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Worship Team Basics

Tips, advice, and theology for those new to our worship team.
by Bryan Hunt

This is the writeup we give to musicians who are interested in joining the worship team. But we thought it might also be interesting for those wanting to find out more about our theology of worship and why we lead the way we do.


If you are new to our worship team, this is a great place to start. You’ll find tips and advice, but more importantly, you’ll read about what it means to lead God’s people in worship. Let’s start at the beginning.

Made to Worship

God made us to worship and glorify Him (Eph 1:11-12). That is at the very core of our existence. As Paul Tripp puts it, ‘We have been born into a life that is a celebration of another.’ We, as worship leaders, get the awesome privilege of drawing people to become who they are made to be.

Worship Explained

Worship isn’t just the songs we sing in Church. It is a way of life. It is an attitude of the heart. It is our whole being – heart, mind, and body responding in adoration and thanksgiving to who God is and what He has done.

Music

God created music (John 1:3). He created it as a unique form of communication that fuses both the mind and heart; our intellect and our emotions. Through music, we are able to worship the God of the Universe in a mind-engaging, and heart-captivating way. Music guides our emotions. As Andrew Dealy puts it, “Worship leaders leverage their skills of music to surface emotions in order to knit them together with God’s truth.” Music helps to properly align our hearts with the reality of God’s awe-inspiring glory.
Throughout the scriptures God instructs us to worship through music (Psa 98:4-5, Psa 150, Eph 5:19). Music isn’t inherently worship, but God created music to uniquely express the worship of the infinitely good and beautiful God.

Lifting Up Christ

As musicians, it is easy to confuse musical worship with performance. But worship is not a concert. It is not simply songs we sing about God. It is not a place to show off our musical talent. Worship leading is about humbly leading God’s people to see the beauty and glory of Christ. Our aim is to lift up Christ and get out of the way. John the Baptist said that he simply came to prepare the way for the Lord, and that Jesus must increase and he must decrease (John 3:30). In the same way, we as worship leaders have the same prayer – He must increase, we must decrease. We are not lifting up ourselves in worship; we are lifting up Christ, that all may see His eternal glory. Our prayer is that He would be seen and not us.

Serving the Congregation

The role of the Worship Leader is to serve the congregation. We do this by laying down our personal preferences of music styles and songs. We choose our setlists not based upon which songs are our favourites, but based upon which songs God is using to draw His people into deeper intimacy and awe of Christ.
We also serve the congregation by leading them into new avenues of worship. It is easy for our relationships with the Lord to grow stagnate, and sometimes we need a strong encouragement to grow deeper into Christ. This may be through new songs, styles – even uncomfortable silences. Our aim is not to make people comfortable; it is to draw deeper into the worship of the Glorious God for whom we were made.

Leading by Example

The greatest way we lead is by being worshippers ourselves. The best way of leading is by setting an example; by being the first through the gate. As worship leaders we draw people into worship by entering in with our whole being; by worshipping when no one else is. We lead by example – not in an inauthentic, fake way, but by choosing to worship even when we don’t feel it in our bones; even when we feel weak and broken, because God is far greater than our insecurities, distractions and mood swings. We offer up a sacrifice of praise because we know that He is worth it, despite what our fickle mind and emotions sometimes tell us.

One Voice

Remember that worship leading isn’t an “us and them” thing. Whether we’re on the stage playing an instrument or in a seat singing, we’re all one people worshipping the Living God together. Being part of the worship team doesn’t make you any more or less important than someone serving in the Sunday School or just sitting in the congregation. We are all one in Christ. Our prayer is that we may together “with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Rom 15:6

Putting Words in the Mouths of the Saints

“Show me a church’s songs and I’ll show you their theology.” Gordon Fee
As worship leaders we need to take very seriously what words we are putting in the mouths of the saints. The lyrics we sing shape people’s theology and their very view of God Himself. If we only sing about God’s power and might, the congregation may develop a theology of a strong, but impersonal God. If we only sing about God’s intimate love for us, then we may develop a theology of a loving, but not all-powerful God. We want to lead songs that speak of the whole spectrum of God’s character; loving, yet holy; merciful, yet just; intimate, yet fearsome. And most of all we want to lead people to the Gospel. In Christ we see the fullness of God on display; His whole character and his heart for His world. That is why we never tire of singing about the cross and the glory of the Risen Christ.

 

Tips

If you’re totally new to being a part of the worship team, here are a few tips.

