I can’t lead you somewhere if I don’t know the way.
While that admission seems like an obvious statement, its reality can be tragically forgotten in our churches. In worship, the desire is to respond to God via offerings of praise and thanksgiving. The gathering of God’s people is a needed pause from the routine in order to proclaim the goodness of our God corporately. As a worship leader, if I’m not aligned with that direction, how could I ever expect the congregation to arrive there?
It’s hard to lead worship with those who aren’t worshipers themselves.
From the one in charge to every support position on the worship team, we cannot lead people to a place we are not going ourselves. The task of pointing others to worship the living God should be a terrifying position in which to serve. If done poorly, we could stand in the way of others seeing Jesus clearly. Do we understand the critical nature of our worship teams?
Too often, our church platforms elevate people whose desire is set on receiving praise more than it is giving praise.
Through selfish motives, hidden agendas, and misplaced priorities, a poorly discipled worship team can dramatically alter a church’s worship trajectory. I know this because I know my own heart. I know this because I have endured many difficult conversations regarding worship. I know this because I have heard more worship horror stories than I care to count.
In my times as a worshiper and a worship leader, I have seen five worship team killers that seem to assassinate members wherever they are present:
- Pride – Gifted people can often turn into entitled people. If not careful, we can begin to believe the lie that we made our gifts rather than received our gifts (1 Cor. 4:7). This assassin is so dangerous because God proactively opposes prideful worship teams (James. 4:6). If we honestly grasp our condition in light of the holiness of God, pride should be found killed rather than it be found killing us.
- Inconsistency – Our stage portrayal should not a soul betrayal. Those who dwell with the Lord must possess a sense of integrity (Ps. 15:1-2). The Lord despises worship from a talented mouth than cannot be backed with a sincere heart (Is. 29:13). Our public worship should never exceed our private devotion. Worship should be an overflow from our hearts (Matt. 12:34). We must never desire for our holiness to be noticed by others which provides a lesser reward (Matt. 6:5-6).
- Inability – We tend to tolerate mediocre offerings because it’s “only” church. Worship teams are supposed to lead in an excellent manner (Ps. 33:3). Our King is great and our offerings should cost us something to show that truth (2 Sam. 24:24). On the other side, leading with excellence in order to be praised is just as dangerous. Flashy performance can distract from authentic worship (Matt. 6:1).
- Detachment – Even if your church doesn’t have a green room for the worship team to prepare, many churches have a green room mentality. The worship team functions on the stage physically but on a separate island emotionally from the rest of the church. Platform ministry can never replace relational ministry. Sheep need shepherds (Matt. 9:36). No matter how quality your presentation is, you will have minimal impact if you have minimal influence (Heb. 10:24-25).
- Division – Not only can a worship team detach from the congregation, they can distance themselves from one another. Artistic people can tend to suffer from beta fish syndrome. We function well when we are left alone, but this is the body of Christ and we must learn how to put others desires above our own (Phil. 2:3-4). Disagreements will happen, but is your team willing to address them biblically? It makes no sense to worship our father while we tear down his children (1 John 4:19-20).
Which worship team killer has your team in its sight? There is a target on your back. Do you know which one?
Excerpt from 5 Worship Team Killers
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.