Renaming our "Praise Team"

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Adam McKinney

Puritan Board Freshman
Hello all!

The purpose of this thread is not to debate if we should have a "praise team" or not.* Rather, I am seeking to answer the following question:

What is the most helpful name to describe a group of several singers and instrumentalists whose purpose is to assist the congregation in singing?

We Affirm:
- The Reformed tradition of recognizing the Minister is the "worship leader." (Or Christ, if you want to get technical)
- The purpose of our "praise team" is assist the congregation in singing. It is not a performance for spectators, nor should any aspect of it be distracting.

Context:
I'm the youth director at a mid-sized Presbyterian (ARP) church. We have both a choir and a "praise team." We have a music director who attends to the choir (as well as special music like the prelude, postlude and "anthems") and I lead the praise team.

On a given Sunday we usually sing 4-5 songs corporately. Our senior pastor picks out some of the songs and I collaborate with him to determine the 2 songs the praise team assists the congregation in singing. Altogether, we sing a Psalm every week, several hymns and often a contemporary hymn (think Gettys). Our instrumentation mainly consists of an organ on some songs and piano/acoustic guitar on the others. We have several vocalists at mics on the praise songs (I am the typically the most audibly prominent vocalist). Neither the instruments nor the vocalists are loud, though the are audible (to help the congregation carry the tunes). Everyone can clearly hear the congregation singing.

We might be able to just call the praise team the "music team" but that seems odd because we also have a choir (who, in it's redeeming form, should also be all about the business of assisting the congregation in singing, not performing, in my opinion).

*Let's just grant the existence of a praise team, even if you disagree with it in principle or practice. If you do disagree, you can still contribute to this post by thinking through what the best use of it is when there is one, and suggesting any name ideas accordingly.

Edit: I'm on our worship committee and we are specifically unsatisfied as a group with the name of this team and looking for a better option.

Edit#2: You get bonus points if you recommend good books to me any time I post about anything.
 

D.L. Arter

Puritan Board Freshman
Hey Adam,
Our current church just utilizes the term "worship team" for all of our music ministry, which as a small church plant really just refers to those who lead our congregational singing. The previous churches that I served at both had different names for the group that led congregational singing because they treated modern worship differently--one church only utilized a modern style for worship whereas the other church treated modern worship as something that only happened every now and then (whereas every other service was always traditional in style). Thus, the church that only utilized a modern style went back and forth between calling it a worship team and a worship band and the more traditional church had some silly name that they utilized to differentiate between a regular, traditional service, and a modern-styled service.

My personal preference is to not differentiate between different styles whatsoever, so everyone who leads congregational singing regardless of style would be part of the worship team. I personally believe that intentionally differentiating between styles leads to the congregation being polarized in their own opinions. Choirs do tend to perform rather than lead congregational singing, thus, I wouldn't consider them part of the musical or worship team--they would simply be presenting a vocal or musical offering to the LORD.

When it comes to resources concerning musical worship in the church, for simplicity, I recommend Sing! by the Getty's--it's a quick read that's worthwhile. For something more substantial check the books Engaging with God and Encountering God Together by David Peterson.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
For any function relating to the worship of the church, a good rule of thumb is, why not call it whatever the scripture calls it? Thus, pastor, shepherd, minister, bishop, etc. are all appropriate for the eldership, and particularly the teaching eldership.

What is the scriptural term for the function you are referring to?
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
If you are referring to the group with the piano, acoustic guitars, and vocalists with mics, then it sounds like a band. You have the music director, choir, and band.
 

Adam McKinney

Puritan Board Freshman
My personal preference is to not differentiate between different styles whatsoever... intentionally differentiating between styles leads to the congregation being polarized...

I tend to agree.

...I recommend Sing! by the Getty's--it's a quick read that's worthwhile. For something more substantial check the books Engaging with God and Encountering God Together by David Peterson.
Sing! is a great little book. I haven't read Peterson's book but I'm aware of it and have occasionally heard it referenced in various classes.