  • Concern yourself less with playing the right chords and notes, and more about worshipping the God who is the author of music. God cares more about our hearts than our music.
  • Think about what your face may be saying to the congregation. You are leading by example. If you are frowning, that is telling the congregation that you wish you weren’t there. You don’t need to have a smile on your face all the time, but be aware of the fact that you are leading with more than just the instrument you are playing.
  • Watch the leader for song cues. He or she will likely turn and nod when there is going to be a major transition in the song. Sometimes simplicity is the best. Over-complexity may distract more than inspire.
  • Pick your spots. If the song is in a quiet part; pull back. If the song is building; slowly build. Save a little something extra for the final chorus. You don’t need to play every chord or sing into the mic all the time. Much of music rides upon dynamic range.
  • Pray that the Holy Spirit would unite you with the others in the worship team as you play. As Christians, the Spirit dwells in each one of us. He draws us and binds us together.
  • As worship leaders we are servants of the congregation, but remember that, in reality, we are playing for an audience of one – the God of the Universe. His is the only approval that we need and we already have it in Christ. We don’t need to impress anyone, God simply loves when His children sing to Him with full hearts.

Infinite and an Infant

Charles Spurgeon on the wonder of the incarnation.
by Bryan Hunt

As we approach Christmas, we ponder the coming of Christ and the wonder of His incarnation – His putting on human flesh and humbling himself as a man. But the weight of this action is often lost on us. Because we have never been anything other than human, or experienced anything other than the weaknesses and deficiencies that come along with this reality, the idea of becoming man doesn’t seem like such a big deal. But when you really consider the gap between us and God – His perfection, His omnipotence, His infinite nature – the idea of Him lowering himself to even think about mankind is staggering, let alone deigning to become man.

Charles Spurgeon was grappling with this thought when he penned these words below. Let the wonder of the incarnation lead you to awe and worship this advent season. Let it fill you with utter joy, that the infinitely good and powerful God, laid aside His glory so He could reconcile you back to Himself.

“Oh, wonder of wonders! Manger of Bethlehem, miracles have poured into you. This is a sight that surpasses all others. Talk of the sun, moon, and stars; consider the heavens, the work of God’s fingers, the moon and the stars that he has ordained; but all the wonders of the universe shrink into nothing, when we come to the mystery of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ…

There have been sights matchless and wonderful, at which we might look for years, and yet turn away and say, “I cannot understand this…” But all things are as nothing, compared with the incarnation of the Son of God. The Angels never cease to tell the astonishing story, and to tell it with increasing astonishment too, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born of the Virgin Mary, and became a man. Is he not rightly called Wonderful?

Infinite, and an infant — eternal, and yet born of a woman — Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast — supporting the universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms — king of angels, and yet the reputed son of Joseph — heir of all things and yet the carpenter’s despised son. Wonderful are you, Oh Jesus, and shall your name be forever.”
Charles Spurgeon


Martin Luther’s Picture of the Gospel

We are joined together with Christ, as a wife is to a husband.
by Bryan Hunt

Sunday was the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg, which lit the flame of the Reformation. 

Luther believed that there was no skill more basic for a theologian or preacher, than the ability to distinguish between law and gospel. His life was turned upside down when he realized that God’s righteousness wasn’t something that he had to earn and live up to, but was in fact a gift from God, in Christ. He described the good news of the Gospel as a ‘Royal Marriage’ where Christ, as the bridegroom, gifts His bride, the church, with all that He is and all that He possesses.

In this beautiful and biblical (Eph 5:25-27, Rev 19:17) picture of the Gospel, let the truth of Luther’s words strip you of your own pride and shame, and make you cling, ever more tightly, to Christ and the glories of His grace.

“Who can understand the riches of the glory of this grace? Here this rich and divine bridegroom Christ marries this poor, wicked harlot, redeems her from all her evil, and adorns her with all his goodness. Her sins cannot now destroy her, since they are laid upon Christ and swallowed up by him. And she has that righteousness in Christ, her husband, of which she may boast as of her own and which she can confidently display alongside her sins in the face of death and hell and say, ‘If I have sinned, yet my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned, and all his is mine and all mine is his.’”
Martin Luther


The Gospel is How You Grow

Christian growth comes through remaining saturated in the Gospel.
by Bryan Hunt 1 Response

Is the Gospel just the starting point of the Christian life? Is it exclusively the means by which we are saved, and something we grow past as we mature as Christians?

John Webster didn’t think so. He wrote that,

“Growth in the Christian life is simply growth in seeing that the gospel is true; that Jesus Christ is the preeminent reality of all things.“ 

Tim Keller agrees. He wrote that,

“The gospel is the way people are called to faith, and the way people grow in faith.”

