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Worship leaders are already on enough of a pedestal as it is, that having a congregation stare at their magnified face can only make it worse. Oops I just licked my lips. That looked weird. Will this shirt look good on screen? Oops they just caught me looking over at myself. Oh wow I really am losing my hair. It changes the way your team sees themselves Now your worship team is thinking about all of those same things.
They already feel self-conscious enough, and now they have to worry about looking camera-ready. It ensures that you are central For the duration of the sung worship time, your face is the number one trending topic in the room. It already flies by as it is, and even more so when we chop the chunks up even smaller. So what? This makes more sense to me. But when the song begins again, the screen can fade to full-screen lyrics.
At that moment your role changes and you need your face to disappear. But why is it OK to project the preacher? The role of a preacher is to preach the word of God. To communicate the Word of God to the people of God. It is very much a communicative role duh.
The role of a worship leader is not the same. Our role is the role of a facilitator. And an effective facilitator facilitates. Facilitating and communicating are two very different roles. So get your beautiful face off the screen and do some facilitating. And if you want, they can see you projected during the speaking bits. Use it as a huge teaching opportunity Imagine a congregation hearing something like this:. Why are we doing this?
Three reasons. We want you to come to worship God. A few weeks ago I had some fun with some hypothetical backgrounds for worship song lyrics. My point was that most of the time, pictures behind song lyrics is more distracting than helpful, and I used some extreme examples to illustrate. This first one is fairly self-explanatory. What on earth could make you hungrier than a nice juicy cheeseburger?
This picture would help people feel hungry for God. Likewise, Jesus sets us free from sin. From what some of the Christmas carols tell me, Jesus was born in a snowy, late-December Bethlehem. And the Bible says that angels announced his birth. So what could be better than a snow angel? That really moved me. So here it is. Am I giving my life to follow Jesus?
Or am I giving my life to follow everything I believe in? Am I surrendering myself or am I surrendering everything I believe in? Oh well. I tend to think that when and if churches project song lyrics during a worship service, they should take some time beforehand and pay attention to the little details in order to remove as many distractions as possible.
In many of these churches, one hallmark of their use of backgrounds. A friend of mine recently visited a church like this and it got me wondering. How tacky can you get? I met some new people, heard some thought-provoking teaching, enjoyed some good meals and conversations with worship leader friends, and experienced in-person some of the modern worship trends that are becoming the norm in evangelicalism.
It was eye-opening in many ways. The same could be said of this conference. The worship leader as the performer. The congregation as the audience. The sanctuary as the concert hall. It really is a problem. It really is a thing. Worship leaders, we must identify and kill performancism while we can. Sing songs people know or can learn easily. Sing them in congregational keys. Sing and celebrate the power, glory, and salvation of God.
Serve your congregation. Saturate them with the word of God. Keep the lights up. Stop talking so much. Point to Jesus. Tailor your worship leading, and the songs you pick, to include the largest cross-section of your congregation that you can. Lead pastorally. I am a worship music nerd. I listen to a lot of it. I follow the recent developments. I tuned out. I sat down. I Tweeted. I texted my wife. I gave up. People are tuning out and giving up and just watching. Worship leaders: step back.
Take a deep breath. Think about it. Do we really want to go down this road? It will result in a crash. Serve your congregations, point them to Jesus, help them sing along and sing with confidence. Well said. Unfortunately, I think some of us forget why we worship. We should worship to glorify God. I am noticing this comment being made quite often these days.
It almost seems like an excuse for the ultra-contemporary music. Of course we are there to worship and glorify God. But how do you do that when the music irritates you so much that you cannot keep your mind on your worship? I hear this from many people. Some just stay away and walk in for the sermon. Though worship has a bit of performance. That is performing the worship. Well a lot of moments worship leaders are met to lead congregation into experience they hv had With God.
This is driven by the leading of the holy spirit than experience of talent. The Combination is all in worship, talent, skill, performance, word are vehicles through which the congregation is driven to see Jesus. Unfortunately, my church went the way of production and professionalism over true congregational worship. They darkened the room, brought in new stage lighting, and even dry ice to have a pillow of fog emanate from the stage. People stood there watching. So sorry to read this. You said it well.
