The latest blog at WorshipReady.com is "Undistracting Excellence" by Rob Hampton. You can read it here:
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It was one of those perfect moments of worship. It had nothing to do with the band or the song; it wasn’t the lights, and it certainly wasn’t my heavenly VOX AC15 guitar tone. Instead the moment was focused entirely on God moving in a small room of sold-out worshippers. As a worship leader I love these moments. I live for these moments and I work hard to intentionally achieve these moments. But far too often, they’re interrupted with poor transitions and simple distractions.
This particular time, I remember specifically, the song had ended. Everyone was caught up in the moment of worship, and then the keyboardist hit the “demo” button on the keyboard which started a 90s style beatbox loop. It was humorous... scratch that, it was hilarious! But it was also mood-killing. We quickly went from an intimate moment of worship to a goofy reflection on our own humanity as everyone chuckled at the mistake.
This distraction was just a simple mistake, and it certainly won’t be the last, but it builds on something I’ve sought in my worship leadership for years... undistracting excellence. I first came across this concept in an article from John Piper, What Unites Us In Worship. Piper writes:
“Undistracting excellence. We will try to sing and play and pray and preach in such a way that people's attention will not be diverted from the substance by shoddy ministry nor by excessive finesse, elegance, or refinement. Natural, undistracting excellence will let the truth and beauty of God shine through. We will invest in equipment good enough to be undistracting in transmitting heartfelt truth.”
That is one of my primary goals when leading worship - to get out of the way and let people see the glory of Jesus Christ. I strive and I encourage my team to strive to play and sing their absolute best but not to a point of being distracting. Likewise, I encourage them to think through all the other ways we might be distracting. What am I wearing? How am I moving on stage? Is the guitar part I’m playing helpful to the song or does it distract from the worship experience? Is this vocal harmony showcasing how great my voice is or does it add that perfect texture to this part of the song?
I would encourage you, as a worship musician, to constantly be asking yourself this question every time you help lead worship: “Is this distracting or helpful to the worship experience”? By asking this simple question, I believe we can better honor God and encourage His people.
Well said, Greg. There are certainly different contexts where sometimes thing are or aren't appropriate/helpful that might be in other contexts. On a side note, I love the idea of some rockabilly worship! Thanks for serving in the local church my friend.