"I can worship better when I'm on stage." Have you ever said that? I have. Most worship team folks I've talked to echo the struggle that they have in those (sadly) rare moments when they're standing in the congregation for worship.
But wouldn't we be able to lead more effectively if we learned what it takes to be engaged when in the congregation? Everyone we're leading, after all, is...in the congregation, not on stage. Stay with me...it's really going to help us lead better.
I was leading a coaching session last week with four worship leaders from a church, and we each identified with how much easier it is to engage when we're on the stage...or rather, how difficult it is to "worship" when we're not on stage!
I asked them why it's hard for them. They said:
- Fear of what people are thinking about them
- They had a rough week or are rushed, coming in late
- Relationship struggles
- Negative self-talk
- They just don't feel like it
- Their minds wander
- They are critiquing the band
- It's too loud or too quiet
Now we're getting somewhere. Why? Because these are EXACTLY the kinds of things that keep the congregation from fully engaging each week. And WE can do something about it.
What do I mean? Here are eight simple phrases that you could use as you're speaking to the congregation this Sunday:
FONPP (Fear of not pleasing people)
"Sometimes as we gather to worship, we miss out because we're worried about what people are thinking about us. Today, let's shift the focus from ourselves and put our full attention on Jesus who is worthy. Let's sing to Him with undivided love."
"Many of us don't often have moments in our lives where everything stops and we can focus on that which really matters. You may have rushed to get here, come from a hard week, or even cut someone off in the parking lot. But we're here. Together. And this is His moment. God has called us together. Let's sing to Him."
"As we gather together to worship, it's likely that we have questions about where we stand with one another. That uncertainty can get in the way. Let's bring those concerns to the Lord as we sing to Him and allow Him to speak truth to our hearts."
"As we approach God in song today, you may feel like you're not good enough or that you haven't done enough. I'm not sure what you're telling yourself right now, but here's what our Creator says: 'God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.' Let's receive His grace and sing as those who have been made clean and acceptable before God!"
Just don't feel like it
"We have a moment together to connect with God. Think of it! Psalm 71 says that 'the nearness of my God is my good.' Not only is He worthy of worship, but it is good for us to be near him. Let's approach Him in song, offering our hearts to Him no matter if we feel it or not."
"We are busy and distracted. Our schedules are jammed, we can't go anywhere without our smartphones, we don't take time to process and think about what really matters, and there's probably a stack of breakfast dishes to do when you get home. Let's make this moment different. Let's make this like Jesus prayed - 'on earth as it is in heaven' - where every created being is fully focused on the Lamb who is worthy. Let's sing to Him."
"We've gathered to worship. This is not a show. It's an offering to God. There is no audience, rather we come into His presence with singing. Let's not get distracted by performance or the mechanics. Instead, let's each simply offer our hearts to God as we sing together."
Too loud or too soft
"For some of you, the music today will be too loud. For others it will be too quiet. And there are many of you that find it 'just right.' But can we put all of our preferences aside and just find intimacy with Jesus as we sing to Him?"
I hope these can be springboards to help us lead our congregations more effectively.