Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Being Real is a Big Deal (Part 2)

by Major Warren Dabis

Praise and Worship has always been about God and to God! What are the obstacles you are placing in front of yourself and your team as you worship God? Is it hidden sin that leads to hypocrisy as you sing or play? Is it an ego that places you above others and God as you sing or play? Is it an attitude that tells your peers, “I’m up here and you’re not” or something worse? Is it that you have an unresolved conflict with a peer that prevents them from accepting your leadership in worship? Is it that you want everyone to see you wear the latest fashions rather than seeing Christ in you? And on and on…

Let us be as David in Psalm 51: 10 – 13: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

The progression here is a pure heart, the renewal of a steadfast spirit, a purposeful relationship with God, accomplished through an intimate, personal experience with the Holy Spirit. Consequently, this results in a joyful restoration of the state of salvation and a willing spirit to continue that state!

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.”

Then, this progression is expressed in who we are (authenticity) to those in our sphere of influence!

Being “real” is a ‘big” deal!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Being Real is a Big Deal (Part 1)

by Major Warren Dabis

I recently commented on a posting in this blog of a young lady in our Praise and Worship team that came to me to ask to not sing on a particular Sunday morning saying she was not right with the Lord. I had shared this with a group of WMI students and one young man quipped, “What’s the big deal? She was your lead soprano and you needed her! What is Praise and Worship without a lead singer to sing the melody for the congregation?” Good questions and I needed to clarify this before he went back to his Corps team!

Being real or authentic in our Praise and Worship is a big deal! Bigger than our “tight” vocals or instrumentalists, “big” sound, “best” equipment” and “great” lead vocalist! Ooops, and maybe “right on” worship leader! Being authentic is essential to Praise and Worship whether we stand behind our instruments or microphones because we stand before a holy and jealous God in leading people in worship of Him! Someone has said to me, “Be careful what you say (or sing) in His presence!” Our recovering friends say it even better, “You gotta walk the walk as well as talk the talk!” And I say, “You cannot give away what you do not have!”

Authenticity is being who you are! And if we are leading people in worship of God, we had best be “His own!” I want to get into this in another article about being transparent 24/7, but in a nutshell we as worship musicians and leaders need to know and experience intimately the One we are praising and worshipping! Anne Ortland, in her book, Up with Worship: A Call to Quit Playing Church, calls us “Upfronters.” This does mean that we lead from upfront! However, I believe we lead and praise and worship God from the “inside out.” What we do behind the mics and our instruments, must be an indication of what is taking place “inside” of us!

Click here to read Part 2

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Motions

Watch this video and let your heart come to it's own conclusions.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tips for Hip Drummers

Written by Katie Steinhauer

Playing drums for worship is a hard task…especially when a worship team is “newer” to the congregation. What do people think when they hear the word “drums”? LOUD!!!! Awful!!! HIPPIE MUSIC!!! Well, probably not the last one, but drums seem to have a bad reputation among a lot of congregations because it brings a rock and roll aspect to worship. Heaven forbid there is rock and roll in church!! We can argue back and forth about drums and worship but that would obviously make us drummers frustrated and angry. I’ve been in many situations where I felt like I was not wanted in worship. It’s not fun and takes away from my focus on playing for God. But there are so many drummers out there who play like God is listening from heaven, thrashing as loud as they can so He can hear them. Remember…God is everywhere, therefore He is in the church building with you and can hear you just fine. I’m not saying give into those who complain about the loudness. I’m saying play with some awareness of how loud you are. You also have to remember that you are playing WITH a group and not by yourself. A worship team is helping lead the congregation to the foot of God’s throne, not playing a concert for personal glory.

The only way we can break this vicious cycle of drum hate is by tapping into our sensitive side. Literally. We all hate to get shushed in church when we’re playing, but as a drummer, you have to be sensitive to the congregation and fellow musicians’ needs. It’s not just playing with a light touch…its listening to what’s going on around you. Yes I know it’s hard to play quietly sometimes and in the right setting, go ahead and let loose. A good rule of thumb that I go by is if you can’t hear the rest of the band…you’re too loud! This is where listening to what’s going on around you comes in and being aware of what the other musicians and vocalists are doing.(Many times you can play off of what other people are playing. If the bass is playing a riff that you can play on your bass drum, do it! If there is some sort of accent that everyone is hitting…hit it with them. Every little thing that you catch onto in the music makes a world of difference. Remember…don’t make noise….blend in! The less a musician stands out in a worship band the less distracting it is for the congregation. If the congregation is focused on how loud or busy you’re playing they’re not going to be in the right frame of mind for worship. Keep it simple and tasteful.

