5 Tensions Every Worship Team Must Balance

It’s too easy to misunderstand worship.
You’ve heard the cliches.
It’s not about music. It’s all about God. It’s not about excellence. It’s all about passion. It’s not about a song-list. It’s about flow.
Then you read the Bible and see how God doesn’t look at the “outward appearance” but also see how King David created instruments for praise. He appointed the Levites to stand before God and play music.
The Bible obviously emphasizes ideas that seem to be at odds with one another. Rather than saying which is right and which is wrong, it’s best just to step up to the diving board and plunge into the tensions.
Are you with me?
I want to take you within these tensions and explore why a worship team is so necessary, so important to the health of a local church.

Why We Need Worship Teams

Tim Keller said we have art because life has meaning…You are an artist because you are called to “go before” others and help us see deeper facets of His glory.
You observe, think deep, and create to help us see the deeper meaning of life. God, the Supreme Artist, has positioned you to stand before the world and spotlight His glory – to spotlight His incredible worth.
As a worship team, isn’t that what we do? We guide, direct, point, and wave our arms, jumping up and down, saying:
“Look at Him! Isn’t He beautiful?”
“Look at Christ! Isn’t He glorious?”
“Look at the Savior! Isn’t He everything?”
We need you. To worship God appropriately, we need you. To reach the world for Christ, we need you.

5 Tensions Every Worship Team Must Balance

Effective worship teams know how to navigate tension. They keep it in balance.
Here is a list of worship music tensions that, as Andy Stanley says, are tensions to manage, not problems to solve.
If you want to have an powerful worship ministry at your church, you need to be intentional about these tensions. Don’t just let them happen.
Are you ready?
Here we go:
1. Music and Heart – Worship is not just music, it is a response of the heart. But music is important. If music were simply a vehicle for worship, an afterthought, God wouldn’t have emphasized it so much in Scripture:
“Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy” (Psalm 33:3).
He loves music. So worship teams – we need your music AND we need your heart. Don’t minimize the importance of music and don’t minimize the important of worshiping in spirit and in truth.
2. Planning and Flow – Worship isn’t simply a plan, just as much as a date with my wife isn’t a scripted conversation. True love is spontaneous at times. However, the careful planning that went into my wedding ceremony testifies of our love. It was in the planning that we told a story – something meaningful was created in the plan. It was art. It was beauty.
It’s the same with worship. God moves in the spontaneous just as much as He moves in our Holy-Spirit inspired planning. Depend on God in the preparation and the performance. Both are important. Both are telling the story of God’s glory.
3. Creativity and Accessibility – In the last week, I visited the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Shedd Aquarium in downtown Chicago. To witness both a 20 foot Anaconda and a tree frog the size of my pinky finger-nail reminded me that God loves creativity. Not everything God creates always makes sense. But it still testifies of His glory.
In our worship, we need to pursue deeper creativity. It keeps our imagination soaring and serves the church in revealing more of the depth of God. But we are also called to “worship with understanding”. In corporate worship we can’t be so creative that we leave people watching. We want them to sing, to engage, to worship.
4. Outward and Inward – While we know man looks at the outward appearance and God looks at the heart, what is acceptable for leading worship? You must pay attention to both. I find it hard to believe that if your heart is alive in God your outward appearance can be so boring. The inward informs the outward.
As a worship team, we are responsible for both. People watch us. They are inspired by our worship. We need to model expressive, declarative worship. But not at the expense of a cold heart. Honor God with your lips AND keep your heart close to His.
5. God Songs and Passion Songs – What is acceptable? Singing songs about God or singing songs about our passion? There seems to be a diverse mix. My opinion is that the majority of our songs should be songs about Christ, songs about God.
It’s there that our hearts are made alive. It’s there that we find answers to questions. It’s there that we are simply kept from mere emotionalism.
I would rather be impressed with Christ and Him crucified than David Santistevan and his passion for God. That’s not to say the occasional song about passion and response is wrong. It’s helpful in worship, especially if it medleys with a Christ centered song.
Here’s the main challenge coming from these ideas: be intentional about who you are as a worship musician. Don’t just look to Hillsong United and Bethel and John Mark McMillan.
Balance these tensions with intentionality.
It’s time to hear from you! What are some other tensions I have left out of the mix? How do you balance them?
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