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Posted on Jan 27, 2014 in Leadership, Worship Ministry | 11 comments

Why I Ask My Team to Be a Little Disingenuous

WHAT??? Disgusting. Didn’t Jesus rail against hypocrites…actors…the disingenuous religious leaders of His day? Yes He did and, yet, I’ve sat across from my team as they’ve looked at me uncertainly and said, “What you’re asking…I’d feel like I was being disingenuous.” But I keep on asking because I believe we’ve lost sight of what it means to do our job.

disingenuous

For years, the worship community has fought against anything that reeks of performance. We’re not to perform, we’re to worship. We want team members who are the real article: who they are on the stage matches who they are off the stage. Nice sentiment! And I whole-heartedly agree when it comes to the heart of the individual. However, this has carried over to the way worship is expressed on-stage versus off-stage. And I don’t whole-heartedly agree with that.

I imagine we all have worship team members who feel that expressing worship differently on-stage than they do off-stage would be fake, phony, even hypocritical. Maybe you feel that way, too, and you’ve been rather uncomfortable with this blog post ever since the title. Well, some will call this being disingenuous. I call it doing our job.

And what is our job? Certainly to worship God and genuinely, at that. But it’s more because everyone in the church has that job. Our unique task is to lead others to worship God with us. There are, perhaps, a handful of people in this world who can effectively lead a crowd just by being their everyday-selves. They just ooze charisma in their casual existence. The rest of us have to behave differently than we normally would in order to move, motivate, and lead people.

We don’t question this in other arenas of life. Football players don’t run around smashing people in the streets and we never call them fakers for it. Motivational speakers aren’t that revved up around the dinner table at home but we wouldn’t label them phonies. Drill sergeants are unlikely to scream and berate their date the way they would their soldiers. Even in the church, we want our preachers to express themselves more artfully on stage than they would in everyday conversation. They’re just doing their jobs.

Our worship teams have a job to do, too, and it’s time we ask them to do it well.

I realize we all come from different contexts. On my worship team, there are many individuals who are uncomfortable expressing their worship outwardly. Period. Over time I gently ask them, coax them, to try and get past that because here’s the deal: Maybe they’re worshipping God in their hearts more intensely than anyone in the room but the church will have no idea unless they express some of that outwardly. And if the church can’t see us worshipping, how are we effectively doing our part to lead them to worship God in their hearts?

Maybe your context is completely different. Maybe you have team members who are a little “too comfortable” expressing their worship outwardly. Genuine or not, that can create a distraction for some people in the seats. Good intentions are no substitute for the bottom line. And in worship ministry, the bottom line is always about pointing people to God. How can we do that to the best of our ability if we’re inadvertently (or intentionally, for that matter) pulling some of the attention to ourselves?

So maybe you need to ask your team to be a little “disingenuous” too. Does this make you uncomfortable? Do you get where I’m coming from with this?

Photo credit: foleymo / Foter.com / CC BY

11 Comments

  1. Excellent post! Christy and I often talk about the sense of stage presence that is necessary. Some of us intuitively know what to do, others need to be coached. Here are few coaching points.
    1. Don’t close your eyes the whole time.
    2. Make eye contact with the audience.
    3. Put your feet evenly on the ground.
    4. Feel free to clap or raise your hands as appropriate.
    5. Understand know one really knows how nervous you are until you tell them.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Great application points! And find a smile for those songs that are meant to be joyful. Nothing like singing “Happy Day” with a scowl!

      Thanks, Malcolm!

  2. I think there definitely is a place for this to be true, but in no way is it the worship leader’s or worship team’s first and foremost job to show that they are worshiping. Jesus said that the Pharisees were out in the streets praying and lifting their hands and he judged that because their hearts were not in the right place. It wasn’t the Pharisees’ job to do that, but in 2nd Chronicles 20, the whole assembly under King Jehoshaphat rose their hands and looked to the sky, waiting for the Lord to answer. Their physical position was because they were in need and their hearts were longing.
    I personally am very physically active during worship because it helps me focus my heart on Christ, however, I understand that some people are not like this. It’s not my place to tell them to do it, but I should at the most invite them to do so or make them feel free to do so, but I’d rather hear of one heart changed then see my youth group, or a congregation I’m leading, lift their hands.
    As I don’t wish to demote the importance of outward worship during a song set, I don’t think it’s our place to make that someone’s job. If that’s what we really want in a team, then WE need to get physical and start praying for God to move in their hearts.

  3. Please forgive me; I don’t want to be rude and I actually really think that having a discussion on a “Discussion post” isn’t the best idea, but I think I struggle with this, so getting this type helps me think. I really am not trying to lessen anyone in anyway.

    • Not at all, Robert! I think you’ve brought to light the crazy-important issue of motive! And I also agree that an extreme change in worship expression is not something to be forced on anyone lest it become a worship-preventer for them OR come across very fake since they’d likely look very uncomfortable. Rather, I try to–over time–teach my team about why our expressions matter and about the motive behind wanting to more accurately express our worship.

      Often, when this discussion is had, it’s easy for us to think of asking someone who usually stands still and quiet in worship to begin dancing around like a maniac :) But actually, a good first step for some of our team members might be to just wear a smile when appropriate so that people can see they have joy and mean what they sing.

      Does even that still scare you? (I mean, would you be concerned to ask team members even to work on their facial expression if they struggle with that?) Thanks so much for participating in the discussion on this!

  4. Eye contact , eye contact , eye contact ! Please work with your teams to get their nose off the printed page and out into the congregation . Everyone in your church knows the lyrics to the chorus of GOD YOU REIGN and many if not most are not looking at the screen , they are looking at the team . So much ” leading ” can be done just by eye contact . I bet you will find a little natural , genuine side to side movement and even the occasional hand raising will soon follow . The congregation will feel much more at ease to be expressive if led to do so by the team and , the team can be much more at ease to be expressive if led to do so by the leader . Just remember , always invite , never demand .

    • Good reminder! We have a projector for the back wall that helps a little with this…better than everyone staring down at music stands…but we still have to work at it because staring constantly at the words on the back wall is also not the best way to look engaged and be engaging.

  5. I often encourage my worship team to worship like they would on the floor or in their own personal time. And the release of that has been really awesome and I have seen a movement of freedom to worship in my church it’s awesome from dance to paintings during worship! God is good!!

    • So glad you’ve got your team growing in that! Sounds like a good approach to take that might help out some other leaders, too, so thanks for sharing it.

  6. I definitely encourage my team to smile and make eye contact (especially the singers) who are on the front line. After all, we are communicating, right? Nothing more contagious than a genuine smile. As far as movement goes, it is up to them, but I personally cannot sit still while in the midst of worshiping, especially on upbeat songs.

    • Exactly, it’s a matter of just being a good communicator! Great perspective.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Maybe Fake It Just A Little Bit? | Worship Links - […] Neil Oldham wrote a post about this called Why I Ask My Team To Be A Little Disingenuous: […]
  2. Your Team’s Outward Expression Does Matter! | Blue Collar Worship: Lead Strong - […] a posting titled Why I Ask My Team to Be a Little Disingenuous, I managed to stir up a…

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