As part of my recent mission trip, I had the opportunity to introduce a few students to the bass guitar. While most of our time was spent learning how to play the instrument, I told them that I also felt it was important to discuss a few spiritual principles that make up the foundation for playing the bass guitar in worship. These principles would really apply to any member of a worship band or praise team. I gave my students these principles in a handout, but I thought it would be helpful to share them here.
Spiritual Foundations for the Worship Bass Player
1. Rejoice! Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!”
When you play, especially in a worship setting, you communicate as much with your expression and countenance as you do with your notes and rhythms. Many modern rock bass players act super cool and almost disinterested on stage. You should be genuinely expressing the love of Christ through your face while on stage.
2. Be Thankful! 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “…in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Thank God for the privilege and opportunity to lead others in worship. Remember that it is all about Him and He has blessed you with the gifts you are using.
3. Be Hearty! Colossians 3:23, 24 “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Note in this verse that when you play, you are playing to the Lord and not to men. Strive to do your best for Him. You want to be excellent not so that others will give you glory, but because it pleases Him and brings Him glory.
4. Be Humble! Philippians 2:3, 4 “Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.”
As a bass player, you are part of a group called a band. Each band member must be concerned with what the others are doing and playing so that the band as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is also true in life as we are part of groups and ultimately part of the church.
5. Be Light! Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.”
As a worship leader, you must take care that you do nothing to hurt your Christian witness when off the stage. This means praying for others (Eph. 6:18); guarding your tongue (Phil 2:14); and encouraging others (2 Cor. 7:6) among other things.
6. Remember That We All Have Different Roles! 1 Corinthians 12:18-20 “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
The bass player isn’t the star of the show. The bass player doesn’t play during every part of every song. But he or she has an important role in the band. This is how it is in the church as well. We serve with different gifts in different ways, but none of us are the star of the show.
7. Perform for God’s Glory! 1 Corinthians 10:31 “…whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”
Ultimately, whether the performance was perfect or flawed has little to do with whether it was successful in God’s eyes. If God only wanted perfect instruments (and instrumentalists), none of us would be worthy to be here.
So keep these principles in mind when playing the bass (or any instrument) for God.