The Pursuit Of Excellence 1 - Gifting
I think we would all agree that for lots of wholesome reasons we want our worship to be excellent, firstly to honour our Creator who deserves our praise, secondly to encourage the worshipper and thirdly to create something that would be attractive to visitors. Achieving excellence or even agreeing what excellence looks like will almost certainly present much more of a challenge.
There are a massive range of churches around the world, from congregations of thousands with seemingly endless resources, to a handful of people singing around an old organ. God sees our hearts and who's to say that the group with the old organ isn’t bringing Him as much or maybe more pleasure. However, we surely have a responsibility to do as well as we can in line with Col 3v23 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters". Therefore some development is surely worth looking at beginning with “what can I bring that is helpful and encouraging to others?" rather than "I have secretly always seen myself as the next Matt Redman". Finding the gifts that God really wants us to develop can be a real challenge and examining our motives is such a healthy monitor and makes a good starting place.
Building an excellent worship team (leader, musicians, sound, AV etc) takes wisdom, preparation, practice, patience, humility and skill. The aim being to help people to connect with God in worship, very different from performance and therefore requiring a different set of parameters and skills. Of course musical, communication and technical skills all come into it, but directing people to God rather than distracting them surely has to be the main purpose. This may involve playing less or well within our ability, re thinking our communication and working hard at using our technical resources in the best way, in order to engage people without distraction.
Many churches may have a completely different challenge ie they don't have a worship team a sound system, a projector etc and they feel frustrated and under resourced. The heart of "The Worship Zone" is to assist those people in particular and to work together as a community, to help and encourage each other and to make the most of the gifts in every situation. There are resources available such as iSingWorship™ and Worship Lyric Videos, which can be a massive help wherever there is a lack of musicianship and may well be a great starting place for progress.
Wherever your church is up to, developing the relevant gifts should create an exciting journey, but can so often end in hurt and resentment. We should prayerfully find and use our gifts, remember direction not distraction and regularly examine our hearts.