In a conversation last week, I was told by someone who is a recent addition to a church choir how much they appreciated being “upfront” during Easter. This person had discovered that as a worship leader you must reorient your approach to worship in order to be both participant and leader. It is easy for those who are in worship leadership to become doers of worship. By that I mean that a leader can often find themselves in a place of making sure worship is right for everyone else and miss their own opportunity to worship.
I have often been asked, “how do you do it each week?” Truth be told, on occasion it can be hard to worship as “the Pastor.” Just like those in the pews, there are mornings where I’m tired, sick or distracted. I believe that these moments have a profound negative effect on the worship of the whole community. A Pastor who is not worshiping becomes more like an emcee or motivational speaker than a spiritual leader. When worship leaders and participants are united in the communion of the Holy Spirit, something truly blessed can occur.
Now, the responsibility to be “spiritual and worshipful” doesn’t just fall to the worship leaders. A pastor can be immersed in the Spirit and well prepared through study and prayer, but the congregation has an important role in making worship powerful and Spirit-led. The congregation can either make or break the Pastor’s worship experience as well as their own. So here are five ways you can help your Pastor worship:
1. Come with great expectations- Worship leaders benefit from congregations that participate in worship with a sense that God is going to do something special. As a worship leader, it can be very hard to lead people into an experience of God if the people are simply attending and not expecting an interaction with God.
2. Be on time- It can be very difficult as a worship leader when the congregation is late. This of course causes all kinds of questions to be present in the worship leaders mind. “Are they coming?” “Do they care?” “Are they alright?” Being filled with these concerns right before worship can really cause the worship leader to be less than spiritual. I will confess that over the years I have been in ministry more than once I have began worship with a “chip on my shoulder.” Remember, all worship leaders are sinners too.
3. Be interactive– There is nothing more challenging to worship leaders than the blank stares some congregations return during worship. Feedback during worship helps the leaders know if the Spirit is moving. This feedback can be both positive and negative. If you like a statement, shake your head or smile. If you think the Pastor just said something “heretical,” give them that face that lets them know you’re not so sure of what they just said. Pastors and other worship leaders put a great deal of their personal spiritual energy into what they do, and knowing that what they are doing is having an effect is an affirmation of what they pray God is doing through them.
4. Put announcements in the bulletin– Pastors, worship teams, music directors and everyone else who plans worship, seek to make everything in the worship work together in harmony. Our staff spends a great deal of time and energy on crafting services in which the individual components complement each other. Too many or last minute announcements not only cause the hoped for synergy of the service to be interrupted, but unless the announcements are in print, it really won’t be effective.
5. Don’t jump the worship leaders before worship– Nothing can disrupt the worship experience more than being “jumped” the morning of worship. It can be hard enough to be a spiritual leader on days when harmony and love are the prevailing wind. Being attacked prior to worship, or given a concern that is beyond the leaders current control, doesn’t help. This can be anything from toilet troubles to issues with how the Session or Pastor have handled a situation. I have tried to steer “business” issues to other times than Sunday morning because a Pastor who is concerned with an issue like a toilet, can’t focus on worship.
6. Pray for them– Perhaps the most critical way you can help your worship leaders truly worship is by praying for them. Ask God to be present in their lives and that the Spirit will guide them before, during and after worship.