Category Archives: About Pastors

Pointers for Pastors

Not all pastors are musicians, or musically inclined (gifted). As a result they may be tempted to hand over the reins of the music ministry to those who have the skills. This arrangement may work well if the leadership of the Praise Team is spiritually minded, understands the elements that constitute healthy congregational singing, and cooperate well with the pastoral leadership.

Difficulties can arise where this is not the case. In such circumstances the “non-musical” pastor may feel reluctant and unsure in how to bring about the desired change. In addition he may be faced with a popular musician/team. Because of his lack of expertise he is reluctant to “touch” the musical ministry. How should this be handled?

Here are some pointers that may be helpful.

1. The musical ministry is, and needs to be accountable to the leadership of the church. It is an arm of ministry and the leadership of the church is accountable to the Lord for the ministries of the church. There is no place for “loose cannons” or “loose ministries” in the church. Therefore the leadership of the Praise Team is accountable, and needs to report to, the pastoral leadership.

2. The pastor (elders/deacons etc.) can do an inventory of the effectiveness of the ministry of the Praise Team by examining whether the ministry is accomplishing its goals. Two areas should receive special attention.

a) The impact the ministry of the Praise Team is having on the congregation

Here the following questions can be asked: How well is the congregation participating in the singing? Is there active participation, or is the congregation only passively engaged? Is there enthusiasm? Is there discontent with the music, and if so, why? Is the ministry of the Praise Team drawing people in? Are all age groups involved in the singing? Is the choice of the music edifying to the congregation? The main purpose of examining this area is not to cater to all the preferences of style or choice of music, but to establish whether during the singing, worship is actually taking place. Are the members of the congregation experiencing a sense of satisfaction and participation in worshiping?

b) The main focus of the Praise Team

Is the main purpose of the Praise Team to honour God/Christ? Are the musicians drawing attention to themselves more than to God? Who is being glorified? Are the musicians more concerned about how they come across than whether the congregation is actively involved in the singing? Is the music working together with and in support of the preaching? Is the Praise Team responsive to directions from the pastors/church leaders? Or do they “buck” the leadership? The issue here is the spiritual maturity of the Praise Team. This is really an issue of discipleship and has very little to do with musical skill. Is the Praise Team being discipled in their walk with God so that their ministry will become increasingly God-focused?

The musical skills of the musicians may discourage the non-musical pastor from “touching” the work of the Praise Team. But this need not be. In the area of congregational singing the key and ultimate question is not how well the musicians play, but whether the Praise Team is succeeding in drawing the congregation into worship. Musical skills do not automatically accomplish this. Musical skills may camouflage  the fact that during the Praise Singing very little worship/congregational singing is actually happening.

Non-musical and perhaps even musically minded pastors may be tempted to take a “hands off” approach to the Praise Team. But the desire of a leader in Christ’s church always needs to be first the pleasing of his Lord and Master. He desires what is best for his congregation and what accomplishes the purpose of the task. If it is determined that some changes need to be made, he then proceeds out of love for Christ and the congregation, and with love for the members of the Praise Team.

 

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The Role of the Praise Team

On this site, when I mention the Praise Team I am thinking of those individuals who stand in front of the congregation (the people of God) during the congregational singing and who are leading the singing.  They may be using instruments and their voices, or just instruments, or just voices. They accompany the singing of the congregation with their instruments and/or voices.

There are of course many situations where only one person is leading the singing, (with or without instrument). While one person does not make a team, many of my comments will also apply to them.

The question we are asking is: What is the role of the Praise Team? What is their function?

Let’s ask another question: How does the Praise Team view itself? For example: Does it view itself as an essential part of the worship experience? Let’s put it this way: Would there still be worship going on if there were no Praise Team on the platform? Or if there were no worship leader? Well, conceivably someone could still stand up and suggest a song or two, and the congregation would then try their best to sing those songs. If the songs are familiar, the singing should go fairly well. Without the support of the Praise Team, some in the congregation might stumble along, trying to find the right notes, perhaps by listening to those around them who are more musically inclined. Would this still be worship?

I think we would have to agree that, depending on the attitude of the participants (see “A Serious Word about Worship“), this would still be worship.

Would the presence of a Praise Team make the worship experience more successful? This depends on certain variables, which we will discuss at some other time. But, all things being equal, the Praise Team provides support to the congregation, by helping them find the tune and the right rhythm of a tune. In this way they enable the congregation to actually sing the tune, and to concentrate on the meaning of the words. Stumbling and fumbling one’s way through a tune can distract both the mind and heart from the primary audience of the worshiper (see “The Audience of Congregational Singing“) and thus make worship in song a frustrating experience.

So the Praise Team is a musical aid to the worshipers. It functions as a support system to the congregation. It provides for smoothness in the worship experience by removing as many distractions to the worshiping congregation as possible. The more the congregation is enabled to focus on the song itself, the more it is able to present it as a worship offering to God.

One more question for the Praise Team: Does it view itself as separate from the congregation or as part of the congregation? Does it see itself as being “over here” and the congregation as being “over there”? I believe that the Praise Team needs to see itself as part of the congregation. It is seeking to enter into the same worship that it is seeking to lead the congregation into. The believers in the Praise Team join the believers of the congregation they are  leading, as members of the same body of Christ in worship of the one true God.

 

 

 

 

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