Worship Team Teaching Resources
Our Greatest Challenge
The greatest challenge we face as a worship team is not about teamwork, musicianship, song choice or technical ability. We can get all these things right and completely miss the point of worship.
Our worship is dry, empty and pointless if God is not the complete focus of it.
The greatest challenge is what we bring to the platform each week - our heart.
Jesus said the greatest commandment was this... 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' (Luke 10:27). God does not accept just a share of our affection. We cannot fear the Lord but also serve other gods (2 Kings 17:33)
We face a terrible inner battle each time we lead worship; we want to give God all the glory He rightly deserves but we cannot help hoping that some of that glory stays with us - we want to know that people appreciate our ministry and admire our efforts to serve. We want to be recognised and even complimented for our song choice or musical ability. And yet 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that God isn't interested in these outward things that we value, He is far more concerned about our heart. If we fight God for His glory we will lose.
Isaac Watts (the old Hymn writer) once said 'God values not the service of men if the heart be not in it. He has no regard for outward worship if there be no adoration, no devout affection.'
Our Heart will reflect the thing we love the most. So the challenge we face is this: is God the most important aspect of our lives?
Our walk with God is continuous and conscientious and should occupy our everyday thoughts and devotion; it is not a quick stroll on a Sunday morning.
Let us approach the Throne of Grace knowing that our hearts are set on the author and perfecter of our faith and that nothing comes close to knowing Him
The Holy Spirit and our worship
We need the Holy Spirit to make our worship real.
If the worship band prayed and prepared and practiced and plugged in - but the power and presence of the Holy Spirit was ignored no one would encounter God. All the band’s efforts would be wasted: resounding gongs and clanging symbols springs to mind (1 Cor 13:1). Without the Holy Spirit moving in our meetings all our human effort would be pointless. Our time together may be entertaining, even moving: tears may be shed and hands and voices may be raised, but worship is so much more than this. It is so important that we don’t minimise the role of the Holy Spirit in the whole of our worship.
The Holy Spirit is not like our appendix - we don’t know why it’s there and if we take away we won’t miss it.
We must not forget that it is the Holy Spirit who reveals the reality, presence and power of Jesus to us, for the glory of God. It’s the Holy Spirit who awakens in us an understanding of God’s beauty and splendour and majesty. It’s the Holy Spirit who stirs us to celebrate and rejoice and give thanks. It’s the Holy Spirit who opens our eyes to see and savour all that God has for us in Jesus. It’s the Holy Spirit who challenges us and comforts us and guides us. The Holy Spirit wants to glorify the Father through the son and He wants to change and transform us into Jesus’ likeness.
For all these reasons and more, the Holy Spirit should orchestrate our services and lead us in corporate praise of God.
Philippians 3:3 says we should rely on the Spirit and put no confidence in the flesh.
So, if we believe we need the Holy Spirit’s power when we worship God what does that mean? And how do we pursue that practically?
Let’s start with three things…
We are totally dependant on the Holy Spirit during our times of worship. (And during our times of preparation)
The world (1 john 2:15-17) the flesh (1 Peter 2:11) and the devil (1 Peter 5:8) are seeking to distract us and destroy us. The Spirit helps us in our weakness. It’s not our own sufficiency that displays God’s power; it is our weakness (2 cor 12:9)
What do we expect the Holy Spirit to do during our times of worship? If the Holy Spirit gives words of prophecy or we begin singing in tongues or we ‘feel’ His presence with us do we satisfy ourselves with this? Don’t get me wrong, we need to welcome these times but He can do so much more; He is not limited to this.
The Spirit can act in unseen ways; working quietly in the hearts and minds of His people: changing them, challenging them, refreshing and comforting them and revealing truth to them. This unobserved work of the Spirit should not be underestimated.
The Holy Spirit can also act in very visible and amazing ways too. In 1 Cor 14:24-25 Paul speaks of unbelievers hearing prophecy and being convicted of sin as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare and falling down in worship exclaiming ‘God is really among you’. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see this at Acorn? To see people coming into the building and experiencing the Holy Spirit and getting saved.
If we allow the Holy Spirit room in our times of worship to do what He does we will see miracles. Let’s expect more.
