On The Platform

I serve on a worship team at Northbrook Church in Richfield, WI (http://www.northbrookchurch.org). It has been the most rewarding ministry experience of my life. I never sang or played in a band when I was a teenager or when I was in college. I did quite a bit of choral singing – high school, Catholic church, college, stage musicals – but I only rarely had even a piece of a song that could be considered a solo.

Choral singing is significantly different than being a member of a worship team. A good friend agrees with my estimation that it is more like being in a rock band than in a choral ensemble. I have had to learn to be led not by sight, but by ear. I have had to learn to count better than I ever have before. I have had to learn my part better than I ever have before. All of those have made me a better singer and a better overall musician over the past 18 months.

At times, I have really struggled – such as last Christmas time, when we began rehearsing “O Holy Night.” The song was playing the moment my dad died in a hospice a year earlier. I was having a very difficult time finding my notes, my entrances, the rhythm... and then I remembered my dad. I had to leave the platform in the middle of rehearsing a song. I was very embarrassed to have disrupted rehearsal, but thanks to very kind and understanding team members, I was able to excuse myself from that song. I was not yet strong enough to sing that song on the platform.

That underscored something my worship mentor had been telling me – it is OK to tell the worship leader that you are not able to do what you have been asked to do. It could be a section or a song that is out of your range, more technically challenging than you can handle or with emotional connotations that can prevent you from serving as God's guide into worship for the congregation.

It is important to know your limitations so that you can both challenge your limitations and know when you cannot. My limitations are different on different songs, different seasons (early in the morning in winter in Wisconsin is a terrible time to sing tenor) or different life situations (some Christmas songs still poke at a pretty tender spot in my heart).

I have learned my limitations over the past 18 months and I know I have been able to push them back in certain areas. I am now much more comfortable taking the tenor harmony on a song or tackling a solo line when I am asked to.

Most of all, I feel grateful that God is using me in this way. I have wanted to “be in a band” since about 1969. I now know the meaning of “better late than never.”

...and it is still more fun than just about anything else I have ever done.

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