I'm considered a worship leader in our church- 3 other ladies and I each take turns leading the music on Sundays and spend the other weeks rotating as back up singers. I've known for several years now that God had a call on my life for this type of ministry but I've always struggled with areas of the ministry: am I being prideful in my talent? am I really listening to the Holy Spirit? am I choosing songs that God is leading me to or that I just want to sing? should I just sing the song and shut up (as I've been told to do by some in the church) or do what I feel GOD called me to do which is to LEAD people to worship through encouragement in between songs and even chastisement in some cases?
All these questions and struggles have just amplified lately because of some stuff at church. It's amazing how church's can get so bent out of shape about the music and how much it can effect our walk with the Lord! Now let me just say that I understand how someone that is new in their relationship with Christ can be swayed by the song service at church, but for a "MATURE" follower to get caught up in that?!?!?! What is wrong with us?????
The purpose for church services isn't to escape the world, but for us to come together with our brothers and sisters in Christ to CONTINUE what we already are doing in our personal lives- WORSHIPING GOD!
Worship isn't music, a service, a message, or any of the things we have made it into, it is the lifestyle we live.Whether we are worshipping God, our family, our finances, our job, or any other of the millions of distractions out there we ARE worshipping something every moment of every day. The purpose of corporate singing before the Word of God is preached is not for some mystical or emotional experience but for us to focus our minds and hearts on Christ and to CONTINUE in our worship of Him.
If the purpose of a 'worship service' is truly to worship Christ, then who cares what the music sounds like, if the leader is tone-deaf, if it's too loud or too soft, if there are lights, if a guitar is leading the music or if an organ is, if we sing a hymn or a newer song, if the music is fast or slow?! NONE of that matters, what matters is our heart and where it is focused, what we are worshipping- WHO we are worshipping. Songs are great, music is great- it does have the capability to swell our emotions and grip our hearts, but what about the words? Are the words of the song about me and what I want from God or are they about glorifying the One who saved us? Does it help me reflect on Christ's teachings or remember to share His Word with others? Remember that Satan was the minister of music before his fall. He ALSO had beautiful music and probably with some beautiful words- but where was his WORSHIP really directed?
A service should not be about us and what we want or need, it should be about God and how He has made sanctification available to us. It's not wrong for us to ask things of God- He wants us to do that, but my question is what is the primary focus of our worship services? If we are always asking for a deeper relationship but don't take time to glorify God or just to sit and listen in His presence, will that ever really happen?
Now I know this is a crazy long post and I apologize, I won't know if you stop reading at this point! :) I just want to share what's on my heart and hopefully someone will glean something from it.
I want to say this- as a worship leader my purpose is to be a true LEADER of worship. That means that when I get up on a Sunday morning to lead music my words, actions, facial expressions, body language, heart, and mind need be in continuation of what I have been doing the rest of the week. It puts a heavy burden on me to make sure that my life outside the church is really worshipping God and not one of those millions of distractions! I cannot expect the congregation I am leading to truly worship in spirit and in truth if I am not. I cannot berate them and shout at them to 'lift your hands! sing with your whole heart! sing like you mean it!' if their lives are not already in worship to God.
The last thing that has weighed on my heart, because I've HEARD this with my own ears is this: Telling someone that the presence of God is not felt because they did not 'enter into worship' is crap! The presence of God is always around us and whether or not we FEEL it or not has no bearing on how 'good' a service was. Our feelings don't matter for one thing and the other thing is that each person worships in their own way and at their own level of devotion. GOD through the Holy Spirit is the one that needs to deal with them on how intensely they are worshipping Him- not the Pastor, Worship Leader, Associate Pastor, Youth Leader, parent, or friend.
**If you are one of the Pastors, worship leader, assoc pastors, youth leaders, parents or friends trying to coax someone into worship- STOP! You are trying to do what ONLY the Holy Spirit can do and you will fail miserably!**
I pray that maybe this has helped someone the way it has helped me. This is only a SMALL snippet of what God has taught me, there is no way for me to express the full depth of His teaching in this area- I just have to actually live it out. May we all be worship leaders regardless of music, talent, or platform but just by living a life in worship of Christ.