As a worship leader it is important that you consider the question of whether an unbeliever can be part of your worship program. I am often asked this question when two situations occur in a church: there are few team members available for the worship program, and the person who is not a Christian is a really talented individual. If you have a large church with many talented musicians then the question may not affect you as much, but if your team is small and a very talented musician or singer is in the wings, can you willingly accept them into your worship program with a clear conscience?
What is the Worship Program Really About?
When considering your team, you need to stop for a moment and ask yourself what the worship program is all about. Is it about having a great sound, or being professional or rocking the congregation’s socks off? Or is it about leading your church family into a deeper, more meaningful relationship with the Lord?
I would suggest to you that the worship program must be about leading people to God in worship. Sure, we want to be professional and to play and sing to a high and beautiful standard, but I would suggest that these are secondary considerations for your worship program. A worship program is a spiritual event, not a concert, so the idea that a non-believer can join your team is surely out of phase with the aims of your worship program team.
Who Qualifies Someone to Take Part in the Worship Program?
In teams that I have lead, one of the core requirements of team members is that they know Jesus and have a relationship with Him. Non-believers can undoubtedly play well, sing well, and probably perform well, but they have no concept of the very central idea of the worship program: closer communion with the Lord. Yes, we want it played and sung brilliantly, but we do not want to compromise the spirit of our worship program just to sound a bit better.
One of the first major worship program teams I assembled featured a very good drummer who was not a Christian, but who proved to be a demanding and rather aggressive team member. We had a backup drummer who was relegated to percussion, and who was just happy to be a part of the worship program at all. When the unbelieving drummer didn’t bother to turn up to practice twice over because he said he was good enough, I appointed the Christian guy. He could not play as well, but he had a great spirit and understood what humility and serving in the worship programwas all about.
Can the Worship Program Be a Tool To Reach Team Members?
In most modern churches, the pressure is on worship leaders to sound great and act professional (and this means accepting talented people whose lives are not right with the Lord) and I believe that worship leaders need to make a stand in their worship program. I have heard of non-believers becoming Christians because of their involvement in the worship band, but I do not feel that this is the way we should be operating. Why not lead them to the Lord first (when there is no ego opportunity at stake), then introduce them to the whole concept of worship, both personal and corporate.
Using worship team involvement to win a talented unbeliever to Christ is a bit like marrying an unbeliever to witness to them and lead them to Christ. It is around the wrong way! It is difficult to capture a true spirit of worship when the team for your worship program is unequally yoked!
So, worship leaders and pastors, let us make a stand for what is right and make sure our worship team is focused on the real task of leading people to Christ. We must worship in Spirit and in truth, not just have professional music and presentation. Don’t allow your worship program to be held to ransom by talented non-believers.