There is nothing better than having your ears tickled by a musician when they do what they do best! I love to hear a rippin' guitar solo or a smokin' organ solo. I think that it really highlights someones talent when they are able to let loose and rip off a good solo. A few of my all time favorites are the guitar solo in “With or Without You” by U2, simple but tasteful, “Don't Stop Believin” by Journey, classic 80's guitar-playing, and anything by Stevie Ray Vaughn! But solos aren't just for Rock-n-Roll! When you listen to the classical pieces by Bach or Beethoven, they are full of beautiful violin, flute or piano solos! It doesn't matter what kind of music it is, when a soloist does their thing the whole world stops and focuses on them and is in awe of what that musician can do with their instrument. For a brief moment in time, they are the center of the universe.
As worship leaders it is our job to create an environment that helps the congregation focus on God. Our goal should be to make everything we do point to Him, through the songs we sing, scriptures we read and the stories we tell. However, there is one thing that can pull the focus away...the solo. Unless the guitar or piano solo serves a purpose in the overall worship experience, I suggest that we should leave them out. I know that the church is full of amazingly talented people. I know that God has given each of them a gift that they want to share and use for His glory. But I also know that sometimes if not used properly, we can be a distraction.
I say WE because I have been that distraction. I have been a musician all my life and my first love is playing bass. I have played bass in many bands and back in the late 90's helped lead worship for a college and singles Bible study in San Antonio called Metro. The worship team was amazing. A group of incredibly talented musicians that could have each had their own band. We had a blast together, but I was the guy on the team that would wear sunglasses...inside...at night... and strut around stage barefoot with my wireless guitar rig. When ever I play bass I do this crazy chicken neck thing and because of that earned the nickname “Rooster.” Looking back on it now, I would probably do things a little differently. In hindsight I can see that all my jumping around, playing behind my back and over my head was doing nothing other than taking the focus off of worshiping God and putting it directly on me. I know now that there is a way to balance having fun and being energetic and keeping the focus where it should be.
Now, I want to be sure that you understand what I am saying. I am all for rippin' guitar solos and crazy stage antics when the focus is on just having fun at a concert. But when we gather together to worship God through music, we need to be conscious of where we are directing the focus. I know that it is possible to have high energy, rock-n-roll worship, but when our focus becomes the cool guitar solo, we need to be aware of what our job is as worship leaders. When a solo is played in the middle of a worship song, the congregation's focus can quickly be shifted to a guy and his guitar. That does not mean, however, that great lead guitar players are not needed on the worship team! By all means, they serve a great purpose! Who else is gonna add the beautiful texture to the verses or do the cool licks during the chorus? Like I said earlier, unless the musical interlude serves a purpose, for example, a prayer time, or a short turn around between the chorus and verse, or a key change, it is my opinion that we leave the solos at home.
This is just something to think about next time you are preparing your worship team. I would love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment here or on our FB page facebook.com/JustinGravesBand and be sure to pass this onto your friends! Thanks for hanging out with me today!