7. Think About Authenticity
Personalize the lyrics. Love and live the Word. Pray the songs. Enter into worship (don’t get lost in it while you are leading) and be the lead worshiper. Jesus teaches us not to be like the hypocrites who love to stand up and pray in the houses of worship and on the street corners, so that everyone will see them. (Matthew 6:5 and James 1:22 exhort us to not merely listen to the word and so deceive ourselves but do what it says.) A worship leader is not merely performing but living the message. None of us are perfect but all of us can be honest and sincere; sinners in love with a merciful Savior. All believers are trophies of God’s grace. Consider this verse: “I have found David a man after God’s own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.” Acts 13:22 (1 Sam. 13:14) (for more refer to Romans 12:1)
8. Think About Navigating the Unexpected Moments
Be ready for the last minute and unplanned moments and use them for God’s glory … making the most of every opportunity! These moments can be carrying out a change of worship plan without anyone noticing. It could mean transitioning the attention of the crowd from a noticeable “snag” in the service back to God. Strings breaking, missed cues, the fire alarm going off all can be used as opportunities for ministry that enhance a live worship service.
The old saying “when you get bumped the real you spills out” applies here. People, especially skeptics, love seeing the real you. The key in navigating the unexpected (even more important than experience) is prayer. “Devote yourselves to PRAYER, keeping ALERT in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” Col. 4:2
9. Think About Managing Chaos
I think about managing chaos when I am leading worship. Isn’t that weird? This is similar but distinct from Navigating the Moments. Being able to navigate the moments is very helpful to managing chaos (review Col. 4:2). Knowing how to deal with Chaos is very helpful to the worship leader. Again experience is helpful here, but wisdom is the key to Managing Chaos. In 1 Kings 3:10, God said to Solomon: “I am pleased you asked for this. You could have asked to live a long time or to be rich. Or you could have asked for your enemies to be destroyed. Instead you asked for WISDOM to make right decisions.” The best way to Manage Chaos (Chaos distracts so much from connecting people to God and drains joy out of the team) is to stay one step ahead of it and make right decisions calmly, clearly and confidently. Always value people more than the program. Be personal and professional but the greatest of these is personal. LOVE as you lead.
10.Think About Urgency
What you do REALLY matters. It is truly a matter of life and death. People all around us are dying without Jesus. This is the worst human disaster on the planet. People need the Lord. Consider the words of Paul in 1 Cor. 9:16-23: “For I take no special pride in the fact that I preach the Gospel. I feel compelled to do so; I should be utterly miserable if I failed to preach it. … For though I am no man’s slave, yet I have made myself everyone’s slave, that I might win more men to Christ. … I have, in short, been all things to all sorts of men that by every possible means I might win some to God. I do all this for the sake of the Gospel; I want to play my part in it properly.” He goes on to compare our life of ministry to a race that we are trying to win! “I run the race then with determination. I am no shadow-boxer, I really fight! I am my body’s sternest master, for fear that when I have preached to others I should myself be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9: 26-27). Jesus speaks of his Father’s heart for his children in Matthew 18:14: “He doesn’t want any of these little ones to be lost.”
We have a job to do … it matters … and we may not get a second chance with some people.
11.Think About Servant Leadership
This was Jesus’ model: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:3-8)
Please refer to Matthew 20:25-28 where Jesus taught servant leadership.
One of my favorite verses regarding servant leadership is Romans 12:10: “Be good friends who love deeply, practice playing second fiddle.”
12.Think About Involving the Crowd
Throughout the Bible there is an emphasis on THEY worshipped. Worship at church needs to be participatory. There is a difference between an Artist and a Worship Leader. An Artist IS the fire. A Worship leader LIGHTS the fire.
A great way to get a crowd to participate is to ask them to participate. I don’t think asking is offensive. For example, if you ask the crowd to clap their hands to the music, they might do it. If they don’t respond, just be patient and ask again. Don’t get frustrated with the crowd; be nurturing. If you speak their cultural language you have a better chance of getting a positive response. Learning how to ask is like learning a language. They may be ready to respond but are not responding because they don’t understand what they are being asked. Funny … sometimes we think that if we talk louder and slower to people that speak a different language than we do, our words will eventually be understood. That does not work! Most of the time when attenders are not involved in a worship service it is because they have simply not been invited to participate. The bible says in Isaiah 44:23 to “tell the heavens and the earth to start singing! Tell the mountains and every tree in the forest to join in the song. The Lord has rescued His people … now they will worship him.”
Again the bible emphasizes THEY worshipped. When Jesus sang in the upper room he sang with his disciples. If anyone could have asked for a solo, Jesus could have … but it was recorded that “they” sang a hymn. Don’t be afraid to ask the crowd to participate and be sure to create opportunities for their involvement in the service.
13.Think About Changed Lives
This is very similar to URGENCY. When you lead, sing to the lost, hurting and broken. In every worship service there are people present with genuine needs. Ask God to help you encourage, comfort, serve and communicate the Good News to His precious children especially the lost, hurting and broken. Ask your team to envision God using them to minister to God’s children. Pray for attendees, volunteers, staff and the speaker.
In conclusion, when pastors ask me how I can have so much energy and engage the crowd in worship consistently, my first thought is that God is using me and that is what energizes me. I look at what I do as much more than music.
I love music and art … but I LOVE God! Serving the Lord through the Great Commission and the Great Commandment is extremely fulfilling. My second thought, when asked about my worship leading, is that I think about these 13 things, as a matter of habit, every time I lead worship: Magnifying God, Others, Recruiting, Excellence, Thanksgiving, Holy Spirit Leading, Authenticity, Navigating the Moments, Managing Chaos, Urgency, Servant Leadership, Involving The Crowd and Changed Lives. This is a lot to think about when leading worship, but as we practice them eventually they become second nature. Remember that leading worship is
M.O.R.E. T.H.A.N. M.U.S.I.C. ………..