I believe one of the most important questions that we can ask ourselves as worship leaders is this… “What are we doing?” Really… What are we doing? What is our goal? What is our destination? How do we know if we are successful or not? These are questions that we MUST be asking ourselves weekly. If we are not, I would say that we are most likely not living up to the role that was given to us by our pastors and by God. You see, the danger is that we would mindlessly go about our duties of attending meetings, planning sets, scheduling people, perfecting production, and leading services while missing the whole point. The substance of our doing. The purpose of our planning. The goal of our meeting. The source of it all will be lost amidst the duties of the faithful. This is scary! It is scary because the source that we are speaking of is God Himself.
You see, true worship leading is about stirring up something that is already there instead of manufacturing something that isn’t. What I mean is this… if we are looking for nothing more than a few good moments during our weekly services where we see hands go up and people singing out passionately… then my friends, we are missing it. We are missing the purpose of the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in the life of the believer (John 16:8-13). It is not merely to get them to sing, stand, dance, shout, lift their hands, or kneel and pray. It is to see their hearts change from the inside out. It is to see the Holy Spirit cultivate a love for the Father that begins to look more and more like the love that He has for us with each passing day. It is to begin breaking down walls of sin such as insecurity, fear, and rejection that have been built up over the course of their lives. It is to begin breaking the chains of sin such as temptation, pride, and addiction that have held them down for long enough. Thankfully, when this happens, the outward expressions of worship that we listed above naturally happen. There is an outpouring and an overflowing of a heart that is being completely saturated by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34) and when the heart is completely satisfied in Jesus… His praises will flow from the lips of the believers. All we need to do is stir up the heart. So, simply put, we should first look for the fruit of the Spirit in the hearts of the people we are leading (Gal. 5: 22-23) which will be the source from which the expressions of worship will flow. Our role is to simply stir the waters of the Holy Spirit that is already present in the believer’s heart and providing an atmosphere where people can respond to that overflow. So relax and stop trying to manufacture worship in your corporate settings and begin to cultivate the heart for worship and set the atmosphere for that worship to express itself.
Here are several questions to ask yourself that should reveal if there is a climate of genuine, Christ saturated, Holy Spirit led, God glorifying worship in your church.
Do they love to pray?
Prayer is the way we communicate with God and no relationship can grow, much less flourish, without an abundance of communication. Prayer is where the believer exposes every area of his heart before a God who already sees it. It’s only when we do this we can truly begin to embrace and experience that amazing grace that we so often sing about. So often we choose to hide the shameful parts of our hearts from God while only presenting the proud parts to Him. The problem with this is that there is no need for grace if we are only exposing and offering what we feel He will accept. Prayer gives us the opportunity to confess those darkened parts and be vulnerable before God while at the same time being forgiven and accepted. Now that is something worth celebrating and something that will stir the heart of the worshipper! (Heb. 4:16)
Do they love the Word?
God’s Word is where we continue to discover Him. It is where we learn more about His character and what pleases Him. We must never reach a point as believers where we stop hungering for more of God. The pursuit of more of Him and the seeking of how is found in the scriptures. There are endless treasures in them. Some are hidden. Some are not. But all are meant to satisfy the search of the longing heart while at the same time creating a thirst for more. As we learn more about God the waters of our souls are stirred and the Holy Spirit within us shouts in agreement with His truth as we are molded more into the image of our Creator (Heb. 4:12).
Do they love each other?
God’s love is revealed and recycled in how we treat each other. Just think, how did God choose to show us the extent of His love for us? He sent His son as a human to come and live with us and interact with us. Only a heart that has been disrupted with a divine intervention can love unconditionally. Only a heart that has truly experienced an undeserved grace can in turn give it to others. Only a heart that has truly tasted of beauty of forgiveness can be moved to forgive others. There is no greater testimony of God’s amazing love for us than seeing that love in and through others. This love goes against our natural tendencies which put ourselves on the throne of worship. This love is self-less and others centered. This love is the direct fruit of a heart that has been captured by Jesus and is being led by the Holy Spirit (John 13:35).
Do they love to serve?
Serving is where our love for God and our love for others intersect. When people are moved to put the needs and interests of others above their own and serve, there is evidence of God’s hand at work. In order to serve each other, we must first see each other the way God sees us. As we grow closer to Him through prayer and spending time in His word, He begins to give us His eyes and His heart for others. As this happens, we are moved and impacted by things that moves and impacts Him. As we grow closer to Him, we become His instruments and ambassadors for those around us. In essence, He uses us as agents to minister to each other and love each other for His glory. Serving others is the overflow of the worshipping heart and evidence of a heart that is arrested by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 20:28).
Do they love to sing?
Singing gives the overflowing love, adoration, and thanks that is welling up in the worshipping heart a release. It is an eruption of praise and an expression of worship. It is a place of remembrance and reflection. It is a place of surrender and freedom. It is a place of encouragement and inspiration. It is a place to testify of wonders and miracles. It is a place of unity and agreement for believers. Singing has been an instrumental expression for God’s people as they have followed after Him throughout the ages. Even though we all aren’t gifting with a talent or even a burning passion for singing, singing is a powerful way that God’s people gather together to express their collective worship and allegiance to Him (Col. 3:16).
Again, true worship leading is about stirring up something that is already there instead of manufacturing something that isn’t. Without the presence of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our people, it will be impossible for us to lead them in worship. The goal for our individual worship is more of God. The goal for our corporate worship is more of God. And the pathway to “more of God” is worship. The pathway to more of God is worship and the Holy Spirit leads us on this pathway. Jesus places us on it and the Holy Spirit leads us through it while God Himself waits at the end of it. So this is why it is to important for us to know what we are doing because more of God’s presence waits through the doorway of worship. So rather than focusing on the mere expressions of worship that lie on the surface, let’s dig beneath the surface and look for the heart of worship. Let’s look for the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s transforming work in the hearts of the people. Let’s look for the lifestyles of worship more than just the moments of worship.