Does having a ‘tight’ worship team really matter to God?
All of us have had moments when one person’s simple, passionate worship touched us at the core of our being. Likewise, we’ve all been in services when the best musicians and the most polished worship team didn’t even begin to bring us into worship. I believe that blending anointing with musical excellence should always be our quest. In the everyday world, however, passionate and skillful worship leaders are not always in abundance, and at times we find ourselves having to choose between one and the other.
Most pastors agree that powerful worship should be high on the priority list of any service. Moreover, I believe every leader desires the atmosphere that pure worship creates. We’ve all experienced those moments during a meeting when no one knows what to do because God has made Himself known and you hear the whispers of His people responding to Him.
What does God say that He wants in our worship? He wants truth (see John 4:23). He delights in brokenness and contrition (see Ps. 51:17). He looks throughout the earth for a heart that is turned toward Him (see 2 Chr. 16:9). The heart, in fact, always comes first with God. Always.
Still, King David—a sincere worshiper—believed in musical excellence (see 1 Chr. 25:7). His 288 musicians were instructed in the songs of the Lord and were skillful. Similarly, King Solomon assigned the best players to minister to the Lord day and night. How then can we refrain from giving our absolute best to God and from becoming as skillful as we can?
When I led worship at Christ for the Nations, we met each morning for 45 minutes to worship and seek God’s presence. Some of the greatest moments in His presence would occur when 1,000 or more students gathered with no agenda except to meet with God at the beginning of every day. The atmosphere was charged with expectancy, as many students arrived an hour early to pray. The recordings of those meetings—which were student-led, unscripted and far from perfect—became some of the most beloved ones because of the passion and purity of worship. The truth is, God isn’t looking for perfection—He knows what that looks and sounds like. He Himself is perfect in every way. In us, He is looking for desperate hearts.
There is a generation of worshipers arising that love truth and heart more than perfected sound. They love raw and real more than polished. They know the difference, as all of us do.
Leadership really determines the course of any event. I know of churches where the worship is characterized by time constraints and well-rehearsed sets. Yet there is a touch of glory on what they do. I’ve also been in places where worship lasted an hour, and I was ready for it to be over.
I believe in demanding the highest levels of excellence. Worship leaders and bands should practice hard and be well-prepared but, most important, should also have hearts that are burning for God’s courts. My favorite leaders are those whose hearts are beating for God’s presence. I would rather hang around imperfect, desperate people that sing because they can’t keep silent than those who sing because it’s their job.
It isn’t by accident that the last several decades have seen worship music fill the earth. God is up to something. There is a sound arising that the nations will hear. My prayer is that the mature and seasoned worship leaders will make room for the young and passionate and will allow them to mature. Blend the old with the new. Mentor the young. Let’s fill the earth with the sound of the King. This is His day!
Klaus Kuehn is director of Pure Worship Ministriesand travels extensively releasing worship into the earth.