I pray that true worship will be of the heart and not performance. Worship must begin in the heart of the Believer in Jesus; the Increase of Jesus and the decrease of self. I run into this problem 15! I stopped the stage carrier behind the keys and recognised that the all staff there had no real relation ship with the worshippers — in the Church.
I mean the non musician worshippers. My life has changed. Testament — and… and… Wonder! And I thought it was just me! I want to feel the power of the Holy Spirit, not the power of the sound system! I want to have church and to me that means God the Father is the center stage not the Pastor or Worship Leader take the stage! If you are called to be a Worship Leader, that means you are to lead in worship! If you want to be uplifting to the congregation, start by lifting up you hands in praises to Jesus!
Truth is, most congregations have never experienced the moving of the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is not welcome or the church service is so focused on an agenda to get out in time to be first to the restaurants. Opening music Stop any possible moving of the spirit to- Greet each other More music- Stop any possible movement of the spirit to- Offering and Announcements Maybe special music Preaching or in most cases teaching which is what Sunday School is for.
Alter call? Ending prayer. I get more out of singing along to my favorite worship music at home and reading my daily devotional than I do at church with all the formalities quenching the possibility of any chance of the spirit moving. Then find a new church. The traditional model, what you are referencing has its values and merits. I would much prefer what you are referencing.
The Holy Spirit can certainly be in this style of worship. This is the precise reason l, or one of them, that different denominations exist. Rather than pout or complain about a worship order that has a proven history of success and a reason for each of the elements above , please find a place that meets your spiritual needs.
Wow, I agree with you exactly! I enjoy new songs, but I also appreciate singing hymns. Can we remember Who we are there to worship and give us time and space and spirit to do that? Laura, I totally agree with you.
Worship would be and still is : One opening song. Notices, etc. About 20 mins. In my 2 years in my new home, I have yet to find a church that uses this format. Every aspect of our lives should be an act of worship. Nothing to do with us at all. Not that the contemporary chorus has meaningless words-it has very good words, but it jars abruptly the moving of the Spirit at least in my heart and I am left feeling frustrated. Then there are the endless repetitions of short praise choruses or phrases of songs in attempts to build a frenzy of worship or hypnotize the congregation so that they are more open to suggestion.
And altar calls? Sure, we are told to go and share with others in our daily lives, but only Christians go to church so we never have to think that there might be lost people in the church services on Sunday mornings. Pastors were not afraid to talk about what God says about our need for redemption and the plan of salvation. Which then gave rise to the glammy pop-star based format. I assume its that superstar performance format that can shift an audiences focus away from God, and thats what everyone has an issue with here?
Should creative arts people, art school students, professional jazz musicians simply give up their calling and trade everything in for an acoustic guitar and 4 chords? Many of these people have been leaving the church in droves because they feel unwanted, so this has self perpetuated over the years making a perfect storm of a bad art, and b the creative world not having any Christians influencing it.
And so on. If at the very beggining Christianity would have embraced the arts more we would have developed our own musical genres and art forms, but because we didnt, we simply copy what the world is doing, and well..
Begs the question, did we do it to ourselves? There could be a generation gap in understanding of how music can lead us into worship. I known many extremely talented platform musicians who inspired and played exceedingly skillfully.
These are the ones that add just enough rift or just enough adlib to accent, but not be over bearing or take the lead. Hey look at me, I can play. When I was playing trumpet on platform there were so many times I wanted to add a little here or a little there, I heard in my heart and my mind. I grew up Catholic. Got saved, 14, by a Lutheren.
Got baptized in my mid 40s a Pentecostal. In turn Christ gave them some heat. If you are a distraction up on stage…. You are hindering the work of the HS. Its hard to find a church with a sincere Praise Team…. I leave. I am so judgemental …. I am the bass player, 56 years old. I and members of my family have been involved in music in the church almost our entire lives. To us one of the greatest encouragements is to hear the congregation singing in full voice to songs they know and can sing.
Learning new songs is wonderful too. Lately I have adopted the position that the title Worship Team or the like is incorrect. The Nursery Team is the group of two to whatever that minister in the nursery. The greeting team is the small group that greets, and so on. The Worship Team should be the congregation, or anyone and everyone that enters the building. I am one of the musicians.
