From Performance to Praise
By: Joe Pace
From One Leader to Another
Praise and worship is a ministry that has a unique and specific calling and requires special gifts and skills that are different than those of musicians, choir members, lead vocalists, pastors, etc. The worship leader is an individual called and anointed by God to minister in the house of God by leading the people of God into His presence.
Jesus planted a spiritual mandate in the earth when he declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”(John 4:21-24) This is the foundation for the act of worship among the House of God to the Father. Today is the day that we must worship in spirit and in truth.
Our English word for worship (worthship) is defined as to ascribe worth or value to. Worthiness of the one receiving special honor or devotion, reverent devotion, and allegiance are not predicated on who is giving the worship. It is authenticated in this case by Who is being worshipped. The most commonly used Greek word for worship is proskuneo, which actually means to prostrate oneself before God; to show extreme fondness and unwavering devotion; and to submit oneself in adoration. It means to kneel or fall down in homage. The act of worship is, in fact, responding to all God is with all that we are! In this context, it is based on the relationship that we have with the Lord. The truth of worship is that it is always being done toward something. We were created to worship. It is the cornerstone of what we were innately created to do. There-fore, the question is what or who are you worshipping? Even if your worship is not turned toward the Father, rest assured, you are worshipping something. Every worship leader should be cognitively aware of this fact because it will help you as you lead others to direct their worship toward the Father.
As should be expected with any position of leadership, there is a greater amount of responsibility. The tasks some-times are more tedious, and they also take forethought and consideration. All the same principles are true as they relate to the responsibilities of a worship leader. In addition, leaders are placed under a different type of scrutiny when something goes wrong, and believe me, you will know when something goes wrong! As a leader, you will feel it, and others will let you know.
A great deal of the time you will feel underappreciated for all the time, effort, and energy you devote to preparing for what seems to be just a three hour function that is vital to the flow of the overall service(s) on Sunday. This is common and can only be accepted by knowing that all the time you spend behind the scenes can only truly be appreciated by the Father, who sees all of your labors of love.
“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3)
In this chapter, we will sit down and discuss function and attitude as they pertain to a worship leader. My role in this chapter is to serve as a motivator of excellence and encourager of grace. By the end of this chapter, I hope to have accomplished one goal… to have expressed to you the heart of God where your position in His kingdom musically is concerned. Then, I hope you will evaluate your individual effectiveness by identifying areas that need attention and those with which you are satisfied.
Knowing your function in any position in life is crucial. If you don’t know what your role is, then how will you know what or how you are expected to perform? With that in mind I have highlighted what I believe are the three basic functions of a worship leader.
The first function is to lead the entire congregation in the presence of God. The congregation is looking to you to do what you are in position to do…. lead. They come in expecting to have a supernatural encounter with the Father during every service. You must be constantly aware that these people that are sitting and standing before you represent a variety backgrounds, households, and situations for which they need God to get through and overcome. For many, this time of praise and worship is a lifesaver for them, and it is up to you to facilitate the encounter they need with the Father throug what you do musically in each service.
The second function is to coordinate and cover the pram team and musicians. Coordinating and covering are two seperate functions that work together. Coordinating is helping the praise team, musicians, and choir (if applicable) to harmoniously function as one unit. Covering them is to take a role that is over or in front of them. These two activities are essential because you are responsible for what is taking place on the platform musically at all times. Make sure you understand the basic principles of music and the ministry of singers and musicians because these principles will assist you in getting things in order to create a flow during the service. There should be minimal confusion if you have coordinated things efficiently, and this will give you the confidence to step out in front to lead the people of God in worship.
Let’s look at the function of leading worship from a Biblical point of view by considering Miriam’s actions after the Israelites watched the Egyptian army being drowned in the Red Sea. The scripture says, “…Miriam took the tambourine in her hand and, all the women followed her with tambourines and dancing. And Miriam led them in singing…” (Exodus 15:20 emphasis mine)
The point is that we can see the principle of leading in action; Miriam was obviously familiar with the musical basics, and she was confident as she led other women into praise and worship before God. And notice that the women followed her in singing to the Lord.
