I love music. Especially “churchy” music. No, I’m not talking about the manufactured, cookie-cutter Christian pop bands who are nothing but subpar imitations of the manufactured, cookie-cutter secular pop bands. No, I’m talking about the kind that is played (or used to be played) in church. With the exception of a few things (Bill Gaither and anyone who plays As The Deer,) I enjoy it all. Contemporary praise and worship, gospel, slow songs, fast songs, organ music, and, scandalous as it might be for a Protestant, the big pipe organs, motets and chant. My ultimate goal is to preach, but since at this juncture I play a guitar for about 50% of our service, music is a huge part of how I participate in the service on any given Sunday. That means sometimes I skip on Sunday School, just to make sure I’m playing something correctly.
It’s not every week, to be certain, but sometimes you have to do what is necessary to make sure what you’re doing the best you can. It’s a fine line to walk, even as a member of the worship team who does not stand in the spotlight. I have no desire to draw any attention to me, and not just because spotlights are really hot. However, I do want to give my best. James Emery White in his book What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary puts it like this:
“ . . . excellence honors God and inspires people. . . It’s the only way to live a life that honors God. God deserves our best. Mediocrity does not honor God, nor does it reflect his character.” He goes on to say “So we’re passionate about excellence not only because we want to honor God with our lives but also because we know that mediocrity could invalidate everything we want to try to communicate to those around us about Christ.”
It would be easy for a worship leader to just use a background track for worship, or to pre-program beats into a Casio synthesizer. It would be easy, but what would it communicate to those around you about how they feel about the importance of worship? It would be easy to print out a sermon off the internet, (because really, how many people would catch that?) But ethical dilemma notwithstanding, what does that say about your commitment to effectively communicate the Gospel if you can’t be bothered to do the serious study necessary to craft a timely sermon for your congregation?
This isn’t relegated to leadership, or people in “the band,” nor is it confined to the inside of four walls of your church. Can you be a slug at work and still be an effective witness?
Excellence is important. Not for the self-satisfaction and especially not so you can gloat to the much less excellent church in Shelbyville (where communion wine is made from turnips, believe it or not.) “Mediocrity does not honor God, nor does it reflect his character.” If we are called to emulate Christ, how can we settle for anything less than excellence?