Today I want to begin unpacking this proposed definition of a corporate worship leader’s role:
An effective corporate worship leader, aided and led by the Holy Spirit, skillfully combines biblical truth with music to magnify the worth of God and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, thereby motivating the gathered church to join him in proclaiming and cherishing the truth about God and seeking to live all of life for the glory of God.
An effective corporate worship leader… If I’m in front of a group, I’m leading. Whether it’s through verbal contributions, facial expressions, or bodily posture, people are following me. That raises some questions. What am I leading people to? Am I aware that I’m being followed? Am I doing anything to make my leadership fruitful? Romans 12:8 says leaders must lead with zeal (ESV), or govern diligently (NIV). We should never think that we can lead people to praise God without any thought or preparation. To be effective, a leader must know where he’s going, how to get there, and how to take others along with him. That kind of leadership requires intentional effort and consistent faithfulness.
At times we can make it sound as though worshipping God together is entirely a mystical, unpredictable experience. More than once I’ve heard something like, “I just don’t understand why last week we really experienced God’s presence and this week our praise didn’t seem to make it past the ceiling.” While God may relate to us in different ways at different times, He is not hiding from us, waiting to see if we’ll find the right combination to unlock His blessing, power, and presence. Worship in spirit and truth isn’t something we’re waiting to have “happen” to us, but something we give to God. God can at any moment choose to reveal His presence in our midst, but He has identified specific actions and attitudes that glorify Him, and to which He generally responds. Critical words, for example, quench the Spirit, while praise invites His activity and involvement.
We reap what we sow. When we moved into our house eight years ago our lawn was non-existent. We were surrounded by dirt. For five years I aerated, planted seed, fertilized, and waited. During that time, an amazing thing happened. Grass grew. Despite my poor horticultural talents, I reaped what I sowed. We will reap what we sow when we lead people to worship God as well. If we sow to musical experiences, we’ll reap a desire for better sounds, cooler progressions, and more creative arrangements. If we sow to feelings, we’ll reap meetings driven by the pursuit of emotional highs. On the other hand, if we want people to glorify God, we must sow to His glory. We must paint a compelling, attractive, grand, biblical picture of our great God and Savior. In order to do that, we need the power of God’s Spirit. That’s the topic tomorrow.