Yesterday I described eight worship leader stereotypes who aren’t quite sure what to say when they’re standing in front of a group of people. Today I wanted to give four reasons why we should say anything.
When we’re leading corporate worship, our first responsibility is to magnify the greatness of God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. We’re saying with David, “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!” (Ps. 34:3)
When I use the word “magnify” I’m not referring to the way a microscope magnifies something very small, but to the way a telescope magnifies something very big that only looks small to us.
Music may move people’s emotions, but it won’t necessarily direct people to focus on the greatness of God in Christ. Our words can help them. People often come in to meetings distracted, thinking about everything but God, and viewing God as smaller than their problems. In addition, our minds are “prone to wander.” As we passionately proclaim his Word, his works, and his worthiness, God becomes bigger in our eyes.
The second reason to say something is that we want to help people see why the truths we’re singing should make a difference in their lives. That’s a part of the “teaching and admonishing” Paul speaks of in Col. 3:16. We want to connect the truths of God’s Word and the gospel to people’s situations. What lies are they believing about God? What temptations do they face? What common experiences do they share? It can be as simple as taking one line from the song you just sang and explaining why it should make a significant difference in your life and outlook.
Specific application is usually better than broad. It’s true that “Jesus paid it all.” But it’s usually more helpful to say something like,
“Some of us came in here this morning weighed down by our sins. It might be something we did yesterday, or ten years ago. But our condemnation is making us feel distant from God and unaware of his love. Listen again: “Jesus paid it all.” That means if you’ve trusted in the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ for your sins, we can say with David in Psalm 103 ‘as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.’ Your sins are no longer yours to bear! Jesus paid it all!”
Whenever we’re seeking to apply what we’re singing, we want to seek to make our comments pastoral and persuasive. In others words, we’re not just stating truth. We’re seeking to care for people’s souls. And we’re not simply speaking in a disinterested way. We want to persuade those we’re leading that what the truths we’re singing, when accompanied by faith, are powerful tools in God’s hands to renew our minds and hearts.
In 1 Cor. 14:7-8 Paul says we’re to make sure that people understand what’s going on in a meeting. That brings to the third reason to say something – clarity. Any liturgy done without understanding can turn into a lifeless ritual for those present. And contrary to popular belief, explaining things doesn’t have to quench the Spirit. It can even be biblical. Take time to explain what people might not know or bring theological weight to words and actions that people might miss. Here are some questions you can answer:
Why did we sing the last song? Why are we singing the next song? Why are we doing something besides singing? Why are we doing something other than what we normally do? What just happened?
You can explain uncommon lyrics or phrases (here I raise mine Ebeneezer), as well as common ones (grace, mercy, glory). We can also clarify issues like:
Why don’t we do this by ourselves at home? Why do we sing? What should we be doing with our bodies? What are we learning about as a church?
A fourth reason we might say something between songs is to inspire those we’re leading (although it doesn’t always have that effect).
Seek to inspire faith in God, because without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6)
Seek to inspire hope in God, because we are called to abound in hope (Rom. 15:13)
Seek to inspire love for God, because loving God is the greatest commandment (Mt. 22:36-38)
Feel free to follow up with questions or comments on what I’ve written here. In my next post, I’ll share a number of thoughts and practices that have helped me and others over the years.
You can read Part One of this series here.