Good thoughts.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I really don’t like “team” idea. It sets them apart from “non-team.” Not consistent with corporate worship.
 

Adam McKinney

Puritan Board Freshman
If you get rid of it you don't have to worry about naming it. :)

Does it count as debating if I just come out and say it? :)

I knew you guys would show up! I'm somewhat sympathetic to your view. I also don't have the authority to change things like this so it is somewhat a moot point here. (though I may offer my opinions - humbly, Lord willing - to our leadership)

Edit: I'm confident our church will not do away with the "praise team" in the near future.
 

Adam McKinney

Puritan Board Freshman
For any function relating to the worship of the church, a good rule of thumb is, why not call it whatever the scripture calls it? Thus, pastor, shepherd, minister, bishop, etc. are all appropriate for the eldership, and particularly the teaching eldership.

What is the scriptural term for the function you are referring to?

I'm not sure but I think this is a good point and something to think further about.

When it comes to the RPW and elements, forms, and circumstances, R. Scott Clark (who's article/opinion has been shared NaphtaliPress on other threads) seems to suggest that the praise team/instrumentation isn't merely a circumstance (or at least that people don't simply treat it as such).
 

Adam McKinney

Puritan Board Freshman
*musicians*

We can call the group musicians, but we functionally have two (or more) different groups of musicians at our church (at least the choir and the "praise team"). If we dispense with "praise team," when it comes to referring to the group that practices at 8:30am (choir gathers on a different day), would we just have to refer to them as "the musicians who assist the congregation in singing the contemporary song and a hymn" every week? Is that better?
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
*musicians*
I was going to say this, but Ryan beat me to it.

I strongly agree with @VictorBravo that "team" language should be avoided. It frequently happens in the church that when "teams" are constructed a hierarchy ends up naturally taking shape, with the "praise team" almost always at the pinnacle, as if the other "teams" are lesser in importance and skill. Why not just call them "musicians" and "choir"? This gives you the division you're looking for. Even though technically singers are musicians, popularly when people hear the word "musician" they think of one who plays an instrument. So, I think it works.

And, although I know you said this is not the place for debate about this issue, I would encourage you to use your position as a member of that committee to speak to your leadership about the theological and practical problems associated with having a "praise team."
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I knew you guys would show up! I'm somewhat sympathetic to your view. I also don't have the authority to change things like this so it is somewhat a moot point here. (though I may offer my opinions - humbly, Lord willing - to our leadership)

Edit: I'm confident our church will not do away with the "praise team" in the near future.
Well, Calvin in commenting on not being able to get rid of holy days when preferred, says we often have to put up and manage things we'd rather not. I for instance have to abide by the fact our church in the morning has a piano (and if it disappeared, they'd come for me since folks know I have a key).
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm not sure but I think this is a good point and something to think further about.

When it comes to the RPW and elements, forms, and circumstances, R. Scott Clark (who's article/opinion has been shared NaphtaliPress on other threads) seems to suggest that the praise team/instrumentation isn't merely a circumstance (or at least that people don't simply treat it as such).
I'm not sure I know of one either. If, once you think about it, you conclude that there is no name in scripture for this function, then it would be worth considering how the function fits into the RPW.

Edit: probably the closest thing we find in scripture would be the Levites. If you were to rename yourselves as Levites though, it might bring up questions about returning to the ceremonial worship of the OT. On the other hand, perhaps those are worthwhile questions to think about.
 
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Adam McKinney

Puritan Board Freshman
...I strongly agree with @VictorBravo that "team" language should be avoided. It frequently happens in the church that when "teams" are constructed a hierarchy ends up naturally taking shape....

And, although I know you said this is not the place for debate about this issue, I would encourage you to use your position as a member of that committee to speak to your leadership about the theological and practical problems associated with having a "praise team."

Good point, you both, about "team" language. I hadn't thought about that.