3) A humble response
We need to respond with humility when the Holy Spirit shows up in our meeting. Acting on impressions He gives us and accepting His promptings and challenges in our lives. It is an amazing privilege to know that God, the Holy Spirit wants to be part of our lives and wants to move among us for our good and for Gods glory. Let us not resist but instead be humbly grateful and obedient for his love and mercy in His dealings with us.
2 Cor 3:18 - “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
He is changing us as we stand in his presence and wonder at His glory and we need to allow this to happen each time we meet.
Now please listen to this Podcast by Matt Redman and Jeremy Riddle; they say all this much better and me.
Know the God you worship
Jesus tells us we must worship the father in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4:24)
It is vital that we know who we are worshiping. What is the truth about God?
It would seem that the better and more accurately we know God the more genuine our worship will be.
If we have a misconceived idea of God then our praise and worship would be meaningless because it would be based on inaccurate information.
If someone complimented me on my excellent piano playing; no matter how sincere they were, their praise would be hollow and senseless because I can’t play the piano.
Our worship must be based on a true understanding of who God is.
He calls us to love the truth (2 Thes 2:10)
He says the truth will set us free (John 14:6)
He says He wants everyone to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4)
Jesus said He would send us the Spirit of truth (John 16:13. 17:17)
He asked His father to sanctify us in the truth which is Gods word. (John 17:17)
Let’s have a look at some terms that we can use to describe God...
He is Transcendent. He exists beyond the limitations of our reality, He is beyond space and time.
He is Immanent. He is within all things, pervading and sustaining the universe.
He is Omnipotent. He is all powerful, there is nothing He cannot do.
He is Omniscient. He knows everything, nothing is hidden, past or present or future.
He is Omnipresent. He is everywhere at once. And at all times at once.
He is Omnibenevolent. He possesses perfect and unlimited goodness.
These terms, however helpful, only scratch the surface, they are the tip of the iceberg. To really discover God and His character we need to discover the truth in His word.
If we want to reveal the true nature of God to others through our worship we need to recognise that time must be spent in God's Word, discovering the truth.
A commitment to improve
Whilst God can work through us in spite of our mistakes, lack of preparation and ability, He still commends skill and uses it for His glory.
When the Tabernacle was to be built God choose Skilled craftsmen (Exodus 36:1)
Kenaniah was given the responsibility to head up the singing because he was skilful at it (1 Chronicles 15:22)
When David ‘put the band together’ to lead worship (288 of them) he picked those who were trained and skilled in music. (See 1 Chronicles 25:1-7)
If skill matters to God it should matter to us.
Some would argue that skill is a gift from God and some have it and some don’t; you’re either born with it or you’re not. However, it is interesting to note that those who exhibit these ‘skills’ seem to be the ones who practice a lot. Paul reminds Timothy that he needs to fan into flame the gift which God has given him (2 Tim 1:6).
If God has called us to lead others in worship he will bless us with all we need to accomplish this but we need to develop the ability to use what God has given us.
When I was younger I was given a bike for my birthday. It was a great gift and I was thankful for it. However, it was useless until I learned to ride it. It took a while to master and I fell off many times but now riding a bike is second nature: I can do it without thinking. Developing skill requires a little gifting and a lot of practice.
We need to develop skill through practice so that we can focus on God during our times of sung worship and not be distracted by the need to concentrate on the mechanics of the music and ‘what chord am I playing next?’ The basics should become second nature.
If we are skilled we will serve the church better by leading and directing people clearly and confidently. A lack of skill and hesitation will distract the people from the focus of their worship.
It’s important to point out that skill is not limited to playing an instrument or singing. We need to recognise that other skills are needed too. The need to communicate well. The need to give clear direction. The need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. The need to possess a calm and joyful presence that expresses our faith and hope in what we’re singing about. The need to develop a Christlike character that sets an example to others. The need to serve willingly and cheerfully. And so much more….
But there is one more important thing we must never forget…
While God values skill it doesn’t make our worship more acceptable to Him. It is right that we play and sing skilfully in a way that enables people to focus on God without distraction. However, even if we perform brilliantly and sound amazing it’s important to recognise that God isn’t focussing on the sound of our music or the quality of the performance; He’s hearing the sound of our hearts. What impresses God is not brilliance but brokenness (Psalm 51:17). For a broken and contrite heart recognises that in our weakness we rely entirely on the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
So it seems there is a balance to be achieved. We need to work hard to develop our skill but we need to stay focused on the reason we are doing it.