You probably know by now that I love hymns. That’s right. If I hear the number 499, my eyes glaze over and I just start singing Sound the Battle Cryat the top of my lungs!! (That might not be totally accurate.) I love hymns.
But I prefer my hymns in the middle of a good praise and worship set. I prefer praise and worship. And believe me, I’ve heard it all. From dark suited deacons droning through devotional songs on Sunday morning, to gifted choristers at 11 o’clock on Sabbath, to “Father Abraham” at AYS. They all take me to a happy place, but for me, there’s nothing like a good praise team with a tight band.
That said, as a pastor/professor/worshipper and shameless self-proclaimed authority on every known genre of church music and worship, let me list 7 quick things that praise teams should notdo.
Don’t Neglect Your Personal Worship
Excellent corporate worship is an extension of consistent personal worship. If you wait until you arrive at the church to begin to worship, it’s already too late.
Don’t Miss Rehearsal
We can tell if rehearsal began when the praise team got up. Take a quick Old Testament glance at the importance of the Levites, psalmists, and musicians and you’ll be a better steward of your gifts and opportunities.
Don’t Put Too Many Songs in the Set
Praise and worship might be a favoritepart of the service but it’s not the only part of the service. Be considerate. And if you tell me the Spirit is leading you to go longer, I’ll remind you that the person who prayed too long just said the same thing!
Don’t Walk By The Mirror
Your appearance can be an attraction to the excellence of your God and worship, or a distraction that squanders a God moment. Modesty - in context- is the order of the day. Here’s a simple suggestion. When in doubt - Don’t!
Don’t Talk Too Much
As a person who has led praise and worship to a bunch of statues, I feel your pain. There is nothing worse than trying to engage a lifeless church. At times, everything is working against you; their religious background, the band, the lighting, the sound man, the placement of the set, the length of the service, and on and on.
And then we’ve inadvertently trained members that corporate worship is like a trip to Burger King. They can have it their way. Not so. One of the distinctions between personal worship and corporate worship is that corporate worship is designed to be done…corporately! Together.
But manipulation doesn’t work. At least it doesn’t work for long. Folk get sick of the clichés. Church members have heard it all, “If we were at a Knicks game, we’d be on our feet ……” Well, I’m not at a Knicks game. And if I was at a Knicks game I’d be eating a hot dog and drinking soda….and not listening to you. You get the picture.
Don’t TakeIt Personal, Make it Personal!
It’s hard to share a praise and worship set with a congregation that seems disconnected and uninterested. Ask any preacher who has made a passionate appeal, and no one moves a muscle. The temptation is to take it personally, but don’t.
There are a thousand and one reasons that people respond to certain sets or songs. This doesn’t eliminate the need to pursue best practices for praise and worship, but it’s rarely just about you. If we could pull back the curtain, we’d see the issues of life that preoccupy the best of us.
Here’s the thing. Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19 both remind us that the congregation is a very important audience. But they are the secondary audience. God is our primary audience. Our worship begins and ends with Him. Our primary goal is to worship Him.
Praise and worship at its best is overflow. It’s sharing with the congregation what has already impacted you. Nothing gets folk involved quite like that. It says, “We want to do this together, but He’s so good, I’ll thank Him alone.” It’s a contagious attitude. It’s personal gratitude shared with a corporate group. When God and the congregation are placed in their proper order, something happens! Don’t takeit personal, makeit personal.
So, what do you think? What are some of your favorite praise and worship songs? Who are some of your favorite praise and worship leaders and singers?
Jesse Wilson is the director of the Bradford Cleveland Brooks Leadership Center on the campus of Oakwood University, and the director of the Pastoral Evangelism and Leadership Council (PELC).