When the Worship Team Doesn’t Show Up
When the Worship Team Doesn’t Show Up
Imagine the scene. The church has gathered on the planned day, at the planned location, and and at the planned time. But at the moment the service is set to begin, several members start to look around, their faces confused and concerned. Someone is missing. “Where is the worship team?” “Service has started a couple minutes late before,” they think. But as they look at their watches, it begins to set in, “The worship team isn’t here!” They are not late. They are nowhere to be found. Five minutes go by. Ten minutes go by. There is no word as to where they are. They did not give notice they wouldn’t be there that day. They simply didn’t show up.
Church, in the spirit of Nathan the prophet to David, “You are the man!” You are the worship team. We are the worship team.
At Milwood, I wonder if our stage structurally has supported a false idea which is commonly practiced in churches in the West. Logistically, our stages and churches create a significant distinction between the worship team on the stage and the congregation on the floor. What is their role on the stage? What is the church’s role?
It is not uncommon for worship teams to lead from an illuminated stage in loud, catchy, musically-interesting, highly-coordinated, and upbeat sets of songs. This format often suggests that those on the stage are there to do the work of worship and we are there for a church version of a Disney sing-a-long. They on the stage are doing the worship, we are on the floor singing along in the congregation (if we want).
The Church is the worship team. In the New Testament, the church — the whole church gathered — is charged with the singing of worship and praise to God. We also sing to each other!
Underneath the heading of “walking as wise” in order to combat the “evil days” we live in, Paul instructs the church about gathered worship toward God and each other.
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Don’t get drunk with wine. Be filled with the Spirit and sing! Separate yourself from the unwise, evil ways of the world and get together and thank God in song together.
Notice how Paul says we should do this. He says we should be “addressing one another” (Eph 5:19). Singing is something we do to each other, for each other, and with each other. It is also connected to “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (5:21). There is a lot of “one another” about the gathered church singing.
Singing together is not the same kind of precise, surgical heart work which happens in 1-1 discipleship or counseling. It is more like the quality of air we breathe, the whole spirit of the room.
Church, when you do not show up, the worship team does not show up. The medicine of encouragement and the thanks to God are cut short. We’re not meant to watch a worship team (or a congregation) sing from a distance. We are the worship team, and we are intended to be together lifted up thanks to God!
Do you remember the encouragement you have recieved through others singing to God?
Do you recall giving chest-swelled, full-throated exclamation of the glory of Christ?
Have you seen the hands raised recently? Has someone seen your hands raised?
Have you heard the voices of Christ’s bride echo off the walls?
Have you heard the overpowering of the musicians on the stage, the congregation begging for a chance to sing it again acapella?
It is a better medicine than being drunk. It’s a filling of joy and faith and confidence that doesn’t leave you empty.
While considering these things, we must be careful. Worship to God and singing to each other is not a work which exhausts us, requiring us to empty ourselves. It is a service to others which fills us all as we sing thanks to God and embolden one another with our faith.
You are the worship team. When the church gathers at the allotted time and location, be there ready to address one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
Our mutual encouragement and the fullness of our thanks to God are at stake.
In his book Corporate Worship Matt Merker puts it like this:
"This means the singing is part of each other's member's ministry to the whole body. When you join a church, you join the choir. You become a steward for the spiritual vitality of the body, a stewardship you fillfill in part by opening your mouth in song."
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