Sometimes we think that the Gospel is just something we need to share with others – a gateway of sorts into the kingdom of God. And that is part of it, but it is so much more. It is the means by which we grow in faith, trust, and sanctification. As Christians, it is who we are – a people joined together to Christ, by his atoning death and glorious resurrection. We are a people defined by someone other than ourselves. A people empowered, not by our own strivings, but by the Spirit of Christ in us.

Gospel Saturation

But too often we forget who we are. We forget our freedom and the privileges we have in Christ. We forget the Gospel and we start trusting (or despairing) in ourselves, instead of Christ.

Charles Spurgeon experienced this in his own life, and that is why he wrote, 

“The most important daily habit we can possess is to remind ourselves of the Gospel.” 

Martyn Lloyd Jones thought the same thing –

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”

King David in Psalms was constantly reminding his soul of the goodness of God (Psalm 62, 103, 104). And there is no clearer place that we see the goodness and glory of God than in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is the pinnacle of God’s plan of redemption. It is a multi-faceted diamond, that looks different and more beautiful at every angle. The more we saturate ourselves in the Gospel the more we will begin to look like who we already are in Christ.

The Day After Your Wedding Day

It is a little like the feeling the day after your wedding day – you have to keep looking at the ring on your finger to remind yourself, and glory in the fact, of your marriage. Just feeling it and looking at it reminds you that you are now different. Nothing physically has changed, but you are now totally different because of who you are now joined together with. In the Gospel we see the same thing. We are totally different because we are joined together with Christ. Physically we may remain the same for now, but in our inward being we have been transferred from death to life. From wrath to belovedness. From an enemy of God to a precious child. The more we look at this truth, the more the reality will sink into our minds and hearts.

In the Gospel

In the Gospel we see that everything that is Christ’s is now ours (Rom 8:16-17).

In the Gospel we see that all of our strivings to be “better” are foolishness. Christ is our life and He has given us His better life (Gal 2:20). 

In the Gospel we see that the power to overcome sin in our lives isn’t found through trying harder, but through embracing the power of Christ in us through His Spirit (Gal 5:16). 

In the Gospel we see that we aren’t defined by our failures and successes, but by the fact we are God’s beloved, ransomed by the shed blood of His Son (1 Peter 2:9).

In the Gospel we see that living under the lordship of Christ isn’t about adhering to strict rules and regulations, it is about finding the true joy of living as who we were made to be (Gal 2:16, Rom 6:1-4).

In the Gospel we see that we are not alone and unlovable – we are chosen and loved beyond our wildest dreams (Eph 1:3-10).

In the Gospel we see that our lives are best lived, not for ourselves, but for the glory of God, who is our greatest joy and the only one who can satisfy our restless souls (Rom 11:36, Matt 11:29).

Assembly Around the Gospel

“The church is assembly around the gospel… and the church’s vocation is to hear, and then live and proclaim, this good news.” John Webster

At St. George’s we meet on Sunday mornings together as the body of Christ, to assemble around the Gospel. We speak it. We hear it. We remember it. We sing it. And then we live and proclaim it to the world and to ourselves. Because it is our very life and breath. Apart from it we are still dead, and in it we see that we are alive, free, empowered, and destined for eternal joy and satisfaction.

When we preach the Gospel to our souls we grow and are reminded of who we really are. This week speak to your soul. Saturate yourself in the glorious truth of the Gospel. Grow in the transforming reality of the good news of Christ. 


12 Calvin Quotes

Our second post commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
by Bryan Hunt

This is our second post commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. John Calvin (1509-1564) was an influential French theologian, pastor and reformer during the Reformation, and the author of The Institutes of the Christian Religion. He is remembered for his theological work around the doctrines of election, the sovereignty of God, and the indefectibility of grace.

Here are 12 quotes by Calvin, penned 5 centuries ago, that will, above all, remind you of the glory of Christ our Redeemer.


 

1. “Our assurance, our glory, and the sole anchor of our salvation is that Christ the Son of God is ours, and we in turn are in him sons of God and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven, called to the hope of eternal blessedness by God’s grace, not by our worth.”

 


 

2. “Christ is much more powerful to save, than Adam was to destroy.”

 


 

3. “There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.”

 


 

4. “We should therefore learn that the only good we have is what the Lord has given us gratuitously; that the only good we do is what He does in us; that it is not that we do nothing ourselves, but that we act only when we have been acted upon, in other words under the direction and influence of the Holy Spirit.”

 


 

5. “The cross of Christ only triumphs in the breast of believers over the devil and the flesh, sin and sinners, when their eyes are directed to the power of His Resurrection.”

 


 

6. “You must submit to supreme suffering in order to discover the completion of joy.”

