expressive worship

Can Authenticity and Preparation Join Hands?

An article called ‘Worthship’ from online magazine Cutting Edge recently had several opinions on the current state of contemporary church worship.

A couple of quotes piqued my interest and I wanted to respond. In addressing the issue of ‘authenticity,’ one person interviewed stated the following:

“In the process of creating the Sunday morning worship experience, the pressure to create a professional-sounding and engaging set can overshadow the importance of inviting God’s presence and leading others to respond… it’s key to remember you’re a worship leader, not a performer. It is about getting people to express their love to Jesus.”

The commenter goes on to say, “It’s not about you. The tendency to present professionalism – it’s everywhere. But the goal is to get back to presence. It’s more about the meal itself than the fancy plates it’s served on. It’s simply about us being with him.”

The bottom line is, yes, it’s about expressing our love to our Lord. The commenter says it’s not about the fancy plates – meaning the rehearsals, perfecting the music, the power point, maybe the lighting and staging – but about leading others to respond to the main thing.

Of course we all know that is central – otherwise why are we up there? My question to the commenter is, should we also not prepare and do the very best job we can, creating an inviting ‘table’ to come worship?

One thing we tell worship teams and worship artists alike, is to BE PREPARED by the time you reach the platform! By that time you should not have to think up there, but be totally in the moment and ready to lead people into a place of worship.

For more about this, take some time to read Tom’s blog called Stop Thinking and Start Loving.

Creating and rehearsing great music, working on beautiful lighting, staging and graphics are great and ‘set the table’ in a way that invites people in, if done well.

But, if the team doesn’t now invite the Holy Spirit there and concentrate on the congregation’s experience and loving the people, then that crucial last element is lost. That vertical connection!

It’s important to put the work into presenting the best worship experience possible, ahead of time, and creating space for God to move. Then when it’s time for the service, you can turn your hearts and attention to loving the congregation and leading them into that experience!

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Amy Wolter

Amy has vast and varied experience in music, from keyboardist to lead singer, from songwriter to producer. She fronted a nationally touring Christian rock band that garnered some top 10 CCM hits. Playing in a variety of venues and churches gave her a real understanding of what audiences and congregations connect with. As a member of her church’s worship team, Amy understands the challenges that come with this, and enjoys helping Christian artists and Worship Teams create freedom in the room to truly express their worship.

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  1. Katie says:

    I love talking about this! Because I used to be on the other side of things. I remember when I wanted nothing to do w/ “fancy” worship and I understand why some people don’t. It can be hard to look past the shiny exterior of things and look into people’s hearts. BUT… when the worship team is doing their job 1ST to know their God and love Him well personally – THEN love Him well by the WORK they put into worship – it WILL be understood as authentic! My husband and I travel and lead worship a lot and we know the Tom Jackson stuff is tried and true. This past weekend we played a bigger church & felt more comfortable putting ourselves out there more. Not only did people comment about our stage presence, but they began to comment about our humility and our heart. We were SO thrilled to hear that! We put ourselves out there, and worked harder to draw the audience in and it worked! They not only recognized the quality of our “performance” but were able to see past it to our hearts :)

  2. Joel says:

    When I read the quote “fancy plates” I am reminded that it isn’t about the “show” it is about the heart. And as a worship leader I can honestly say the “show” never goes off without a hitch, but the heart can press through. But what that requires of me and my team is that we have prepared as much as we can, so when the lighting doesn’t work or the projector blows a bulb or whatever catastrophic thing occurs, it isn’t a death blow to our worship. Rehearsals aren’t “fancy plates” they are necessity. The staging, the lighting, the stylish clothes, and even the ripping guitar solo you may have orchestrated into the music, I see these as the fancy plates, used to make it easier for some to enter into an attitude of worship, but they aren’t necessary. The thing to rememeber is that we are there to serve our congregation and I don’t know about you, but I “HATE” crappy service. I do my best each week to serve my congregation and help them reach an attitude of worship, even without a cool stage

  3. Jim Drew says:

    Absolutely love the thought process. Twist on this whole scene? I love what takes place on a Sunday or any time I get to use music to allow a corporate form of worship. That is easy for me.
    Thoughts – What Tom Jackson Productions encourages with the ministries like Team Heifer and other organizations, the touching of needs of those around us, that is the depth of worship. How we speak to each other, love each other, losing our self absorption, that is worship. When we rehearse as a band and treat each other with respect, pray for each other, cry, laugh, hurt with each other, all these are worship and the heart of God. Real worship starts out there/here, everywhere we go, from smiling at a cashier to meeting the needs of the poor.
    Now, on a platform, rehearsed and knowing how to move well on stage, keeping our spiritual eye on the needs of the congregation and the Lord’s heart, that is the culmination of worship we do all week. Let’s not limit worship to the platform. Celebrate there!

  4. Amy Wolter says:

    Katie, Joel and Jim, Thanks for your thoughts on this! Yes, worship goes deeper than just our Sunday morning song set, and starts with our hearts. ‘Fancy’ or not, all we’re trying to do is set the table (prepare) the best we can for our guests (the congregation). Someone sitting out there has NOT taken time to get their heart and mind right before the service like we as leaders hopefully have, and needs a bit more help than the person next to them. We are simply making it INVITING to come and dine.

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