Aug
14

The Words of Worship

Featuring John Telman Posted on August 14, 2008

As worship leaders, we have a tremendous responsibility to take people into the very presence of God. Song is a great tool to go there, but there are other ways as well. Song can often stir great emotions but as worship leaders, we lead with more than the song.

I addressed this first point in more depth in the article “The Power of the Nag or the Power of the Spirit”, but I would like to recap here and then take you to another level of worship leadership through our words. Words that we can use as we lead songs should be mostly directed to God. “God, we your children exalt you this day”. “This is the day You have made. I will rejoice and be glad in it”. “Lord, you are so good”. And there are songs declaring who he is and what he's done. So many joyful, grateful thoughts to express before and with the people. However, if we are not careful, we can get off-track and begin scolding people with our words. At that moment, we have stepped out of a worshipful attitude. Not only are we getting in the way of the Holy Spirit, I believe God rejects our leadership when we mistreat each other.

Some may say, “but the congregation is not responsive”. Fine. Even if that is true, as the worship leader, we have a great opportunity to bring life to the situation. We do so by reflecting the image of Jesus through loving and affirming words. Our responsibility is to exalt the name of Jesus.

Now, let's go where the rubber REALLY meets the road: Rehearsal time before the service even starts. Are we worship leaders even then? As worship leaders, we lead with our attitudes and behavior. We lead out of a deep love relationship between ourselves and our God. People see us as positive (we know our God), loving (we know our God), and strong (we know our God). Do you see a theme here?

Here's the clincher: Our words are shaped by the status of our relationship with God. We have all heard that words can tear down and discourage. They can also build up. In fact, that is what they are suppose to do. James 3:11 says, “Can clean water and dirty water both flow from the same spring?” (CEV). How can we be impatient, vindictive, and hurtful, and then sing songs of praise to God?

Leading a worship team can be complicated, fraught with challenges, problems, and tests. And then there is the pesky sound system! Other times, one or two of the worship team show up late. Still other times we have to cope with personal problems before we even ARRIVE at the church building.

One day on the way to church, I hit a dog who ran out in front of traffic. Can you imagine how things went that morning when I had to get on the platform and lead others?

We have been privileged to lead others to adore the King of Kings, on our way to church, during set-up, during rehearsal, and then with the song. Our words are to be be seasoned with salt - an antiseptic to the worship team and the congregation. Words like, “That's ok, I understand”, “I appreciate you so much”, “God is in control. He'll help us” and “Thank you”.

As worship leaders, let's use hope-filled, Christ-centered, edifying words that reflect a worshipful heart.

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