One of the most seemingly non-spiritual things in leading worship for a service is getting prepped and ready. It seems very non-spiritual to have to work through mechanical and technical details for a worship service, because we are expecting it to be a spiritual experience.
One of the points that we try to drive home with our students and youth worship teams is that we are not doing a “performance,” but we are truly working toward leading others into an encounter with the living God.
So how should we look at rehearsing and practicing through a worship set? Sometimes we can get so bogged down in the technical details, that it’s hard for us to find the spiritual side of it. And at other times we feel like we have to “turn on” our worship heart and “turn off” our technical brain at the beginning of the worship service.
But what we encourage our students with is that rehearsal IS a form of worship, and that our practice time during the week, our rehearsals with the band, and our sound checks are all part of that sacrifice of praise that we give to God, so that we can serve His people well. Rehearsals are absolutely necessary to allow the people that we are serving to have a distraction free, rich worship time.
But I’m sure that if you’ve been around a worship rehearsal or two, you’ve seen where someone on the team is just kind of going through the technical motions, definitely not in a spiritual place… and then…. BOOM! The lights come on, the 5:00 pre-service countdown has just hit :00, and that same person has their hands in the air, smile on their face, and seems to magically “turn on” their worship. This can be confusing for people, because we are not doing a performance, but it can seem like that is what we’re doing when others see that we can “turn it on and off.”
What we like to encourage our students to do is come to worship rehearsal with an attitude of praise and worship, even when working through the musical details with the team. I know that for me personally, I always choose to look at rehearsal time the same way as a church service, except that the chairs are filled up with the potential people that are coming.
I like to look out over all the seats from the stage view, and pray for the different sections and for the individuals that will fill those seats on Sunday morning. Also, focusing on the lyrics of every song, getting those words down in my spirit, and pondering the message of the songs makes rehearsal seem so much more like a spiritual experience instead of the cold technical thing it can tend to be. When we lead worship, we are not singing or playing for ourselves, but to Him. We have so much to praise Him for, and music is one of the most powerful ways to worship God and put all of our senses into doing what we were created for – to glorify Him in our calling, and that most certainly includes giving praises to Him through music.
One of my favorite verses regarding worship is 2 Chronicles 5:13:
“It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endures forever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD;” (KJV)
Here’s what I love about this passage: First, in order to make one sound, and to lift up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, they had to know what they were doing, and when to do it! I’m quite sure that this required individual practice and rehearsal as a team to make this happen – they didn’t all just look at each other and say “Go!” and something like a beautiful piece of music just happened.
And second, the house was filled with a cloud. God’s presence showed up because of their praise of Him and their thankfulness. And we can expect God’s presence to show up in our houses of worship, too.
This week, choose to look at rehearsal with your youth team as a unique opportunity to bond together in the task of leading God’s people to a closer place with Him, and turn your rehearsal time into worship.
May you be blessed as you pour into the next generation of worship leaders!