worship team or praise team?

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And so for a long time, there has been an ignored confusion concerning what to call the ministry team which is involved in leading the congregation in song during Sunday services. Some churches called them praise teams, while others worship teams. Some had reasons why their ministry team was called “praise team” or “worship team”, while others did not. This left many in my generation, and perhaps even the current one with a lingering question as to the true difference between the terms “praise” and “worship”.

The first place to start in this discussion (as in all matters of faith) is in Scripture. In the Old Testament Hebrew, the term “praise” is almost always the word “halal” (that’s the word used in hallelujah – “praise Yahweh” as in Psalm 150:6). There is no confusion to its meaning, especially in its use in the Psalms (also known as “the psalter”). It refers specifically to the activity of giving praise, and most of the time it is a direct command. That’s easy enough. The term “worship” is a little bit more difficult. There are two words, “shachach” and “kara” which means “worship” but more specifically refers to the act of bowing down in reverence (holy respect) before God. The New Testament Greek uses the cognate “proskuneo” which refers to basically the same thing. Now, this seems a bit confusing.

What do we do with this mess? Again, we must look to Scripture. In the New Testament, we find in Acts 2:42 no mention of any singing in the early church’s worship. There is mention of preaching/teaching, fellowship, communion (breaking of bread) and prayer. We also know that from passages such as Ephesians 5:19 that there was also the practice of singing in the church. And so here is the conclusive lesson: praise or singing to God is a part of worship, and the term “worship” refers to the whole activity when the church gathers on a weekly basis to acknowledge, thank, and adore God for who He is. And so the Bible’s view on this debate would be that it would be a “praise team” which facilitates the musical part of the worship team. Whereas a member of the “worship team” could be helping out in a number of different areas (such as ushering, welcoming, lights, etc) to help the worship service proceed.

And so we see that praise is very important, yet we are not free to elevate praise and equate it with worship. Praise is an important part of worship, but it is “merely” a part. If anything, the Bible calls our entire lives to be worship unto God (Romans 12:1). From that perspective, it is evident that the Christian’s entire life is worship, and all the different parts of his/her life – work, family, friends, and not just “church life” – are all equally important parts to this massive worship unto God. Let us then all be faithful worshippers of the true God.

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