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.