What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 14

Yesterday I talked about the issue of motivating the church to worship God. Judging from the comments yesterday, I’d guess that this is an issue for more than a few leaders. Kevin asked, “If you’re leading worship and the people don’t seem motivated to respond in worship, is that your fault?”

The simple answer is no. It is every individual’s privilege and responsibility to give glory to God regardless of what they’re going through or who is leading them. But leaders can do things to hinder people praising God or refrain from doing things that could encourage them. But first, we want to be careful how we define a “successful” time of corporate worship. Here are some potentially unreliable indicators:

• The people seemed excited.
• The music really flowed.
• Everybody was in tune.
• Everyone was raising their hands.
• No one was raising their hands.
• We nailed that new arrangement of Blessed Be Your Name.
• Everyone sang at the top of their voices.
• Quite a few people came up to me afterwards and said they were really blessed.
• No one complained.
• The joint was jumpin’.

Many of these statements MAY be an indicator that people are worshipping God, but none of them contain any objective standard that we can use as a measure. People can be excited for all the wrong reasons. Music can excite emotion apart from truth. Musical excellence isn’t the same thing as worship in spirit and truth. People can act a certain way simply out of rote or because they fear man.

My goal when I lead people in worshipping God is to display, as clearly as possible, the magnificence, greatness, supremacy, and grace of the one true God, revealed to us in Jesus Christ. I want to use music, words, and physical postures to draw attention to His Word, His deeds, and His worthiness. That’s something that I can purpose to do, prepare to do, and evaluate after I’ve done it.

If I’m seeking to draw attention to the greatness of God and people don’t respond in a visible way (enthusiastic singing, physical expressiveness, obvious engagement), there could be a number of reasons. First, I might not be doing a good job of keeping the main thing the main thing. That is, I might be allowing secondary elements (music, video, sound) to distract them. Second, they might not be well taught on the place of expression and engagement in corporate worship. Third, they might be a large number of non-believers present. Fourth, musical settings or execution might be hindering or distracting people (music is too loud, playing is sloppy, etc.) These are just a few thoughts that come to mind. Next Tuesday, I’ll move on to the next part of the definition I’ve been unpacking. Maybe some day, I’ll even finish this series.

Read Part 15 of What Does a Worship Leader Do?

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5 Responses to What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 14

  1. Marcguyver February 24, 2006 at 3:08 AM #

    “My goal when I lead people in worshipping God is to display, as clearly as possible, the magnificence, greatness, supremacy, and grace of the one true God, revealed to us in Jesus Christ. I want to use music, words, and physical posture to draw attention to His Word, His deeds, and His worthiness.”

    Mr. Kauflin, should we also as “Worship Leaders” be attempting to bring a ‘pleasing sacrifice’ as it were to God?
    Just thinking out loud here, but can I sing songs to God as an ‘offering’ to Him with the hopes that the congregation will follow the example and do the same?
    Not as a way of declaring who Christ is, but more of a way as something that God just deserves?

  2. Dan Hames February 24, 2006 at 9:56 AM #

    “Mr. Kauflin, should we also as “Worship Leaders” be attempting to bring a ‘pleasing sacrifice’ as it were to God?”

    I’m not sure this is quite right. Christ was the ultimate sacrifice that had to be presented to God.

    Having said that, rendering to God what is his (praise, adoration, thanksgiving etc) is certainly right. Just the term “sacrifice” is problematic, I think.

    Dan

  3. Mike February 27, 2006 at 8:45 AM #

    Why are compliments so difficult? I don’t have any trouble receiving compliments in any other area of my life, but when people compliment me after our worship service on Sunday Morning it makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Does anyone else experience this? Case in point: Yesterday morning as I greeted people on their way out after our morning service a lady stopped the line at the back of the church to tell me “how great I am and what she loved about the way I lead the worship service, which was that I projected a sincere love for God in what I do.” While certainly I hopefully project a sincere and true love for God in what I do, how do you receive a compliment such as this? I typically say thank you and tell them that I indeed do love what I do. I always want to deflect the praise, but to just state that “it’s all God” or point upward seems a bit trite and even more presumptuous to me, indicating that God uses me especially because of who I am, when I certainly wouldn’t want to make people think that I am anything special. I guess my question is, How do you deflect praise and still be cordial?

  4. Peter Schott March 1, 2006 at 6:06 PM #

    Mike,
    I’m with you on that one. It’s hard to take compliments when acting as a song leader and/or soloist. I know that I want people to see God and realize that it’s only through Him that I can do what I do. Maybe they realize that, maybe not. I know I don’t like applause after something I do just because it sounds like people are hearing my performance rather than joining with me in worship.
    Personally, I’ve seen a couple of ways others have led people towards response that worked well. One was when a soloist sang very well, worshiping the whole time and then turned straight into a prayer when he finished -thanking and praising God. Another is the way Acappella ends their concerts currently by getting everyone to join in and leaving the stage/altar/focus area while everyone is still singing. Awesome way for people to realize that it’s all about Him. No curtain calls or anything, either. :-)

    As for accepting the compliment – I’ve started just accepting them with a simple “Thank You”. When working with the worship leaders (pastors, choir, instrumentalists, soloists, etc) this can be brought up about how to teach people about worship through examples. No need to make people feel bad, but as noted in a more recent post here – as simply as indicating that we continue to worship as we move through phases or similar things.

    -Pete

  5. Charlotte Bubb April 30, 2013 at 3:46 PM #

    I used to sing in the worship group, but as I used to sing in musicals, I got compliments, which I regretted as I felt I had distracted people from their own worship. As people ‘ can be excited by music alone’ I have quite a problem with any music per se that drowns out or is more prominent than the singing / words.

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