Here are seven questions to help you assess the spiritual level of readiness of your team for the task of leading congregational singing. At the bottom of the page there are some brief comments about how the answers to these questions affect the spiritual health of your team, and thus impact the effectiveness of the team.
1. Is your team made up of Christians?
2. Are the Christians that your team is made up of submitted to the Lordship of Christ?
3. Is your team in submission to the leadership of the Church?
4. Is your team united?
5. Is your team’s purpose to glorify God?
6. Does your team pray together for a successful worship experience?
7. Does your team view itself more as a band that is performing for an audience or as a group of musicians who are seeking to lead others in worship?
Comments about the Questions:
Question #1 Team members who are not yet believers in Jesus Christ have not experienced the personal blessings of salvation, and thus are not able to praise God for them.
Question #2 Being under the Lordship of Christ does not mean that team members are perfect. But it does mean that God has a say over every area of their lives. They are able to praise God authentically because they are living authentic Christian lives.
Question #3 The leadership of a Bible-believing church is accountable to God for its leadership. This means that it is accountable for what happens during the worship service. If team members resist the leadership of a church, they are at risk of usurping those who should have the final say over what happens in the worship-service of the church. It is unlikely that God will bless the ministry of a praise team if it resists the leadership of the church.
Question #4 The Spirit of God is grieved when fellow-believers are not united. Unity does not mean agreement about everything, but rather, that even when there are differences of opinion, these differences to not lead to feelings of hostility among the members of the Praise Team.
Question #5 We can sing/play to honour ourselves, or we can do so to honour God. Sometimes we may vacillate between the two, but the understanding of each team member should be that all honour belongs to God. While the team may be praised for their work, this praise should not be the goal of their work.
Question #6 Prayer for God’s help and blessing for the praise-singing demonstrates a sense of the team’s dependence on God. It is not the instruments or the voices in themselves that bring a spiritual blessing, but rather the Spirit of God who attends to what the team and the congregation is doing.
Question #7 If the Praise Team views itself primarily as a band performing for an audience, then it will have a different primary focus than that of the congregation, whose primary focus is to worship God. However, I believe that in congregational singing the focus of both the Praise Team and the congregation should be primarily on God. This means, that the Praise Team is there, not so much in a performing role, as in a helping and facilitating role. Their voices and instruments serve to aid the congregation in the mutual task of worshiping God.
I wish praise songs writers would do it more like in the way Johann Sebastian Bach did it all “to the Glory of God”
Thank you for this website and your kind and clear explanations.
A question does the congregation have to stand for for 20 minutes, there are many older people and when you sit down you cannot read the powerpoint slides.
The other question why are the songs always different and why are so many repeats?
Thank-you for your comments and questions. You asked three questions:
1. Does the congregation have to stand during the singing?
I believe that the most important posture during singing is the posture of the heart. If the heart is not right before God, then the posture of the body does not matter. Some find standing more comfortable, others may think it is more spiritual. (Those who think it is more spiritual, should be able to base their reasoning on the Bible.)
My question is: What is the most loving thing to do? Standing for long periods can be difficult for the elderly, and when standing is difficult, concentration on the worship becomes more difficult also. Also, when the slides cannot be read, then worshipping in song is not taking place. Everything possible should be done to meet the needs of the congregation, so that the most amount of worship possible can take place. Perhaps, out of love for the elderly, and out of solidarity with them, some songs could be sung in a sitting position. Whether sitting or standing, it should be done in love.
2. Why are the songs always different?
This is a very important question, in my opinion. One of the joys of the worshipper is to sing a song that is familiar to him/her. When a song is familiar, the worshipper can concentrate in heart and mind on what is being sung, and worship can take place more enthusiastically. When a song is unfamiliar, the mind has to concentrate on learning the words and the tune, and as a result, the level of concentration, and ability to focus on the words will be reduced. Congregational worshippers will be discouraged from participating in worship when too many songs are unfamiliar. The Praise Team needs to ensure that adding new songs to the repertoire of the congregation happens in moderation, and that older songs, even some of the hits from past years, are refreshed. There is nothing that encourages a worshipper more than being able to confidently participate.
3. Why are there so many repeats?
I believe that repeats can be beneficial, and also not beneficial, depending on how we use them. Sometimes we need time for a thought expressed by the composer to sink in. He may be expressing an important biblical truth, and as we reflect on this truth, the meaning of it becomes more clear to us. Also, repetition can emphasize an important truth. Good teachers know the value of repetition. The down-side to repetition happens when there is no apparent purpose to it. Jesus says something about meaningless repetitions in prayer. I believe there can also be meaningless repetitions in song. Perhaps the intent of meaningless repetitions is to create a certain emotional response to the music or to God. While this may be a noble intent, the more biblical way to reach the emotions is by emphasizing truth about God that is powerful and wonderful. Meaningless repetition can result in a numbing of the mind, and a “numbed mind” is not conducive to worshipping God.