3 things every worship leader needs to know about worship.
Read time: 3 minutes
As worship leaders and church musicians, it’s often easy to get distracted by the list of duties we have on a weekly basis in order to make our services run smoothly. We have our personal practice time before group rehearsals, plus the added time of those rehearsals, the actual services themselves — plus, of course, the aspects of the real world and our very real-life schedule with all of its demands.
And so with all of that comes the responsibility that we have to make sure we are legitimately worshiping and leading our congregations in worship that is Christ-centered and done in Spirit and Truth. Below is a list of three things I’ve created for myself to keep that focus in its rightful place:
1. Worship is our response to the truth of God’s revelation about himself.
The purpose of worship and the role we play in worship is only to point our congregations to God. The purpose of worship is to respond to God initiating relationship with us. The role we play in worship is to point our congregations to that fact.
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
…everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
Isaiah 43:1 & 7
The majority of worship leaders are musicians, and, as musicians, it's often challenging to remember that worship is not simply a genre of music or something that happens for a designated 15-30 minutes during a church service. Worship exists because of God, for God, and is about God.
2. Worship isn’t meant to be a concert, entertainment, or self-serving.
As worship leaders who are also function as musicians, we also have to remember that leading worship isn't an opportunity for us to be on stage performing mini-concerts for our congregations.
Because, as we talked about above, worship is all about God. In The Music Architect, Constance Cherry, a professor of worship, musician, and an ordained minister, (who also happens to be my current professor at IWS, just saying!), says this:
“One primary role of all musicians is simply this: they must understand themselves to be a worshiper among worshipers. Musicians must be worshipers themselves."
Being a worship leader? It actually doesn't have anything to do with you being front and center on the platform. It has nothing to do with your mic being louder than everyone else's. It has nothing to do with your talents being better than those of the individual in the congregation. It has everything to do with simply being a worshiper among every other worshiper in your congregation and doing the following as Dr. Cherry suggests:
“Being a worshiper among worshipers suggests that we are part of the community endeavoring to engage in the very event to which we call the community.”
3. How you worship in public is a reflection of how you worship in private.
What you do in your private life will affect the way you lead worship.
We cannot be effective worship leaders in a corporate setting if we are not worshiping in a private one. In other words, what you do in your private life will, sooner or later, show in your worship leading. If you are spending time cultivating your personal spiritual formation, it will represent what you do when you are leading worship. On the other hand, if you are engaging in activities contrary to what represent God, that too will come through as you attempt to lead God’s people into worship.
Remember, God is a jealous God:
And God spoke all these words, saying,
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.”
Are you reading Scripture in your devotions? Are you spending time praying at home when you’re alone? Are you building a relationship with God outside of the designated corporate worship times you attend and/or lead? God alone wants your worship. He doesn’t want to share it with anyone else!
Do you have any insights about worship that you have learned in your experience as a worship leader? How do you cultivate a culture of worship within your congregation that keeps God the center focus of all worship? How do keep God at the center of your own life to effectively lead worship at your own church? I’d love to hear from you — just leave a comment below and let’s have a conversation!