Friday, April 8, 2011

How to Be a Good Worship Leader

The band is ready. The sound check is complete. Visuals are a go. Joe, the worship leader steps out on stage and begins the set. Hundreds, maybe thousands of congregants, either sing along or at least bob their heads to the music. Everything planned is presented flawlessly. However, as the worship team leaves the stage and the pastor brags on the musical presentation, Joe realizes that worship never really took place.

Determined not to have another bad experience, Joe throws himself into the planning and preparation for the next week. He programs the lights, checks and rechecks the lyrics, and broods over his song selection. The next corporate worship time passes with no change and he feels like a failure.

Joe attends a few worship conferences, updates his song list, and learns a few really cool guitar rifts. Sadly, after implementing what he has learned, none of these things help Joe feel successful in his worship leadership.

After a few months, Joe decides that he must not have what it takes to be a good worship leader. He meets with his pastor about his internal struggle, intending to resign at the end of their conversation.

After listening intently, the pastor leans toward Joe and asks, “Are you having the same trouble in your times of personal worship?”

A wave of realization sweeps across Joe’s face as he admits to his pastor and to himself that his personal times of worship have been virtually nonexistent.

“Joe,” said his pastor, “You need to consistently practice the presence of God. There is no other option if you want to be a good worship leader.”

Joe’s pastor is correct. If we are going to be good worship leaders, then we have to be good worshipers. This is more important than our musical ability, than our song repertoire, than our physical appearance, than our knowledge of all things technical, and even more than our personal charisma.

In John 12:26, Jesus said, Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am.

As worship leaders, we are tasked with bringing people into the presence of God. In other words, we are to lead people to where He is.

If we are going to lead people into God’s presence, we must know the way. That means that we have to be worshipers of the Lord personally, when we’re not on stage, when no one else is around, when we’re alone with the Lord, and when someone else is leading worship. We have to be worshiping disciples of Jesus.

We can’t lead people somewhere we haven’t been. There’s no corporate worship GPS system that will guide our congregations of people to encounter and experience God other than us. If we haven’t been in His presence, it doesn’t just affect us. It affects the weekly spiritual walk of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people.

We’ve practiced our instruments. We’ve practiced the songs. Now, let’s practice the presence of God.

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