Pure Praise Week #6

Well, it’s the end of week #7 but I am just now writing the post for week #6.  If you’re wondering why I am finally getting around to writing this right now, the answer is simple: because I am supposed to be working on my sermon for Sunday!  Yes, that’s right, I ought to be studying and writing for the message, but I can’t settle my mind until I get this knocked out.

The good news is that I have an outline for Sunday.  Sure enough, it came to me this morning at about 5 AM.  I woke up and started writing notes in my iPhone.

Right now my mind is swimming with so much stuff.  I don’t even know where to begin.  I drove up to Denver to hear Rob Bell speak at Denver Seminary this morning.  (Yes…I know…time I could have been spending on my sermon)  Rob Bell recently released “Love Wins,” a controversial book about “heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived.”  Rob graciously agreed to subject himself to a room full of seminary students and faculty to explain his views on the subject.  I was so pleased to witness a generous discussion and dialogue marked by humility.

To make matters worse, I always like to use my “alone time” in the car to to listen to podcasts.  On the way up north to Denver I listened to my new favorite pastor/communicator, Glenn Packiam, from New Life Church.  On the way back to the Springs I listened to the always entertaining and insightful Mark Driscoll, from the left Coast “Mars Hill Church” in Seattle. (One of his best messages yet – on the issue of pride)

Can you say, “Brain Overload”?

So, I am going to shift gears for a little and focus on the book “Pure Praise.”

On page 90, Dwayne made a simple statement that could easily be overlooked if not careful.  He said that if we view ourselves as nothing more than “musicians” than it could cause us to “overlook the very reasons God created music in the first place: to praise Him and to minister to other people.”

Did you catch that?

This is the “two-fold purpose” of why we sing on Sunday mornings: to praise God and give Him glory, as well as to minister to other people!

How do you view yourself in the role of worship ministry?

Are you a “song-leader”?  If so, then you are the team member who just shows up in time to play and then leave.  Rehearsals are a necessary evil.  Just because you show up doesn’t mean you have put in any time at all outside of the rehearsal to practice and prepare.  You’re just along for the ride.  Allow me to quote Dwayne because I appreciate his matter-of-fact comment regarding song-leaders:

“I frankly believe God has little use for people who are content to stay at this level, which at best produces mediocrity.  These pleake are ‘lukewarm’…No matter how talented they may be, if they cannot be passionate about their role in worship services, there are plenty of other ministries that could use their involvement.  it’s better to have 10 people who are sold on music ministry than 100 who are just showing up.” (Pure Praise, p. 91)

Are you a “music-director”?  These people aren’t content with merely showing up, but they are truly striving for excellence in what they bring to the experience of playing music.  They are great musicians who are to be commended for the way they have mastered the their craft.  The problem with these folks is that they cannot see past the music to the “two-fold purpose” of worship music. (see above) Excellence is of vital importance but it must take a back seat to ministry.

Are you a “minister of music”?  If you are like me, you found yourself identifying with this category thinking this must be the goal.  It has all the right ingredients: excellence, humility, faithfulness, service to God and man, a keen desire to change people through music as well as to be a blessing to God. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

But wait…there’s more…

Are you a “minister through music”? You desire excellence, sure, and you want to minister to the people you serve, absolutely, but as a level 4 leader you have a higher understanding.  You ultimately realize that “the music isn’t the minister; you are the minister.” God uses you…and He uses me…he uses people who are willing to humbly serve Him no matter what they are doing.  On-stage or off-stage, in the spotlight or outside of its brilliant allure, you are more interested in people – not what you can get from them but what you can do for them!  Why this distinction?

“If we believe that our music does the minstering, once the songs stop, so do our responsibilities to the listeners.  We are not obligated to minister to them beyond the ‘show’ from the platform.  This approach can foster a ‘personality-driven’ ministry  Musicians who see themselves as personalities tend to view their ministries as mostly what they do onstage.  But true ministers are available and want to be used by God even when they’re offstage.” (Pure Praise, 92)

Honestly, do you ever struggle with this?  I’ll admit that sometimes I struggle with this, and if you were honest you would admit the same thing.  No?  Let me ask you this way: when you find out after service that nobody could hear you singing harmony, or playing piano, or riffing on that “tasty” guitar lick you spent 5 hours learning, did you struggle with thinking, even if at least for a fleeting moment, “why do I bother doing this if nobody is going to hear me?”

Granted, there are many factors at work here.  If you strive for excellence, as I do, then you hope to hear good reports from the congregation.  This means everybody on the team is doing their job properly, including the tech team.  In moments like this you applaud your team and you applaud God for using you in the most powerful of ways.

But is it possible that there also might be a root of pride hidden in there somewhere?  (I know…blasphemy!  We’re musicians, we’d never be prideful!)

What does God say about our desire to go “up”?  Isn’t it that we must first be willing to go “down”?  I think so.  Take a look at what Jesus taught in Luke 14:7-11 when he shared the parable of the wedding feast?

Go ahead…

Get your Bible out and read it!  Ask God to reveal your true heart and motive for serving in the worship ministry.  Trust me, I’m right there with you.

Check out this link to Mark Driscoll’s sermon on Luke 14:7-11.  Fast forward the first 17 minutes past the announcements and “state of the church” address.  Make sure you listen long enough to take the “pride” test.  I know you’ll be challenged…


Have a wonderful weekend.  Please leave a comment and join in the conversation!

3 thoughts on “Pure Praise Week #6

  1. Yes! Yes! Yes! I struggle with that. I think I’ve been more than honest about how sometimes I base the “success” of a service on whether or not I felt like I did well, or the band was a cohesive unit or whatever! I think I’ve gotten better at that just because I realized that I’m not using my voice to lead a song…. I’m responsible for leading others into worship. And it used to bother me a lot more if the congregation was unresponsive but God has shown me that I’m there for Him. He draws my eyes (if they are open while I’m worshipping) to the people that are pouring their hearts out to Him and it’s so encouraging that I can’t help but become emotional! (So off topic!!!!) There have probably only been a handful of times that I have been a minister THROUGH music because I often stop at the minister OF music step. Lately I have stepped a little out of the box and tried to connect more with people or be more of an instrument for God’s work but I could improve in this area 10 fold! Maybe we can improve on this as a team? I don’t know what that could look like but maybe after each service we introduce ourselves to one new person. Or have an intentional (but probably pretty short) conversation with someone we already know??? I don’t know, I’m just thinking 🙂
    And Adam, thank you for writing these blogs every week. I feel more connected to the team somehow because of them. Probably because of the outlet to be as vulnerable as possible! You’re awesome, keep writing!

  2. Hmm… Good stuff, but I would not fault anyone who reacts negatively to their part or instrument being heard. I don’t view it as someone being put off by the fact that no one could hear their greatness. I view it as a concern for the whole. If the goal was to have a beautiful harmony, and it was inaudible, that goal failed. Granted, the overall goal is of course to lift up the Lord. However, I don’t think it’s bad to have secondary goals (i.e. a beautiful harmony [that it’s audible is assumed]).

    1. It’s nice that you think that, Colby, and in a perfect, unfallen world, you’d be correct. Unfortunately, people’s motives aren’t always as pure as you might hope them to be, fresh out of Bible College and all. Let’s talk in about 20 years. Sorry to sound jaded, but I’ve been in situations where it wasn’t about anything more than a person’s own need to be noticed, heard, respected as a great musician, etc. That attitude has no place in a worship ministry that exists to “lift up the Lord.”

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