Worship prepares our hearts for Gods words. Music can melt or strength hearts and emotions. Music was created by God so we can worship His Holy name and deeds. Music can be used to lead people to do bad things, divide churches, excite and much more. But if used by God, through the Holly Spirit music can heel, transform and change lives.
This study is for people like me that are worried on how “worship” leaders and church musicians are becoming superstars, or pop stars and most of the time pastors submit themselves to the Band Leader or WS Leader where worship leaders have “more power” than the pastor.
What can we do about it? Cast music out from our churches? Or use it wisely by adjusting what we call “the principles of Corporative Worship”
These are some topics we have to discuss with our music people. Please feel free to adapt these topics to your own reality, what is important is to open the channel of conversation with your musicians.
Worship and Music Philosophy to any church and ministry
Special thanks to Pastors Bryan and Thuy Rees for sharing with me his thoughts and concerns about Music and Worship in church, John and Vita Petrus for opening The Image Church to our Family Ministry. It has been a great journey and privilege to share the stage with these amazing pastors.
Every week in most ministries (Kids, Youth, Prayer and Service) includes 15 – 30 minutes of “Corporate Singing” led by a worship band. All throughout the Bible we see that music is used in many ways to respond to God for the many things He has done for His people. We believe worship matters to God because ultimately He is the only one worthy of all our worship and it matters to us because worshiping God is the reason for which we were created.
Any Music Ministry (MM) must offer experiences that are focused on magnifying the greatness of God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. We do this by skillfully combining Scripture (The Bible) with Music (Communicating Tool) to motivate the people of the church to respond to God through singing and turning their attention toward God.
Magnifying the Greatness of God in Jesus. God is “Absolute” and the only way to reach the “Absolute” is through Jesus Christ. Part of the role of Worship Music (WS) experience is to remind the people of what God has done, and what He is doing by praising Jesus “in all we do”. David writes in Psalms 145:3 “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable.” David’s starting point in worship begins with thinking about, magnifying, and responding to the greatness of God. We just have to transpose that into our everyday lives and during WS corporative moments, together with the people in church as ONE body in Jesus Christ.
Try to follow David’s example by beginning WS with an upbeat song. In fact we can have many forms of WS. You can start with an upbeat, strong song and finish the moment with a calm song, preparing the hearts for the word. We call this stile a “Landing stile WS”, think of an airplane lending at the airport, he comes fast until stops at the airport. If you start WS with a slow song and finish it with a fast (Upbeat) song, we call this a “Take off WS”
This is called “Dynamics”
There is no Right or Wrong form it’s just a form to create this movement because if you start and finish this moment with no Dynamics the WS moment will be flat and with no life.
During WS we want to invite the people to sing out in response to what God has done for them by sending His son to receive our punishment, therefore, creating a way to the Father through Jesus. These types of song also help to draw attention to the need of God in our lives.
We can play and sing ALL types of music. It all depends on the type of public (audience) that you have. Music is an international form of communication, with or without words. We can play Instrumental songs (songs with no words) at church but with a very specific and directed purpose, like a moment to pray, or distributing the elements for communion. Normally, 90% of the time we sing songs with words or message. *Upbeat songs can excite young people and stir up emotions for a God who is worthy of our praise. Bob Kauflin wrote “While it’s simplistic to say that worship is love, it’s a fact that what we love most will determine what we genuinely worship.” We want to stir up and encourage genuine emotions for our amazing God.
Planning and (or versus) the “freedom” of the Holy Spirit. There is a big discussion about this. Some WS leaders plans the WS moment with months in advanced, some choose the songs before practice and some choose the songs during WS (Lord have mercy!!). To provide the best WS experience for the church we should plan ahead with meetings with the Pastor, check with him what his feeling about conducting the church is. What is the Holy Spirit is telling and leading him for the next month or quarter. Pray, read the bible and let the Holly Spirit talk to you, listen to your pastor. But be prepared to make some changes. God sent His Spirit to help us, and through personal and group prayer we rely on the Holy Spirit to help and guide us in our planning process.
Musical Skills. Any church or ministry member must do its best, God does not do anything “week sauce”. He does His best for us all the time. He offered His best to us. Why do we serve Him badly, low quality or with no excellence? Offer God your best. During WS service you should not create any distraction in order to for people to respond to God without noticing mistakes on the part of the band. Do not hinder people from engaging with God. Skills maters to God, and it should highly maters to us. I am not talking about “perfectionism” you will not be able to reach it and perfectionism is a great form of hinder yourself from engaging with God in WS. Skilled musicians (Players and Singers) who excel at their talent. Believe that God commends skill and uses it for His glory. In 1 Chronicles 15:22 David chose Kenaniah to lead singing he did so because “He (Kananiah) was skillful at it”. Also, David writes in Psalms 33:3 that musicians are to “play skillfully on their strings (Guitars, Pianos, Drums, and Vocal). In the New Testament Paul refers to himself as “a skilled master builder”. With musicians we believe that our skills are a gift from God that are to developed and used for His Glory (1 Corinthians 4:7).
