Noble thoughts on worship

Posted: September 4, 2007 in Church, Music, Perspective

Was reading Perry Noble’s blog this morning where he posted “Eight things I think every worship leader should know.”  You can read about it here.

Though all his points are each worthy of a lot of reflection (particularly the ones about immersing yourself in scripture and keeping your eyes open (!) in worship…LOL, that’s ME at times), a couple of his points really stood out to me and have had me thinking about them all morning.  I’ll only blog about one of them now, though, and that point is: 

“Surround yourself with talented people.”

Perry says, “Talent matters – the ONLY organization that doesn’t get this is the church.”  How true!  I can remember some truly cringe-worthy vocal solos in past church experiences.  Let’s be honest:  They sucked!  Okay, to appease those of you that can’t believe I’d laugh at the 14-year-old tone-deaf neice of one of the deacons singing “Friends are Friends Forever” a half-key above AND below the key pianist is playing in, let me say I realize that her heart is probably focused on God and that she was willing to offer her “talent” in service of God (that’s got to count for something, right?).  But if you don’t think talent and professionalism aren’t important to God, read about the musicians in the temple in Israel in 1 Chronicles 9:33:

“The musicians, all prominent Levites, lived at the Temple. They were exempt from other responsibilities there since they were on duty at all hours.” 

Wow – they LIVED at the temple and had NO other duties.   Music was their thing.  And they were “on duty” at ALL HOURS.  That was it, nothing else.  I can conclude from this that (1) music was important enough in temple worship that it deserved ALL the musicians’ time and that makes it easy to deduce that (2) their talent and ability to perform well was important.  Think about it.  They saw their task – one of serving and honoring God – as being very important.  Furthermore, as worship leaders they led others in worship – and it’s hard to lead others in worship if you can’t sing on key or play the right notes, because mistakes – the lack of talent – becomes a distraction. 

American Idol’s William Hung may have had passion for music – and in a sense, that inspired some people (rooting for the underdog, I guess), but the simple fact was the boy absolutely could not sing.  Have you bought his CD? (I mean, other than to laugh at it).  Do you know someone who has?  I haven’t.  Because that’s not what I want to hear driving down the road in my car.  Talent sells CDs.  Likewise, talent better communicates our message in song than a lack of it.

 We’ve got the greatest message in the world and one hour to deliver it weekly to people who are hurting, sinning, and/or searching for answers.  I think that message deserves our best.  Talent matters!

In Crosspoint’s short history, we’ve had varying degrees of talent onstage.  We’ve had people try to harmonize to the point that my ears are still hurting.  We’ve had people who couldn’t sing consistently on key no matter how hard you worked with them.  (NOTE:  I have worked and continue to work with people to try to develop talent where that is possible).  Unfortunately, some people are no longer onstage.  Let me clarify that I’ve NEVER had to ask anybody to step down.  However, I do schedule musicians according to talent (i.e., ability to sing solos, ability to harmonize, ability to improvise instrumentally) and how that talent will best fit the song lineup for any given Sunday.  Some people simply get more stage time than others based on their ability to excel in their art.  And unfortunately, that has resulted in some hurt feelings, and a few of those people are gone now.  I will always admire their desire to serve and I respect their love of singing in worship, but the mission of the church is too important to be sidetracked mid-service by distractions caused by someone serving in the wrong place.  If the tech guys have to turn someone down in the mix (and this HAS happened) – and working to develop his/her talent is not going anywhere, then a person might have to reconsider how they want to serve.

Bottom line:  If God hasn’t blessed you with a great singing voice or stellar guitar ability or whatever talent you wish you had, then find out what gifts he HAS blessed you with and use them instead!  You’ll be happier, too!

On a related note that Perry didn’t go into explicitly, I think preparation (practice! practice! PRACTICE!) is just as important as talent.  Having talent doesn’t preclude the need to practice.  There’s almost nothing worse than seeing a talented musician striking all the wrong chords/notes simply because they haven’t prepared.  Again, distraction ensues…yada yada.  Talent can’t always hide lack of preparation.  People will be distracted in any event.

God deserves our best, right?  The people we’re trying to reach deserve our best, right?

Should we settle for anything less?

EDIT:  So no one will think otherwise, I think we have the most gifted and servant-minded worship team in North Alabama…maybe all of Alabama ;-).  Your talent (oozing at the pores), your commitment, and your love for Christ and reaching people is second to none.  Thanks for all you guys do!

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