Praise Team

by Kevin Au

Every Sunday, after Scripture is read, we look up from the opening prayer and are greeted by the familiar faces of the praise team. Within moments, the entire congregation is engaged in praise through song, lifting their voices and clapping their hands, guided by a steady snare, bellowing bass, vibrant voices, gleaming guitars, and crisp keys. It’s a beautiful picture of the body of Christ responding in unison to their God, but behind this scene lays much unseen preparation and prayer. Leading the church in worship is a serious matter for those involved with the team, and it shows on Sundays, as well as throughout the week.

“I’ve been most encouraged by the standard of excellence on the team,” says Tim Yu, guitarist, “God demands our best because He is supreme and worthy of only the best.” The excellence we have come to expect during Sunday praise time comes from a common appreciation and love of music, as well as a lot of effort to improve technically, both individually and together as a team though two practices a week, on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings. “This is where we iron out the nuts and bolts of the songs: how we start the song, when we decide when different instruments enter, what progressions we play, how many times we repeat the chorus, dynamics of the song, how the drum beat changes throughout the song, how we end the song or how we flow right into the next song,” says praise leader, Eugene Park.

In addition to the technical and practical aspects of playing music, preparation for Sunday worship is both a personal and continual matter; one that isn’t just limited to formal practice times and familiarity with the music set. “[There is] a lot of praying to make sure that my heart and mind are focused on truly worshiping God and remembering what worship is all about,” says Helen Wong, vocalist. An understanding of the nature of worship is essential both for cultivating a heart of worship and for leading on Sundays, which is why the team devotes half their Thursday practice times to discussing readings from Singing and Making Music: Issues in Church Music Today by Paul S. Jones. “The reason we take such a large time doing this is because it’s important that we’re not just a group of people who play music. Really, anyone can do that, and do that excellently at least in the world’s eyes,” explains Eugene. “But it’s also important for us to have a good understanding of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

Despite all this preparation, the team does still face struggles on Sundays, mostly stemming from the conflict between the responsibilities of personal worship and responsibilities leading corporate worship. “Perfection …doesn’t stop with the absence of personal mistakes; it’s so much greater than that when other people are involved,” says Brian Chan, keyboardist. “Finding the balance between musical creativity and helping other people worship God has proven to be one of the greatest challenges in my experience.” Drummer David Ahn adds, “Another big struggle is making sure that I’m worshiping [God] myself while I’m playing. Whether it’s in trying to sing along (which is hard!) or just dwelling on the words of the song, it requires a deliberate effort.”

Though it does require much effort and heart checking, everyone on the team enjoys what they do. They all share music as a passion and joy in their lives and the ability to fellowship with each other in service to the body is one encouragement that everyone on the team shares. “Just being around fellow brothers and sisters who genuinely and seriously desire to worship God and serve His Church in a biblical and excellent manner has been a great inspiration and accountability to me,” shares Abram Kim, bassist. It is also a unique encouragement to the team to be in a position to see the rest of the body worshipping God. “One of my most favorite things about being a part of the praise team is being able to stand up on stage every Sunday morning and look down at a congregation worshiping God. It is such an encouragement, especially when I see people who seem so joyful to be singing praises to God. It’s definitely one of the highlights of every Sunday service,” says Christine Cho, vocalist.

Many have expressed their appreciation for the work of the praise team and their commitment to excellence, both musically and spiritually. It is not often that the praise team gets to express appreciation to the congregation. But they really do wish to emphasize that praise and worship on Sundays is a corporate thing, not something that they do alone on stage. Though we are not all personally on the praise team, it is something that the body was meant to do together. They encourage the church to worship our God in spirit and in truth every Sunday. We must remember that our praise on Sundays, as with worship at any other time of the week is directed to God. Our attention therefore, should be on God not on the praise team. Their ministry is done excellently when the congregation sees past them and God, for whom all the songs are written and played, receives the glory.

Advertisements

About

The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

Subscribe



%d bloggers like this: