Talent vs. Passion by Phil McGechie

Talent vs. Passion
(How to have a worship team that actually leads in worship)
Phil McGechie
Worship & Outreach Pastor
1st Assembly of God, Lubbock, TX

For many years, music has long been a source of what I’ll call a “discussion” in the church. Some churches sing hymns. Some churches sing choruses. Some churches sing hymns but don’t use the hymnal (God forbid), but instead “sing it off the wall”. Some churches sing a mixture of old and new. Some will sing only the new stuff.
I’ve led in services where I’ve sung the old songs that people have requested and they STILL did not join in and worship, and I’ve led in services where I’ve sung the new songs that people have requested and THOSE people still did not join in and worship.
This blog that I’m writing today is not going to discuss THAT age-old argument. That’s for another time. What I want to discuss today is the “simple” (you can define that how ever you want) subject of talent vs. passion and how you and I can have a worship team that actually leads worship.
First, let’s define a couple of words. Talent means an individual or a group of persons with a special natural ability or aptitude. And passion means a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything. And just so you know, anytime in this context I use the word(s) worship team or worship band, I simply mean musicians AND singers.
So let’s talk about talent vs. passion. In my 27+ years of full time ministry, I’ve worked with people that had passion but were lacking in the talent category and I’ve worked with people that had the talent but had no passion. It’s always wonderful to have musicians who have that special natural ability AND have a fondness, enthusiasm, and desire to worship as well. Notice I said it’s wonderful to have musicians…that have a desire TO worship. I didn’t say that’s it’s wonderful to have musicians…that have a desire to LEAD worship (be in front of the crowd). There is a difference. Anyone with a little bit of talent can get up in front of a crowd and sing some praise and worship songs. But it takes someone with true passion for God and His presence to get up in front of a crowd and lead them in worship and into the presence of God. In His presence is where broken hearts are mended, tired souls are renewed, and broken bodies are supernaturally healed. His presence must be paramount over everything. Now that is not to say that talent is relegated to the back seat. And here is where I may get into some trouble and offend some of you, but believe me, that is not my intent. If I’m in a service and someone is on stage “leading” in worship but are not equipped (haven’t learned adequately enough) to use the instrument they are supposed to be playing, it can be so distracting to the point of disrupting the worship. And that goes for vocals too. If someone can’t sing but is attempting to lead in worship, it can be so distracting as to disrupt the service as well.
Now before you send me all the Christian hate mail, let me explain a little further. I’m not saying that every male singer needs to sound like Chris Tomlin or Kristian Stanfill or every female singer needs to sound like Kari Jobe or Kim Walker-Smith. I’m not even saying that everyone needs to be able to sing and play like Israel Houghton. What I am saying is this: we as a church need to learn to place people in their area of gifting. If someone really can’t sing but can play keyboard, have them play keyboard. If someone really can’t play bass but can sing, have them sing. Place people in their area of gifting.
Once we have people placed in their area of gifting, then we can work on having a worship team that actually leads in worship. I can think of at least five things that will help a worship team lead in worship. It is most definitely not an exhaustive list, but is meant as a starting point to help you move forward as needed.

1. Pray for anointing
Ephesians 3:16 says, “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.
I pray for our team after each practice Wednesday night asking God to protect them, and that He will bring them back renewed supernaturally and ready to lead in worship on Sunday. Every Sunday morning, after our sound check and final practice, our worship team gathers for prayer. I ask all of the team to pray for anointing for the group, and to pray that God will anoint them as an individual. If we are not anointed when we are leading our congregations in worship, then all the talent and passion we may have will be to no avail. WE MUST HAVE THE ANOINTING!

2. Practice the music
2 Chronicles 34:12 says, “….other Levites, all of whom were skilled musicians.”
How do you think they got skilled? By practicing. Most people are not prodigies so they need practice. We cannot strive for perfection because no one is perfect. But we can strive for excellence. And how can we become excellent singers and musicians? By practicing. Don’t wait until right before service to put a set list together and don’t wait until right before service to practice. Prepare ahead of time. Jesus has been preparing a home for us for 2000 years now. Surely we can find an hour or two during the week to practice and prepare to help our congregation meet with God on Sunday through music.

3. Pursue after God
Psalm 146-150 speaks about pursuing the Lord through music and song. When you are in your service leading in worship, pursue after God yourself. ACTUALLY LEAD in worship. Raise your hands like you want the congregation to do. Clap your hands like you want the congregation to do. Close your eyes like you want the congregation to do. If you’re playing an instrument, pursue after God. Worship God yourself. If you are singing, pursue after God. Worship God yourself.

4. Praise
Exodus 20:3 says, “You must not have any other god but me.”
Psalms 136:1-3 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever.”
I am convinced that some people have made their worship (what I call their act of making good music) their goal and by virtue of that, their god. We must be careful to not “worship” worship. Worship through music is not the goal. Our Heavenly father is the goal. He is the one we are pursuing. Worship through music is just another tool to reach our Heavenly father. After we have prayed, practiced, and pursued after God, we MUST make sure that we praise God and thank Him for everything that is accomplished.

Blessings to you as you pray, practice, pursue, and praise our God.

Please feel free to comment or reply at pmcgechie@lubbockag.org

All scriptures are taken from the New Living Translation.