I attended the Shepherd's Conference in March of this year at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA where John MacArthur preaches. It was a time of great encouragement and excellent Bible teaching from Godly men who have a deep understanding of God's Word. Some of my favorites would be John MacArthur, Al Mohler and Phil Johnson.
Since my function in our church at Sylvan Way Baptist is to lead people in worship, I figured that the appropriate workshops at the conference I should attend would be on music and worship.
I went to a couple and really enjoyed each one, but one thing in particular stuck out at me and that was to be excellent in what we do because God deserves nothing less. To work our hardest to achieve excellence in our music. This made sense and started me thinking on how we can do little things in a service that are less than our best.
As a musician, excellence would mean consistent and tight rhythm, on-key vocals, playing the right chords, not going too fast or too slow, being cohesive, etc.
It would be a crying shame if we were to do anything less than our best when performing our instruments and voices, not that we are performing for the church, rather, we are performing for the Lord.
This should also beg the question... If excellence in music ministry is important, how much more so in our life? After all, obedience is, in itself, worshiping God. We have to lay our pride and motives aside and allow Jesus to be Lord when we obey his Word. When we do that, we are, in effect, worshiping Him. It's awesome! We cannot live our life as we want and then come to church for an hour on Sunday and worship God. It does not work that way. We are deceived if we think it does. We worship God in music when we praise Him for His mercy, grace, compassion, love, healing, protection, etc. We worship Him when we sing of how great He is. We cannot, however, worship God this way if we do not have a relationship with Him. It comes from our outpouring of thankfulness, humbleness, sorrow, joy...from what He is doing or has done in our life.
It is so important for church leaders (even the worship leaders) to be excellent in what is good and innocent in evil (Romans 16:19). We must be examples as to what worship really is (hence the worship leader title).
I recently held a meeting for our worship team and we talked about the excellence factor in what we do as musicians. We have come a long way in how we play together and it's been a huge blessing to have talented people who also want excellent music.
Needless to say, we remember that God told us to make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the Earth. We also remember that worship is... not to us, not to us, oh Lord, but to Your name be the glory.
Even if our best isn't as good as someone else's best. The important thing is that we are trying our best and giving God back... the gifts he gave us in the first place.
With this in our team's minds, we are really fortunate to be able to attend a Christian Musicians Summit being held at Overlake Church in the Kirkland, WA area. We'll be led in worship by Lincoln Brewster, Paul Baloche, Laura Storey and a bunch more. The workshops will be right on target and super beneficial for any musician striving for excellence. Can't wait!
For any musician out there... keep practicing to become better! God deserves nothing less. And whether you play something or not, remember that obedience was always considered of more value to God than sacrifice was. Today, obedience is still crucial and we must still worship the Lord with it.