Far too often the congregation is considered as little more that warm bodies in the seats and resource to leadership to get some things done, rather than brothers and sisters there to worship withe each other. Ministers and helpers that encourage the congregation to enter into real worship which is all about getting to God with your heart soul and mind , the body will follow , getting the people to that special place where His presence is felt and experienced , where there is repentance , renewal and restoration , real worship leads to openness and receptiveness to the Word of God.
Anything less is just entertainment. Absolutely agree with this.. Seems like you took the words right outa my mind on all of this content. I submit that we worship leaders together with the awareness and unison of the church leaders go back in submerging ourselves first to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our secret place, before going out on stage to lead the people of God to worship thru songs and music, and be the levite that we ought to be in this previlaged ministry of music.
Reblogged this on and commented: The issues Jamie brings up here are worthy of our consideration. Read carefully and prayerfully. Jamie, Thanks so much for so carefully and lovingly expressing your concerns here. The encouragement towards the pastoral aspects of our ministry are particularly helpful. I went to a great conference a couple of years ago Doxology and Theology where many of these concerns were the driving force and themes for the conference.
He voiced, as did several others of the plenary speakers, the warning of the weight and duty of our calling as worship pastors. We must remember that we will also stand before God one day to give an account of how we lovingly shepherded His people. Performacism is one of the three reasons Cindy and I left our last church 4 years ago. It was very sad. Press on modeling authentic worship Jamie. Thank you for these great words and thoughts. Seems that you are in line with the heart of God. Or should I say the issue is not just the worship leader.
The main worship leader, the main worship visionary for every local church is the local church senior pastor. Many senior pastors feel pressure to keep up with church trends and keep up with changing growth dynamics. He is the leader. He is the main vision caster for worship.
He sets the pace and tone for every area of ministry. I understand as worship leaders our primary sphere of influence in ministry is the area of worship and our focus is applied there to bring change and move the congregation forward in worship.
But without a holistic approach, that influence will be limited to the vision of the primary worship leader, the senior pastor. The senior pastor and worship leader, walking together with a unified vision of worship, is the most effective way to change the worship culture in a local congregation.
My prayer is that senior pastors begin to drive this conversation and that they rise up as the worship visionaries and lead their worship teams and congregation to an authentic and experiential encounter with Jesus Christ in worship.
I sometimes wished he would turn around and look at the congregants on a Sunday morning to see how they were engaging or not. Where is the holy spirit in all this. He is where we should be looking to direction, not pastors or worship leaders. Unless they are listening to the holy spirit they should not be doing what they are because all it will be is a worship concert, and thus the performance becomes the focus.
Corporate church???? The foundation of what the church is needs to be re-calibrated, IMO. In all seriousness, though. The NT church had elders. That much can be proven. Would there not have been one elder to which the others deferred to? I know we are off topic here, but as structure affects Worship perhaps Jamie will let me ramble on?
Elders were set in place by the Apostles wherever they went. I doubt very seriously that a fellowship large enough for more than one elder, that one would not be appointed as overseer. Remember, even Paul had infighting…. Act And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; Act And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.
Paul always set up churches with a plurality of elders, not just one guy. Unity displayed in real community was the model for these early churches. It really mattered that the head of the churches be Jesus Himself. Seems foreign to us because of our present day carnality. Absolutely Tom! Of course there has to be some form of leadership. However, having worked with volunteers, I do venture to think that elders or leaders do not have to be on payroll.
When I lead worship or teach in my home I never ask for money! I agree some churches have become more like corporations in the leadership structure, but the Pastor is the under-shepherd who is to edify teach , the flock through sermons and training to develop them into functional Christ Followers. His only direction in worship is it be relevant to engage the congregation and done in a professional manner as to flow not sloppy and thrown together.
I am part of a independent Baptist church that is 48 years old so we have a wide range of ages to reach. So leadership in the new testament church is vital. Who was Timothy but a young preacher boy Paul mentored. Amen Daron!!!!!! Wonder how too few people read their Bible. Just liike in Jesus time thinking education equals pastor, worship leader, ect. Very true. Exactly Michael there were apostles but they did not have the same function as pastors and no NT mention of senior pastors a study of the functions of the 5 fold ministry and elders and deacons in the NT church is informative.
