As a leader, I firmly believe that we never arrive, know it all, or ever experience a fullness of knowledge. There is always room for growth, more to learn and new experiences to be had.
I have been involved in leading worship and music ministry for over 10 years now. Recently I was asked to lead a workshop on worship at a leaders’ conference. In preparation for that, I have really been focusing on what makes for an effective worship experience (within a service setting). What elements can a worship leader/team focus on, in order to be most effective in engaging and bringing people into the presence of God?
Based on my own experience, having read other worship articles, and remembering what the Word of God teaches about worship, I have come up with two key elements that if executed well and in a harmonious combination with one another can draw and enable people into worship.
1. Part 1 - The Heart of Worship
John 4:24 | God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth | (ESV)
There is nothing more frustrating for me than going to a worship service, only to find out that I came to a concert. There is nothing wrong with concerts, however I think if a Sunday morning service has become a concert where the worship leader and the band play catchy music and the congregation listens and is highly entertained; then lets just call it a concert.
The point where a Worship Service moves from being just well rehearsed music, is when people’s hearts and spirits are engaging and taking part in praising and adoring the one whom we have come to sing about.
If God is spirit … I would suggest that it is impossible to truly seek Him without engaging our heart (spirit) and soul in our worship to Him. How can we worship a God who is spirit without engaging our spirit? To engage our spirit essentially means to engage our heart. Therefore, if God is spirit… we have truly missed the point of worshiping Him … until we engage our heart.
Just moving our lips and reading the lyrics on the pretty, moving backgrounds on the screen won’t do. To me that is as unreasonable and unsuccessful as going to the gym, touching all the equipment and believing that you put in a great workout. Furthermore, when we then turn around and say… ‘I just didn't feel God move in that service’, would be like saying… ‘Man, I’ve been going to the gym, touching all the equipment … but I’m not seeing any results.’
Although everyone’s response to worship varies and looks different, an engaged heart of worship should bear fruit, whether in demonstration of sorrow, weeping, joy, and or amazement of God’s character. An engaged heart of worship is the outward response to the inward working of the Holy Spirit.
If we are to worship God in truth… then our worship must be genuine. The word genuine means authentic, sure of what it is, not doubtful, but rather sincere. Jesus makes it clear in this scripture (John 4:24) that He is concerned with the position of our heart when it comes to seeking and worshiping Him.
Therefore as Worship leaders/teams I believe that it is our duty to one: demonstrate a heart of worship, and two: teach people the importance of it. A heart of worship is contagious and if we embody that as leaders on the platform people will follow (unless they don't, but that is ultimately their choice). Our job is to continue to show what a truly engaged heart of worship looks like.
The other key thing to remember is that we never know the walks or types of people that could be participating in our service(s), which is why I am a key believer in continually teaching on why we worship God, and how God intends for us to do it. There are many ways to do this, using scripture, analyzing song lyrics, using a personal testimony or experience, etc. The point is to keep informing, and reminding people of the importance of worship and to re-focus their entire being on the reason we have come to church; to praise God.
Stay tuned for Part 2: The Art of Worship.