I’m often asked to speak to worship leaders and their volunteers. I’ll sing or speak in a church’s services and then spend the afternoon – or at least lunch – with the musicians of the church.
I’m often asked what my church’s music is like. And the answer seems to surprise. It makes sense that a musician would go to a church with excellent music right?
The music was so bad the first Sunday we visited the church we’re part of today, that the then worship leader stopped twice to start over. And that’s why we came back.
300 people up early, gathered in a cinderblock elementary school cafeteria, sitting on cold metal folding chairs. Not because they loved the music, but because of love.
For each other.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with great music. We’re told in scripture to make music with excellence. Once. We’re told this once. Only once. So it’s not the top priority for me as a church member, or a leader of the musicians at our church today.
And this informs everything we do.
We ask musicians to commit for only six months at a time, not matter how good they are, because we don’t want them to burn out – because we love them more than excellence.
We ask musicians to spend time with God daily in prayer, scripture, meditation and silence and offer resources that teach them how – because communion with God is more important than excellence.
We ask musicians to be at church even when they’re not on stage – because church is a community we love, not a gig.
We practice so that we can be free to think about Who it is we’re singing and playing for, so that we can worship with our church family without anxiety or distraction – because participation is more important than facilitation.
Take away the lights. Reduce the sound system to two speakers on sticks. Swap the seats for folding chairs and the sanctuary for a cafeteria that smells faintly of burritos. Miss notes. Flub chords. Would you stay?
Why are you part of the community you call church?
In the same way that, according to Jesus, you cannot find yourself until you lose yourself, so also you cannot find excellent corporate worship until you stop trying to find excellent corporate worship and pursue God himself. – D.A. Carson