Posts Tagged worship leading
A few weeks ago, I took a weekend off from leading worship. I had a good excuse: I was adopting my foster son into our family forever. The adoption happened on National Adoption Day, on a Saturday morning, so I was not going to be at rehearsal. It was also a good opportunity to sit with my wife and kids through a whole service at our own church to see what it’s like to be one of the congregation. It was not as hard as I expected to be one of the worshipers who is not in control of the music. In fact, I was very thankful afterward for what I experienced because it made me more excited to get back into my job and lead.
One thing I learned was that there are a lot of factors that the musicians have no control over that distract our people from the singing. We came in right as the service was starting so I was not exactly focused until the middle of the first song. Then my kids were a big distraction. They ask questions, squirm, make noise, wander off, cry, or just about anything else they can do to occupy my attention. As a music leader, this gave me a renewed sense of peace that those people who seem to not be engaged on Sunday are not necessarily that way because they are unspiritual or I am doing a bad job. It could be just that they are not as prepared, unfettered and focused as the music director gets to be. So I want to give myself and the people I serve some grace because there are a lot of distractions. I also want to be more deliberate about doing what needs to be done to focus attention on the worship process – parents and kids alike.
There were a few mistakes the week I took off. They weren’t major, but they were noticeable. Some mistakes were only known to me because of the inside knowledge I have about song form or whatever. The good news is that despite the mistakes, my participation as one of “the people” was not derailed by a few gaffs from the leaders. I looked at the team that was leading, my friends, and their mistakes were not that important. It was actually endearing to watch as they worked around the problem and came out on the other side without getting mad or breaking down. As a leader, this gave me more peace about the process of preparing for worship. We can mess up! It’s not we should be deliberately negligent to prepare because love and hospitality require that we make an effort to do a good job. However, the fear or failure in performance is not there if you know that you are leading for family, not judges.
I love my job. I enjoy leading. Taking a week off made me miss my job and want to get back in the saddle. I believe that the Lord has given me gifts and passion and joy to lead the worship songs. It was a special time to be able to sing with my wife and kids, but we all are committed as a family to my role in our church and it brings us joy to be able to do that. Today, I’m in the office getting songs together, preparing charts, contacting volunteers, and it’s just adding to my excitement about being able to sing and play for the Lord again this Sunday. It’s the best job in the world.
Josiah, age 11
This weekend, I was approached by one of the STUPID members of our congregation. They loved the number of VIOLENT style songs we sing but they wished that there were more HAPPY style songs. This made me feel MAD despite the fact that the worship that Sunday made me feel MAD.
When I came in to work that week, the pastor told me that music was really HORRIBLE and the Spirit really DESTROYED but he received an email from a BUBBLY person who thought that the music was too SHORT. I DEADILY thanked him for this feedback and then when he left the office I VIOLENTLY closed the door and said,”BUTTER!”
At rehearsal that Saturday, most of the volunteers were GLOOMY but some were ANNOYING. This made me feel JOYFUL and I GRATEFULLY reminded them that rehearsal was NOTHING. When I went home to my PUNK family that afternoon, I felt very SICK and was not very PRETTY to them as a result.
By the time Sunday morning came back around, I was ready to FLIP and couldn’t contain my HAPPINESS. If you had asked me that morning, I would have said that my church is SMALL and that Jesus is BUTTERY.
Eden, age 8
This weekend, I was approached by one of the OLD members of our congregation. They loved the number of WEIRD style songs we sing but they wished that there were more SLOW songs. This made me feel FUNNY despite the fact that the worship that Sunday made me feel PRETTY.
When I came in to work that week, the pastor told me that music was really LUMPY and the Spirit really BARFED, but he received an email from a TINY person who thought that the music was too GRUMPY. I BUBBILY thanked him for this feedback and then when he left the office I SADLY closed the door and said, ” TACO,”
At rehearsal that Saturday, most of the volunteers were ANNOYING but some were LUMPY. This made me feel HUNGRY and I GRACEFULLY reminded them that rehearsal was OLD. When I went home to my UGLY family that afternoon, I felt very MAD and was not very BEAUTIFUL to them as a result.
By the time Sunday morning came back around, I was ready to THROW UP and couldn’t contain my SADNESS. If you had asked me that morning, I would have said that my church is MEAN and that Jesus is SALTY.
One of my coworkers asked me yesterday if I had ever done a Sunday where I was not on the stage. I have vacation Sundays – 4 a year, but the other 48 Sundays I am playing the guitar and leading the singing. She was wondering if it would help with leadership development as well as my personal worship if I spent a few Sundays sitting with my family in the worship.
I’m wondering if any of the blog readers out there are also professional worship leaders who had attempted this and would have any thoughts.
I’m preparing for this summer by looking for some good reading material for a group of interns that I will be leading in some discussion on worship leading. I was a little disappointed that in all my excellent books on worship and music, I couldn’t find any clear presentation of the role of the gospel of Jesus, our Great High Priest, in giving us access to the Throne of worship. It’s easy to list all the things that a “worship leader” needs to have: a heart for Jesus, Spirit-led voice, a pastor’s heart, the passion of a warrior, wisdom and theological training, the hands of a cheetah, guitar tone like a hot-buttered chainsaw, the list goes on and on. Those are all good things to pursue, but the foundation on which all our worship is the cross of Jesus Christ.
Nothing in my hands I bring
As fallen and idolatrous people, we can bring nothing to God that would make our worship acceptable in His sight. One of the most frightening stories in the bible is when Aaron’s sons bring “unauthorized” incense before the presence of God. Fire roasts them alive like Nazis in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. The one true God is holy, holy, holy, so don’t be bringin’ no unauthorized incense up in here. Don’t fool yourself to think that you have any worship to bring to the Lord that will be acceptable. In order to come to worship on our own merits, we have to mentally reduce God into a idol that we can manipulate and then pretend and perform as if we are flawless saints. But, the truth is that God has never had any need for our sacrifices; the blood of bulls and goats can’t save anybody. The whole point of the tabernacle and the temple worship was demonstrating faith in the Lord’s mercy and grace to redeem and forgive a people who don’t deserve it. Our hands are empty when we approach God in worship.
Now, I approach the throne, and I have confidence
We can only come to worship by the blood of the Great High Priest whose blood speaks and defends us. His blood covers us, atones for our sin, justifies the wicked, and gives us confidence to come to the throne. The Blood is a sign that we have been adopted into the family as sons and daughters. Now that we are in the family, we can come in to the banquet of grace and participate in the celebration and adoration of the Father. This is good news for sinners. How many times does the enemy accuse us with our list of failures? How many times do we start to believe the lies that our effort, our emotion, our thoughts, or our heart attitude have to get right before we can sing a song of praise to Jesus. Bring your sin right out into the front of your heart in worship. Give the Lord your sins and cry out, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I come from a people of unclean lips!” When we cry out to the Father from the mire of our sin, the blood and the resurrection are the firm Rock on which we stand and the source of the new song that is placed in our mouths. It’s all the gospel from first to last.