Which brings us to another problem. Too much emphasis is given to a senior pastor or senior worship leader. There needs to be better accountability within eldership to challenge, to support to reaffirm, through prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Word, developing a vision of worship that brings us closer to Jesus and the Father. The same within a worship group.
It works better with more than one person having responsibility. I find nothing biblically that backs up this single leader approach and have seen it abused all too often. Keeping each other in check like this should help us avoid excesses and pandering to trends.
Attend a Reformed not just theological reform but ecclesiological church and hear simple acoustic one instrument music that is quickly drowned out by the united voices of the saints singing the time tested deep psalms, hymns and spiritual songs that the church has been singing from the day of Pentecost this is what unites a church with each other and the faith once delivered.
Thanks, Former Creative Director. I share your conviction that the main worship leader for every local church, whether he realizes it or not, is the senior pastor. The trend towards performancism is a multi-headed monster that will most effectively be killed by pastors and their worship leaders in partnership. And the sad part of it is the nonchalant way that this notion is acknowledged and accepted as normal. Words fail me for how this grieves me. David, I am 62, been in church since ever I can remember, though not a pastor, I have been a worship leader.
But, too many pastor are too insecure to allow others to shine. I am assuming that when you say nonchalant you are talking about the way many churches approach Praise and Worship? If so I agree… To far too many it is just a preliminary to the preaching, instead of an oppurtunity to meet with Our Father. David, you are so right on. To me, everything comes back to the issue of paid staff — people who love the Lord, but whose livelihood and provision for family is bound up in the steady reaffirmation of their indispensability.
It runs counter to the priesthood of all believers. It works against congressional rule. And it has become a horrible enabler of the performancism that is so ably indicted in this classic post. I often struggle with knowing when I should do originals.. Gets my heart going, Love it! Hey Andrew their is nothing prideful about doing originals. Take time to home your craft and develop your sound. You have a creative authority and fresh revelation to share that will effect your community far more than a song written by a stranger a decade ago.
I agree! Nothing prideful about doing original songs. My encouragement to worship leaders is to use moderation i. Just use care when choosing whether your stuff is the best stuff. Music of any age can speak to community and reveal God. I would introduce original or any new music now and then. People do not sing when they do not know the song and two in the same set is too much in my experience. We had a guest worship leader when I was out of town and my pastor told me afterwards he did no songs our congregation knew and it was a train wreck.
Here is the real truth, you can repeat the same exact worship set every few weeks and it will be rare to find anyone who notices, but introduce too many new songs or arrangements and everyone notices. I know because I was at a place where we were short talent and we had to improvise for a couple months. Not one person commented on the 4 sets we rotated for about 8 weeks.
As regards to springing new music on a Sunday Morning. Depends on the complexity of the song. And, how it is introduced. All new at one go? The thought is, you expect interruptions. Worshipers in the congregation get a chance to learn new music and form a core group for Sunday Morning.
Fledgling musicians can sit in, be evaluated without the trauma of an audition. But, many churches don;t have Wednesday Nights. I know before I ever led, I would have because I love to Worship. But, I am also a perfectionist.
Reblogged this on An Author in the Works and commented: Interesting take on it. Read it and see what your thoughts are on the subject. Great article, well put. This trend goes pretty far back. I bet this offends many of you. If the music has to be so competitively perfect and impressive, consider you are performing for the wrong audience. How are we shepherding, encouraging, equipping, and enabling them to worship?
THAT would be the performance that truly matters, even if our music turns out a bit simple. Sometimes less is more. Craft your congregational repertoire with great care, be selective of the songs you let in, and be willing to let new material vet for a while.
The more up to date you are, the sooner you go out of date. I certainly understand how a person could be promoting themselves, but there are all sorts of reasons why someone who is most likely a naturally creative person would use their own songs in worship. All congregations learn new songs at some point; who wrote it is irrellevant. Should our most prolific worship songwriters today not sing their own tunes?