I recently heard the term "institutional inertia" and I think that concept applies here. You establish a "team" for a simple purpose but the implications are often far beyond what you might think, and once you get a thing off the ground (especially in the tradition-treasuring South, where i'm at), it can be very difficult to prevent it from becoming it's own self-validating and self-perpetuating entity.

And, although I know you said this is not the place for debate about this issue, I would encourage you to use your position as a member of that committee to speak to your leadership about the theological and practical problems associated with having a "praise team."

Agreed, and I will bring some of those difficulties to the table.
 

Adam McKinney

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm not sure I know of one either. If, once you think about it, you conclude that there is no name in scripture for this function, then it would be worth considering how the function fits into the RPW.

Edit: probably the closest thing we find in scripture would be the Levites. If you were to rename yourselves as Levites though, it might bring up questions about returning to the ceremonial worship of the OT. On the other hand, perhaps those are worthwhile questions to think about.

Yeah, that's pretty much what I was thinking.

Good thoughts so far by all. I would agree that the "musicians" and the "choir" might ultimately be better (though less precise) distinctions.

I also think that it would be simpler and preferable to have just one group of vocalists consistently assisting rather than two.

I don't have a strong objection to VictorBravo's proposal of spreading them out (rather than placing them up front), but I am convinced there is some value in having a person who (located toward the front of the place of worship) the congregation can look toward and see when they are coming in on songs and when they are resting. You can make various aesthetic choices to communicate that this person is *not* "leading worship." (for instance we position the musicians and vocalists somewhat off to the side)

I think historically that person was the minister himself and I have no objection to that practice (in fact that might be ideal).

Edit: I may be auditing Dr. Joseph Pipa's Reformed Worship winter intensive, will be interested to think through these issues in that context if I do. The worship class I took at RTS Charlotte was also a good one (taught by Dr. Mantle Nance - great guy).
 
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SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
It's ok not to use Bible terms to label your band members. We use labels to help us categorize and communicate. You need a word to use when referring to those participants in the band. Pick whichever one you want, it really is ok.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I prefer all singing to be done by the whole congregation as a congregation. I suppose there needs to be a song leader...but I don't even like that. And I hate it when they want to repeat verses and shout out encouragement to sing louder or "now without the piano" etc. Very tedious.

My pet peeve is when a women is given the role of leading singing and she wears a dress and poses in all sorts of quasi-sensual poses of near-ecstasy as she sings with face to the sky and hands outraised all dramatic-like. I swear some of them must practice in a mirror to create a properly rapturous expression. But it is all distraction. Church should never be a place for "performance."

Even a "choir" creates a special class of people within the church so I don't like choirs. Extra money for those stupid choir uniforms, too. Does the robe help the acoustics or something?

But of course, I don't even like the piano. I even tried to consider EP to escape the dreaded piano....but alas, I don't see it demanded in Scripture.

I prefer a simple tribal chant or two, and then get on with the service.
 

jw

Administrator
Our praise team is called Congregation and consists of men, women, boys, girls, and even infants & toddlers. It’s super sweet.
 

panta dokimazete

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Call them worship leaders - then have rehearsals for the worship instrumentalists and the worship singers - one of the elders should announce the songs (and lead them, if there is one skillful enough)
 
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Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
I'm too late to join in the snark or the debate.

So I'll play it straight and suggest looking at Scripture.

Rev. 18:22 (KJV) musicians
Ps 68:25 (HCSB) (CSB) musicians
1 Chron 9:33 (NET) musicians
etc.
 

user98Luke

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm not sure I know of one either. If, once you think about it, you conclude that there is no name in scripture for this function, then it would be worth considering how the function fits into the RPW.

Edit: probably the closest thing we find in scripture would be the Levites. If you were to rename yourselves as Levites though, it might bring up questions about returning to the ceremonial worship of the OT. On the other hand, perhaps those are worthwhile questions to think about.
I would walk right out of any church that called their worship team the Levites lol
 
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