Thursday, August 14, 2008

#14 Worship Teams

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A worship team leads the congregation in singing worship songs while standing on a stage that has carpeted steps. They never sing traditional hymns, only songs that have been introduced into Christian culture in the last twenty or thirty years. These songs are considered by the worship team to be inspiring and appealing to Young People. The lyrics are always projected onto a big screen via projector, often in Papyrus font.


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There's a 67% chance this worship team is singing "Shine Jesus Shine."


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You will know you are having a bona fide Christian culture worship experience if the following are present:


-Theatrical lighting
-Abundant use of candles
-Strumming
-The worship team's eyes are closed
-Outstretched arms
-Congas or any type of tribal drum then lends it self to the "world music" sound.


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With most praise songs there is a key change just before the last verse. They'll go half a step up and often some instruments will drop out for a few measures before coming back in with force. This is supposed to add drama. You may feel they are trying to manipulate your emotions by doing this, and you may be right.


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A special note on outstretched arms for those who don't know: this is when someone who is either especially bold, especially spiritual, or a showoff (you can never really tell) will hold their hands up while they sing. You don't see this very often in non-denominational, Presbyterian or Baptist churches, but they are almost always there somewhere. The arm-outstretcher is usually down front where they can't see if everyone else is doing it or not so they feel less self-conscious and thus are more likely to outstretch them arms.

20 comments:

Magnus said...

Lord I loathe worship teams. having played in one. Give me an old lady on a piano or an organ any day.
The worship team at one friend's church uses these "inspirational" backgrounds for the lyrics and they look like they came right out of Jack Handley's "Deep Thoughts".

Marissa said...

My parent's design team (yes they have one) seems to alternate between a video of the "I love you this much" Jesus, and hip urban street scenes. Makes it a little difficult to read the Papyrus...but, man, am I inspired!

stephy said...

The thought of a design team made me squeal! Marissa, totally give me more ideas if you have some!

Sam said...

You forgot the massive amount of backup singers. They can't say no.

shelly said...

Guilty. Pianist, vocalist, occasional bass player, and keeper of the get-the-lyrics-on-Powerpoint flame. Only I use Arial Black and not Papyrus. I loathe it. (Not as much as I hate Times New Roman and Comic Sans; but I dislike it all the same.)

The only hymn we sing is "How Great Thou Art", and even then, it's somewhat of a rarity.

As to everything else...

Theatrical lighting
I assume track lighting doesn't count?

Abundant use of candles
Nope.

Strumming
Lots of it.

The worship team's eyes are closed
Singers, probably (at least some of the time). Musicians, not so much. (Mine are always open.)

Outstretched arms
Check.

Congas or any type of tribal drum then lends it self to the "world music" sound.
Don't have any of those, but our now-departed ex-drummer (does that make sense?) did the tribal thing sometimes on the regular drums. I can't stand it, really.

Anonymous said...

I HATE the 1/2 step down key change!

Anonymous said...

I've seen several cheesy church bands in action in my day. But they're not all that way. Our church has a praise band that is comprised of a handful of excellent musicians. Nothing cheesy about it. No theatrical lighting, no candles, very little strumming, no eye closing. However, we do have a percussionist (in addition to a drummer) who plays a variety of Latin, African (even a djembe occasionally, when it's appropriate!), and orchestral percussion in a tasteful manner that adds tremendously to the music. The band is accompanied by a team of four outstanding vocalists. The sound man is also top notch. We frequently sing traditional hymns, sometimes a capella, sometimes with just piano/organ, and sometimes with a more contemporary full-band twist. Of course the words are projected onto a screen because the idea is for people to participate and sing, not have their heads buried in a hymnal. We do employ the half or full-step key change upon occasion, when the song calls for it, but it is the exception and not the rule.

christinaday said...

Once i had to miss rehearsal for my worship team because a relative died and i wasnt allowed to come back for 6 weeks till i got my priorities straight.

arm outstretching: i like to say that theyre high-fiving jesus.

Anonymous said...

I wish we low church protestants would carefully consider worship and select the best of the arts to create a balance of what would appeal to all the congregation. Instead we borrow bad popular music from secular culture.

The most beautiful service I've seen is at Trinity Fellowship Church in Richardson, Texas.

JN

amywithlemon said...

anonymous said, "Of course the words are projected onto a screen because the idea is for people to participate and sing, not have their heads buried in a hymnal."

but, considering that hymns were originally intended to be ways to impart spiritual truths and, if you read many of the older ones- you see that- having you head 'buried' in one than is another form of worship...

especially for those of us who find the worship team experience to be completely wank.