I began worshipping with my guitar well over twenty years ago just sitting alone in my room singing out my prayers. It took more than a decade before it even occurred to me to write them down or share them with anyone. God and their head pastor have entrusted them to make all sorts of decisions as leaders. I think we should too. I say this having just subbed in at a church that uses strobe lights, smoke machines, and the whole bit.
Their ministry is a blessing to the community, and I will be grateful to help them out again. Be careful in making assumptions about the hearts of people based upon what they do in ministry. Hi Josh. At my church we sing my original songs from time to time. I think this post proves quite the contrary. I hold a high view of them and their ministry, and my prayer for all of us is that we use our platforms with wisdom, care, humility, and Christ-centeredness.
Thanks for the clarification. I agree with your warnings, but I guess my concern was with your assumption that this is such a widespread issue that we are nearing a crash. While there is now an industry making money off of worship, I think the vast majority of worship leaders see it for what it is and are routinely checking themselves. I have found head pastors that view worship as little more than the energy boost before the message, but even that is rare.
I was worried that I had encountered such a church, but like I said, I was humbled to see just how deeply their hearts are turned to Christ. That was really my point. I write original music for all of them. I bring copies of the lyrics of the songs with me to service, I never leave with extra copies.
I hate sounding boastful but I am writing this to speak to your assumption that someone should not share their gift with their congregation. All the music I write is done in conjunction with the pastors and with the sole motivation of lifting up Spirit, to glorify God and serve as an example of authentic worship.
Most songs I write end up becoming part of our normal rotation. Does the pastor preach the same sermons on a 4 week rotation? No, but they will typically use a some forms of which the congregation may or may not be aware. They use theology supported by their denomination, etc. That is my approach. During communion I do a song that only has a few repeating sentences at a slower tempo so people can close their eyes and sing prayerfully without Gavin to watch the screen.
I appreciate your article and agree without all of it. Have we considered that congregation members enjoying and are uplifted by watching? I agree about key choices and a few of your other recommendations but let us not forget that just as there are many different types of worship leaders there are even more types of worship participants. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Very well balanced thoughts. Excellent article! People are hungry for genuine worship, not performnce-driven music. May God be glorified, not the praise team! Maybe my language was too pointed but I must admit that you struck a nerve. Circular reasoning— the congregation have to learn the popular songs also, just as they would non-pop songs. I absoluteley agree with you on certain points, but the solution is bigger than the points listed. Why is that? I realize there are a ton of comments here, thus making it difficult to wade through -also showing how much people care as well.
Sometimes the pastor will come to me with an affirmation from the sermon that I will set to music in a Taize worship fashion. I feel like I am repeating myself too often, so forgive my redundancy, I take offense to the supposition that original worship can not be meaningful.
The way it has been spoken here is as if the congregation is simply tolerating the worship leader, indulging them if you will. I also find it rather offensive to assume that the worship leader is a bad songwriter. Sure there are bad ones, should they be allowed to continue, no!
Are there bad pastors? Yes, should they be allowed to continue? Most certainly not. But what makes a bad song? Should they stop doing originals with their congregation? Hi Robby. You have to be OK with being disliked and unpopular and offending people and getting blank stares. But we should at least attempt to pull in as many people as we can. Honestly, I think one original song per Sunday is enough. Thanks for taking the time to reply Jamie. I was really just speaking to your opinion of how one should use original music.
I completely agree that we should do our best to appeal to as wide of a cross-section as possible. This is why I always plan a ranging aesthetic of music. All of your convictions are right at the forefront as well. Good theology, singable melody in a good key for everyone with a nice break at the end of the phrases to be able to make easy transitions between sections.
But then after service I will get tons of hugs and thanks for how I touched someone with my music speaking of a song I wrote or a song I wrote for one of the other praise team members. I think there are a great number of people who not only want to performed to but find it engaging and spiritually uplifting. Do you have an opinion on this? Again, thank you for indulging my questions. I stumbled upon your blog today and I am always interested in hearing how others approach the planning and practice of worship music.
Hey Robby. We have to introduce new songs at some point! And when new songs are taught, they should be taught in a way that makes it clear that the congregation is invited to sing along. And when special songs are presented, they should be presented in a way that helps people engage with them. I received an email the other day from a worship leader friend of mine. Here is some of his problem in the church where he serves.
