groups.
What advice do you have for me, as a young worship leader in training? Don’t let it become an “us and them”. I have been at a large church and led worship there for 6 years. We had the best gear, stage, and tech crew but when I left that church no one knew my name. Sometimes we get worked up and we forget its about serving the church. At Hammock Street Church we are not separated on the stage from the people in the congregation. We are no more important than the greeters or the children’s ministry workers. We all work together and the whole point is to glorify God. Remember it is about serving the church, never let it become “us and them”.