 


 

7. “No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief.”

 


 

8. “Prosperity inebriates men, so that they take delights in their own merits.”

 


 

9. “Christ justifies no one whom He does not also sanctify. By virtue of our union with Christ, He bestows both gifts, the one never without the other.”

 


 

10. Having become with us the Son of Man, He has made us with Himself sons of God. By His own descent to the earth He has prepared our ascent to heaven. Having received our mortality, He has bestowed on us His immortality. Having undertaken our weakness, He has made us strong in His strength. Having submitted to our poverty, He has transferred to us His riches. Having taken upon Himself the burden of unrighteousness with which we were oppressed, He has clothed us with His righteousness.”

 


 

11. “To search for wisdom apart from Christ means not simply foolhardiness but utter insanity.”

 


 

12. “For until men recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by His fatherly care, that He is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond Him – they will never yield Him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in Him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to Him.”


10 Martin Luther Quotes

500 years later, these words still ring true.
by Bryan Hunt

This year is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. In 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany, an act which set into motion the greatest reform in the history of the church. 

In honour of this anniversary, here are 10 quotes by Luther that were penned 500 years ago, but still ring true today.


 

1. “If you want to interpret (the Bible) well and confidently, set Christ before you, for He is the man to whom it all applies, every bit of it.”

 


 

2. “The believing soul can boast of and glory in, whatever Christ has as though it were its own, and whatever the soul has, Christ claims as his own.”

 


 

3. “Learn to know Christ and him crucified. Learn to sing to him, and say, ‘Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and given me what is yours. You have become what you were not so that I might become what I was not.’”

 


 

4. “God doesn’t need your good works, but your neighbour does.”

 


 

5. “When the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also.'”

 


 

6. “This is true faith, a living confidence in the goodness of God.”

 


 

7. “Who can understand the riches of the glory of this grace? Here this rich and divine bridegroom Christ marries this poor, wicked harlot, redeems her from all her evil, and adorns her with all his goodness. Her sins cannot now destroy her, since they are laid upon Christ and swallowed up by him. And she has that righteousness in Christ, her husband, of which she may boast as of her own and which she can confidently display alongside her sins in the face of death and hell and say, ‘If I have sinned, yet my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned, and all his is mine and all mine is his.’”

 


 

8. “I know not the way God leads me, but well do I know my Guide.”

 


 

9. “You say that the sins which we commit every day offend God, and therefore we are not saints. To this I reply: Mother love is stronger than the filth and scabbiness on a child, and so the love of God toward us is stronger than the dirt that clings to us.” 

 


 

10. “The highest of all God’s commands is this, that we ever hold up before our eyes the image of his dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He must daily be to our hearts the perfect mirror, in which we behold how much God loves us and how well, in his infinite goodness, as a faithful God, he has grandly cared for us in that he gave his dear Son for us. Do not let this mirror and throne of grace be torn away from before your eyes.”


5 Worship Songs for your Weekend

A soundtrack for your long weekend.
by Bryan Hunt

“Death in His Grave” – John Mark McMillan

“He has cheated hell and seated us above the fall. In desperate places he paid our wages, one time, once and for all.”

 

“Mercy” – Amanda Cook

“Oh Love, great Love, fear cannot be found in You. And there will never be a day, You’re uncertain of the ones you choose. Because You delight in showing mercy,
and mercy triumphs over judgement.”

 

“Whatever Comes” – Rend Collective

“Be my bravery when I am trembling. Be my courage when my heart is caving in. Be the fireside when I am wandering. Be my Father, whatever comes.”

 

“Shadow Step” – Hillsong United

“I can’t explain Your heart, or dare to trace-out all You are, but when I think about the road You took for love, I know Your grace will stay the path.”

 

“Extravagant” – Bethel Music

“It’s extravagant, it doesn’t make sense, we’ll never comprehend the way You love us.”

 

Playlist

You can listen to a playlist of all 5 songs below.


5 New Worship Songs For Your Weekend

A soundtrack for your weekend.
by Bryan Hunt

“Lion and the Lamb” – Leeland

“Our God is a lion; the Lion of Judah. He’s roaring with power, and fighting our battles. Every knee will bow before Him.”

 

“What A Beautiful Name” – Brooke Ligertwood (Hillsong)

“You were the Word at the beginning; one with God the Lord Most High. Your hidden glory in creation, now revealed in You our Christ.”

 

“King of My Heart” – John Mark McMillan

“Let the King of my heart be the shadow where I hide, the randsom for my life; Oh, He is my Song.”

