What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 10

When someone stands (or sits) in front of a congregation to lead them in worshipping God, what’s their goal? I believe it is this:

To magnify the worth of God and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

David invites us in Psalm 34:3: “Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” When people walk into church service, they might be magnifying all sorts of things, from the superficial to the serious – deadlines, unpaid bills, an unkind comment from a friend, a lab test for cancer that came back positive, a “thump-thump” sound the car is making, the championship game this afternoon, a rebellious child, some besetting sin, or a million other details of life. What we magnify tends to absorb our time, energy, thoughts, and hearts. As we begin singing, I want them to help them remember that God is bigger than their problems and their joys, greater than their sorrows and their successes, more significant than their testings and their triumphs. Because we lose perspective so easily, I want to make God “bigger in their eyes.” God doesn’t become bigger – it just seems that way.

It’s like looking up at the stars at night. To the naked eye they appear like small, twinkling, harmless lights hanging in the sky. However, when we look a through a high-power telescope, we find out what they really are: massive spheres of raging fire, millions of times larger than the planet we live on. What a difference in perspective! The stars don’t change, but our appreciation of them does. Of course, knowing how big stars are may not impact our lives much. But knowing how great God is will.

So how do we magnify the worth, value, and significance of God in our hearts, minds, and wills? Following the example of the psalmists, I’ve found it helpful to think of three categories about God to focus on: His Word, His worthiness, and His works.

I had a discussion once with a friend about whether it’s ever appropriate to praise God’s Word. He grew up in a culture where Bible knowledge was an end in itself, apart from a relationship with the Savior it revealed. Bad experiences notwithstanding, God encourages us to thank and praise Him for His Word. God is a speaking God whose primary means of relating to us, outside of the Incarnation, is words. So we join the Psalmist in trusting in the God “whose word I praise; in the Lord, whose word I praise.” (Ps. 56:10) The longest song in Scripture (Psalm 119) is a glorious rehearsal of the ways God’s Word has affected, changed, shaped, encouraged, and ruled our lives.

So a wise worship leader isn’t primarily concerned about coming up with the most creative musical arrangements, the best video images, or some engaging personal anecdote. He makes sure that God’s Word is sung, proclaimed, reveled in, preached, explained, and treasured – all so that God Himself might be magnified in our eyes. Tomorrow, we’ll look at magnifying God’s worthiness and His works.

Read Part 11 of What Does a Worship Leader Do?

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6 Responses to What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 10

  1. Trevor Foley July 19, 2011 at 9:45 PM #

    Hi, Bob, i’m enjoying reading your blog and I am definitely learning a lot. One thing that I’ve read multiple times on this blog is that a worship leader should not be as concerned about a cool progression as they are with the word of God and that it is portrayed well, which makes sense to me, but is that to say that one should not be concerned with a cool progression whatsoever?

    Thanks!

    • Bob Kauflin July 20, 2011 at 12:46 AM #

      Trevor, thanks for reading the blog! It’s a matter of relative importance. A cool progression should serve a purpose beyond being “cool.” It should draw attention somehow to the lyrics it’s complementing. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, so we give it our best shot. The point is, if I’m always more affected by harmonic progressions rather than the words, I’m missing the point of the music, especially in a congregational setting.

  2. Trevor Foley July 20, 2011 at 8:06 PM #

    That makes sense.

    I’ve worked on a few song interpretations of scripture, so it makes sense to me how one can use God’s word or theology as a source of musical inspiration in order to compliment the lyrics and draw attention to the lyrics.

  3. Scott Perreault September 6, 2011 at 2:39 PM #

    Totally enjoying this series! Concerning the concept of praising God’s Word, I would offer this balance: I recall the words of the psalmist: “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” And in the words of Christ to the Pharisees: “You study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.” Praise of the Word in the context of the magnificence of God= awesome. Praise of the Word itself and ignoring the works of God = not as awesome. For what it’s worth…

    • Bob Kauflin September 6, 2011 at 7:22 PM #

      Scott, totally agree. The Word is precious to us because it is God’s Word and reveals his character to us.

  4. Prudence Leusch January 24, 2013 at 11:21 AM #

    John 1…and the word was with God and the word was God…praising the Word = praising God. Wouldn’t you agree? He is awesome! I am totally enjoying this blog. Very informative and inspiring.

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