We are preparing to start a contemporary worship service. Our church is a smaller/older congregation but we desire to reach out to younger people. The problem is that we do not have instrumentalists to start a band. We are looking into using videos from sites like You Tube. Does anyone know the legalities and copyright laws that apply. Or does anyone know a better way to lead singing without a band in a contemporary worship service.

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How are you staying clear of copyright issues?

You could hire a band... or see if any local churches would help you out with providing volunteers.  If you're really going to have a positive effect for the Kingdom, you need to place quality that the core of your ministry... if your band and tech isn't good - you're shooting yourself in the foot until you can get those issues figured out.

I'll agree with the advice "find one good guitar player."  Or a keyboard player who can keep a good rhythmic flow.  The instrumentalist doesn't need to be able to sing and play at the same time -- you can use any friendly believer(s) who can sing in mid-range, who sings out (doesn't mumble, and for that matter, doesn't ramble on and on in speaking or make excuses and apologies for himherself). 

First thing -- be sure your church has a CCLI license which supports what you plan to do.  Anything video is way different than audio, for starters.  But the normal CCLI license (which is pro-rated for church size and costs about $2.50 - two taco bell tacos - per person per year) includes projection of lyrics (you yourself have responsibility for the legality of the pretty pictures you put behind the lyrics).  There is a report to do every few years, but it is easy if you save a song list each week. It covers about 200,000 songs, and is up-to-date, except they tend to not have the lead sheets for new releases.  Video licenses (including a new one from CCLI) are also available, but are trickier, and can be expensive -- maybe someone else on this site can direct you to some site that may offer legal video use or materials.

People will want to do songs that are totally new -- hot off an album.  This can be problematical because groups don't always release the words, chords and notes (they have to make some money from the album first, and even if the group would like you to have the song immediately, the publisher might not - for instance, only recently, in the last twenty years or so, could you get truly legal stuff from the Beatles; "How Great Thou Art" was not found in any hymnal for the first seventy-odd years of its existence.  Our hymnals always had a xeroxed, pirated sheet pasted to the back inside cover (having to pay for songs is one big reason hymnals and spiral songbooks feature old music).

You will get pressure to present songs and materials illegally.  I can virtually guarantee that, because there is an urban mythology that music for worship is "educational use" and therefore exempt from restrictions.  Actually, if you google CCLI and read their info about copyright, you will get a college education practically on the subject, far more accurate than I can provide.

Practically everything I read these days about young people is that they are not all that fixated on having cool, update, uptempo, professional "entertainment" on the platform, and not that interested in even having platforms.  They are looking, desperately seeking relationship with true Christians, ones that don't look like the caricatures on TV, but are like the real Christians they hear vague rumors about.

A band, eager to please the "market", even if they start with pure motives, can get sucked in to the entertainment thing quicker than you can say Hoover.  As Stevo says, just one good guitar is all you need.  And I've seen that be true many times.

Last year, our church had to go through the same thing. We had transition from Traditional to Contemporary.

This is how we did it:

1. Planned it out, made a timeline, set deadline.

2. Asked for volunteers willing to learn to play instruments (for the band)

3. Picked the best singers from the choir

4. Trained for three months (hired a teacher). While training, the traditional form of service went on

5. After three months, we started with contemporary form.

There :) I hope it helps.

As part of change management, we sang traditional songs with a full band for at least 2 months before we switched to modern songs for worship.

I think one important aspect of what you are doing is to keep it real.  Don't just do it for the sake of contemporary.  Allow the musicians who step forward some breathing room to carve out their style.  I am not the worship "leader" at my church so I do not deal with the legalities of music.  As far as availability of lyrics and chord charts is concerned, a good guitar player can lift the song right off the album by ear.  I would also tap your local church community.  See if there are musicians who can fill in until you find your own.  This next comment is right out of Darlene Zchech's worship book.  Hold a practice each week even though no one is there yet.  If you do that, when the people show up they will arrive at a place that is already established. 


We should all be praying for Mark's success.  I will be praying that God shows you direction in this time of planning.  Also that the right people with the right motives and heart will show up at your church.


Thanks Matthew

Lots of good advice here.  Asking around some more contemporary type churches for help is a great way to go, Mark.  I would be surprised if there aren't dozens of guys who'd jump at the chance to help-out.  Stevo's not that far away haha!  Keep it super simple to start... a small group is an awesome idea.  Also, can you not play any type of non-hymn music at your regular service?  Have you tried it?  I'm not talking about "I Am Free" or anything, but maybe "We Fall Down" or "How Great is Our God"?

Yea! I could fly down in my helicopter and lead one service at 9am and then fly back up just in time for my 11:00. I just need to get the financing down on the helicopter...

you've got the cash, stevo... you're not fooling anyone!

Hi Mark, I just signed up on the site, but I was a frequent member of the UK forum a couple of years ago. There has been some very good practical advice here, but I would like to add some advice from the non-physical side.

Based on my own experience of church, you can certainly get plenty of young people by adding talent, creativity, and effects. However, something I have learnt from the church my wife and I recently moved to is that if you seek to please people and give them what they want to hear, you will get huge numbers but few passionate believers. However, if you concentrate on pleasing the Lord, refraining from formulas, if everything you do is for the Lord and not for making people comfortable, then you will get youth and adults of all ages who are hungry for more of the Holy Spirit and to know God more deeply. They will praise God whether the music is too loud or too soft, they will go out and heal the sick whether it rains or shines, they will pray with all their heart and cry out for the tangeable presence of God, and that I believe is worth more than 10,000 young people who know how to jump up and down on one spot in time to a thumping bass drum.

So I would encourage you to concentrate your team on being real and sincere in their worship, being creative to express their hearts, and if they find it difficult to express themselves, or would honestly say that there isn't that deep passion in them to know Jesus better, then to pray for that love encounter and find inspirational podcasts and events from other leaders in the ministry who are doing just that. Young and old will be drawn to their passion and likewise to God.

Examples I love are United Pursuit, Jesus Culture and Jason Upton.


I would encourage you to go to www.WorshipLeads.com. You can list all of the instrumentalists and vocalists you are looking for and other people can search and find you there. I trust this will help build your team!


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