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Looks Can Be Revealing

A friend of mine sent me a link to a song called "Falling Into You" by Hillsong Young and Free. This group of musicians intentionally creates music for younger believers and everything they do is designed to engage young people on their level. Chances are when you watch the music video there will be many things you really like about the video...along with many things you will classify as "not my style." Am I right?

Here's what struck me in particular about this music video: the backing vocals are singing their little hearts out...and you can't hear a single note they're singing. You can hear that there are other people singing other than the lead, but there is no clear distinction of voices. Maybe we are just hearing the crowd sing along, maybe it's the backing vocals, maybe it is a pre-recorded layer of backing vocals...either way, it seems that the vocalists on stage are there predominantly to provide a certain atmosphere. They dance, they move, they smile, they are energetic, they sing, yet they are not heard. It raises the question to me: why bother singing at all if you can't be heard?

Pause.

A worship team member at Parkside  recently addressed this exact question to me in regards to him singing on the praise ensemble. He said that it felt pretty pointless to get on stage and sing if we were just going to be drowned out by the drums and instruments. He said it felt like a waste of his efforts to sing and not be heard. At the time, I didn't have a particularly strong argument to persuade him otherwise. I know that I do not enjoy going to a church where the music is so loud that I can't hear myself sing; when I find myself in those situations I tend to not sing at all so as not to strain my voice competing with the loudspeakers. But as I sit here today I can't help but think that it doesn't matter if we are heard so much as that we gave it our all.

Brendan Prout wrote an article that caught my eye last year titled "Bongo Man". Bongo Man played the drums on the praise team and he had a terrible sense of rhythm. As a result the sound guy never put mics up by Bongo Man as they didn't want his poor musicianship to bleed through into the main mix. But every time Bongo Man played the drums--whether in rehearsal or during a performance--he played with the joy of the Lord on his face. He gave his all to God and let nothing hinder his worship. The worship leader included him on the praise team each week, not because of his musicianship or skilled playing, but because he had a heart for God and worshiped well. Brendan wanted his congregation to see Bongo Man's attitude of worship and be inspired to leave all their insecurities and worship God for what He is worth just like Bongo Man was able to do.

Resume.

Is it necessary to be heard in order to participate? Is it a requirement to sound good/on key/in rhythm to be on the praise team? Not at all! God is more concerned that you gave your personal best than He is concerned that you sound as good as the person standing next to you. Now that doesn't mean you will get asked to sing a solo during the offering next week--maybe at best you will be one of the backing vocals who gets to hold a mic and not be heard. But I have come to learn that being heard isn't as important as participating whole-heartedly.

Should I sing and participate in worship if I can't even hear myself/I have a bad singing voice/I don't know all the words to the song? Absolutely! Don't let anything keep you from showing God how much He means to you. When is the last time you attended a football game and didn't dress for the occasion, lift your voice in acclamation, and get a little emotionally charged about the whole ordeal? Doesn't God deserve that same kind of fanaticism?

I pray that these words would inspire you to worship God for all He is worth...even right now.

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