Brian Brown, my co-host for the WorshipLife podcast and Senior Manager of Operations for LifeWay Worship, shared an experience with me that makes me smile every time I remember it. Let me set the scene for you:
We were flying into a city for a strategic meeting with one of our partners. Our host promised a driver would pick us up and take us to the meeting location, about an hour away. We were pleasantly surprised when the driver arrived in a stretch limousine right on time.
What happened for the next two hours is where the memory gets funny. This driver must have been just released from an institution of some sort because he would go fast then slow down – take an abrupt U-turn followed by pulling over and sitting for second – and do it again five minutes later. At one point, he pulled into a store to buy some groceries and told us to remain in the car. Every once in a while I started paying attention to his driving only to discover he was crossing the middle line and then going all the way over to the opposite shoulder of the road intermittently. The more we paid attention to him, the more his driving bothered us. We didn’t know if he was lost, drunk, on drugs, crazy, or a mixture of the all of those. Both of us were more than relieved (and a little dizzy) when we finally arrived at our meeting.
A congregation will be nervous in a different way when the person driving the experience – the Worship Leader – is driving it erratically. Abrupt shifts in direction, fueled by random changes and choices without any explanation or context will leave a church dizzy and frightful. They will think the leader doesn’t know what he is doing and may not know where this is going. They will do anything but relax and feel anything but free to pour themselves into the worship. They will be hanging on for dear life.
The Worship Leader who is clear and prepared – who never takes advantage of the trust placed in them, who is kind, connected, concerned, and considerate of the people — will be trusted. When a congregation trusts their leader, they can put all of their energy into the response without the distractions of worry and concern that the driver may not know what they are doing. And, when the leader is trusted, the freedom to make changes will be able to infuse the vision of the Pastor and other leaders into the worship.
Churches need worship drivers they can trust…
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book (checkout his latest book: Worship Essentials). In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family (and his two new grand-babies). Visit MikeHarland.com to keep up with all that Mike has going on.