These rules are not primarily based on worldly academic disciplines in the titled subject, although it may include them. Rather, they are logically gleaned from the foundational values of the Scriptures. Because of the very purpose for which it is done, that is, the worship and adoration of Almighty God, the true atmosphere inside the walls of the church is not supposed to be the same sphere of operation as that outside them. We greatly err when we confuse one for the other, which today is all too common.
It should be understood that these basic rules for worship musicians are only for the worship services of the church, not for special Christian events designed to showcase our God-given talents. There is a very sharp difference! Rather, they are for the sole purpose of the congregational worship phase of the church, specifically designed for our humble adoration of our God of Salvation.
The very first rule for such musicians is transparency. If God is to be worshipped and adored by the people, including one’s self, then we should be rendered invisible to the attention of the worshippers. Our musical contribution should only be a blend with the other musicians, not a theatrical display of our personal talents. The people simply cannot worship God if they are admiring us instead!
Then, following the same rule of transparency, musicians should dress modestly in a manner that does not capture special attention by the worshippers of God. That includes loud clothing, wild hair, baggy or tight pants, exposed skin, shirts with slogans, and even instruments decorated for stage performance.
Such a rule is defeated when musicians with instruments are positioned on the platform smack in front of the people, face to face, where their attention cannot be missed. Rather, the logical and proper place is off the platform, on the main floor with the people, but off to the sides. The only instruments allowed on the platform should be the piano and organ, preferrably placed together to the far left or right. They should be so angled that the players are almost invisible to all but the director. These two instruments are so vital to the worship music, especially the organ, that a need exists for them to be close to the choir and the director. These instruments have been so ingrained into the minds of Christians for so long that they are taken for granted and form no mental distraction by the true worshippers of God.
If possible, the church choir should not face the people. The proper place is on the platform, but facing the opposite side of the platform. If it is an overly large choir, they should be divided in half between the right and left, facing one another, certainly not toward the worshippers. No choir member should be animated to the point of distraction in the eyes of the worshippers. Waving the hands, swaying back and forth, tossing the head are all usually little subtle devices calculated to gain personal attention, and should be forbidden by the director. In fact, a whole choir choreographed to sway in sync, or other such attention getters, should be curbed during the worship services, and isolated to special occasions of performance, not worship.
Soloists, including duets and groups, while a valuable addition to the worship service, should be limited to only one, perhaps two, songs at most. These singers should be carefully hand picked by the worship leader or the pastor. Criteria for selecting them should be their proven character, their spiritual anointing, their grooming, but primarily their genuine musical talent, not just a mere craving to perform before the people. Any such soloist or group who violates those rules should not be called upon again unless they give solid assurance of obedience to the rules. With this rule, the pastor or director should never let themselves be surprised at the song selected by the singer(s). Rather, the musician should be previously informed of the expected theme of spiritual emphasis for the service so the song can be complimentary to it. If the singer is left to “do his or her own thing,” the song might run in opposition to what is planned.
Again, we emphasize that the governing aim is to create an atmosphere in which the body of believers may each be encouraged to worship and adore our Savior with a minimum of distractions. As an old experienced pastor used to tell his people, “Folks, let’s worship the Lord. If we don’t, then we will have failed in the very thing we came here to do.”
Anytime these basic rules for church worship musicians are violated, the worshipful atmosphere toward God by the people suffers infringement or total defeat. Frankly, God cannot, will not, bless the people who have allowed a distraction to steal His thunder. –DA