The third function is to prepare the congregation for the delivery of the Word. It is vitally important that you are one in spirit and mind with the leadership of the church. It is your responsibility to make sure you are aware of and familiar with the pastor’s vision and that you understand the direction in which God is leading the church. When the power of agreement is operating among any group of people, the result will be the manifestation of God’s presence during the service. The congregation can sense if there is strife between the worship leader and the leadership. It is imperative that you focus on the need of the people to have an intimate encounter with God during the worship service because it is the time when the soil of the heart is softened and/or broken up so that the word of God can take root in their spirits.
There is a unique and vital connection between the worship leader and the pastor. The last thing you want is a popularity contest to emerge because the music ministry or congregation has divided loyalties. The best way to make sure people are clear of the mantel of authority of the house in which you serve is to have clear actions toward the pastor’s authority and make sure you require others to do the same. If people see you operating under this authority, they will naturally follow suit. Make sure you are in a position spiritually that you want the hand of God to be on the pastor.
“And Elisha said, ‘As the Lord of hosts, liveth, before who I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee. But now bring me a minister. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord cadre upon him.” (2 Kings 3:14-15)
If there is contention between yourself and the leadership of the church, the first thing to do is to try to work out the differences by submitting yourself to the leadership and by expressing your concerns in an open and honest fashion. you have a more severe case, you might need to go to the Father to determine whether this is the church in which you would be best suited to serve in the kingdom of God.
Know this. Agreement is such a powerful spiritual principle that it is really essential to operating in the supernatural realm of God. When the pastor, the worship leader, and the other music ministry staff are on one accord, then you can confidently expect God to move in wondrous ways to meet the needs of His people because you are operating within the principle of agreement. But, this manifestation begins largely with your attitude as a worship leader.
“All the Levites who were musicians – Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their
sons and relatives – stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by the trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: ‘He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple
of the Lord was filled a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of he cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.” (2 Chronicles 5:12-14 NIV)
“Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:19-20)
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.”(Acts 2:1-2)
Attitude Determines Altitude
Your disposition is crucial to the way people perceive you. It will convey your inner feelings and content of your heart. The attitude of a person, whether good or bad, is infectious, so be positive and enthusiastic. Have you ever noticed that when someone smiles at you, you tend to smile back? Just think of how the glory and joy of the Lord is being spread to the congregation as you smile during your time of worship and praise. If you don’t smile, the congregation won’t either, so you need to set an example for them to follow. Besides, it’s better to lead people who appear to enjoy worshipping and praising God.
Your disposition or attitude should also signify control. Give strong direction and don’t appear timid. Let me caution you here; giving strong direction is not the same as being mean. Trust me, I’ve seen some mean worship leaders who would be much better suited for body guard ministry rather than leading worship. Don’t take your emotions out on the congregation. Nobody likes to be treated inappropriately, but you must take charge. Remember you are a leader, and insecurity destroys creativity. You leave yourself no room to be creative in worship if you are afraid of the people you are leading. The same is true with those who are under you in the music department. You will lose your creative edge and ultimately respect from your peers if you don’t function with an attitude of confidence and authority. The bottom line is if you were called to lead, then do it with confidence.
As you stand to lead the congregation in worship, it is important that you set the example for active involvement, such as handclapping, shouting, and lifting of the hands. You should always lead with your voice and not be afraid of the first note that comes from your mouth. If at all possible, stick with the melody of a song, it will make your job easier.
Make a mental note to make sure you are giving cle directions to the praise team members and the congregation. For instance, with praise team members, keep your hand signals simple and easy to follow. However, for the congregation, staying slightly ahead of the verse is important because they will not know where you are going if they don’t know what you’re looking for. If they are clear about what you want from them next, they tend to respond very well. Another tip pertains to new songs with which the congregation is not familiar with. It is helpful to say the words of the song before singing it so that they can familiarize themselves with the words as they learn to put the melody with them. Again, this method will require you to lead vocally.
Last, make sure you are leading the congregation to the Lord. I say that because you must make sure that you are no leading worship in a way that causes the congregation to draw its heart toward you. You should make every effort to lead in a way that draws the mind and heart of the people to the Lord. As you do this, you will want to make sure you open your eyes and make eye contact with the congregation. Let them see the sincerity of your heart as you encourage and exhort them to join you as you worship the Father. This tends to sway people from placing too much emphasis on you and turns their attention toward the Lord, who you are worshipping with them.
This article excerpted from ‘From Performance To Praise’ written by Joe Pace.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, ‘Eat the meat, throw away the bones.’