We’ve already talked about volume, so let’s talk about what to play. Hardcore rocker fills where you’re thrashing the toms and cymbals are cool, but probably not the best choice for church. Yes they’re fun and you want to show everyone your mad skills, but keep those for your garage band or jam sessions. If you think it will be too distracting, don’t do it. You want to keep it easy on the congregation’s ears and if you throw in crazy fills it could distract your fellow musicians from doing what they’re doing too. Simple is sometimes best and it’s a good skill to have. So try this…next time you’re in worship rehearsal lay off of the busy beats and crazy fills. Keep it smooth and steady. While you’re simplifying, take a listen to how the entire band sounds and see if you can feel a difference in the groove. I say groove meaning; are you and your fellow musicians really locked in to the beat or can you hear a discrepancy between you and everyone else…

With that said, think about what you’re playing and who is listening. Most importantly remember WHO you’re playing for! Be humbled in His presence. May the sticks be with you!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lead Worship With Your iPhone

God, who created the universe, has also given us the creativity to worship him in new and different ways.  The Bible invites us to "sing a new song" to the Lord.  I think it's very apt to say that this also applies to our methods.  Use what you have at hand and praise the Lord with it.  It could be a guitar, a piano, a cowbell, an iphone, and any number of things.  But above all let's worship Him with our lives.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Praise and Worship in Praise and Worship

written by Major Warren Dabis

As a worship leader for over 30 years, I have had the privilege in leading worship teams in Corps, Divisional, Territorial and International venues. I have also taught workshops and seminars at these levels and have answered many questions about Praise and Worship. The most intriguing to me came from a young lady, a very diligent student of worship and the worship leader at her Corps. She asked me, “Where is the Praise and Worship in Praise and Worship?” After a moment of pause, I exclaimed, “Excellent question!” and answered: “Praise and Worship is STILL in Praise and Worship!” Let me explain my answer to her as well as to you!

Praise and Worship is just that: Praise and Worship. We in the Salvation Army of that tradition will know this as leading our congregations in the worship of God through contemporary Christian songs and choruses with guitars, keyboards drums and vocalists.

Praise and Worship is still a vital aspect of this tradition, however, the main question is: WHO are we praising and WHO are we worshipping? Praise and Worship teams should be leading their congregations in the worship of God. However, much too often, these teams are praising and worshipping themselves!

This can be characterized by listening after the service to the congregation: “Wow! The music was fantastic and really made me feel good!” “The guitar riff in the second song was outta this world.” “Where in the world did you find your drummer? Incredible rhythm!” If this is happening in your Corps, it is a tell-tale sign that you may be leading your congregation in praising and worshipping you and your team and not God! And of course, this is idolatry!

As Christians, we sometimes are like the people of the Old Testament in 2 Kings 17:33: “They worshiped the LORD, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.” We do all the right things on Sunday-we sing and play, lift our hands and look the part. However, we actually praise and worship idols - ourselves and anything that makes us look and be the part even more and more!

Many of us think idols are graven, carved or man-made images of some long-lost and forgotten so-called deity that we would never, ever worship! But what about name brand and designer clothing? The best guitars, musical or audio/visual equipment? And what of material goods; property, wealth, cars, houses. Exodus 34:14 reminds us: “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”

You may be asking yourself: “How could I possibly be worshipping idols when I devote myself to Praise and Worship every Sunday and at practices?” Yes, you may not be worshipping graven idols. America’s idols are a bit more subtle, which I believe makes them a bit more dangerous! Stop listening to people giving you the glory that truly belongs to God! Tell them to give God the glory! Then live lives worthy of being used to bring glory to God through your talents and abilities as Christian musicians!