One of the reasons King David is my favorite Biblical figure is because he knew how to construct a praise team. David did not say "Come one, come all. "The scripture tells us that David appointed individuals to minister music in the Temple. (I Chronicles 6:31). David knew how important it was that the proper atmosphere be set for God's house. There was so much excitement over the Ark of the Covenant being brought back to Jerusalem, that, again, musical appointments were made among the Levites. (I Chronicles 15:16,19,22). Only the Levites were to carry the Ark (I Chronicles 15:2), just as God had done in Moses' lifetime (Deuteronomy 10:8).
Many of our churches today have praise teams formed to stand before the people and minister music to usher the congregation into the presence of God. In this article I will give us some things to think about when forming a praise team. I also hope to speak to those who aspire to be a part of that team.
It should be understood first that the praise team must be made up of praisers and worshipers. Membership on the praise team does not make you a praiser; you should have already made it a habit long before you get to the team. Why? I can answer that question with a question: How can you lead people somewhere you have not been yourself? The team is not the place to learn to be a praiser and a worshiper; you should already be there. Worship is a daily pursuit. Praise is an ongoing journey and your life must demonstrate that. By the time you belong to a praise team you must have raised your praise and worship to God to the level of intentionality. It has become your lifeblood, along with reading and study of God's Word. This requires not only salvation through Jesus Christ, but an ongoing relationship with Him. Our daily walk as Christians does not stop at the point of salvation; it is only the beginning.
Praise team membership is not for the timid. In other words if you are afraid to stand before the people and uncomfortable with open expressions of praise, then these would need to be overcome before you consider being part of the team. The team is a place of enthusiasm and high energy when warranted. The people are looking to you for leadership. There are many scripture references to praising God in the congregation of the saints. Among them are Psalm 134:2; Psalm 107:32; and Psalm 35:18.
There are individuals who want to join the praise team so everyone will see them. This is the wrong motive for team membership. Proverbs 16:2 says in paraphrase "all of man's ways are right in his own eyes, but God weighs the motives". The responsibility of leadership is far too important and it cannot be taken for granted. When leading people into God's presence the anointing of the Holy Spirit is vital. And we cannot wait until we arrive at the church on Sunday morning to ask God's anointing. Is this really "in spirit and in truth" worship? (John 4:24) God deserves more from us. David acknowledged in Psalm 51:6b that God desires truth from us. We must in the days leading up to Sunday spend time in God's presence allowing Him to prepare our hearts to come before the people. As a praise team we should be examples of God's holiness. The Word says we are temples of the Holy Ghost and He dwells within us (I Cor. 6:19).
There are individuals who aspire to be part of the praise team because they sing well. If I had to choose between the intentional praiser and the great singer, I'll take the intentional praiser. The great singer may prove more concerned about how he/she presents to the people, rather than how he/she presents to God. It is the principle of image vs. integrity. Image says "How did I sound to the people?" Integrity says "How did I sound to God?" The praise team should never function to bring attention to ourselves, but to God. I take the position that music is not the chief function of the praise & worship portion of the service anyway. If we had no music, the worship of God ought to still be Job One. But since we do use music as a vehicle into God's presence, we must be very careful that neither our music nor our team members are there merely for outward showings. While the Word of God offers several references to singing, John 4:24, our chief criterion for worship, makes no reference to it at all. All throughout the Body of Christ we have become so conditioned and so traditionalized to the extent we have come to believe music and worship are synonymous; they are not. Singing all the great songs by the most talented and well-known artists does not guarantee worship.
Personally, I tend to shy away from volunteerism when it comes to praise team membership. I suggest that prospective team members be interviewed, trained, and encouraged to understand the critically important role they will play in standing before the people to minister praise & worship. No matter how willing potential members may be, proper motives among these individuals must be well-determined prior to making decisions on whether they will be a part of the team. Our responsibility to lead God's people into His presence is much too important to leave it to individuals who do not have a heart of worship.
Finally there needs to be unity and mutual love for one another among the team. Dissention among the members will prove obvious to the congregation. Even though our function is not to be seen, we are seen by many, many sets of eyes on any given Sunday, and our projection needs to be that of oneness. We should demonstrate our love for God and for our fellow team members. Praise team members should pray for, support, and be there for one another. This is why it is important to know the hearts of prospective team members; know something of their salvation experience, and how their lives reflect the mind of Christ. And this is why aspiring praise team members should be prayed over, and chosen by the Holy Spirit.
If you are a musician/worship leader charged with building or rebuilding your praise team, seek the Lord first and foremost. Allow Him to show you those persons who would make for a strong, solid unit to minister in your church. If you are a praise team hopeful, please be prayerful about this. Be honest with yourself and God and consider whether this is the ministry God has led you into.