Posted by Craig Borlase on 10 June 2014

1. Imitation

We’ve all done it; adopted a vocal style, borrowed a guitar phrasing, adjusted our strap/foot position/hair to be just like the worship leader guru we so admire. For a while, we feel like it’s working, until - hopefully - one day we finally wake up and realise that the mojo’s not in the voice, the fingers or the wardrobe. It’s in the daily habit of faith lived out.  


2. Repetition

We might not be playing the same songs week in/week out, but when this week’s band sounds just like last week’s band which also sounds like last year’s band, and when our musical flourishes could be jigsawed into any one of a number of songs, can we really hope for a different response from our fellow worshippers? It’s not a miracle drug, but when we change the sounds (and most of the time that means changing the instruments) there’s a good chance that we change the response.


3. Caution

Ever had that sense that you were able to worship with so much more freedom as you practiced at home than you were when the service itself kicked off? We’ve all been there. Yet while the combination of PA glitches, congregational dynamics and performance anxiety are all potential distractions, the truth is that that we are often guilty of holding back when there’s a chance of looking like an idiot. But, as any children’s entertainer/fitness instructor/motivational speaker will tell you, if you don’t give 110% from the front, nobody else is going to put down their phone. Worship isn’t a spectator sport, but nobody follows the tour guide who mumbles and shuffles his feet. 


4. Impaired vision

We talk a lot about the fact that worship is not just about singing songs. And it isn’t. But still we talk about it. So whose fault is it that people think that worship begins and ends with a nice two-part harmony? Maybe some of the blame is ours. Maybe if we saw the job of a worship leader as demonstrating what it looks like to live a life abandoned to God, who risks it all for their faith, then maybe we’d help people see singing as the consequence of worship, not the goal. 


5. Isolation

Getting onto the worship team shouldn’t reduce our contact with those who aren’t on it. It should increase it. Not because worship team members are special, but for the simple fact that when churches are made up of cliques, things generally start to look a bit dodgy. Also, it’s a good principle for any musician - worship or not - to spend time with people who aren’t all that impressed by what they do. The next time you see a street performer with a crowd of smiling people around them, take a long hard look and ask yourself whether you’d be willing to take such risks to get people engaged. 


5.5 - falling for blogs that offer short cuts

Blog posts that promise to break down a complex issue into five easy-chew morsels might seem delicious, but they’re just sugary snacks that are no substitute for a proper, nutritionally-balanced diet. Let's not believe the hype.

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