 

“Grace to Grace” – Hillsong Worship

“How wonderful, how glorious, my Savior’s scars victorious. My chains are gone, my debt is paid, from death to life and grace to grace.”

 

“Cause of Christ” – Kari Jobe

“He is all my soul will prize, regardless of the joy or trial. When agonizing questions rise, in Jesus all my hope abides.”

 

Playlist

Listen to a playlist of all 5 songs here.


He Never Sleeps

Sleep is a gracious daily reminder that you are not in control.
by Bryan Hunt

If you’ve ever struggled with anxiety, you know how hard it can be to sleep. The night, cloaked in darkness, can ravage our minds with fears of the unknown. But eventually, even the anxious sleep. We were made that way; we need sleep. As we slumber, we are left in quite a vulnerable position. We can’t defend ourselves. We can’t see what’s heading our way. Sleep reminds us every day of our helplessness.

Dwelling in Safety

King David had every right to be anxious. He experienced betrayal from among his closest friends (Psa 41:9), and even his own son (2 Sam 15). He spent a portion of his life hiding in a cave, because King Saul was trying to kill him (1 Sam 22:1). Yet listen to what He says about sleep – 

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

David trusted in the fact that it was not the might of his arm or the watchfulness of his eyes that kept him safe; it was the Lord who made him dwell in safety. And God is the greatest night-watchman you could ever ask for – because first of all He is God Almighty, and secondly – He never sleeps. He is always watching over you.

“He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121:3-4

In the dead of night, when your anxieties are plaguing your mind, remember this fact – He who keeps you will not slumber. He is in control of your life. Your destiny is in His good, loving, strong, and faithful hands. It’s not all up to you. 

“Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God.” John Piper

While You Were Sleeping

Sometimes it can be hard to let go of control. Even though we are plagued with anxieties about the future, we still desperately hold onto control of our lives. We think that we can master our own destinies by getting up early, and going to bed late; trying to do all the things that are still undone. But sleep reminds us daily that we are not in control; that we are not our own masters. A third of our lives are spent living in a totally helpless state of sleep. 

God doesn’t need sleep. He is all-powerful (Matt 19:26); sovereign over all creation (Dan 4:35); never helpless, but always our help (Psa 121:2). In the end, it is an infinitely good thing that He is in control of the universe, and our lives, and not us. Apart from God, humans perpetually screw things up. We make the wrong decisions. We hurt others and ourselves. We are limited by our narrow vision. We can’t see the big picture of the cosmos. We can’t see all ends. We can’t even go a day without sleeping.

The Gospel tells us that apart from God we are helpless creatures (John 15:5). After the fall (Gen 3), mankind was cut off from the life of God; totally incapable of restoring itself to true life, and helpless to cure itself of its own wickedness (Rom 3:10-12). But we have a strong Saviour and Helper. While we were still weak, Christ gave us His strength (Rom 5:6-8). He loved us with an everlasting love, and broke the power of sin and death over our lives (1 Cor 15:56-57). While we were as helpless as a sleeping baby, Christ protected us with His very life. While we were sleeping in our sins, He defeated our greatest foes.

While we were sleeping.

He Keeps You

In Christ, we have been adopted into God’s family (Eph 1:5). And our Father is the culmination of all that is good, beautiful and strong. He is trustworthy (Psa 111:7). He holds us in the palm of His hand (John 10:29). He is our help and He always keeps us (Psa 121:7).

He keeps you. Let that sink in in the dead of night, when fears threaten to run away with your peace.

You are never safer than when you are sleeping under the watchful care of God. So cast all your anxieties upon Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Give up control of your life, because sleep daily reminds you that you never were in control in the first place. God is the reason you exist and the author and preserver of your life (1 Cor 8:6). While you sleep, He slays your greatest foes. He never sleeps, so that you can.

“God is not nearly so impressed with our late nights and early mornings as he is with the peaceful trust that casts all anxieties on him and sleeps.” John Piper


5 Worship Songs for Your Weekend

A soundtrack for your weekend.
by Bryan Hunt

“More Than Conquerors” – Rend Collective

“We are more than conquerors through Christ. You have overcome this world, this life.”

 

“The Secret Place” – Phil Wickham

“I’m running to the secret place, You are my only hope, You are the Rock on which I stand.”

 

“He Lives” – Chris Tomlin

“He lives reigning in power. He lives name above all names. Hallelujah, now and forever.”

 

“Children of God” – Phil Wickham

“Though darkness surrounds, there’s hope in our eyes. For You are our victory, our joy, and our prize.”

 

“Alive in You” – Urban Rescue

“From beginning to the end, my whole life is in Your hands.”

 

Playlist

Listen to a continuous playlist of all 5 songs.


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