A few months ago, I wrote an article for Worship Ministry Catalyst about how my last church ended, and with it, my worship ministry. It’s now been a year and a couple days since I walked away from that church. For the bulk of this year, I haven’t been part of any worship team on an ongoing basis. And I’ve learned a lot in that time.
I’m pleased to say that my family has been getting plugged into a new church and we’ve been made to feel incredibly welcome. And I’ve taken on the role of playing lead guitar for the worship team, which is honestly way outside my comfort zone.
But before we got hooked up with our current church, I was called upon to lead worship at a variety of local churches, mostly as a fill-in when someone was sick or on vacation, but one was actually an audition (which I apparently didn’t knock out of the park). Over the past year, filling in at different churches and attending at others, I learned some things about worship ministry.
1) You only think you know the songs
Sure, you might know how your favorite worship band does it on the CD. Or maybe you can do the song the way your last church did it. But one thing I’ve found this year is that it seems like every church does every song in a slightly different way. Nothing huge, just a different chord or a lyrical tweak there. With more of us using the internet to source our material, this really only gets worse, since there’s a lot of resources out there that are inconsistent. This problem is at its worst when you start belting out the third repeat of the chorus only to discover that this church only does it twice. There’s no taking that back.
2) There’s no set length for a worship set
Some churches think three songs is pushing it. Others are just getting warmed up after the third song. And after a couple years, this preference becomes so ingrained that it’s almost impossible to change. One church I was helping out firmly believed that three songs was more than enough. When I suggested adding a fourth song to a particular service, they looked at me like I had lobsters crawling out of my ears.
3) Being a worshipper is more important than leading worship
I’ll be very honest: losing the title and position of worship leader was a big blow to how I saw myself. My identity was really wrapped up in being a worship leader. When I lost that, it took me a while to recalibrate and remember that just being a worshipper is way more important than being a worship leader.
4) Being a critic is a hindrance to worship
During the first few services I attended, it was very difficult for me not to critique everything I saw. Even though I didn’t verbalize most of my complaints, I made mental notes of every note, word, and choice that I would have handled differently. It didn’t take long for God to shake me out of that mindset and remind me that viewing the service through a critical lens was holding me back from worshipping Him.
5) God knows what He’s doing
About five weeks into my year without a worship team, I took a nasty tumble on some ice outside my house and wound up with a bruised rib. I missed a week of work, I was unable to exercise for a long time, and playing guitar was out of the question. Had I been on a regular rotation, I would have had to take at least a month off. Thankfully, I had no ministry obligations while I was down for the count. God knew that I what I needed most was rest, and He made sure I got it.