"When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come. Longing just to bring something that's of worth that will bless your heart..."
I have been involved in leading worship for about as long as I can remember. I have led worship in children's worship, youth group worship, and adult worship services ever since I was in high school. I have worked with musicians and directors of all abilities, and I definitely understand the importance of performing well in a worship service. More often than not, a church's worship team serves as the representative of the church. When new people visit a church, one of the first things they talk about is how well the worship team performed. This is to be expected, as no one wants to go to church and hear a worship team that sings off-key the entire time and messes up the lyrics. The performance element of a worship service is also very important because God expects nothing less than our best.
He gave us His best by sacrificing His Son for us, so the least we can do to repay Him is to give our best back to Him.
However, amidst all the rush of a great performance and receiving praise and accolades from the people in the congregation, the most important thing we need to focus on is that our hearts are set on Jesus as we worship.
I've always admired Matt Redman as both a singer/songwriter and a worship leader. He's written some worship standards (That definitely need to be played in church more) such as "Blessed Be Your Name" and "10,000 Reasons", as well as a song called "The Heart of Worship". It's one of his older songs, but its message remains just as true now as it did then.
When the music of a worship service, the fancy lighting design, and the mechanics of the stage have all faded away, the truest form of worship is God's people coming before Him doing their best to bless Him with their music. When worship is broken down to its bare essentials, God will not be judging His people based on how good their performance was. All God will see is His children raising their hands to Him and proclaiming His glory.
We should always strive to bring our best to God in worship because He gave His best to us, but that isn't the most important part of worship. The most important part of our worship should be us turning our eyes to Jesus and giving our utmost praise to Him for all He has done for us. The truest form of worship happens within our hearts, whether we are on stage or in the back row of the worship center.
"Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness. Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, 'The LORD reigns!'" (1 Chronicles 16:23-31).