How do you make worship leaders invisible?
How do you teach that?
Those two questions were presented to me recently by one of our most respected church leaders. They came out of a conversation about our worship leaders here at our church.
Bob Kauflin, in his book, Worship Matters, gives the following definition of a worship leader:
A faithful worship leader magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ
through the power of the Holy Spirit
by skillfully combining God’s Word through music,
thereby motivating the gathered church
to proclaim the gospel,
to cherish God’s presence,
and to live for God’s glory.
If we believe Bob’s definition of a worship leader to be true (and I absolutely do), then how does one go about doing that and be invisible?
What does that mean?
How does a person standing on a stage with the responsibility of prompting, directing, exhorting, and leading a group of people to follow where you believe the Holy Spirit wants everyone to go – and be invisible?
Is that possible?
I honestly don’t know, but I do know that if we want the people we lead to see Jesus and worship Him, then it’s clear that we have to be very aware of the potential danger that our motives, mannerisms, and methods could get in the way.
If our goal in leading people in worship is for everyone to love the Lord our God with all our heart, our soul, and our mind (Matthew 22:37 – NLT) and to present our bodies to God as a living and holy sacrifice – the kind He will accept (Romans 12:1 – NLT) and to continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by proclaiming the glory of His name – all the while not forgetting to do good and share what we have with those in need knowing that those sacrifices are pleasing to God (Hebrews 13:15-16 – NLT), then how do our motives, our mannerisms, and our methods contribute to that goal – how can we be invisible while doing that effectively?
Motive – something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act
When was the last time we’ve had a “heart to heart” with Jesus? The kind where we become vulnerable enough to dig deep and allow Him to analyze and evaluate our motives? Who do we have in our lives with permission and authority to speak honestly into our lives and help us to objectively examine our motives? If we’re really honest with each other, there’s something extremely gratifying about being on that stage making beautiful music, standing in front of your choir who loves, admires, and appreciates you, and leading a congregation in singing about and to our God. And there’s nothing wrong with that……… unless along the way, we become enamored with the praise of our people more than our desire for people to see Jesus. I believe that if we don’t wrestle with this daily, we are already in trouble.
Mannerisms – a person’s particular way of talking or moving
When is the last time we sat down with trusted peers (older and younger) and together watched ourselves leading worship? Were you uncomfortable with that? Did your peers have permission to offer honest observation and critique? Did you receive that openly and graciously? Did you pay close attention to your mannerisms while leading? Is there anything about your posture, your appearance, your clothing, what you say, what you don’t say, when you talk, when you don’t talk, how loud you sing, when you prompt, when you don’t prompt, do you read scripture slowly enough for people to read with you (one of my faults), what you pray, how you pray, if you pray, is there too much of you, is there not enough of you…… on and on, but you get where I’m going. Our mannerisms while leading have much to do with if and how we accomplish our goal as a worship leader and be invisible.
Methods – a way of doing something; a careful or organized plan that controls the way something is done
It is our responsibility to lead our people with methods that have been tried and proven for our particular congregation. Does your method – your way of planning, preparing, and presenting – allow for a balance of new and familiar? I read more and more that congregations are not singing anymore. What are we doing about that? Do we make sure our people get to sing their hearts out to God? Do we carefully introduce new songs in a way that respects their hesitancy and encourages their participation while not forcing something on them? Do the songs we choose and the presentation of them reflect a balance of encouragement, affirmation, and comfort – (what they want) along with the truth of the Gospel that is often challenging and confronting for our congregation (what they need)? Is the way we do what we do truly “magnify the greatness of God in Jesus Christ?” If so, people will see more of Jesus than us!
In closing – we can’t be the definition of a worship leader and accomplish the goal of a worship leader without true humility. Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. – (Matthew 11:28-29 – NLT)
Jesus described every one of us and every person we lead on Sunday. Let’s be sure to daily examine our motives, mannerisms, and methods in light of the humility and gentleness that Jesus modeled for us and offers to us. My prayer is that we truly love the people we lead, and want them to see way more of Jesus than they will ever see of us.
Originally from San Antonio, TX, Dennis Worley graduated from Baylor University and later moved to Nashville to work in the Christian music industry. In 1993, he left his career as a producer to serve as Minister of Worship for Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, TN. Since then, he’s focused on making every Sunday an unforgettable worship experience for everyone and he’s led the Music & Worship Ministry in community outreach events, several CD recording projects, and more. Dennis and his wife Karla have three sons—Seth, Matt, and Ben—and three adorable grandkids. He occasionally writes about life at dennisworley.blogspot.com.