I wrote the following article for our church’s winter 2011 newsletter. -PB
I’d like to address and area of serving and worship that I’ve struggled with over the years. Here’s the question:
“As a worship leader should I be focused on being a worshiper on the platform or should I be the leader?”
Some are of the opinion that, as a worship leader or a person on the worship team, we should primarily be a worshiper and lead by example, showing people “how” to worship by our actions. But is that the best answer to the question?
There are some Sunday mornings (or rehearsals) where things just don’t seem to come together and we often find ourselves working harder than usual. On the other hand, we often experience worship services that just flow and everything comes easily. There are many reasons for these different outcomes – a new song compared to a crowd favorite, the wrong key or a good key for our instrumentation and voices, equipment failure or maybe having the perfect mix, lack of preparation or a great rehearsal, stressful personal situations or having a productive week, poor communication or honest transparency, spiritual maturity or sinful behavior, etc.
I have gone back and forth with the struggle to lead vs. letting go of leadership and simply trying to demonstrate worship. Am I able to worship if I’m thinking about directing the music? Am I able to demonstrate an attitude and heart for worship if I’m thinking about the words on the screen, or the levels of the sound system? Am I more effective as a worship leader if I ignore the logistics of Sunday morning and just play the piano and sing? And what about the rest of the team? It can be a lot of work to remember a new song, to execute the queues for turning microphones on/off, or to anticipate the next slide for the lyrics on the screen (especially when the worship leader starts to change things during the service). Are we supposed to turn off our ability to worship and substitute it with detailed personal effort and work like having another rehearsal during the worship service? Because hat’s what it can honestly feel like sometimes.
If you’re a volunteer in our worship ministry perhaps you have struggled with this; or maybe as a worshiper you wonder about how we accomplish a balance of personal effort vs. being a worshiper on the platform.
Harvest Core Value: Ministry Excellence and Innovation
In the last few years I’ve learned that the act of serving is worship. I used to think that I was being cheated as a worshiper if I had to remember a key change or an important transition – how selfish of me. It’s not about me. It’s about serving God, serving my congregation, serving the visitor, and so on. As your worship pastor and a worship leader it is my responsibility to lead – to make sure everything is ready to go on a Sunday morning so our church can be ushered into the presence of God in a meaningful and innovative way. There are times when I’m able to completely forget about the details and simply be a worshiper. However, there are times that I have learned that my best offering of worship is when I’m unselfishly serving God through my role as worship pastor and leader. I am continually learning to have an attitude of worship in the details and it’s OK (and necessary) to equip others (see Ephesians 4:11-12) to lead the congregation without having to be concerned about all the behind the scenes ‘stuff’ that most people never know about.
So, as a worshiper you should know that our approach as a worship ministry is to present worship through music and other artistic forms with excellence because God is worth it! The logistics and details of organizing a weekly service are important. The ability to make last minute changes, for any number of reasons, are important. The flexibility to adjust to mistakes or unexpected things is important. Our time of preparation is critical to serving you and that’s why we spend considerable time in prayer and sharing before each worship rehearsal.
Harvest Core Value: Authentic, Vibrant Worship
The volunteers in the worship ministry at Harvest love to serve you and we are committed to honoring God through our service. It’s a joy to bring you music, scripture, prayer, drama, and media in a way that teaches and demonstrates a worshiping heart each Sunday. Serving is worship!
If you have a worshiping heart and some musical and/or technical abilities I invite you to talk with me about being part of the worship ministry. In addition to musicians and sound techs, we have immediate openings to serve in the multimedia area. Our most urgent need is for volunteers willing to learn how to build our slideshows for Sunday mornings. It would also be helpful to have more operators to run the slides on Sunday mornings. You are being prayed for and I welcome your call anytime! By the way – this is a great opportunity for our youth, if you’re a teen with technical ability (that’s all of you, right?) please check with me right away.