I think one of the hardest things to impart to worship teams, especially volunteer teams, is how to play with passion. So often they are concentrating so hard on playing the right chords at the right time or wondering if the worship leader will repeat the chorus (maybe even do a song not on the list??:) that playing with heart is not even on the radar. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a service and everybody’s just playing along like no one’s listening. Not to mention trying to follow!
As a worship leader I often try to make up for this by playing with extra passion as if I can force my team to “up” the energy a bit. This is not the way, I think. (I tend to do this with a congregation who has the same sentiment — also not the way)
If not, then what is the way?
One practical thing is to somehow get the team to learn the music better. You can get it to them more in advance, but the key to this is encouraging them to practice on their own. People live such busy lives that it sometimes seems impossible. But it’s not! A relentless focus and lots of reminders are the key here. You can also refine your rehearsal skills. People have different styles, but what many teams do is not rehearsal, but just running through songs.
Running music is for after you’ve rehearsed and learned it. Running unrehearsed music again and again is just reinforcing and solidifying the mistakes.
Another approach is to focus on the spiritual. You can’t read the psalms of David without encountering passion and exuberance in worship. The Scripture says David was a man after God’s own heart. Again and again he says shout, sing, dance, clap. It’s difficult not to have passion when you’re participating in these activities! Read these Scriptures with the team. Talk about them, dig into them…do them.
Before you can lead worship you must learn to worship.
Finally, another way to lead your team to more passion in their playing is to show them great examples. Thankfully YouTube and the rest of the Web are filled with videos of wonderful worship teams and leaders. Start your rehearsals watching a song or two and then discussing how what you just watched was different than what happens in your worship times. You don’t need to copy these examples…use them as inspiration.
What are some of the things you do to encourage your teams to play with passion?
I was a big fan of the previous Jesus Culture release We Cry Out. I thought many of the versions of the worship songs were better than the originals. Bethel has a special atmosphere of worship and their recordings convey it.
What prompted me to buy the download of this album was a conference I went to in April where Kim Walker from Jesus Culture was leading worship. At first I was skeptical because everyone thinks she is so great (There’s something in me – and I don’t think it’s a good thing – that makes it so hard to jump on the bandwagon…I’m working on it!). But after a couple of sessions, I was in a new place of worship. She doesn’t face the congregation when she’s leading in her pursuit of giving all the focus to God. Chris Quilala was also there playing drums and leading.
Your Love Never Fails, like We Cry Out, features Kim, Chris, and Melissa How alternating the role of worship leader. The Spirit is strong as they lead us into the presence of the Lord. The standout is a John Mark and Sarah McMillan song, “Sing My Love.” Such an intimate yet celebratory expression:
You would not believe
The way He touches me
He burns right through me
I could not forget
Every word He said
He always knew me
I highly recommend this album…learn the songs and sing them!
I first read about John Mark McMillan after I googled the writer of “How He Loves.” I heard it on the Jesus Culture (Kim Walker) album We Cry Out. It is such a powerful song and even though I’ve never been quite able to get cozy with the “sloppy wet kiss” line, the song still moves me. There’s no doubt the Spirit is all over it. I also read his blog and enjoy his views on all sorts of things from songwriting to sleeping in on Easter (not to mention his appreciation of Springsteen, which I’ve been known to share :).
So I was excited to download his newest album, The Medicine, a couple months ago. If I was going to make a comparison voice/soundwise it would be to Shawn Mullins. The writing is original and intricate; full of striking imagery and evocative sounds. The production is intricate and you truly get an album born in the studio with a soundscape of layers that reveal themselves in new ways with each listen.
“Carbon Ribs” exemplifies this with its plucked strings and layers of electric guitars. There is a definite moodiness to the track as it explores the wonder of being dead but yet alive.
My favorite track, “Dress Us Up,” contains a lyric that took my breath away (literally) when I first heard it. It begins, “Dress us up in your righteousness/Bring us in with a ring and a kiss/When you walk into the room you know we can’t resist/Every bottle of perfume always ends up on the floor in a mess.” I don’t think I’ve heard a more original description of what happens when Jesus comes in a room: we have to worship. If there’s perfume (as with Mary in John 12) the bottles come out and we pour it on His feet. We give Him the very best of what we have — it’s automatic. He elicits this kind of response when we see Him for who He really is.
There are many other standouts like “Skeleton Bones” and “Philadelphia,” but I recommend digesting it as a whole album. Turn off the shuffle and enjoy a well thought-out and imagined work of art.