I’m a musician. I’ve helped with several worship teams at different churches around the area, been a worship pastor, band leader, song writer, guitar player, lead singer, drummer… I’ve even gone so far as to have my music take me to Nashville, through the Lord’s grace and provisions.
As a Christian musician I have a heart for praising Jesus through song. This has led me to share some of my passions and thoughts on this topic. For this discussion, I want to discuss savoring the place between part and passion.
There are two basic directions that worship leaders take and lead their teams. First there is the “part” direction. This is seen often when leaders give a CD with the original songs and says “learn the part, it needs to be just like it is on the disc.” This can give a good sounding worship set but many have issues with the lack of “heart.” The other is the “passion” direction. This is the way I tend to lean. With this direction the emphasis is in the emotion involved in worship and lessens the need to be exactly how the music was written.
Services that have the “part” style down usually have a “produced” feel while services with the “passion” style down usually have a “live / almost jazz” feel. Passion leaders typically lean more Pentecostal, interesting considering that I’m not overly Pentecostal in nature. Neither of these styles are right or wrong, but they both have pro’s and cons. It’s really dependent on what you, as a worship leader, are trying to portray.
Worship/praise time in church is multileveled: You are personally and (should be) passionately praising Christ Jesus and you are leading the rest of the body in praising Him. If it doesn’t sound good, it’s hard for the body to praise and not be focused on the “noise” of the situation. But then again, if you are focused on professionalism and not praising God yourself, then all you are doing is playing for the crowd and mission the whole concept of leading worship.
This is where the concept of savoring the place between part and passion really comes in. You need to play your part solidly. Have it down to the point where you can play it right in your sleep with your guitar behind your back. If you have it down like this, then you can fully worship while you play, infusing the passion that you have for God into what you are playing. This is important because you are playing for the creator of the Universe. If you put more effort into playing for the crowd in the bar than you do for Jesus, you might want to reevaluate what you think about praise and worship.
I have sat through so many worship sets that were played right, but felt lifeless. This is what neglecting the passion is. I’ve also sat through lots of sets that sounded terrible but the band was into it. Your music is art. Just because the right notes are played at the right time doesn’t mean it sounds good. But like a child banging on a piano, just because there is passion involved doesn’t mean that it sounds good. There is a fine balance, a sweet spot, between the technicality of the music and the passion at which it’s played. This is where the aim should be. Remember, you’re playing for God Himself! Ask yourself if you would feel good playing in front of non-Christian strangers what you played at church. If it’s not good enough for people, why is it good enough for God? Passion and accuracy should be blended in this, it’s what makes the art of music beautiful.