Wednesday, May 30, 2012
At the risk of oversimplifying things, let me say that worship is offering to God all that God is due. For us individually, this means offering our whole selves to God. The Old Testament vocabulary for worship includes words that reflect the submission of a subject before a king and the service offered by a servant to a master. At the core, worship is giving to God his due as King of kings and Lord of lords, not to mention our gracious Savior. This includes praise, thanks, love, confession, attention, honor, obedience, and service. In corporate worship, we emphasize offerings of words, songs, and actions, which enable us to praise, thank, love, and honor God together. Such corporate worship leads to a life of worship, in which we serve God, not just in the corporate gatherings (the worship services), but also in every part of life (the service of daily life). We worship God by presenting our bodies as living sacrifices to God, thus glorifying him every waking minute of our existence.AMEN AND AMEN
Notice what successful worship leadership is not? It’s not creating an experience. It’s not getting people excited. It’s not helping people to feel God’s presence. It’s not leading a moving performance by the band or choir. It’s not preaching a fine sermon. It’s not getting people to like you. It’s not being popular. It’s not growing your church. It’s not musical perfection. It’s not doing great art. It’s not a chance for you to express your creativity or individuality. Of course all of these things might be connected with successful worship leadership. But they are not the point. The point is leading people to offer to God his due, which ultimately includes all that they are.
“But,” you may be thinking, “that’s a whole lot harder than getting people excited or helping them to feel inspired in the worship service.” Indeed. It’s much, much harder. You might also be thinking, “But, wait, what you’ve described isn’t something I can pull off on my own. I can’t ensure that people will actually worship authentically.” That’s true. I believe that the success of a worship leader (or pastor, or mission trip leader, or . . .) does in fact depend on the response of those being led.
This means you cannot produce your own success. Not only do you depend on those whom you lead, but also and mainly upon God. You will never succeed as a worship leader apart from the help of God’s Spirit. Thus, we who lead worship join the Psalmist in praying: “O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success” (Psalm 118:25).