First, a funny story that shows how church music has evolved over the years. My worship pastor is out of town this weekend and I am filling in for him. I told my mother that I was “leading worship” at three different services this Sunday and so she started telling everyone that I was preaching. It’s a good thing for everyone that she misunderstood what I meant by “leading worship.”
As I prepare to “lead worship,” our church’s worship ministry is embarking on a program called “ReStart.” The idea is to get all of our different worship groups (praise bands, choirs, vocalists, etc.) on the same page regarding what our core values are as a ministry. Our worship pastor has decided on ten core values and our different groups will be doing bible studies to examine these scriptural foundations. He asked me to write a short devotion for each one that the participants could take home and study during the week.
The first value was “Focus,” as in what is our ministry’s focus? Our focus, of course, is to point people to God and bring Him glory. As I wrote this particular devotion, I was reminded of a great illustration of what a worship leader is supposed to be that I first heard when I attended a conference conducted by the members of the Vertical Church Band.
Andi Rozier of the Vertical Church Band tells of going on a tour in Israel. He and the people on the tour with him rode on a bus from stop to stop seeing fantastic sites from the stories in the Bible. During the bus rides, their tour guide Enid stood at the front of the bus with her back to the destination and shared a tremendous amount of knowledge with the tourists about the places they were getting ready to visit. When they would arrive at each spot, Enid would be the first off the bus excitedly encouraging the tourists to get off and take in the incredible sights.
Andi noticed something when he got home from the trip and was looking through the hundreds of photos he had taken. Enid was not in a single picture! This person who had brought them to each destination had not been the focus at all, but she had helped the tourists get to each site and enjoy them more because of the attitude and information she had provided.
Worship leaders are tour guides. We stand at the front with our back to the throne, sharing the excitement and knowledge of our Lord. But we understand that we are not what the people came to see. We are merely leading the people into the presence of God. Ultimately, whether the worshipper remembers who the leaders were on a particular week should be irrelevant. But they should always leave knowing they have visited with God.
Being involved in worship ministry is not about showing off your talent to people or making God proud of you because of how well you sing or play a particular instrument. It’s not about wowing the audience with the quality of a production. It’s not even about serving God by doing as much work as you can for Him out of a sense of obligation. It is about showering the people who come to see God with His love and understanding how privileged we are to be able to excitedly point others to Him and say, “Look at how great He is!”
May that always be my focus on stage…
One of the songs I’m playing (with Christina singing the lead) in our morning services this week is actually by the Vertical Church Band. It’s called “Worthy, Worthy” and I’m happy to share it with you here.