Growing up as a youth/worship pastor’s kid, I’ve been around “worship music” for most of my life. In fact, I think I’ve been in church just about my whole life.
When I was about 14 I started leading worship in our youth ministries and haven’t stopped since. I’ve been volunteer, part-time staff, full-time staff, and even gas-money staff! It’s funny how as you go through life and get more experience under your belt your perspective on a lot of things changes from year to year or decade to decade.
For me, the topic of “Leading Worship” is one of those things. I don’t look at worship leading (through music) the same way I did when I was a teen or even in my 20s. I know some of you who are older and more wiser than me may think I could hardly know anything about anything here in my early 30s, but I will say this, I look at life a lot differently at 32 than I did at 18.
One of the things about leading worship that has changed is my idea of what “worship” is during the worship gathering (service). At it’s simplest, worship music is that time when we use music and singing to worship God, right? Of course.
But one thing that keeps jumping out at me over and over again these days, is that as a worship leading team, there is SO much more to leading worship than just singing and playing worshipful music in front of people.
- We don’t lead worship by performing a song in front of people.
- We don’t lead worship by shutting everything out and worshiping for ourselves.
- We don’t lead worship by going ahead full-steam and leaving everyone else behind.
We lead worship by allowing ourselves to be used by God for creating an environment where people can freely and easily express their worship to God through song. In the group setting, leading worship is all about the people! It’s not about you or me, the worship leader.
As a worship leader, it doesn’t matter if you’re headlong into the currents of a worship “river” if you abandon everyone else. It doesn’t matter if what you’re doing feels like your tapped directly into the flow of the Spirit if no one else is there with you. It doesn’t matter if you’re singing your guts out and laying it all down for the Lord if everyone else is staring at you without a clue.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We should worship with our whole hearts and definitely lead by example. My point, though, is that we should be leaders who exemplify a life of worship the other 6 days of the week, which includes a personal time of connection with God. We should worship with total abandon in those times. We should dive in headlong. We should run hard after God day in and day out. Why? So that when it comes time to create an environment of worship through music in a corporate setting that we can HELP OTHERS experience the same thing!
- It’s not about your personal journey, though your personal journey directly affects the quality of your leadership.
- It’s not about your personal connection, though your personal connection directly affects the example you set as a worshiper.
- It’s not about the “depth” of your personal worship experience, though the depth of your personal worship experience determines whether or not you can lead your people into a deeper experience of worship.
I teach my team that musical worship at our place is all about serving people first. Why? Because when we use our gifts to lead people in singing and music, when we are, in essence, serving them through music, we ARE worshiping God. It’s the act of serving the body that is an offering of worship, not just the songs we lead.
I’d much rather focus on teaching musicians to serve people as an act of worship to God than focus on teaching musicians to only worship God through singing and playing. We can and do worship through our songs, but there’s a level of servanthood that we often times miss out on experiencing and leading in because we’re focused so much on what each individual brings to the team instead of on what purpose the team serves as a whole.
Our ultimate purpose as a worship leading team is to serve people AS an act of worship to God. The fact that we are worshiping through music is icing on the cake!