Our Duty in Worship

“Our duty and our joy is to put new melodies and inspiring heavenly music onto the lips and into the hearts of God’s children”…Dave Clifton from Matt Redman’s “The Heart of Worship Files”

And what a great gig we have as worship leaders. Not to insinuate for a split nanosecond the weighty gravity and sobriety that such a duty demands. All I need to remind myself of the seriousness and integrity this privilege carries with it is to consider the procedure that the high priests obeyed of tying a rope around their waists so that their peers could drag their dead bodies out of the Holy of Holies in the event that any overlooked sin in His Presence might cause their instant death. Just to ponder the Grace we are afforded should inspire us to reach such lofty goals that Mr. Clifton speaks of.

However, as a drummer, while we’re not the benefactors of melody or lyrics, a few years ago I had a small revelation of just what one of my roles as a drummer should be. Twenty-something years ago When I was paying my dues out on the road as a lean, mean, Rock n’ Roller Rhythm Machine I figured out it was my job via tempo and feel to make it easy for people to want to dance. To do that I learned to lay down solid grooves that raised the comfort and confidence level in my bandmates. To achieve that I became quite intimate with the typical bass lines my bass player was providing. Once I knew what he was comfortable with I set my mind to making him sound good. When we were secure in our groove, the keyboards and guitar (we all sang vocals) did as the Darling Family used to tell Andy Griffith to do…”Jest jump in, and haaang on!”

I learned even before I became involved with worship teams that that attitude of being humble enough to understand that the way to make myself sound good is to make others sound good. It’s also the best way to get a good gig with good musicians. That is WAAY more critical on a worship team, especially when you’re pushing a 27-piece orchestra, and a 40-member choir; but OOH! is it fun and even more rewarding.

So, weaving Mr. Clifton’s remark into my revelation, it suddenly dawned on me that while our Assembly of God congregation is just a few steps shy of letting the snakes out of the closet, dancing with each other wasn’t the prime objective. Where, then, do I channel that energy? What is my duty as a drummer, specifically? The answer was simple: Make it easy for them to worship. How do we do that?

While a lot of musicians may appreciate drummers with great technique to a degree, most of them are quite leery of a lot of flash because they lose the security and consistency of where the beat is. This applies even more so to typical congregations. I can understand this, which is why I’ve tried to marry the discipline of a session drummer (Steve Gadd) with the creative flexibility of a songwriter’s drummer (Ringo Starr).

My method of achieving world-class worship is to first of all start praising on Saturday night with intense energy, right through my sleep, and drive to church. Once we start rehearsal I try to make it ALL about Jesus! Don’t get me wrong. We all have our dawg days, and the past few years have been one spiritual banana peel after another. On the other hand, when I keep my eyes on the Prize He has never failed me, and the worship has ALWAYS reached pinnacles I only dreamed of.

When I consider the privilege of doing my part I start with an intense energy by taking a certain ownership of each composition, and pushing the band with extreme dynamics, and using technique to release the built-up intensity at certain strategic, but almost predictable musical points. This gives my fellow musicians a comfort and security that they can play their parts with ease, but yet never get bored and uninspired. All the while I keep in mind that my music pastor has an even higher vision than I, which is why I’m there to help him achieve that vision. It is with that spirit that we take the congregation to that highest level of worship.

WHAT A GIG!

SeeYa@daCoda,
Your Favorite Unkle

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