By Grant Norsworthy
Or take ships as an example.
Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds,
they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.
Absolutely! We want to nurture and encourage the spiritual health of our Church singers, instrumentalists and technicians. Surely the most important goal of our pastoral care is that our so-called “worship team” or “worship band” members – those involved in “worship ministry” or any musical or technical aspect of our “worship services” – would be growing as worshipers.
Above all else, we want them to be a group of individuals who are swimming more deeply into the mystery of worshiping God in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24) and as “a living sacrifice – holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1).
To put it a different way: We want the people involved in leading the congregation to worship God through songs to deeply and clearly know that the true worship of God goes beyond our songs and our services. The opportunity to worship God is 24/7/365 and 366 on a leap year – in every moment of every day! We want team members who are growing spiritually – surrendering their whole lives as the ultimate expression of worship to Almighty God.
But what can we do to bring that about? We can train our technicians to be more competent with the software or hardware they use. We can teach instrumentalists the importance of practicing with a metronome. We can offer vocalists exercises that will improve their singing. But can we really do anything – anything at all – that will improve the spiritual health of our team members?
I am going to suggest that we cannot. Only God – through His Holy Spirit and His Word – can improve the spiritual health of an individual or a group of people.
But here’s the good news! There are things we can do that can open people to the influence of the Great Spiritual Healer – God. There are practices that we leaders should model that will have a significant impact on the trajectory of the spiritual health of the people we lead.
Want your team’s worship of God to be growing? First, we ourselves must steer the ship of our lives into deeper, uncharted waters of whole-life worship!
Throughout my life – raised in The Church – I have been part of prayer meetings, Bible study groups, read many books, had accountability partners, devotionals and more. All were designed to improve my spiritual health. But above all these, there has been one simple thing that I have done that has proved to be the catalyst for radical, transformative growth in me spiritually – somehow opened me to God changing the way I see, think and live worship.
Before I tell you this one thing, please consider these Bible passages:
If anyone considers himself a worshiper, yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue,
he deceives himself and his worship is worthless.
For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
So here’s the simple thing that I did: I decided to only use the word “worship” with its original meaning, in its early form. I did my best to only use the word “worship” in the way that I see it used in the Bible rather than the way it is used most commonly in Christian culture.
Sound simple? It’s not. It’s tough! Especially if, like me, you are constantly around music in The Church! But it’s the best suggestion I can offer to bring about improved spiritual health. I believe it really works. It certainly has in my life.
Use the word “worship” only as a verb. Don’t use it as an adjective or a noun without quotation marks (“ ”) when writing, or with two pairs of scrunched fingers either side of your face when speaking – even though it’s cheesy.
Use it the way John 4:23-24 and Romans 12:1 use it. Model uses of the word “worship” so that they always point to the whole-life response of worship, rather than the Sunday morning event of “worship” or the singing-songs-of-praise “worship” activity.
Don’t correct other people when they use the word “worship” in line with Christian culture. Just model the Biblical way. Change it in yourself. If asked why, explain. Others may follow your lead.
Some practical examples:
- Rather than using the word “worship” as a euphemism for singing songs of praise, describe that particular activity in a way that reminds the speaker and the listeners that songs and singing are but one of the ways we worship God. “Let’s worship God, now through this song …”.
- As an alternative to calling our instrumentalists and singers the “worship team” or “worship band”, how about “praise team” or simply the “XYZ Church Band”?
- Instead of having a street sign that says, “9 a.m. – Traditional Worship & 10:30 a.m. – Contemporary Worship”, we might have it say, “Let’s worship God together this Sunday! 9 a.m. with choir and piano. 10:30 a.m. with contemporary band.”
- If your job title is “worship leader” or “worship pastor”, consider a change to “praise leader” or “Creative Arts Pastor”.
- “Worship songs” would be more accurately called, “songs for musical worship.”
- Rather than calling your main auditorium the “Worship Center”, think of a name that recognizes that, while this is the venue where we gather to worship God corporately, we have the opportunity to worship God no matter where we are and who we are with.
Yes, people of the Christian faith gathering together is an important, even imperative expression of worship. Singing songs of praise, praying, reading scripture, communion, baptism, the giving of monetary offerings and more are crucial expression of worship. But we must communicate that worship, or “showing the worth” of God is not limited to just these very specific activities, during only specific times of the week inside a certain building.
I sincerely believe that the worship of God that is expressed as we gather – through our songs of praise and the other elements of our services – can only come fully into focus as they are woven into the fabric of a life surrendered in worship.
And we are prone to underestimate the life-steering ability of our words.
You may think that this is not important. That it’s not something that needs to change. Just semantics! Maybe you’re right. But it’s worth keeping this in mind:
For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted.
It is the Lord who judges me.
1 Corinthians 4:4
Just because I don’t recognize a problem, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
So, you can take my suggestion on board, or leave it. But before you leave it, please consider these words of Jesus:
But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment
for every careless word they have spoken.
For by your words you will be acquitted,
and by your words you will be condemned.
What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them,
but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.
This slightly different edit of this article was first published by Worship Tech Director of the WFX Network on November 21, 2017.