That they somehow trump my training because they have sold a gazillion albums and pull crowds of They get to play and sing for minutes. How far would they get if they only had songs to do in 18 minutes to move people? Which songs do you think they would pick? They probably sing the songs they like and talk or text or Instagram the rest of the time.
Sound familiar? I wrote this two weeks ago. And we are also have to remember our congregation. If it was then what we are really saying is that God can only be praised when we sing that song, in that key, that way. And most likely not everyone in then congregation knows Passion, or has even heard that music. Plus any guest would not know the difference anyway.
Once your preparation is complete, rely on the power of God rather than on your own strength. By the way is performancism really a word? LOL John — a retired worship leader, professor, music teacher and still trying to get worship right! Now the pendulum has swung too far the other way! Now I want more hymns! Songs with meat! I may sell advertising, but I want to be a resource for pastors and churches that are my client and provide some value to what I do. Thanks for your thoughts.
God bless your ministry. This has been a growing concern of mine as I travel and connect with the worship community. It is time for Worship Leaders to recalibrate and refocus our worship on the King, not being the king. Great word and thank you for sharing! I agree with nearly everything except using original music in extreme moderation. Using an original song does not automatically mean it is inaccessible to your congregation, or self indulgent, or will take the focus off of God.
Those are all just assumptions. Original music can be just as profound and accessible for your congregation as popular worship songs. I agree with you that original songs, if done well, can be effective. Brown suggested that maybe some of them are using their own original songs too much.
This is not meant to be an attack on the songwriting worship leader. BTW, this is coming from a guitar-playing, song-writing, former worship leader. As a worship leader and artist both I want to say thank you for this honest and well worded post. So many times I hear bands who specifically call themselves worship bands singing songs that only they know or their listeners and congregation and often times with no lyrics helping the crowd follow along.
Your list of suggestions in the middle is good for the most part. Thanks, Bethany. I agree with what Bethany is saying. I felt similarly when reading this post — several of the things you mention are preferences, like the lighting. In our church, we have found that lower light levels encourage people to participate more, because they are less self conscious that people are watching them.
Again, that is what we have found works to facilitate worship best in our setting, or simply put, it is the preference of our congregation. I LOVED those songs that I had never heard before, and as a side note thought he did an incredibly effective job of leading us through the melodies with his simple, non-weird hand motions.
Back to my point, I think that how many original songs you sing, or new songs are all a matter of preference as well. Same thing for IMAG of the worship leaders. One one hand it can glorify the worship leaders and on another hand in a venue that is large enough, it may actually facilitate worship to be able to see the magnified image of the worship leaders.
Tim Timmons is a great example of that. What he was doing to lead us through the new songs would have been helpful to see in a larger context, especially if it was in a room that was any larger. I think the heart of your post is on-point and this is a topic that worship leaders need to always be wrestling with, because the underlying question is, how can I most effectively lead people to connect with God in worship, but I think it is one that can lead us into dangerous territory where we may misinterpret the intentions of those who have different preferences than us, calling them out for performancism, when it might not be that at all.
Thanks for this post, you have a lot of great insight here. Creating an atmosphere for people to enter into the presence of the Lord is the job of a worship leader. In regards to the big screens and panning in on the worship leader, I think this can be an incredibly powerful tool for connecting with a congregation, especially in a larger environment.
Overall, very great article. Thanks, Brandon. I appreciate what you have to say. Reblogged this on johnforbis. Thanks for sharing Jamie!!! I understand your logic, but I have to disagree with you. Trends and styles will come and go and this is just one were in right now. On a side note, I grew up with my mom singing in the choir and going back into a key change when the crowd responded well, and I thought it reeked of performance.
I feel like what I do is genuine but my kids wont. Sing a new Song!!! You know what really bothers me about worship teams these days? And what do I see? I visit other churches fairly often for various special speakers and so forth. It reminds me of high school, really! My school had lots of them. Those cliques were what I am talking about here! David S that has been my experience too, but my experience was a very bad one so this is with a grain of salt.
Like I said, my experience was pretty bad and it breaks my heart because I am a musician and I long to worship within a team again. The gift they share and express together is special, for sure, but they need to be aware that the air of exclusivity they put across is very bad and damaging. But again that should come from the top down. None of us think we are higher than the other. In fact, it seems like half the congregation ends up on the platform every Sunday after worship.
