My guitar was out of tune. My drummer was playing like Animal from the Muppets. My electric guitar player was playing floaty, noodley, guitar solos non-stop. My bgv singer was harmonizing to every. word. of. every. song. As I was leading, I was so annoyed, and couldn’t wait for the worship set to be over…and never in over 20 years of leading worship have I received so much positive feedback from people who attended that worship event.
It’s such a relief to know that when we are focused on worshipping Jesus, the technical stuff really does become less important.
He is our focus. He is our pursuit. To know Him and to make Him known. Having said that…….
The Word says in Psalm 33
1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
You know what really chaps my… uhhh… lips…? When people say, “Oh, it’s just worship music so just play whatever you feel like as long as you’re worshipping Jesus!”
I’m pretty sure there is no higher audience than to play for the Creator of the universe! I have a very high value for playing with excellence… because it’s worship music. I’ve also been guilty of being tripped up by paying too much attention to the music and not enough focus on the Lord… (as mentioned in my story above!)
So how do we play skillfully and with excellence yet keep our full attention on Jesus during the worship set?
I’ll give you a hint…
It rhymes with schmeperation…
Ahh yesssss … PREPARATION.
Whether you are the worship leader, drummer, bassist, guitar player, bgv, keys, shofar blower, cowbell player, or play the finger cymbals – show up to rehearsal prepared.
There is honor in preparation. There is stewardship in preparation. There is humility in preparation.
Here are 3 things I usually do to prepare:
- Listen to the song several times and really hear how my part is contributing to the message and power of the song. It changes the way I play when I’m really connected to the message.
- If there is anything that is a little more technical, I practice and practice and practice those parts so that I can play them (reasonably) effortlessly when I’m with the team, so I’m adding to the moment and not attracting attention to myself.
- I listen to the other parts as well. While we’re a part of a team, there are moments when there is a special anointing on certain instruments or vocals; there is power and breakthrough available. If there is something special on a bass, drums, keys, guitar, vox part, I want to be aware and make sure that my playing is out of the way at that moment!
When we show up to rehearsals and know our parts, the worship leader can focus on sharing a vision for the song and the set rather than focusing on figuring out parts, tempos, and sounds.
When we show up to worship sets after having a solid rehearsal – we can totally focus on Jesus because we know our chords, our parts, and the stops & punches in the songs.
When we’re focused on Jesus in our worship sets, we are paying attention to what the Holy Spirit is doing in that moment… in the room…
When we pay attention to the Holy Spirit and respond – we connect. We worship together. We lift high the name of Jesus. We expand His Kingdom.
… so for the love – let’s continue to be a good steward of the talents and the anointing He has given us and continue to press in… continue to invest in developing our skills… continue to honor our band-mates.
What a pleasure and privilege it is to be able to worship with you.