I just watched this video by the Worship Tutorials guys on Youtube (check out their channel!).
I love their “how to play this song” videos – they are great, and usually in a key that I can sing in. So I find those videos really helpful.
This video, however … I found it sorta condescending. I know it wasn’t meant that way, but at the same time … they unknowingly put down pretty much every church worship team. Because most worship teams in churches use music stands. In the video, Brian said if you use a music stand, he thinks you won’t engage with the audience, and you don’t know your music.
I highly disagree with that!
Engaging/not engaging – The music stand really doesn’t have much to do with whether or not you engage with the congregation. And I’m not sure engaging with the congregation is the real point of why you’re up on stage. Your job is to lead people in worship, and to help point out God to them.
Does a music stand hinder that level of engagement? Um… nope.
Knowing/not knowing your music – same thing. Having a music stand on stage doesn’t mean you don’t know the music. Realistically, most worship leaders don’t lead every week. And the rest of the band, depending on how large your church is, will be on a rotation. Right now, I play drums once a month in my church. Same way with one of our worship leaders.
Should that once-a-month worship leader have a major requirement of memorizing 100+ songs? No. It’s not going to help him be any more engaged in worship or with the congregation.
Argh – so irritating! Josh Pauley wrote Engaging your Church in Worship – the Art of Disappearing over on the Worship Together blog, and covered this much better than I am. Here’s what he said about music stands on stage:
“By removing the music stands, they were relying on two things to create an atmosphere of worship – the visual aesthetic and their own performance. They thought if the stage looked cleaner and they weren’t glued to their music, they could make eye contact, smile, and nod at everyone which would magically make people begin lifting their hands in worship. These two leaders eventually figured it out and went back to the drawing board. They realized that what would be created was an atmosphere of worship that, at best, only worked if everything looked and sounded like a concert. Removing the music stands probably did look a lot better, but it wasn’t going to be the solution they were looking for to encourage worship.
The way the stage and sanctuary look are important aspects of worship, but don’t forget that they are just the means to an end. The kind of worship you want to foster is worship that can take place in any environment, at any time. That is hard! The art of disappearing is learned over time, and you have to allow it to be a process.”
Go read the rest of the article. Good stuff, and hard to do!