That being said, this is, I find, one of the most difficult things about Christianity — we often have an expectation of Christians to be different, better, less prone to certain things, but the fact is we are all still sinners and continually need to check ourselves.
None of us is above committing any of the sins you listed. We all need the grace and forgiveness of God and others around us to smooth out the rough edges. About a year ago, I inquired at the church I was attending about whether I could contribute in any way to the films and videos that the church created and showed in the service each Sunday.
Thanks, Jamie. We have journeyed many miles together and I am the richer for it. As I lead our team and congregation week in and week out, I really appreciate the checks and challenges in your post. Thanks for leading us leaders. But when it comes to LEADING others in worship, I do think that there are some important principles, the major one being to facilitate worship, taking into account how people in the church best worship.
Our church used tepid, unsingable, unrhyming, no-tune songs for a while because they were originals of the worship leader. They did not work as congregational worship songs! Since when is it a loving thing to hurt my ears and make my chest pound? I literally feel assaulted by the music sometimes. Competent enough to not distract with mistakes non-showy enough to not distract with show-offy-ness.
As someone who trains worship leaders in a Bible College, this article is insightful and I largely concur with your assessment. The more I know and teach about leading worship practically the more I wish to stop talking about all of that and focus on the one thing that matters — knowing Jesus. There are a million ways to suggest how to build a worship set, how to lead, what key to put things in, using Nashville numbering systems for chord charts, how to do the lighting for optimal experience, how to have a good working relationship with the Pastor, Songwriting, etc, etc.
Its the heart — not the art — that matters most and models well for others what matters to God. We are and will be held accountable for our leadership of this nature. Its takes both great skill and desired focus in the right place to achieve a good balance. Anytime we pat ourselves on the back for a job well done for any other accomplishment in worship, we should take notice and search our hearts.
Instead, ask God for those called, anointed, and qualified with that which matters most to Him when it comes to worship!! Worship leaders should lead people to God, not people to people. We NEED leaders who really know their own need to rely on the Lord for strength to lead and do so out of conviction of faith, not great manipulation or people-pleasing skills. Luke Only ONE thing is needed. Hey Marcia Alverson — I think you have a really great point about the 1 thing that worship leaders really need to do.
I think you must be a relevant teacher at your Bible College, by the way. I thought the exact same thing. I would encourage my congregation to intentionally try to connect with God in those moments, even if it means closing their eyes and just soaking it in instead of singing. All pastors unite to make it right. Or people will flee the church. Edited version Jamie- stay on top of this and through your eyes, ears and voice you can push this rope up the hill.
And unchurched will stay that way. There is a young man who has a group called Esterlyn who lead s worship, and i was deeply moved when they came to our church. They are musically excellent, but the spirit is not one of entertainment, but worship. This is what worship should be. Not a show, but surrender. Reblogged this on Brake 5. I appreciate what you are saying here. As a singer in the bass register, I often drop out of congregational singing because it just sounds weird to have a bellowing frog singing the melody line of a worship song.
For this reason I prefer hymns, because in many cases the words and focus are solid and every voice can find a place to contribute. Even the bellowing frogs can sing their one bellow-y low note the whole time and it sounds like a chorus. That is all. Reblogged this on hunnymoney and commented: There is a lot of truth in this, and frankly it is a bigger concern at larger churches.
I attend a large church and serve in the worship ministry. I must confess that there are times when I think there is too much emphasis on performing for the congregation rather than leading them in worship. In fairness I do not feel this way often, which is good. However, in many large churches like ours there are many people who are talented enough to be performers; actors, singers, instrumentalists, etc.
We must always remember that God could raise up a rock to sing more beautifully than we ever could if He chose to do it. Our talents are gifts from Him an should always be used to point others to Him. We must not ever reach the point where we are so performance-driven that we actually disengage the congregation from the very worship we are supposed to be leading. God uses us by His grace, not our ability and any worship that tends to focus more on us and our performance than on Him and His love is dangerous.
