We know that this month’s topic can be controversial, and there are many schools of thought in regard to non-Christians serving on youth worship teams. When we first joined church ministry, we were in a church that held the view that if someone is not a Christian, they should not be allowed to play on the worship team. And we absolutely understand this view. But after years of being in the ministry, we’ve had a change of heart and a change of mind. This doesn’t mean that someone that is openly displaying sin or who is living a lifestyle that is against biblical values (including Christians) should be on your worship team. We believe it’s a case by case evaluation. Here is a story to illustrate why we’ve had a change of heart:
One of my Christian students that attended a secular high school told me that they were preparing for their high school musical. Knowing that it was a heavy music production, I asked her in passing how their sound system and sound techs were. She laughed and said that it was just her principal doing it all. So, I volunteered to go and help. Through this, the principal found out that I was a music teacher, and we really hit it off. A couple of months later, the principal referred us to a family for music lessons. With us being a faith based music school, I hesitated for a moment, but then told the mother that if she was okay with us teaching a Christian music curriculum, we would be glad to teach her daughter. Well, this began an amazing journey!
I started teaching her weekly lessons, and knowing that she didn’t know any Christian music, I would supplement with secular songs to keep her interest, in addition to having her learn Christian songs with intricate bass lines. This went on for a year and a half, and I kept thinking that it was going nowhere. All of our other students were either in, or working toward being in, our touring worship band. She was practicing so hard, and learning songs that she wouldn’t even have an outlet to play. One week, she came to lessons, and as she picked up her bass, on her left hand facing up was a pentagram drawn on her skin. I said, “What’s that?” and she said, “Nothing,” and turned her hand away from me. I didn’t say anything, but my heart was so heavy, and after she left, I told Michelle what had happened. We stopped right there and prayed together that God would give us an opening to reach her. We both felt such an urgency to pray for her, and felt that God had led her directly to us. A couple of months went by, and I felt that she wasn’t able to go to the next level in her playing because she didn’t have an outlet to play live. So, one day at lessons I point blank asked her if she would want to audition to be in our touring worship band, and I about fell over when she shrugged her shoulders, and said, “Sure.” That month, she auditioned the 5 songs, and passed. We told all of our other students to start praying for her, and to really love on her. It was such a great ministry opportunity for them! As she started playing with our youth worship band, she quickly became the best bassist in our group, even one of the best musicians that we have ever raised up.
None of her family were Christians (her father was an atheist), and they would not come to see her play at first, because it was at church. But then one Sunday her dad showed up at the service, and at the end, came up to Michelle and I with tears in his eyes and said that he would never miss another opportunity to see her play. On stage, she would mouth all of the words to the songs, and she was so passionate about playing! After one of the Sunday worship events, Michelle texted her to tell her how proud she was of her, and she texted back that she had given her heart to Jesus and that all she wanted to do was to serve Him and spread the gospel through music.
When we think about it, Jesus didn’t only have believers following Him, He had people following Him because they were searching for the truth. Through their encounters with Him, they came to believe, follow, and then become disciples. We believe that is what we are to do. If a student that is not a believer yet has a desire to play music and is accepting of being in a Christian band or ministry, what a great opportunity this is for your team to learn how to love, minister, and pray for them.
May you be blessed as you pour into the next generation of worship leaders!