An Open Letter To Worship Teams (part 2)

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“Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, “Who shall be first to go up for us against the Canaanites to fight against them?” And the Lord said, “Judah shall go up. Indeed I have delivered the land into his hand.” So Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me to my allotted territory, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I will likewise go with you to your allotted territory.” And Simeon went with him. Then Judah went up, and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they killed ten thousand men at Bezek. “Judges 1:1-4 NKJV

In the above passage of scripture, Judah was told to lead the battle against the Canaanites and the Perizzites. Most people understand the name, “Judah”, means “praise”. That’s one reason the idea of “praise” marching against the enemy is taught. But some people read this passage and believe God always sends His worship team into battle first. God has done such things a few times, but “few” doesn’t equal always.

The words Canaanite and Perizzite have meaning as well. Canaanite is “to humiliate” or “vanquish”. Perizzite means “open” or “unwalled”. In other words, “praise” was to go up against a formidable foe that had the reputation of humiliating and vanquishing all of their enemies. And if that wasn’t enough, the other half of the enemy combatants were so powerful they needed no walls of protection for their cities. They could defend their territory without anything but their ability to fight.

Worship can be, and is at times, used by the Lord to rout an enemy from a situation, a people group, a city, etc. An example can be seen in 2 Chronicles 20, in the story of King Jehoshaphat.

But for worship and praise to have Heaven’s Anointing upon it, it must have God’s Word, God’s direction, behind it.

If you are part of a worship team, you are in a critical, front line ministry. Notice I said worship team. I’m not talking about a group of singers and musicians who perform for their congregation during the “worship” part of a church service. I’m referring to a group of singers and musicians who, along with their leader, actually have their heart fixed on worshipping God, whether there’s music or not, whether the song is fast or slow. They worship God. And others follow their lead, right into Heaven’s Throne Room.

As I said, leading worship and ministering on a worship team is front line ministry. Worship, coupled with intercession (the two go hand in hand), has the ability to connect Heaven and Earth. God moves through the conduit of worship and touches those in need, those who are bound by afflictions or addictions, and brings deliverance. But one of the things a worship team must understand is, the Lord doesn’t necessarily use a packaged or planned worship set like we’d believe; for there’s nothing magical, or spiritual, about an arrangement of songs.

I keep track of worship “sets” I use. I do that for three reasons. One, in case someone would ask about a certain song used on a particular day or service. Two, to file a report with CCLI regarding song usage. And three, for my own reference in planning future worship times. These “sets” have been blessed by God, at times, to “bring Heaven down”. People have received from the Lord marvelously as our worship team sang and played the worship set.

However what worked before doesn’t guarantee future victories. Repeating a worship set doesn’t mean the automatic rerun of a previous “gully washer.”

Judah had an idea. I believe it was an idea we as worshippers need to adapt. Judah (praise) said to brother Simeon, “will you please help me?” Simeon means “hearing”. The picture behind the word isn’t just the physical act of hearing. It means “to hear with the intent of obeying”.

So “praise” said to “hearing, with the intent of obeying”, “please help me defeat these enemies who have the ability and the reputation of defeating all who rise against them.” “Hearing” agreed, and TOGETHER they cleared their land of the enemy.

When we as worship team members and leaders stand in front of a congregation, singing songs should be one of the last things we’re concerned with. Singing praises alone doesn’t automatically open windows for victory. We must keep our heart and mind sensitive to God’s voice, and to the leader’s heart (and the pastor’s).

When we unite praise and obedience to God’s voice we will see God’s Kingdom come and His will done in our world.

When I “plan” the songs for worship, I try and sense the Lord’s desire for the gathering. I’ll pick the songs, the keys, arrange the order, and submit the finished set to the pastor or sound personnel. But the songs aren’t set in stone. We may do some, all, or none of them.

What we will do, with the Spirit’s help, is join Judah and Simeon together – praising, listening, and obeying God.

THAT is when the enemy is routed and people are set free. THAT is when Heaven touches Earth. THAT is when Jesus is glorified!

It’s great to prepare worship sets. It’s great to practice vocal parts, instrumentals, tags, etc. It’s important to rehearse and “perform” the best we can.

But when it’s time to worship, don’t forget to listen to the Chief Musician’s heart. He just may have something other than singing planned.

There may be a Canaanite or Perrizite to drive out.