Is the church platform exclusive for the select few or should it be a place to raise up people who are gifted to lead?
There are many great worship bands that tour and record albums to spread the gospel, and many small churches that lead worship with very few people in their teams. Both bring much glory to God, but I’m sometimes amazed when some big churches in urban areas with over 1,000 attendees have the same worship team with only 5-6 people on stage every Sunday. It seems like a physical impossibility to not have a bigger team, but after thinking about it I’ve realized they might have fallen prey to a mentality of a worship band instead of a worship team. Secular bands are content with 3-6 members and can work efficiently to create a commercially viable entity to become famous and make lots of money for their record label and themselves, but those things should not motivate us. How then do we end up thinking this model would work for Sunday worship?
Worship bands in Sunday services exist in a cocoon of stages and green rooms, barely having contact with regular churchgoers. They seek each other out and can become an exclusive group of artists living an isolated life in the middle of God’s people. I want to challenge all of us to break that bubble and train our band members and singers to become a part of our church family on a deeper level, engaging in Sunday services by going out and mingling with non-musicians, during the week by attending small groups, and even volunteering for non-musical service opportunities. We should be modeling the love of Christ to all people, and isolation just doesn’t work. If we only share life with other musicians, we will miss out on profound wisdom from people that are not on the worship team.
Our lives as leaders should be filled with a desire to find more people for the worship team, find out their potential, plug them in to serve, and keep raising them up as their abilities grow. This can’t happen if we view our worship people as a band with limited participation and walls that are too high to cross. Don’t build walls and obstacles. Instead, build up people and tear down the walls. Every singer and player is a potential worship leader, and we are called to tap into that potential and set them on a path where their gifts will be fully realized for God’s glory. The worship team needs to be more than a band. It needs to be a breeding ground of worship leaders and lead worshipers, no matter what the instrument.
Choirs are much neglected, but they don’t have to be. The only issue is our antiquated view of them. Be bold and put out a call for choir singers for Easter and Christmas services. They can rock just as hard as the 5-piece, and even harder. People will see more of their friends on stage, and choirs work as an excellent first step in the audition process for team singers and potential future worship leaders. If you don’t have a knack for leading choirs, try to find someone that does and give them a place to serve in the team, it’s a win-win all around.
Youth shouldn’t be ignored. Are you working with the youth pastor to find budding musicians and singers? Is there a venue or are there events where you can include them in worship? If their talents aren’t up to snuff, make them quiet in the mix but have them on stage. When their friends see them up there with your team, it will build up their self-confidence, get them excited about practice, and give their friends a kick and a sense of belonging in “the big church.”
Our whole calling should be about creating a worship team instead of a worship band, raising up and training those who come behind us, and making sure that our churches will stay strong for years after we’re gone. Worship teams are a key way to ensure this by recruiting newcomers and setting them on a path that keeps the worship going strong. We must model selfless service, and pouring into others by building a worship team that allows new leaders to rise up is the ultimate example of this.
More thoughts on raising up your team members in Petri’s earlier Monday Musings, Raise Them Up.