I've been wanting to start something cool on this site where we can put together some questions for worship pastors, leaders, and musicians across the country. Questions about life, worship, whatever.
I had the opportunity to ask my friend Chris Sligh a few questions about worship, leadership, and development. You may know Chris from his appearance on season 6 of American Idol, but these days, he is Creative Director and Worship Pastor at Shoreline Church in Austin, TX.
Chris Groat- How often do you guys at Shoreline write songs and what does the process look like?
Chris Sligh- We are constantly writing. We're still fully learning our process, and I'm sure it will change as time goes on, but for now we are all writing separately & then we do "1.5 hour demos"- basically record a piano or acoustic version of the song. The team turns their 1.5 hour demos in to me & I listen & suggest changes as I see fit. If they rewrite to my satisfaction, we then produce a studio recording. If the song never quite "gets there", we have a pile of "almost/maybes" that we let sit. Once a studio recording is finished, it's considered for intro to church. The studio recording is what our band learns from, so a song isn't put on schedule w/o studio recording.
CG- What’s your absolute favorite guitar to lead with?
CS- My favorite guitar is my 1980 Gibson ES-347. No guitars compare for me.
CG- What song has your church really been getting into lately?
CS- "No Longer Slaves" is our current #1 song. Our congregation loves it.
CG- How do you personally strive to grow as a better leader every day?
CS- I am working to empathize w/people more & understand that though I ask people to do it my way, it's my job as the leader to help people make the jump from their way to mine. And then once I can trust them to do it my way, I leave them alone & encourage them to use my way as a "jumping off point" for their own creativity & leadership growth. But none of that happens if I don't get them to feel included in the process of them choosing to do it my way in the first place : )
CG- What does an average work week look like for you?
CS- Every week is different w/some same elements. Monday 1:30-3:30 is Creative; Tuesday 10-11:15 is Sunday planning w/our Lead Pastor; 10-12 Wednesday is Worship Team Meeting; Thursday 3:30-5 is staff rehearsal prep; 6:30-9:30 is rehearsal. All around that crap, I mix the service each week (usually Monday), I do various things w/ our video dept, I work on recording, I write, etc.
CG- How do you instill an urgency for community and fellowship in your team?
CS- I don't know that instilling urgency for community is possible, honestly. We are trying to create a community that fills a need in people's lives... and I think we're succeeding. Every week, we have 10-15 people show up who aren't even scheduled, just to hang out & be a part of the family.
CG- How do you handle auditions?
CS- We do auditions once a quarter. Once they audition, we spend another few months getting to know them, mentoring them & workshopping them before they ever get on a mic.
CG- What is your favorite book on worship?
CG- What do you do to build up your worship leaders/production team?
CS- We workshop them & critique them. No one gets on stage w/o first workshopping at least 3 times & us seeing improvement each time.
CG- What is your favorite Scripture and why?
CS- Galatians. I struggle w/Paul's differences w/Jesus but I love how Galatians is simply shock-full of practical living.
CG- Any advice/encouragement for younger worship leaders?
CS- I'd say: work harder than any worship leader you know; be more on time than anyone you know; be more prepared than anyone you know; practice towards greatness; believe that God's calling is to anointing & blessing; and finally- to not be a jerk. Don't be a jerk. No matter how good you are.