Choosing Your Team Wisely

Featuring PraiseCharts Posted on October 27, 2008

Forum Question: Choose Wisely
Choose Wisely - enough said!  There are many perspectives and standards in the selection process of worship team members. We have ministries who audition or choose individuals from inside the church, we also have some who borrow members from other churches in order to fill-in. How is the right choice made? What are the repercussions that happen afterward? This opens a big can of worms.

Considering these individual team members are Christ followers, we place a high value and expectation that the leaders and upfront singers have a solid authentic walk in their relationship with God. What about selecting other participants and band members who may not have a churched background?

Bob Kauflin
Worship Pastor

The key issue for me is who is gathering on Sunday morning. If what we’re engaged in is a media production, drawing a crowd, or a motivational event, then it’s not as important who does what. But if we are the gathering of the church, the called out ones, those whom Jesus Christ has redeemed by his blood, who have professed faith in his substitutionary sacrifice, and are seeking to live for his glory, then it matters. In talking about the church Acts 5:13-14 says, “None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.” I’d say that we’ve come a long way from “none of the rest dared join them” when we’re inviting non-Christians to be involved in leading/serving roles in the church. We may see people saved in the short run, but there are certainly other ways that can happen that don’t blur the distinction between the church and the world.

In our sincere desire for the church to be a community where non-Christians feel welcome and see the gospel in action we can blur the distinction between those who are owned by Christ and those who aren’t, between those who have trusted in Christ and those who haven’t, between those who live for the kingdom of light and those who live for the kingdom of darkness. If that sounds polarizing, it’s because that’s the way God describes our position - inside or outside of Christ ( Rom. 12:4-5; 2 Cor. 5:17 2 Corinthians 5:17; Col. 1:13Colossians 1:13.

Christians are those who have been reconciled, redeemed, restored, and made right with the Father. We gather as his people to celebrate and remember the grace we’ve received in Christ. Unbelievers are welcome to come and observe our common bond in the gospel, and hopefully be affected by it. That’s always our prayer.

But for the sake of the Gospel and the purity of the church let’s encourage them to put their trust in the Savior through our example, witness, speech, love, and proclamation—not by asking them to participate in worship that is only possible through the regenerating work of the Spirit. We don’t want to potentially lead them and the church to believe they’re already part of the redeemed community before they’ve been redeemed. -

John Telman
Pastor and Former Worship Pastor

Musicians in a worship band are no different from the singers. They are people of deep relationship with Jesus. It is expected that they also sing and even more, live a lifestyle of worship. This is paramount otherwise we would be better off singing to a recording. Musicians, most often are seen by the congregation. They are people who exhibit all emotions. Just because they play an instrument does not make them an exception to the criteria that we hold for singers. Skills are important. Spiritual maturity is also important. That does not mean that the musician selected for ministry needs to have an M.Div but he needs to be equally in love with Jesus. My father had only one criteria for ministry when he lead worship 30 plus years ago. "Does he have a song in his heart for the Lord."

Terri Welch
Worship Programming Assistant

I used to attend a church that had paid soloists. there was always a debate around budget time whether we should be paying people to sing. but they were awesome to hear. God-centered music played well can lift the congregation's spirits up to feel the presence of God, and God can use any vessel He wants to communicate His presence. God-centered music played badly but earnestly by believers can also lift the congregation's spirits up, but it may have a tougher path. On the other hand, what if a new Christian sees someone that he recognizes from the worship band drunk in a bar or something? i think if a church makes the decision to use non-Christian musicians, then the church has to talk to the musicians they are considering hiring, and talk to them about the musician's lifestyle -- no judgment involved of course -- not every non-Christian out there is doing drugs or drinking to excess. i hope regular exposure to the gospel and to followers of Jesus would have a positive effect on them, and God would grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth. but i would also hope that if there are members of the congregation who wanted to play, that they could be trained, and encouraged to sharpen their skills. perhaps have several worship teams, and let the B and C team play every 4 to 6 weeks.

Ryan Dahl
PraiseCharts CEO

This is a tough issue to answer emphatically, one way or the other.  To me, this issue brings out more than just dichotomy of "Christian" vs. "not-Christian." What about the entire span in-between?  At what point does a person's character and lifestyle exclude them from being able to participate in the worship band?  You could have someone who has publically declared their faith in Christ, but during the week, they are hanging out in the bars and having an affair.  On the other hand, you could have someone who is brand new to the whole idea of church, but they have a background in music, and they would love to get involved to experience more of what church is all about.  All that to say, this whole issue is very complex.  There is no Bible verse that gives a clear answer. 

So, this is how I would answer it.  Somewhere down the line, the leadership of the church has to determine what direction they are going to go.  Then, they should make it very clear, up front.  Then, anyone on the team or in the church should support that decision without making a big theological issue of it.  I think the theological issue at stake here is the ability for people in the church to submit to leadership and authority in the church.  Some decisions don't have clear, Bible-verse answers - they just need to be made through wisdom and integrity.  This is one of those issues.  It is not wrong to have a non-Christian play guitar on a church stage.  It is also not wrong to refrain from having a non-Christian play guitar on a church stage.  It is wrong to have strife and unsubmissive attitudes by people in the church in response to whatever decision is made.

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