Far and wide across Church culture is the desire to be on the worship team- so what makes this such a "coveted" platform to be on to spread the Gospel? From the choir to the band to the people leading "Oceans", a worship community can get confusing and is often highly criticized. So let's dive into where musical worship comes from and what it can feel like today.
The first ever mention of musical worship in the Bible is found in Genesis 4- "Adah gave birth to Jabal, who was the first of those who raise livestock and live in tents. His brother’s name was Jubal, the first of all who play the harp and flute" (Verses 20-21, NLT). This is a brief mention in a genealogy of Cain- which is an interesting direction for this passage to go. The first time music is ever mentioned comes directly from the bloodline of a murderer and someone who entirely left his home community from shame. Jubal was the great great great great grandson of the first murder and the first runaway, so his family name wasn't perfect- but he invented music.
I'm not going to dive into what his name means in Greek (The Ram, in case you're wondering), but I do find that in all cases, worshippers are not perfect people. Worshippers don't have to come from perfect churched families. Worshippers don't have to have a great, obedient, clean past. Worshippers don't have to maintain a perfect image. How often do we gaze upon our church leaders who lead musical worship and perhaps wonder at their qualifications, their imperfect pasts, or the motivations behind who they are today.
The Old Testament has numerous stunning accounts of musical worship- Moses' sister's tambourine song to praise the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, Trumpets knocking down the immense walls of Jericho, Gideon's percussion ensemble beating an entire army into chaos, David calming Saul's demons, the choir that went before an army that seemed to be in defeat that sang their way into victory. These moments were when music was absolutely necessary for a real offense against an enemy- music broke down stone walls, beat entire armies, and rid people of demon torment. Pretty intense.
These instances showed entire bands of people in a desperate attempt for God's presence to come and change impossible circumstances. It was not about one person being seen or heard. It was not about the people of Israel looking to a singer who really had their life together. In the same way, today's Church should regard the act of worship as a combinative effort to pursue the presence of God to come into a place and shift circumstance to do things that are unnatural, unexplainable, and just awesome. Those moments are not about the worship leader at all- their life is only being used as a tool to carve out the working of the Holy Spirit in a given place and time.
Given this, worship is not really about a singer, a guitarist, or even a team- it is a move forward in desperation for God to respond, and to praise His name no matter the outcome. Because of this, of course the worship team is cool. The role they play in the vast landscape of church servitude is beautiful, meaningful, and essential to communal victory in the Church. The worship team is not for individuals to be seen and heard- and though worship communities may lean in this direction over time, we can be reminded by Jubal that being perfect is not a requirement to being a worship leader. Leading musical worship is humbling, builds relationship, and builds the Church. No wonder it's just so cool.