If you’re just joining us, I’m currently describing what I think is the biblical role of someone who leads the church in congregational worship. We’ve covered this in the first 14 posts:
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…
Today, I’m going to unpack the next phrase:
To join him in proclaiming and cherishing the truth about God.
As I mentioned last week, an effective corporate worship leader invites others to join him in what he is already doing – exalting the Savior with his whole being. That truth has led some to use the term “lead worshipper” to describe the person who leads public praise. We aren’t leading others out of theory, or guesswork, or pointing them to something we have no experience in. We are inviting them to join us in what we ourselves are doing.
Proclaiming what is true about God is often underrated. We think we know enough facts about God and now just need to “experience” Him. Or maybe we think that we don’t need to be reminded of what we already understand.
Our hearts reveal something different. Every time we give in to fear, anxiety, envy, lust, anger, or any sin, we are functionally saying that we’ve forgotten who God is. Proclamation helps set our minds and hearts right, and reminds us of the convictions and realities that guide and govern our daily lives.
The world is constantly proclaiming lies to us – “God doesn’t exist. It’s all about you. Sin has no consequences. This is all there is. The more you own, the happier you are.” We gather to declare to ourselves, to each other, and to God what we KNOW to be eternally true. There is one God. We have rebelled against Him. He sent His Son to die in our place for our sins. We have forgiveness and peace with God through Him. He is sovereign over the universe and the details of our lives.
Biblical worship always contains an element of proclamation.
O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. (Ps. 71:17)
But our aim isn’t simply to proclaim the truth about God, but to be passionate about it. We aren’t simply aware that Jesus is our Savior, we are amazed. We aren’t just checking in with God; we are cherishing our relationship with Him.
I was talking to a friend today about this very topic. When I stand in front of a group of people, I don’t want to look or sound like I’m just reading some prepared script, or making sure I’m doctrinally correct (although preparation and biblical faithfulness are both important!) I want my voice, my posture, my words, everything about me to say, “I am in awe of this God we are praising right now. I am undone by His mercy, overcome with gratefulness for His kindness, and sobered by His holiness. His steadfast love is better than life itself!”
That kind of emotion isn’t something we put on or work up. It springs up naturally as we take time to reflect on this amazing God Who has created us for His glory. One of the common mistakes I think we can make as worship leaders is to pack our time together so tightly that no opportunity exists for reflect on or be affected by the truths we’re proclaiming. That’s one good reason for short musical interludes between verses or songs. Both proclaiming and cherishing are important.
John Owen, a Puritan pastor from the 17th century, wisely wrote:
Where the light of revelation is not accompanied by spiritual experience and power in our souls, then it will end either in outward formality or atheism. (John Owen, The Glory of Christ, pg. 115)
May we never be satisfied with either mere intellectual knowledge of God’s greatness or ungrounded enthusiastic passion.