I struggled with how best to title this blog. Ever the grammar nerd, I am strongly opposed to ending my sentences with a preposition, but that’s what I ended up with. (See what I did there?)
Perhaps a better title would have been something along the lines of, Worship Leader: When and Where Does That Term Apply? Titles aside, I sincerely hope these next few lines of text speak to you, the worship leader.
I’m a volunteer worship leader at my church, and I couldn’t be happier with the role in which God has placed me.
On some weekends and occasionally throughout the week, I have the unparalleled honor of leading worship from the stage, while during other services, I get to lead worship from my seat (more on this in a moment).
Were this a sermon, I would select Romans 12:1 as the sermon’s text on which these 5 points are based.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.- Romans 12:1
This passage indicates a progressive state, one of constant offering of our bodies as living sacrifices. From a very practical aspect, our worship, which begins at the point in time when we accept Jesus into our hearts, continues on for eternity.
But what does that mean for the worship leader onstage on a Sunday morning? And perhaps more importantly, what does it mean for the worship leader offstage?
So, where do we lead from? Or put another way — when does the term ‘worship leader’ apply?
1. Lead from the stage
Worship leading happens both on and off stage, but when we are onstage, it is our job to lead the congregation in worship. We can’t check out, even if we know the song forward and backward.
We have to remain engaged through the entire worship set. We have to engage the congregation with our eyes, with our smile, with the passion in our playing.
It is an opportunity for us to revel in the beauty and the honor of leading God’s people in corporate worship.
2. Lead from the seat
On the weekends you aren’t onstage, lead worship from the congregation.
Hear me out here. Once those sitting near you recognize that you’ve been on the stage leading worship, they’re going to watch you — for the entire service. Think they won’t recognize you? Think again.
They want to know if you’re real. They want to know if all that dancing around on stage and raising your hands in worship is all just part of the “show”, or if you’re really worshiping the one true God in complete abandon as you’re up there.
They will watch you, and your actions can help foster an atmosphere of worship.
Keep in mind, your inaction can have the opposite effect.
3. Lead from your life
There is no better way to lead others in worshiping Jesus than by living out His love...
Whether you’re at home with the family or grabbing a cup of coffee at the local café, lead worship from every aspect of your life. Worship is so much more than what we do on Sunday mornings, and it is our privilege — scratch that — it is our duty to be worship leaders no matter where we find ourselves.
4. Lead from your joy
The joy that fills our hearts as believers can be put into no better words than those of the hymn, Joy Unspeakable.
I have found His grace is all complete,
He supplieth every need;
While I sit and learn at Jesus’ feet,
I am free, yes, free indeed.
With this as our reality, how can we not lead from our joy!?
5. Lead from your brokenness and imperfection
In our lives, we will all experience seasons of pain, loss and heartache.
These are the hardest times to lead worship but often (and perhaps ironically), the most rewarding.
Onstage or off, we can use God’s grace, displayed through our brokenness, to point people to Jesus.
Not a single one of us is perfect. We all have imperfections and struggles...and let’s just be brutally honest here — we’re all sinners who need the grace of Jesus Christ in our lives every moment of every day.
Lead from here. Lead from the knowledge that, in spite of our imperfections, God Himself sees us as perfect, holy and righteous…
...and it’s all because of Jesus.
No matter where you come from, always remember where to lead from.