Change was in the air at the beginning of the decade. Choirs were disappearing as praise singers and worship teams moved to front and center, guitars a blazing. The title of singing groups turned to bands. Choir and music directors became worship pastors. All gospel or southern gospel became a more contemporary style. My wife Heather and I witnessed this as a young newly hired music ministers. We realized quickly that we would be building on the foundation of the previous legacy that had been paved before us. As the previous ministers left to start a daughter work to fulfill Gods calling elsewhere, we rolled up our sleeves and began to work. The challenge that every new leader faces is adapting the evolving process and procedures of the previous leadership and steering forward while at the same time maintaining the vision that God has provided.
This change also affected the student ministry in our church as we were serving as the Youth Leaders at the time. Investing in adults can be a challenge, not because they don’t want change, but because their life is full of every day demands such as careers, family, home, etc. For them, finding time to invest in a music department can be challenging. So, we began mentoring their kids & investing a lot of time & effort with them. At the beginning of the decade, complex chords changed to simple progressions and unison parts! What a blessing for us! When we found a spark of talent or desire, kids with raw talent or those in a band at school, we tried to capitalize on it. Teaching lessons in bass, drums, and guitar became a part of my daily life. Although I was skilled in guitar, I was not proficient in the other instruments. This did not matter to the parents, they loved that we spent so much time with their children. They could see the enthusiasm of their kids when they were given the opportunity to play at youth service and eventually in the main services. Some kids as young as 10yrs old were a part of the team. There were no egos, no barriers, just a clean slate. Were there rough spots? Oh My, YES! But every step was worth it. Our vision was a church house full of musicians, young and old, with services that would never lack integrity and excellence in worship.
As we began to travel, we would take students with us every chance available, allowing them to observe and often participate. Exposing these individuals to other musicians at churches, camps, and concerts beyond our four walls was beneficial in so many ways. We soon learned that everyone involved in worship music outside of our church was not on the same path in which we were leading these young people. Often times, services would be associated with gigs and friends would be considered as networks. That didn’t set well with our spirits. This was His house, His service, His people! When I looked around at my elders that were still part of progressive music ministries, I could see a few key things that Biblically anchored them. They were surrounded by young people, they were mentoring and teaching them more than music theory and execution, but a love for the things of God. In the Old Testament, King David changed the law to become a Levite from 30 yrs old to 20 yrs old. He wanted Gods house to be full of worshipers, young & old. I realized that the Levites did much more than music; they carried the Ark of the Covenant, they set up the temple furniture, & they kept the Temple. One thing for sure, the Levites had a Love for God’s House. Psalms 84:10 says, For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God,than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. King David would rather have a place in Gods house than anywhere else – he didn’t have to be on the platform. He just wanted to see Gods Kingdom advance. I have tried to always surround the up and coming worship leaders in my circle of influence with those that are thriving and constant in their role. Doing things with excellence isn’t always easy but worth it. Going the extra mile pays off in the long run and sets the standard for protocol.
The Musicians carry a vital role in a worship culture, working together to make sure the music is played correctly. This give the singers something to follow. Without a good foundation, things can fall apart quickly! When played together skillfully under the anointing of the Holy Ghost it can melt the hardest heart. All eyes are on the worship team at least at the beginning of a service. The singers are the face of, not only the worship team, but the church as a whole. People see the way they act and conduct themselves on and off the platform, from the lifting up of hands to the walk and talk outside of the church doors. For musicians & singers, living a righteous & holy life is vital. Giving themselves to prayer & fasting on a continual basis is the very key that unlocks the door to a highly anointed worship team – there is no substitute for the anointing!
You may be wondering, How do I change the worship culture in my church to be more progressive? The 1st place to begin is learning new songs with various genres. We’ve always had the mentality that, “You can lead anyone to where you want to go one step at a time.” We focused on learning new material for different events our church was having and then incorporated those new songs into our regular church services. Eventually, the new songs were being sung more than the older songs & the church congregation fell in love with having different genres and fresh music to worship with every time they came to church, even the senior saints. So, just begin with learning a few new songs. You’ll get a feel for which songs will go over in your church & which songs won’t. Stick with the ones that do!
Song selection plays a vital role in the worship culture at your church. Choosing the “God song” for your church and individual services is important. Planning your worship set ahead, prayerfully considering the song selection for that service, and picking songs that can flow easily together is key in achieving a good worship service. Having all team members on board & on the same page is also vital. If there are members of the worship team that are not willing to change & resist progression – just keep on moving forward! Hopefully, they will get on board and want to go forward with you, but if it not – just keep on moving forward! Pray for wisdom & knowledge about how to handle difficult people, every situation is different & every person is different, so having the counsel & leadership of the Lord when dealing with difficult people is the very best way to help them. The hardest challenge you will face in music ministry is dealing with people. Every person is unique and has their own talents & abilities given to them by God. Learn to appreciate your team members qualities and invest in their strengths. Getting to know your team on a personal level, caring about their soul & their walk with the Lord means so much to them. Finally, working with your Pastor & keeping an apostolic identity are crucial when fostering the Worship Culture at your church. We are Apostolic in doctrine & demonstration. An anointed worship team that adheres to the apostolic standards with submission to their Pastor will not have a problem maintaining an apostolic identity – it all goes hand & hand! As a leader you have to cast vision for your team & you must live on the level you desire for them to be, lead by example. You can’t lead someone somewhere you have never been. If you desire to have an anointed worship team, then you have to be anointed. Don’t expect more out of them than you are willing to do yourself. We must decrease so HE can increase! Let’s advance His Kingdom with a spirit of excellence – together!