Jared said...

I'm in the 4th picture. TEAM STRIKE FORCE!!!!

Bleu said...

I used to go to a church that had all these things with their musical worship team. The music director was a riot. I think he wanted to be a lounge singer in his heart of hearts.

The best Sundays were the ones where he was really feeling it--he'd grasp the microphone with both hands, close his eyes, furrow his brow, shake his head slowly back and forth in time to the slow part of the song, and RISE UP ON HIS TOES.

Then, during the instrumental parts, he'd lower himself from his toes but keep everything else the same, and say things like, "Yes, Jesus...oh, we love you, yes we do, Jesus. Yes, Lord. Yes, Jesus."

Ahh, good times!

vagiunta said...

I was in a few worship teams and I got so sick of everyone trying to show off during their "performances" that I started going to an LCMS Lutheran church. I'm never going back. I prefer the hymnals and the organ. And, of course, the doctrine.

Shannon said...

A special note on outstretched arms for those who don't know: this is when someone who is either especially bold, especially spiritual, or a showoff (you can never really tell) will hold their hands up while they sing. You don't see this very often in non-denominational, Presbyterian or Baptist churches, but they are almost always there somewhere. The arm-outstretcher is usually down front where they can't see if everyone else is doing it or not so they feel less self-conscious and thus are more likely to outstretch them arms.



I have to disagree with this at least from my standpoint and from knowing many that do this and from going to a church now and several churches prior that people do this as well as myself doing it. I do it b/c I feel the Holy Spirit, not b/c I want to be showy, nor do I stand/sit in the front to feel less self conscious. One reason is I tend to have a hard time focusing when I have others in front of me and so I can't really get what i need out of a message nor hear the music/person speaking well. Second, I love the feeling of being able to feel the music, I'm a person who loves music of several different genres and love how music feels when played as I know many others that do. We also have a lot of people who are at the front who don't raise their hands or arms outstretched. Also my church is non denominational as have most of the churches I've been to, even a bunch of Baptist ones people do it.

There's generalizing and then there's OVER generalizing. Also have you ever spoken to the people that do this? Asked them why? I'm gathering probably not by reading what you wrote.

stephy said...

I used to do it myself.

Mel T said...

"Key change!" I love this detail, Stephy.

If a few more of the elect view Mel Brooks' lounge singing in High Anxiety, worship teams will create not drama but the derision they deserve.

Gregory said...

Lifting up hands is a form of surrender,whether to praise God with adoration and love,to give ones self up to the move of God,and to display the freedom God gives us in serving Him,a way to show God we give our all to Him.

Recall how as long as Moses lifted up his hands, God's people prevailed against their enemy, but when he put his hands down they began to lose (ref: Exodus 17:8-13). We lift up our hands up to God to worship and praise him. Please Read- Psalm 134+ Lamentations 3:40,41. And we also clap our hands applauding him and in praises to him. Please Read- Psalm 47:1+ 100.

Mel T said...

I haven't got to the reading yet, Gregory. Would it be safe to say that human arms serve as a sort of light switch for the electricity of God?

Does this work with other primates? Because I've seen chimpanzees and orangutans raise their arms as if giving their selves up to the move of God, or lording it over one another. Whoa -- I said "Lording!"

Andy said...

Preachers kid here! I don't go to church regularly or even semi-regularly any more. But when I go home to Cali and go to my once stodgy old Bible church I find the worship team (My sister plays piano in it) to be annoying and cloying. My sis often says that there is a decidedly anti hymn feeling in the current "contemporary christian" culture. Particularly at this church. Almost as if they think that hymns hold no value. They even tried to completely remove the grand piano in the sanctuary due to the anti "piano centered" worship folks. It never ceases to amaze me how the next generation churches have tried to get as far from traditional worship as possible. From my perspective they fail to serve the older believer, most older believers tend to move on to more traditional services since they feel unwelcome at the next gen services. But isn't that what it's all about shopping for churches until you find the one that tickles your ears and mores the most!

--Drew

Anonymous said...

I am a worship leader at my church, we do hymns as well as many modern songs. the lights remain on, and we definitely do not use candles, my team is me on vocals and acoustic guitar, a bass player, an electric guitar, and a drummer. All these churches with like 4 r 5 backup singers bother me. as far as raising of the hands or eyes close, i dont care because the wayyou worship is the way youworship. i am sixteen and i lead for a smaller church, but i dont need all the effect, others sholdnt either