How much energy do our teams expend in engaging and encouraging our congregation (versus performing and simply worshiping personally) when leading worship?
It was a question that sparked a discussion at a recent meeting of worship leaders. My coffee started off hot and when we finally came to some resolution, the coffee had reached the temperature of the room.
So "Is it enough if the team plays the music well and worships while they do it?"
That is the difference between a moderately effective team and one that really takes the congregation into the purposes of God for that meeting.
It's a classic three-legged stool analogy: Music + Worship + Leadership. You need all three:
Music + Leadership - Worship = Concert
Music + Worship - Leadership = They're Left Behind
Worship + Leadership - Music = Distracting
It made me realize that what is often missing in a worship service is the energy needed to actually lead and engage the congregation. The music works, the team is clearly worshiping, but...the congregation is on their own.
Am I saying that you should split your energy evenly giving 33% to each or stop worshiping so you can lead? Of course not! I'm simply reminding us that we need to save some energy for actually leading. Here are a few things that may help:
- Stay in the room. Fight the urge to hide, to become oblivious, to shut the congregation out. Open your eyes. Worship together. Connect with them before the service. Celebrate the community. It's part of why we read the instruction to keep relationships clear when we're bringing our offering. (Matthew 5:23-24)
- Internalize the music. The biggest reason we don't expend any energy in engaging and leading the congregation is that it's all used up in just getting through the music. Work hard to internalize the music, getting it into your fingers, voice, and heart.
- Live a life of intimacy before the Lord throughout the week, so that when you're leading, you can serve and not only worship personally. Otherwise you might be so parched personally that you "just really needed that worship time" and can't lead well.
- Set the expectation. Both the leader and the team are to be leading the congregation. Your body language, your engagement, and your eyes all contribute to this. It's not just the leader's job. "I'm here to serve."
Not only is God honored when we lead like this, our congregations are served well as we find spaces to meet with God.