Have You Turned Your Worship Team Into A Cheesy Talent Competition?

by Bobby Gilles

in Worship Leading

Talent show banner photoWeek after week, you listen to worship records out of Nashville recordings studios. More and more, you’re also listening to recordings from churches with large, thriving worship ministries. You read album reviews in Worship Leader Magazine, you attend major conferences and you watch the Dove Awards, all while thinking “I’ve got to get our worship team up to that level.”

Then you drive to your church and begin setting up for the weekly practice session. Your volunteer leaders arrive — some eager, some straggling. One of your background vocalists doesn’t actually know how to sing harmony. Your rhythm guitarist only knows a few chords. Your piano player wants sheet music, and can’t transpose. And it looks like (again) you won’t have a drummer this week.

We can learn several things from this scenario:

  • Your leaders should arrive eagerly, not straggling
  • The background vocalist needs to practice her harmonies
  • The rhythm guitarist should take lessons
  • Your piano player needs to practice playing from chord sheets and training her ear
  • You need a drummer. A reliable one

But what else? And what if your people do the best they can, and the band still doesn’t sound “excellent”? Or what if God simply does not bring you the people you need to create the sound you’d like to have?

Accept Your Situation

God doesn’t guarantee we will all have professional-quality musicians, top-notch gear or talented songwriters. Nor does your church need these things in order to faithfully declare the gospel. And while your limited means might spell trouble if worship leaders were really supposed to lead God’s people to the throne of grace, the good news for you is that Christ, crucified is the One who does that.

Your call is to be faithful. This certainly involves doing as excellent a job as you can, and training up servants to do likewise. It also involves recognizing that Christ’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, that little is much when God is in it, and that we must decrease so Christ can increase.

Let go of the weight that so easily hinders — the belief that God needs a Top 40 band or a killer vocalist in order to bless His children and save the lost. A few years ago I wrote a modern hymn of confession and repentance called “Lead Us Back,” in which one line says, “We’ve become a talent show.”

This is a sin common to the contemporary Western church. We replace the legitimate striving for excellence with the disastrous goals of perfection and popularity. And when we do, Jesus could easily say to our worship music ministries:

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. — Revelation 3:17-19

Accept your situation, and remember that the only reason Almighty God accepts your worship is because Christ has purified it with His blood.

Top photo by miggslives, used via Creative Commons license

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