A Worship Manifesto

I previously served as Director of Worship at a large church. Near the end of my first year I presented this Manifesto to my team. Easter Week seems like a good time to pass it along to others, especially anyone involved in leading worship. 

We’re called to love God with our whole being (Deuteronomy 6:5). We should worship that way too. But how? Here are Seven Points that can help us fulfill our calling as worship leaders:

Get the order right. Paul Baloche reminds us that “the flow (of a worship service) begins in the heart.” We must seek God in every aspect of our lives, and then continue our worship by drawing others into His presence. People should see Him in us, and say, “I want that, too!”

Worship is a response. It doesn’t begin with us. The key Bible words for worship are reactions: Shachah (Hebrew) means to “fall” or “prostrate” ourselves in His presence. Proskuneo (Greek) means to “lick,” suggesting an animal’s adoring response to a loving master. The infinite Creator of the universe started this—and he loves us! How can we not respond?

Find the flow. Like a river, worship already exists. But to fully experience it, we must dive in! A true worship leader helps people dive into that river of living water. And not just through music or prayer: wise, spiritual teachers reveal the character of God, making people want to dive into His presence–together!

Allow breathing space. No matter how structured worship time may be—and structure is good—there should also be room for a sensitive preacher or other leader to slow things down and say, “Wait—let’s pray now, praise or simply wait on the Lord.”

Be a bridge. God’s representatives are called in I Chronicles 23:13 to both build and, in a sense, be bridges, forming connections between God and his followers, or, to use a different metaphor, to be matchmakers, drawing others into His arms.

Remove obstacles. Anything that blocks the bridge should be removed or reconfigured: busyness, clunky transitions, poker-faced singers—anything. Our goal is to lead worshippers on a journey to the heart of God, one with as few switch-backs and potholes as possible. Clear the way!

Lead. And then disappear. My family once toured Mammoth Caves in Kentucky, the longest known cave system in the world. Our tour guide was perfect. She prepared us thoroughly and told us fascinating stories along the way. Her knowledge of (and love for) the caves was almost as endless as the caves themselves. And yet, when the tour was over, it was the caves we remembered.

Worship leaders are like that tour guide: they are knowledgeable and thoughtful, sensing the group’s needs, and driven by an infectious  passion for the journey into God’s heart. They point out amazing sights along the way, and keep the group together. They are active, hands-on guides. And yet in the end, because they are good leaders,

It’s the journey we remember.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to A Worship Manifesto

  1. E says:

    Mitch, good, bad or sadly off key I always cry during worship. Something about intentionally slowing down in front of God, it’s even different from meditation and prayer. As mysterious to me as those caves you visited.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So, what you’re saying is be like a bass player (bassist); be a part of the worship experience, but never stand out, just be missed if you’re not there. Sorta like that, at least. That’s part of my bass philosophy.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. nancyehead says:

    Great insights here, Mitch! God bless!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. revruss1220 says:

    Perfectly said and well timed as I prepare for this Holy Week worship. God’s blessings to you on your own journey to the Open Tomb!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. dewdropjoy says:

    Thank you.
    I am currently not involved with a ‘big church’ on a regular basis and I miss corporate worship with worship leaders who led the way and then got out of the way. Seeing the images of the dancers brought back bitter sweet memories for me, too. A season that is past in my life. I am reminded this week that God is a God of redemption and hope. That’s what I am holding onto in life at this time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Our music director 20 years ago did a good job as you pointed out. We had such great blessings in worship!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Paula says:

    I enjoyed reading this and it’s good advice. Thanks for showing us these photos and explaining their musical worship. It appears that they are presenting their hearts in Spirit and Truth.

    Here’s how my church worships on the day of Sabbath, even with some of it being invisible to most because it’s behind the scenes. 1) Prayer group in the atrium and with every serving team throughout the church just after sunrise, enjoying every aspect of prayer God loves to receive 2) Corporate worship in song with prayer following 3) Pastor offers preaching/teaching then prays 4) worship through tithing and offerings 5) closing prayer by staff pastor. Personally, I see every aspect of my experience on Sunday, and those during the week, to be worship if God is included in the experience.
    Blessings to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a perfect description of how to truly worship! I hope lots of people read this, Mitch! You’re thoughts here are truly on target! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. gpavants says:

    Mitch,

    What a very practical guide to worship. I will tell you I am always learning how it is not about me, but the Lord in times of worship.

    Thank you,

    Gary

    Liked by 1 person

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