By now, you may have noticed that our praise teams look a little different from what you had been used to seeing. We are entering a new season with our Worship Ministry at Graceway and I’m excited to be able to share that with you.

In January of 2015, I began to pray and seek God’s heart for what He would like to the worship ministry accomplish over the next five years. What God began to reveal has been instrumental in bringing on this new season. God has used Isaiah 42:5-12 and Psalm 133:1 which says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” as two key passages that highlight Graceway’s worship ministry.

God showed me two important points from these passages. First, the only difference in our worship services was the praise. The message, the presentation, and in general, the congregation was the same. I do not believe that having multiple styles of praise in a church divides the congregation (that naturally occurs when you have multiple services); however, the second point I gained from these passages was the praise ministry was divided. While there was no “bad blood” between the teams, we were two very different groups of people that, in some cases, didn’t even know each other’s names!

I began meeting with a worship leadership team in the fall of 2015 and we began formulating what you are seeing now. Our vision rallies around the aforementioned passages with a desire to simply lead our congregation in worship, bringing God the greater glory. This vision led us to combine the praise teams from the first and second service into one team. Each worship service will now be identical, meaning the same team will lead the same songs in both services. We are one church with one vision. By having a single praise team we hope this will reinforce the vision while celebrating the amazing diversity in our congregation.

The benefits of combining our teams have already garnered fruit in this New Year. Jeff and our pastoral team no longer have to preach after two vastly different praise services, allowing us to plan much more effectively. Our team is excited to bring a greater diversity in art to the services, which is easier to facilitate with a singular plan. Having only one rehearsal each week gives us more time to focus on team development, musical excellence, and more effective rehearsals.

Logistics aside, it is our desire that unity is reflected in our church as a whole. As we praise the Lord together, even at different times, our song is the same. As we read the scriptures, pray, partake in the Lord’s Table, hear the Word taught, praise God through song, and celebrate baptism, we do it as one church – worshipping God together.
This process will not be without its challenges. Music has, and always will be, a challenge for every church throughout the ages. God’s gift of music to each of us is powerful, emotional, and often connected with our faith. Here’s what I, and the praise team, would ask of our congregation:

– Pray for us as we pray for you. Every Sunday before we “take the stage,” we pray for you – that you would be led to worship God throughout the service. We also appreciate your prayers as we navigate Graceway’s voice.
– Prayerfully participate! As we choose the songs we sing each week, we seek God’s direction for the right songs. We desire them to be biblically and theologically sound, while also engaging and singable! Pray for God to open your eyes, ears, and hearts to the songs you do and don’t know.
– Give us feedback. I have an “open door policy” and welcome a dialogue with you. You can email me at jschell@visitgraceway.org, contact me via phone (816-423-2851) or find a worship leader or me in Guest Central on Sunday mornings.
– Consider joining us! Our worship choir is open to anyone and joining does not require an audition. There are also other ways you can participate through the praise or tech teams. Contact me for more information.

We are excited to enter this new season, praising and worship God together with you.