Over twenty years have passed since I was first involved in a church plant. There is much that has changed in the field of worship and technology, but as the saying goes – the more things change, the more they stay the same.
No, I am no longer lugging a Fender Passport around on a Sunday morning. Yes, I do see a chiropractor regularly, but I digress. I want to share with you some concepts that I believe haven’t changed in 25 years of serving as a lead worshipper.
Worship should draw, not distract.
Interestingly enough, this is one concept that affects all aspects of worship regardless of the size of the church, denomination, style of music, number of worshippers (on and off the platform), or size of the tech team. There is absolutely nothing that can squelch the atmosphere of an anointed time of worship more than an obvious distraction. Many times, these distractions are avoidable.
I joke about the Fender Passport in the early days, but for an acoustic guitar, 2 vocalists and hand drums worked. For all of the bells and whistles that were missing from that little grey unit, there was also very little that could cause distraction. The sound checks were short, which allowed for more prayer with the team and more time to enter into worship prior to the body gathering. I’ve also had the privilege of being the lead worshipper in multi-million-dollar facilities with sound systems designed by industry leaders that carry high dollar price tags. I’ve experienced fantastic times of worship in these settings. I’ve also experienced entire worship times riddled with “digital worship gremlins” where the distractions just keep coming, and no one seems to be able to figure it out!
When it comes to technology in support of the worship experience, I have seen a “less is more” approach work very well.
I have also encouraged worship teams (musicians and tech support) to plan to grow together. Many churches (especially church plants) rely on volunteers to lead on the platform and operate the tech. If you can start small and add as you go, you will be able to avoid distractions. Bringing in professionals to help train in some basics of mixing and what to listen for can also cut down on those distractions. Bringing the professionals back to help train on more advanced techniques would be a way that the volunteers can learn and grow. For years I have told tech volunteers that if they can do their job well – no one will seem to notice… If there are issues – everyone will seem to notice.
So, what about the musicians and vocalists?
This is an area where growth as a team AND as an individual carry equal weight. Let’s take a moment to look at the skilled worshippers in 1 Chronicles 25:6-8 – ”6 All these men were under the direction of their fathers as they made music at the house of the Lord. Their responsibilities included the playing of cymbals, harps, and lyres at the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman reported directly to the king. 7 They and their families were all trained in making music before the Lord, and each of them—288 in all—was an accomplished musician. 8 The musicians were appointed to their term of service by means of sacred lots, without regard to whether they were young or old, teacher or student.”
Don’t you love that Father God – in the earliest days of organized corporate worship has laid out for us a proper blueprint for growth as a worshipper? All of the worshippers were under the direction of their fathers (were students) even as they worshipped in the house of God. They were trained and became accomplished musicians. They all served the Lord in their capacity “whether they were young or old, teacher or student.”
I believe in and have seen success with the following:
Encourage every member of the worship team to be a student of their instrument – vocalists included, encourage team members to seek out a mentor, grow as an individual whether they are young or old – teacher or student (beginner or advanced musician) and finally to look at their service as a responsibility in the house of God. This isn’t a matter of perfectionism or exclusion but a matter of the heart. (see part 2)
I am curious…do these thoughts resonate with you?
What experience do you have when it comes to distractions during a time of worship? Was it avoidable?