An Open Letter to the Next Generation of Worship Leaders
With more than three decades of attending church, I have seen the evolution of the worship singing in church. I have also seen the evolution of worship leaders. Through the changes of worship leading style, beats of the songs being sung in the congregation – I would like to touch a subject that I believe is far more important than styles which is the heart of worship.
So here is my open letter to the next generation of worship leaders and teams.
WORSHIP IS ABOUT JESUS AND NOT ABOUT YOU
Because of the influx of worship bands – churches try to copy “concert-like” worship time on a Sunday. I have nothing against worship bands that tour around the world – in fact, I love what they contributed to the church in general.
I remember attending a passion concert with Chris Tomlin and when Chris came out – I did not even notice him. He was pointing people to Christ and not himself. After the concert, I came home with a precious experience – the worship leader should never get the glory – God should. If someone as talented as Chris can deflect the glory of himself and give it to God – I think every worship team member must do the same.
That is the first thing I want us to see: that worship involves an act of reflecting back to God in praise the glories emanating from his presence. – John Piper
We have to remember that when we go up and lead the people to worship – we want them to worship God. Practically, that means not trying to get the spotlight or the attention that is reserved for God.
How do we do that? Here are some practical tips:
a. Don’t be conscious on stage – some people go up on stage so conscious about themselves – how they look, move or sing. Rather, I would rather see you get lost in worship because of the glory and majesty of the God. I think a reminder for us is that this is not a concert but a time where we lead God’s people in worship.
b. Don’t wear something attention grabbing – sometimes your shirt is too fitted, or your dress is too short. Sometimes your sleeveless shirt or dress is not appropriate or your hair is too messy. Be presentable in your manner of dressing.
c. Practice and master the song before you lead the people – the same way a preacher has to own the message he is preaching, worship leaders should memorize and put into the heart the songs they are going to sing. They should have consumed themselves with the songs they are going to sing like how a lover would be so absorbed in creating a mix tape for his love one (for those who grew up in the 90’s – you will understand this)
13 And so the Lord says,
“These people say they are mine.
They honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
And their worship of me
is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.
2. WORSHIP GOD PASSIONATELY PRIVATELY AND PUBLICLY.
When we understand the reason for worship – it would first privately affect us. What this means is that we become first worshippers before we can lead people to worship. Our object of worship is God and as God continues to show His great love and grace towards us, we as His church burst in joy and worship for how good our God is.
This must be seen when we lead people to worship. It doesn’t matter if you are the shy-type, when you are a worshipper – your heart of worship comes out. How you praise in private should be how you praise in public. We don’t need another singer to lead us – we need worshippers.
John 4:23-24 (NLT)
23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
3. KNOW THE HEART AND THEOLOGY OF WORSHIP
Let me end with this commentary from Harold Best:
We were created continuously outpouring. Note that I did not say we were created to be continuous outpourers. Nor can I dare imply that we were created to worship. This would suggest that God is an incomplete person whose need for something outside himself (worship) completes his sense of himself.
It might not even be safe to say that we were created for worship because the inference can be drawn that worship is a capacity that can be separated out and eventually relegated to one of the several categories of being.
I believe it is strategically important, therefore, to say that we were created continuously outpouring—we were created in that condition, at that instant, imago Dei.
We did not graduate into being in the image of God; we were, by divine fiat, already in the image of God at the instant the Spirit breathed into our dust. Hence, we were created continuously outpouring. – From “Unceasing Worship” – Harold Best
That means our worship never starts or stops. It is something we were doing since we were born. We were born worshipping – the question that we need to answer as worship leaders are to whom are we continually pouring out our worship? Answer that and you would be able to lead well.