I agree with your concern and warning. Listening to all sorts of music outside of the worship of God is fine… but why sing songs of men that are far inferior to the Psalms that God wrote himself? If your congregation likes your original lyrics and you recycle the songs enough that they can learn and appreciate them, great! All throughout there and especially in the golden age of the nation of Israel worship was absolutely an experience.
Not an experience that remained on the emotional or feelings level although those are fully in there but an encounter with the Word or words of God and His presence which is the same thing as encountering God himself. Revelation I think that this is a good view point but I struggle with people needing the perfect conditions to worship. Why can we not worship even when others are preforming. Why give up? Why do we rely on others to be so influential on our personal experience.
I lead worship at a young adults service and the band was accused of performing. You cannot force people to worship. There will always be people reading the bulletins unfortunately. I do agree with the song choices and making it as easy as possible for people, but you will not please everyone. Hi Robyn. But worship leaders should pursue the heart of a servant towards their congregation, and seek to engage as many people as they can, knowing that not everyone will accept that invitation.
Sadly, in many evangelical circles today, the songs and leaders are becoming a bit less invitational. Thank you for posting your thoughts. However, we are careful that changes are strategic and also gradual. This is done so that we can bring along with us as many people as possible, inviting and encouraging them to participate. Planning and leading a group of people to God in worship is not about picking the top three or four favorites songs. It should be about how we are using songs to present the message of the Gospel…the story of God…the complete story of God.
Each week as we choose songs for worship we look for songs with great biblical content that can be sung by the congregation. And yes…we often changes the keys of the songs so that the melodic range is accessible to the congregation. Especially when they are the only ones who can sing the songs. However, a trend that is just as disturbing to me is that of the rotating worship leader.
This occurs when the congregation does not know from week to week who will be leading them. Granted a worship leader who is a consistent stage presence does not have to lead every song, pray every prayer or segue through every song transition. Michael, good to hear thoughts from someone with your experience and years in and leading worship. Our worship leader sent a link to this post to our entire praise team and encouraged us to read so that we can discuss our thoughts as a group.
You have certainly inspired people to converse about a very important aspect of the worship service so kudos for that! Thought provoking, excellent points and well written. Be blessed! Reblogged this on mike ruel and commented: This is a very important read for all worship leaders.
How about putting worship leaders and bands behind the congregation? How about Churches start writing their own songs and have elders review for theology, instead of grabbing the latest CCM hit song and applying it to worship with no regard to the theology of the CCM artist that wrote the song?
How about worship being the whole of our service not just the signing part? How about writing songs that are verbatim scripture? I agree with almost all of this post. I was at the conference as well. I am not a worship leader. I was invited by our team to attend some of the tech breakouts. However, I used to lead worship with a team for students, so music is in my background.
Where I have to disagree with you is from the standpoint of the music at the conference. According to your post you keep up with quite a bit of music dealing with worship. I do not, but I had no problem singing, worshiping, and quickly learning the majority of the songs during the morning worship sessions.
However, on Wednesday morning there was a gentleman on piano and two singers that was extremely painful during the morning worship session. I looked around that room and that gentleman was playing the piano with his seriously outdated tone, and style, and the room was almost numb.
It was not a performance, it was not an act, it was a room full of people glorifying God through music. Again I agree with you about the performance driven aspect of your post, but I did not walk away thinking all of the worship at the national worship leaders conference was a show with people watching or music hard to learn and follow.
Hi Dave. I agree with you about the Wednesday morning session. And since most of us in the room even you were musicians, we were able to pick up on the songs once we got to the second or so chorus. But it took some work. I heard them sound-checking and they seemed to be drawing from a much more well-known repertoire of songs.
I really, really agree, but I do have a question about one thing. How does a worship leader differentiate between doing things that overflow from his or her personality and doing things that are just performing? When I came of age and began being involved on worship teams it sure seemed like the direction musicians and aspiring worship leaders were given was to remove their personality from the leading of worship at all costs or above everything else.
When an individual really enjoys God and does that in front of other people, however, the line between what people see as personality, leading corporate worship, and performing can get fuzzy. It is a moving target that requires us to freshly hear the voice of God and humbly with boldness follow in faith where we see Him leading because He is leading.
He is leading, and the river of life flows from His throne.
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