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Excellence in Worship

Excellence in Worship

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This article was originally published in Worship Leader magazine (July/Aug 2006). For more great articles like this one, subscribe today.


Worship is a hands and heart endeavor. By that I mean, it not only takes our skill as musicians or vocalists (hands) but also the proper heart attitude in expressing that skill.

A well-known worship leader once wrote, “ Excellence glorifies God so let’s pay attention to the quality of our praise.” These words have made an indelible imprint on my heart. But how can hearts and hands of clay reach so far as to attain the excellence that is worthy of such a great, great God? Well…on one side there’s training, practice and everything it takes to be skillful as musicians and on the other side there’s that ‘heart thing.’ Make no mistake when hands and heart are both prepared and joins together… excellence happens. One example of this may be found in 2 Chronicles 5:13-14. It reads:

The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: “He is good; His love endures forever.” Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God. (NIV)

The glory of the Lord filled the temple! How excellent would that be! The worship leader must have received some big pats on the back that morning. Nope. The truth is the worship leader isn’t even mentioned. What the scripture does say is that the musicians and singers “…joined in unison, as with one voice…” Seamless teamwork! Now don’t misunderstand. I’m not advocating some kind of formula for expressing our praise, just simply pointing out the potential for excellence when a team of worshippers “joins in unison as with one voice”. As a worship director of a church with multiple worship teams here are a few things I’ve found to be helpful in our pursuit of being “…joined in unison, as with one voice…”


Get to know your team
If you want to set your teammates up to win you’ve got to know what they’re about…their gifts, their desires, their needs. It’s the only way to truly discover what strengths to encourage and draw from and what weak areas to shepherd.

On and off the platform. Give your team rehearsal packets two weeks before rehearsal. Keep the vision before your team. Talk through goals and challenges. Let them know how they’re doing. THANK THEM for their service.

Build unity
Spend time TOGETHER. Get together just to have fun. Listen to music together. Go serve together at a retirement home.

Lead by example
Show them!


Know your instrument
Be skillful at what you do. Get training. Practice. Stay teachable.

Know your part
Come prepared (inside and out). The night of rehearsal is NOT the time to start learning the song.

Listen for vocal blend. Listen to tempo. Listen for dynamics. Learn when to play and when not to play. Listen to each other


Be humble, guard your own heart from jealousy, envy, pride, and arrogance. Deal with your own hurts and issues so they don’t hinder your ability to serve.

God has commanded a blessing when people “dwell together in unity.” (Ps. 133)

Leonard Ahlstrom is Worship Arts Pastor at Rolling Hills Community Church in Franklin, TN.

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