1. BE A “SKILLFUL” MUSICIAN.
A number of passages in the Old Testament extol the virtues of “skillful music” (e.g., 1 Sam. 16:18, 1 Chron. 25:7). It’s important to realize, however, that the Hebrew word translated “skillful” wasn’t used to refer to someone who simply had incredible “chops” but to someone who understood how to use the “chops” they had.
This means that it’s possible for someone who only knows four guitar chords to be more skillful than someone who has mastered the fretboard. The one who mastered the fretboard may not know the first thing about employing his skills to help others worship.
To help others engage in worship we need to be “skillful” musicians. We need to understand, among other things, how music can be used to drown out the clamor of external and internal distractions and hone our focus on God. Keep in mind, though, that focus isn’t our end goal, engagement is.
If you already have the basics down (e.g. singing in tune, executing chords properly, and playing with consistent and appropriate tempo), you might consider working on transitions between songs.
For instance, intentional silence between two songs can be a very effective way of helping others acknowledge God’s greatness, or communicate that some sort of transition in the worship is coming. On the other hand, silence that’s the result of needing to shuffle papers or of not knowing how to flow from one song to the next can cause some to disengage.
Pairing songs of similar keys, themes, tempos etc… can be a great way of creating a “seamless” worship experience for others and, therefore, help them stay engaged.
2. BE AN “UNDIGNIFIED” MODEL.
Have you ever walked into a home and after being there a few minutes notice that the hosts weren’t wearing shoes? What did you do? More than likely you quickly removed your shoes and placed them by the door. Why do we do this? Because when most of us enter an environment we want to know what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. Often, we look to whoever we perceive as the person “in charge” for cues.
Similarly, whenever we gather for worship, people want to know what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not. And more often than not, they are going to look to the leadership (including the worship leader!) for that information.
What do they learn from us? Do they learn that they can enter God’s presence with brazen confidence or that they should be slightly uncomfortable and self-conscious? Do they learn that they can bring their emotion and bodies with them before God or that they should leave them behind? Do they learn that we are all here to worship and connect with God or that we are here to focus on the details of what we’re doing because everyone on the stage seems to have their eyes glued to the music stand 90% of the time? (Ouch, this one hurts because I’m guilty of it often!)
Here’s the bottom line: being an “undignified” model means being authentic and free like King David was the day the ark entered Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). He didn’t allow social norms or self-consciousness to hold back his worship from God. It doesn’t mean we need to wear a sequence outfit and try to razzle-dazzle everyone, inauthenticity stinks. It simply means being free to be yourself. What does it look like when you worship by yourself? If possible, worship like that when you’re leading.
3. BE A “CLOSET” WORSHIPER.
When my wife used to pick up our then two-year-old daughter from our church’s childcare, she wouldn’t have to tell me who was watching her. I already knew who was watching her based on the remnant aroma of their perfume on our daughter.
Similarly, in Acts 4:13 when the Jewish Council observed the power and the boldness emanating from Peter and John’s lives, there was no need to tell them who they had been spending time with. It says that they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
When we spend time with God in the secret place, there will be an aroma that emanates from our lives. This “holy aroma” is none other than God Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 7:38 that the Holy Spirit would flow out of the lives of those who believed in Him.
When a worship leader spends more time worshiping in the “closet” than he or she does on the “stage,” the presence of God will emanate from their lives in such a way that others will actually find it easier to worship under their leadership.
I can’t think of a higher compliment than when someone tells me how easy they find it to connect with God when I’m leading worship.
Do you know of other ways we can make it easier for others to encounter God in worship? Please comment and share!