You are the worship team. The corporate you. It’s not the band, the leader or any of the people holding microphones. Don’t get me wrong, they are part of the team, but ultimately, we want every person who walks into the building to feel they are part of the worship. We’ve tried over the years to break the mindset of worship team verses congregation. We endeavor to “be one” (John 17:21).
A lot of churches focus on quality of musicianship. They hire musicians to come in and nail their parts. They deliver. They’re fantastic. The music doesn’t get in the way of the worship. Good music often leads to growth in attendance. It’s a good approach that yields results.
Some churches focus on songs and production – developing a “sound” and a lyrical niche. This was the approach Journey used in its early years. It’s also a good approach that yields results.
Both of these approaches use time-tested music marketing methods that lead to commercial success. I employ them both when putting together music that is aimed at the commercial market. But Sunday morning…? These approaches measure success with worldly scales and they put a large amount of focus on things that the worship leader can control. As a worship leader, I believe that on Sunday morning (or anytime that we hold a service) more focus should be put on what God is doing with the worship. I also believe that God will do more with the worship if I, the worship leader, surrender control to Him.
We can’t know everything that God is doing with our worship. It is beyond our comprehension. So, at Journey, we shift our focus to our measure – which is currently congregational buy-in. Are people singing? If not, why not? Are people wanting to join the band? If not, why not?
As far as the band goes, I aim for a more organic method of recruitment. We don’t hire musicians. I believe the talent level of our band(s) should reflect the talent level of our congregation, and that it is part of my job to fit that talent together in combinations that gives each band member his/her best chance at growth.
Another part of my job is to pay attention to the songs the congregation sings and the keys they sing them in.
Of course, not everybody is going to like every song we sing. We do songs that I don’t like, so it’s safe to assume we do some that you don’t like. We’re all in the same boat. When song selection goes south for you; when the band starts hitting blue notes or the rhythm comes unglued, stop focusing on the material and try to pay attention to what God is doing. Open your ears to the people around you. Is there congregational buy-in? Are people singing? This is often a good sign that God is moving. Shift your focus. Move with Him. Sing along. You’re part of the worship team – even if you sing badly. I’m convinced your voice will sound beautiful to God. He hears your Spirit.