- Lessons learned from the Piano Guys on how to know if your congregational leadership is infectious.
Is your worship music contagious? Do your songs draw people in, point them to Jesus, and help them give words to their praise? We don’t have to be worship superstars to create an atmosphere of excitement, joy, and worship. And yet, even when we are in the midst of worshipping, we may be unknowingly distracting others from being able to worship by the emotions or body movements that we project. So how can we be mindful of the environment we create while we worship our Lord and Savior?
I must confess, I love to watch videos of The Piano Guys in action. Their music is interesting, creative, beautiful, and well-rehearsed. But it is their videos that really draw me in. Why? Because their enthusiasm for their music is infectious. I spent some time watching the performances on their YouTube channel to figure out what it is that makes them so fun to watch. Here’s what I noticed.
They’re having fun!
If you watch the Piano Guys perform, you’ll see them smile, laugh, and bounce to their music. They have a playful attitude during fun songs, and a sincere attitude during somber songs. If I were to look in the mirror when I’m leading worship, what would I see? Would I see a happy, light-hearted attitude reflecting a joyful heart or a pained expression and a furrowed brow, reflecting an intense level of concentration? It’s ok to put on your thinking face when you’re taking the SATs, but what should our faces reflect when we’re singing of the greatness of our God, his amazing miracles, or His unending love? Are we like Moses when he came down from Mt. Sinai, reflecting the glory of God to others, or are we just revealing the cold, leftover pizza we ate for breakfast on our way to church? We often don’t realize the faces that we make when we are working hard to worship, but the people in our congregation would probably have a stronger desire to join in praising God if worship looked enjoyable rather than painful.
They’re interacting with each other.
These guys don’t just intensely play their instrument. They interact with each other while their making music, much like two friends who shared a funny joke over a delicious piece of cake. We have the best gift in the entire world in common – Jesus ! – worshipping together through music is a corporate, shared experience. I need to be careful that I’m not putting my blinders on to others and make sure that we are all doing this together, as one body in Christ. It’s ok to make eye contact with the rest of your team, smile at each other, and let others see that you love each other and you adore Christ together. Often times, we are too focused on our own part, too nervous, or too tired to get outside of our personal worship bubble and into a shared experience of Christ.
They have their music memorized.
Volunteer musicians don’t always have the time to memorize their music like professionals do, but it is a big step in helping others to engage with the worship music. If you can’t memorize all of it, maybe you can memorize the chorus or the repetitive bridge. This will free your mind up to focus on others and on Jesus, and free your eyes up so you can make eye contact. Can you explain the theme of each worship song in a sentence or in just a few words? If I don’t know what the song is really about, how can I worship Jesus through it? And if I can’t worship Jesus through it, how can I expect to help others to do the same? The better you know the music, the more internalized it is, the freer you are to worship and to help others worship, too.
They are well-rehearsed.
In one particular piece of music, all five of the piano guys play on one piano. Each individual part is dependent on the other parts, and as they make music around the piano, taking turns at different spots on the piano, it becomes clear that this piece of music has been tightly choreographed and well-rehearsed. There are no bumpy transitions, no crashing another person’s part, and no upstaging of each other’s talent. Instead, they work together as a team, 5 individuals with a common goal. For our worship teams to be so well choreographed, it requires attending rehearsals regularly and practicing at home. It makes for a bigger commitment than just showing up on a Sunday morning, but it also makes for better music and a less-distracting worship experience when everything flows smoothly.
Although this particular musical team doesn’t necessarily point people to worship Jesus, they do give us a great example of how to engage others in our worship music and minimize distractions while we worship. One aspect of helping others to worship Jesus through music means having an awareness of the message we send with our faces and our body language. Does the message we send effectively communicate the message of our music and the love of Christ in our hearts? Or are we telling a different story altogether?
Amanda is a toddler-chasing, coffee drinking, fashion boot-wearing, Fit-bit addicted, Jesus-loving, wife and mom to 5 small children. She spends her free time absorbed in fashion and tattoos, watching Pirates of the Caribbean, Googling, attempting clean eating, all while spreading autism awareness, encouraging adoption and foster care, championing the underdog, and of course, juicing.
Amanda serves the local church as a licensed American Baptist pastor, worship leader, free-lance writer, and church musician. She holds a Master of Divinity from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, a Bachelor of Arts in Church Music from Eastern University, and a cosmetology license from Metro Beauty Academy. Her favorite places to be are the local zoo, the church piano bench, Facebook, and anywhere her family is.
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