Worship Leaders, have you ever been asked this question? “How do we get our church to the next level in worship?” A google search reveals link after link of advice on how to take your career, business, life, golf game, finances, fitness, education…you name it, all to the next level. But what about worship, personal or corporate; are there different levels? What does that even mean anyway? Is this a cultural concept or a biblical concept? Does your church look to you each week to “elevate” the worship experience? Have you served a church that let you go because you couldn’t take them to the next level?
Church leadership is passionate about motivating the congregation. Countless hours are spent in prayer and sweat trying to inspire and energize people for ministry. It can be tempting to look at the music we worship with as a way to prod them into action. Have you heard statements like: We need to start every service with a high-energy, fast song. We need a break through. You’re not rocking enough. We need you to get us revved up on Sunday morning! If the music is rocking the house, the congregation responds – but is it God they’re responding to or just the music?
As you look out upon the congregation on Sunday morning, have you felt the weight of what I’m talking about? Is it really our responsibility as leaders of worship to “rev up” the congregation? Are we, as worship leaders, responsible for the congregation reaching a new level of worship? Or conversely, is it our fault if they don’t?
I’ve served several churches and been at ground-zero in some tense worship style battles. When I look back on it, I concede that my own biblical underpinning regarding what the Bible has to say about worship was lacking and prevented me from being a better leader in those discussions. I rarely sought God’s counsel through His Word. I was bringing my own feelings to the debate instead of sharing what scripture shows us. (The outcome of some of those battles might have been different.) Responding to God is at the heart of worship and music has been at the center of expressing that heart for thousands of years. All this has me interested in discovering what’s behind the desire to reach the “next level” of worship. My thoughts follow. Leave a reply and share in the discussion!
It’s impossible for the average or small church to reproduce the aural and visual experience of the modern-day Christian worship concert. That amazing, incredible worship concert on Saturday night places a pretty tall order on the worship team for Sunday morning. Are we trying to quench our thirst for intimacy with God by attempting to recreate the worship concert? At the National Worship Leader Conference in Leawood, Kansas last year, I heard clinician Stan Endicott say, “Why do we try to force a 105 decibel rock concert on our congregations at 9:00 on Sunday morning? In what other area in life does that kind of thing happen?!” Songwriter Paul Baloche calls Sunday morning the “Un-concert” for a reason.
Corporate worship is a journey that we travel together. But do we know where we’re going and how to get there? As a travel guide for this journey, how I can improve my leadership so that our congregation could feel unified in our Sunday morning destination? Russell Henderson makes the point in his post Worship Leader or Cheer Leader that many churches limit the length of their journey of worship to nothing more than a pep-rally for Jesus. They never make it to that place of intimacy with God that King David wrote about. Search me, O God, and know my heart…See if there is any offensive way in me. Psalm 139:23-24 Henderson points out that we have an obligation to allow times for the Holy Spirit to move and work in us individually and corporately. Like flossing, everyone agrees it’s a good thing to do but not everyone makes time for it.
Jesus tells the woman at the well (and us) that the Father is looking for true worshipers that will worship him in Spirit and Truth. John 4:23 Rus Henderson’s post, Worship Leader or Cheer Leader has an easy-to-understand insight about this passage. I was inspired to dig deeper so I went to the Blue Letter Bible to find out more about the original meaning of the Greek word for worship from this text. (BTW, here’s a great video on how to use the Blue Letter Bible online website.) The Greek transliteration for worship in this verse is proskyneō and means to kiss the hand in reverence, or to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence. Do you want to get to the next level in worship? Bow down. The Father is looking for worshipers willing to bow their lives before Him as a response to his immeasurable love. This is the ultimate destination to which He calls us. Trying to rev people up on our own is water that will only cause you to thirst again. Living Water that satisfies all thirst awaits those who choose a life bowed down before the Most High God.
Please join the conversation below. Next, I plan to share some thoughts on the question of responsibility I raised above. Is it a music style issue or a lifestyle issue? Stay tuned…