Teaching Worship - ch. 8

By Stephen M. Newman
Founder, ExperiencingWorship.com and Author of Experiencing Worship
May 23, 2002

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Worship Team - Leaders or Performers?

If you have been in the ministry for a while you know that the Arts Department has a tendency to draw people of all colors and expressions. We are a bit different because, for the most part, our people are on the creative side. We see things in a different light and approach things in different ways. Because we tend to draw in people who have creative backgrounds and talents in the arts, there is a strong tendency for us to want to use our gifts to help fulfill a need within us. We have all come across people who want to get up and "sing for the Lord" in our "worship times.” We also have some very gifted people who serve on the worship team and are a part of our worship services. I would like to challenge you with a thought concerning those we have in places of leadership in our worship ministries.

Questions to look at are……………..

What is their place in the service? What motives do they have for serving? Are they called or awed? If you do not understand or believe that those God calls to a ministry He equips to do that ministry, then you will probably disagree with what will be said from here on out.

I believe with all my heart that God called me to the specific ministry of worship - more specifically - teaching and leading worship. I also believe that God has gifted me to do what He has called me to do. He has equipped me through experience and education, and has given me a certain level of natural talent. He has also given me a great desire to use these gifts in ministry. One thing God has not gifted me to do is preach, even though I would love to be able to! To be able to communicate the gospel in such a way that people would respond to it and lives would be changed, is something that I long to do. You know what? It's not going to happen (at least not at this point in my life). I could force it and I even have the opportunity to do it; but, it would be terrible and believe me when I say that you would get very little out of it if you stayed awake long enough! No matter how much I would love to preach, God has not gifted me in that area. I have no experience or education in the area and it is best for all that I don't do it.

Now, to bring it a bit closer to home. We all have people who want to "sing" or "act" or “play their instruments” in our services. You more than likely have come across people who have a great desire to be a part of the worship team. What is the right thing to do? Let them participate because they have a desire to be a part? Should anyone who has a desire to sing to the Lord or sing a song for the Lord get up and do it in our services? I know that most of us feel that the answer to most of these questions is no.
If God has called you to be a part of a specific ministry then He will equip you to do that ministry. We are in a difficult area of ministry because of our highly visibility and immediate gratification. Let's face it, a nursery worker could work for forty years before she/he is recognized for her/his service. We get it every week.

To those who have evident gifts in the area of music and the arts, and are called to the ministry of the local church, I believe that we need to use them if they show a heart of community and are serving with the right motives. The church needs good talent and has lacked in this area for years. We have operated under the false notion that if they have a heart to minister through music that they should be able to do it. Not realizing that this has hurt the cause more than helped it. I encourage you to hold tough to this and stand firm in your philosophy to use only those who are clearly gifted to serve in the area of music and the arts.

Let's look a bit further to the specific area of worship. I believe that this ministry requires a step further in its qualification to be a part of. There are many talented people serving on worship teams across our country and the world, and they have incredible gifts in music and the arts as well as the natural instinct to use them in worship. After all, they are gifted in music and called to ministry. But, are they called to worship? Are they worshipers? Do they help lead worship? What "qualifies" someone to be a part of a worship team or a part of a worship ministry?

The ministry of worship and the ministry of music are two different things. For the most part, they are the same in presentation. However, the outcome is what makes them different. Worship and leading worship is a specific gift apart from music. Music is only the tool to help facilitate worship. I require of all our worship people to first be worshipers, and then musicians. You may come back with "but the music will suffer!” I disagree. I still feel that God requires those who lead to be gifted and called. He will gift those He has called to this ministry. It is easy to reason things out by using gifted musicians to lead worship, but the outcome will not be everything that God would have. You will see a difference in your worship participation, because people tend to see through performance as compared to true worship. If your teams are not worshipers, they will stifle the spirit of corporate worship. You may still achieve worship, but it will not be the same. Pray that God will send you gifted worshipers. He will be faithful if you will be patient and faithful to this standard. Let me say also, that we all have different levels of needs and standards. If we all desire and set the standard to have a Maranatha! praise band and vocals, we may be in for a disappointing journey. As the worship leader you have to set a reasonable level of musicianship that is in your congregation. Each church will have a different level, and some will be higher than others. Once you get your team together, I encourage you to strive to improve and grow as worshipers and musicians. Continue to set goals that are attainable and lead your people to be the best with the gifts God has given them.

Let's rap this up. If you desire to have great worship in your churches, then you will need to have the right leadership in place. This is easier said than done, I know, but you will be better off in the long run for it. Don't allow those who clearly have no gifts in the arts to be deceived into thinking they do. Help them discover their true gifts and callings and lead them in that direction. Part of my job is helping people discover their gifts and callings and help place them in ministry. If we will help train our people in the philosophy of serving where their gifts and callings are, then we will have churches that are truly balanced in ministry. We will have healthy churches and great ministries. We will have great worship if our teams are filled with called and gifted worshipers and leaders.
Teaching Worship - Chapter Menu

1. Things They Didn't Teach In College or Seminary
2. Why Won't Your People Express Themselves In Worship
3. The Role of the Senior Pastor As Worship Leader
4. How are the people perceiving you
5. What tools do you have to help teach?
6. Where are you and where are they?
7. What Are You Doing Outside The Worship Times?
8. Worship Team - Leaders or Performers?
9. Is Your Team On The Same Page As You?
10. It's Not the Art, But the Heart!
11. There Is Hope for Every Church

Stephen M. Newman
Founder, ExperiencingWorship.com and Author of Experiencing Worship
Read more from Stephen M. Newman

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