Most of the WS songs we play and sing are based off (Literally or Inspired) of passages of the Scripture, but also there are songs we sing that are World-centered, beautiful songs but not Biblical. This creates many problems and tension in churches all over the world. The WS leader and the Pastor must be aligned in unity to the Word of God and not in personal feelings or musical desires. The style of music depends on the type of public you are playing, respect that. Play kids songs for kids, youth songs for youth and be open to all kinds of music when playing for church. Church has all kinds of people, young and old, you must respect the public. I can assure you that if you use Gods Words, you can play it in any stile of music. Well not all, you know, sensibility, good sense and taste are very important. The most important thing is that you only play songs that are theologically rich and biblically faithful on its lyrics. Believe that the time spent singing songs is just as important in conveying God’s message and the Gospel as it is for the Pastor when he is speaking. Remember that a song combined (attached) with the message has power to stay in our minds for weeks, sometimes years in our hearts. If you and your Pastor can work this tool and unite Song and Message.. gets to a “whole another level”
Music Genre. This is another theme unfortunately responsible for great church divisions, epic fights between generations. But is very simple to solve it. The key is: “Unity on the diversity”. People are different, have different necessities, emotions, limitations and expectations. Some churches play Rock’n roll, some play old traditional Hims, normally these two don’t go together. What is important is to be relevant, pay attention to the culture. What are the type of music your public listens. I serve in a church that 75% of its population is under 35 years old. So the predominant style of music will be upbeat, loud songs (Hillsong, Jesus Culture). Once again listen to your pastor he is the local church “Maestro”. He is the one in charge and the one who will respond to God about the church he was leading. Music is flexible and can be rearranged according to the need. Once again, use your creativity and be open for changes. (Ephesians 6:18, Romans 8:26). Also, during a specific weekend you or the pastor may choose to replace a song or not play a song based of the feelings of what God is saying to you/pastor through His Spirit. We must rely constantly on the Holy Spirit to speak to us and we cannot be locked in to songs since they are already planned for the service or after the Pastor’s message. We do this because we believe that we can sing a song just because “you like it” or because the crowd dances with it. Remember that Worship is a sacred moment and NEVER entertainment. Sing a song that elevates the message of the bible.
Motivating the Church. Through corporative WS time it’s our responsibility to motivate the people gathered as the Church to respond to God with singing. Lead people in celebration of what God has done and is doing, and in response to what Jesus through His death and resurrection and the fact that His is alive today. If you think about this statement just for ten seconds it will be enough to motivate the whole world to WS Jesus. Sing and play with your heart, with your smile, eyes, energy, skills, with everything you got. Let the Holy Spirit control your emotions, transform you, be an instrument on His hands.
Secular Music. Some churches open the service with secular music. Some use parts of secular songs in Gospel songs. This is a bold move. But if the secular song has a message attached to what the moment or the Pastor is preaching, Why not? It’s is a matter of discussing with the Pastor. We sing Christmas Carols (Secular songs) on Christmas events, so we can use any secular song you are simply getting a song used for earthly reasons and relate is back to the message and to our God.
Preferences.This is a “Church Dividing” topic. Music can create different “moods” so if you and (together) with the Pastor decided to start with an upbeat song, go for it. There is nothing wrong initiate WS with a slow song, what you cannot do is to stay in the same “mood” (flat like a pancake)the audience will get bored, sleepy or too excited and tired. So try to create different moments during the WS moment.
Some churches or ministries likes to open the service with a super high-energy song, some not
Some prefer to end the service with a loud and upbeat, loud and memorable, some not.
If you want to create a welcoming environment try playing a secular pop/positive song, some churches think that if you play secular songs in church you are on a “highway to hell”
Think about your public, respect them and respect your leader’s expectations. Think about making the crowd uncross their arms. Unchurched mind.
Keep improving and updating your song list.. but repeat as many songs that you can. People learn by repetition. Try to attach to the pastors message.
Feel free to talk to your Pastor or Leader if you can talk to the crowd in the beginning of the WS or every song.. it’s good to attach what you will sing with a Biblical verse or a personal testimony to create an atmosphere.
Transitions are very hard and have to be strongly practiced, try hard not create gaps of silence between the songs. Remember that anything can destroy the worship moment.
Leading (Playing and Singing) WS is different than personal worship. When you are leading you are SERVING the church. But both attitudes are critically important and should not exist without the other.
Eye-contact and communication during WS is essential. Try to establish a communication code among yourselves. Eye contact with the audience it’s also essential.
Try as hard as you can on focus on the biblical message preached by the pastor. Music will attach with the crowd emotions and the will take home the message.
Try to make what you are singing or playing truth to your life, You are not just playing or singing, you are serving and teaching you cannot give what you don’t have. Think about what you are singing and playing. You are not “performing” a song, you are leading a group of people into worship.
If you have any problem with your band mate or non-forgiven sin, before going on stage and serve, make sure you talk to your brother or talk to God. WS won’t work if you go on stage just to “perform” a music piece. God doesn’t need your performance or musical skills. He wants your heart, your emotions, your life and then you can jump on stage and serve Him with your instrument. But first comes your life than your talent.
Life style check list. Before you try to worship God think about these important things:
Am I …..
Avoiding the appearance of evil and conducting my life in utmost integrity in all situations?
Remembering that I represent Christ and your Church/Ministry wherever I go?
Investing and inviting people, friends and family to come to my Church/Ministry?
Investing my time to grow as musician and in relationship with my band/group?
Living generously by offering myself, skills, money, emotions.. as a living sacrifice to God?
Just remember to serve God with all your heart and talent! God will use you amazingly!!
Porfirio Gueiros (Poh)
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