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.