During the years that I was in the leadership of a worship ministry, we used to put jam sessions on our yearly program, but most of the time, no one ever seemed interested and the whole idea of jamming, driven by the mandate of leadership, just seemed a little contrived.
This afternoon, a few of us braved the afternoon heat to get together for a jam session. I have to say that not having been part of a band for the last few months, playing music with a bunch of people was refreshing. And I don’t really enjoy playing guitar in a band setting, so that’s saying a lot. (Check out the Set Lists section to see what songs we did).
It was fun because it was grassroots-driven and organic. It wasn’t part of a church program; it wasn’t a ministry requirement. In fact, the whole idea came about because my sister-in-law is learning the drums and we thought it was about time she got to try it out in a band setting. And she was good!
Jamming is a great way for musos to express their creativity, try out different things and generally do the thing they love doing: playing music!
My wife said this to me the other day, which I thought was imminently wise: musos should jam more because it helps “get it out of their system” so that when they go on stage on Sunday, they can just focus on the worship aspect. Worshipping on a Sunday demands a different focus. Musicality is only the foundation: what brings the fire is the sacrifice. In Genesis 22, the first mention of the word “worship” in the Old Testament was in reference to the fact that Abraham was about to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Rom 12:1 says that our acceptable worship is to offer ourselves as “living sacrifices”. The substance of worship is sacrifice.
But musicians are also wired as musicians. They have to do stuff with their hands. Have you been to a worship rehearsal and the sound guy stands in the back in frustration trying to get the musos’ attention? That’s because musos can’t keep still (except maybe the bassist!). They just have to keep making noise, even if it results in a cacophony of mismatched rhythms and different keys as they warm up.
Because I’m more a worship planner than a musician, I enjoy worship rehearsals more because I like riding the flow and seeing how the Holy Spirit moves in worship. But I see the point of the jam session. It’s a creative outlet and it’s fun.
I’ve read somewhere that worship shouldn’t be fun. I disagree. God is into joy. In His presence, there is fullness of … serious pondering? Deep spiritual truths? No, there is “fullness of joy”! I don’t mean that life won’t throw up challenges and trials, but the whole idea of the gospel is to free us from being captive to our circumstances; to bring joy in the midst of pain or struggle.
I have also heard that worship is a holy pursuit, so it shouldn’t be profaned. But every Christian is a worshipper. But only musicians are musicians. Even if the musician isn’t totally focussed on God during their jamming, that doesn’t make it profane. It’s just that they are practising and honing their craft and perfecting their offering. And having fun in the process! It has nothing to do with offering unauthorised fires of the Hophni and Phinehas variety.
Hopefully, as musos jam together more, they will being to walk more faithfully in their musical gifting; encourage each other to greater excellence and truly provide a strong,consistent and anointed platform for the Holy Spirit to flow. I’m looking forward to jamming again!