Backup singers. Vocalists. What do you call yourselves? It doesn’t matter. Keep in mind that there is no distinction in the team. Your role is being there to worship in song and to spur people on to worship. You may have different functions and responsibilities, but ultimately, what you are doing is simply availing yourself for God to use you and your gifts.
The worship team is meant to be that – a team. It sometimes feels as if there are two things going on at the same time… the musicians are working out their chords and the frills… and the vocalists are sitting around, waiting. That’s not how it works. As much as you need them to play right, they need you to sing right. They can’t continue playing if they can’t hear you sing – they won’t know where you are. The guys working the sound system can’t mix you right if they can’t even hear you. They can’t hear you if you’re not even singing. Everything has to work together.
I think one of the main things to remember as the worship team, whether you are playing an instrument or singing, or leading worship, is that this is your sacrifice to God. Yes, in some ways it’s about the music and how it sounds, but the core of it is your heart. You may be in a bad mood, you may not feel like worshipping God, but the fact is that you are on the team – you have a responsibility to lead people into the presence of God, no matter whether you want to or not.
If it were solely the responsibility of the lead worshipper, you wouldn’t need to stand on that stage and hold that mike. The thing is, people are reactive, rarely proactive. They are going to react to what they see, in spite of what they feel. And if they walk into a service and see the vocalists being lackluster and half-hearted, they are not going to be excited about singing to God, no matter how awesome the music is, or how passionate the worship leader is.
On the other hand, there’s a thin line between passionate, proactive worship, bringing your all and mere performance. Charismatic worship is becoming very rote. Fast songs – jump, clap, shout. Slow songs – raise your hands, close your eyes. You know by heart the outward actions and it’s as much tradition as it is church culture. That is something you have to decide. What you have responsibility over is why you do it.
What is the purpose of this? Awesome music, check. Raw emotion, check. Focus? Always remember the purpose of all of this. Your purpose – worshipping Jesus. When the music fades, when all is stripped away, what is there left? Think about that.
If you must have an audience, let it be Jesus alone. Anything other than that, there is no point. Get out, join a band. Go ahead and show off. So this is YOUR sacrifice. It is you, giving up the glory of yourself, for the greater glory of God.
Your responsibility is:
• To know your songs, LYRICS especially
Make sure you are familiar with the songs that your leader has selected. You can’t lead people into His presence if you are struggling to remember the tune, or the lyrics. It’s hard to even worship in song if you don’t know what you are singing. Understand the lyrics. DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE SINGING? What does this mean to you? What does it say about God? It’s the easiest to lie to God in a song, because you hardly ever think about what you are singing.
• To practice, practice and practice!
When the musicians are working out their notes or timing or sequence, practice your parts (if you sing parts), get to know the song. As much as the musicians need to practice their instruments and get them in tune and in time/rhythm to play together, your instrument is your voice; SO DO YOU. The musicians can practice like crazy and get that perfect start / stop peak… but if you don’t know when to come in, there’s no point in all that work.
• To be a part of the team
Understand what it means to work together. Listen carefully to each other. Singing as a team is more than just knowing the words and the tune. It’s also knowing how to flow together. Different worship leaders have different styles. Different musicians have different strengths. Some will give you cues; some expect you to dive straight in. Remember – THERE IS NO DIVISION between musicians and vocalists. Learn to resonate with them.
• To bring a worshipping heart
You’ve practiced hard, you’ve done your homework, you’re nervous about singing it right… but when it’s crunch time, give your all and focus on just one thing – bringing worship to Jesus.