At this moment, nothing is more musically thrilling to me than a solid electric guitar solo. You know what I'm talking about. It's the kind that thanks the rest of the song for getting out of the way while real music happens. It graciously dances over the song's regular chords to finally make it something special. It takes the stage and never looks back.
Yeah, that kind of solo.
Most of me wishes I could riff like that, but the rest of me is glad that I can't. Alas, I learned electric guitar on-the-job. My fingers hadn't had years of experience carving the fretboard, and scales were so foreign to me. So, naturally, I learned how to use the electric to enhance what was already going on, and not stand out too much. And perhaps that's a fitting place for the electric in worship.
Herein lies the paradigm at play. In most music, the solo sets the music free; in worship music, it sets the worshiper free. It's the release.
If the song is like climbing stairs to a diving board, the instrumental is the jump. It's where the congregation is invited to suspend all control of what they say, and simply be in God's presence. It's no longer where they follow a set lyric, but find their own voices before the Throne.
So, with that, here are some challenges I have for those who solo, myself included. Think less solo ("only me"), and more release ("set them free"). Think less flare, and more enhance. In our playing, let's find ways to draw everybody's attention towards God, and not our own awesomeness. And most of all, let's execute instrumentals with as much personal worship integrity as anything else we do on stage.
This is not an easy task, but I believe that when this is unlocked, purity in worship music can be taken to another level.
Guitarists, what do you think? How do you approach soloing in church? Share your thoughts below!