Even in my 29th year of worship leading , when I get up on the platform, there is a pressure, mild anxiety, discomfort perhaps? Not in performance anxiety, but at not wanting to miss what God is doing in the next moments as we sing.
I just finished reading the book called “Immeasurable: Reflections on the Soul of Ministry in the Age of Church, Inc.” The intro framed something that I've never quite thought about this way before. The idea of mystery. Author Skye Jethani says
I call this sub-spiritual, mechanical approach to ministry “Church, Inc.” It is shorthand for ministry devoid of mystery, for pastors who assume that the exercise of their calling is a matter of skill more than of the gravity of their soul. It represents the exchange of the transcendent calling of Christian ministry with mere management of religious institutions and services. If ministry is encountering the heat and light of an uncontrollable sun, Church, Inc. is the tanning salon in the local strip mall.
Then later, he asserts:
If salvation, humanity, and God Himself are enveloped in impenetrable mystery, why do we assume ministry - which stands at the intersection of all three - to be a calculable science? Why are we unwilling to surrender to the immeasurability of our calling and discover a beauty and value beyond the empty promises of Church, Inc.?
That’s a freeing challenge on several levels, but it’s especially applicable to leading worship.
We’re used to having a certain level of, well, certainty in our plan. The very idea of being comfortable with mystery seems to go against our 18 minute worship sets, our multi-tracks, our five-song sets.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with these things. I just want to call us to somewhere beyond this.
I recently led a night of worship that was unscripted, flowing, spontaneous, and just really free and beautiful. I live for nights like that, but going into it can be stressful. In a different way than Sunday mornings.
Now, we didn’t rehearse other than an extended sound check. It was Dave Gerhart on bass and vocals, Danny Scandrett on drums, AJ Leaman on electric guitar, my beloved Heather on vocals, and me on the Nord.
But there was something special about this night. I felt zero pressure. There are wrong notes. We didn’t use a click. I didn’t know exactly where we were going. And it made be take full, deep breaths again!
My hope in sharing it with you is to awaken more of a desire to walk in the unknown when leading worship, to be more comfortable with… mystery!
ps. If you'd love to partner financially with us as we pioneer and prepare in Costa Rica, you can give through our sending church, ACTS Covenant Fellowship by clicking here. Make sure to select "Missions - Dave & Heather Helmuth" in the Fund section. This pic is our our daily half-mile walk to the school.