April 16, 2019

Partnering Passion with Excellence in Worship

Kayla Stanley


Hey, guys!

Kayla here. =) I am one of the worship leaders for Bethany Music. My husband, Hayden, and I have the super fun privilege of teaching our musicians and vocalists every week for Bethany's development program called INFUSE. One of my absolute FAVORITE things to do is help our community of worshippers grow in both technique and passion. Being a good leader requires both! I would love to dive in and give some insight on partnering passion with excellence.

I have visited different churches through the years, and often found that worship ministries struggle with a healthy balance between excellence and heart. I have encountered worship teams that were absolutely excellent in their craft, playing all the right notes, singing all the right runs, and moving the right way, but who lacked passion, zeal, and an understanding of who God is. I have also seen and served in worship teams whose members had hearts of gold but lacked skill, so the congregation could not engage. With all that being said, I have also encountered and have been a part of teams who thrive in both excellence and genuine joy! It's the combination of the two that allows teams to usher in the presence of God. 

Definition of excellence: quality of being outstanding

Synonyms: distinction, value, worth

Are we being distinct in our worship?

  • The Word tells us to be set apart. Psalm 4:3 says that we are actually set apart by God for God. Are we allowing ourselves to be set apart in all things concerning God, including our worship?

Does our worship bring value, and are we showing that Jesus is worth our best?

  • Hebrews 12:28 (NASB) states, “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.”
  • In Genesis, both Cain and Abel presented an offering to the Lord. Abel brought his best, and God was pleased with it. Cain brought good things, but his offering was not worthy of who God is. We should offer praise that shows that the Lord is worthy and higher than all.

Excellence Does Not = Perfection

  • When we strive for constant perfection, we are bound to fall short. This constant reach for perfection in worship can allow the enemy to move, because we begin to rely solely on our own ability.
  • Proverbs 3:5 (NASB) reminds us, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.”

Excellence Is Practical

  • We must practice if we want to grow in our craft.
  • We should rehearse on our own at home before we join collectively for rehearsal.
  • Invite feedback. This develops a healthy culture for growth in the ministry. However, let’s be honest--as worshipers, we feel deeply. After all, our gift is quite literally inside of us, just waiting to be utilized. Consequently, many of us struggle with feedback. We feel that if someone tries to change something about our voice or our playing, then it takes away our uniqueness. This is not the case! Feedback is good. How are we to ever grow in excellence if we stay the same?

Excellence Is Spiritual

  • We are called to worship in spirit and in truth, with pure hearts above all else. Worshiping God with selfish motives takes glory from God and puts it on ourselves.
  • We must be connected to the Father if we are going to connect others to Him. The only way we can lead people to Him is if we know who He is.
  • We should be in genuine relationship with God every day through prayer and reading the Word.

As Psalm 33:3 (NIV, emphasis added) says, “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.”

Whatever our role in the worship arena, whether we are a musician, lead vocalist, supporting vocalist, writer, or teacher, we are called to lead with skill and a heart for God. Let’s present the absolute best that we have from all sides. Passion does not make up for lack of excellence, and playing skillfully does not substitute for zeal. They go hand-in-hand. He is deserving of the best (and then some) that we can possibly offer!

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