‘Perfection In Action’
By Joe Page
For this book, we will not delve into a theological debate concerning the attributes of perfection. However, we will define the desire to give God our best in every area of our lives as an act that is befitting His majesty. Therefore, we will begin to look at many of the practical components of musicianship as they pertain to the ministry.
We will systematically begin to move through the various aspects of the roles, challenges, and solutions that individuals face while involved in music ministry. Several of the items that we discuss in the coming chapters will also be provided in the reference section of this book and in greater detail in the companion workbook/journal, which is a partner to this book. But right now, let us pick up where we left off in reference to the worship leader’s role in a service.
In the previous chapters, we really looked at some of the characteristics that should or should not be present in reference to the worship leader’s attitude, function, and preparation. At this point, we are going to look at some practical strategies worship leaders can implement to make their jobs easier and increase their overall level of effectiveness.
1) Know your musicians, singers, and/or soundtracks.
By now, you know I am a stickler about the necessity of practicing your material. Look, if you and your musicians have not practiced, then you will not know key elements that help your ministry function at its best on Sunday. Once you have chosen your songs, practicing with your musicians, singers, and/or soundtracks allows you to flush out problems or unexpected surprises before you minister. For example, selecting the appropriate key for the songs you will be ministering is something that can be nailed down when you get together with the musical component of the ministry. It also affords you the opportunity to perfect the simplicity of your hand signals for items such as tempo changes, modulations, new keys, special directions with a song, or volume changes at certain times within the song.
Another item that can be perfected within this time is the all-important transition between songs. The more you know your singers and musicians, the better you will be able to change from one song to another with a seamless ease that is noticed or better yet not noticed by the congregation.
2) Don’t spend too much time talking.
Communication is key within the context of leading a congregation into worship. Therefore, it is your job to encourage them during the time of worship. You must not assume everybody understands what is going on when you are up before the fellowship. You must consider the fact that you may have new people who are unfamiliar with your style of worship or are ‘unchurched’ and have never experienced the dynamics of a worship service before in the congregation.
And, even though it is necessary for you to talk to the people as you minister, you must realize that you can break the flow of worship with too much dialogue, especially at the wrong point within the time set aside for worship. Be careful that when you do speak that your words are edifying to the Body and that they are not of an offensive nature. You are not the spiritual authority; you must leave the rebukes and chastisement to the pastor because that is a part of their spiritual office.
3) Choose your songs carefully.
As a worship leader, you must seek to create an experience of worship for the congregation. It is not to be viewed as a one shot deal from song to song; do not skip from one song to another without any sense of purpose for the worship portion of the service. I encourage you to attempt to develop and accomplish something in worship.
When you look at the overall picture of what you are trying to achieve within the service, be sure to consider your song selection in a way that causes you to maintain a flow between songs. For instance, when a puzzle is being pieced together, the pieces that fit and click are the ones that create the picture you see on the box. The same is true for the songs and picture of the experience you are trying to achieve through your music ministry. Be careful with things like theme, tempo, and key changes because some songs simply don’t go together.
The best thing you can do to alleviate this problem is to learn medleys or sets of songs that go together both spiritually and musically. Again, this will help you maintain a flow between songs. Whatever you do, try to get away from stopping after every song!
Also spend time with the pastor to make sure you understand what God is saying to the church. Is there a theme? What is the pastor’s message? You can then prayerfully align the music with that message or theme.
For Their Benefit
For the benefit of the congregation, you must be conscious of the key in which and you sing. This is important because if you \ sing in a key that is within your vocal range, but is too high for the people to sing along with you, they may not participate, and that is not the goal of the worship leader. With that in mind, worship songs are generally sung in lower keys than praise songs. As a courtesy, sing in lower ranges whenever possible to increase your congregation’s participation levels.
One final note, be careful not to select songs that have a high word content in them or songs that have extended solo verses to them. These are other ways in which you can fail to engage the congregation in praise and worship, and as stated earlier, that defeats the purpose of the worship leader’s core goals and objectives for the worship experience.
4) Know your music
Let me say that we will deal more directly with the aspects of this section in a separate chapter. However, I will make a few clear statements that will be explained further later on.
Knowing your music is so important and I would dare say it is just plain fair! Do NOT practice on the congregation. Know the songs you are going to minister with inside out. Don’t wait to stand before the congregation to begin rehearsing a song that you have not learned or are not familiar with. This creates a haven for confusion, and let me remind you that your adversary loves that! He is comfortable in confusion, and once confusion is present, it will be quite difficult for the congregation to focus wholly on God. The bottom line is be prepared!
5) Provide strong leadership
I exhausted the subject of leadership in a previous chapter, but some things bear repeating again. For instance, you cannot push the leadership responsibilities on anyone else. You are the leader, so don’t try to make the choir, congregation, or musicians do what you are supposed to do. You were called to lead worship, so lead worship.
Once you have clear direction from the Holy Spirit, move with confidence in the ability that God has graced your life with for this position. Flow in the fact that as you lead others, God will lead you. You can’t go wrong if you stay in tune with the Holy Spirit as a worship leader.
6) Be sensitive to the flow and timing of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is our guide, teacher, and comforter. Not one of His roles in our lives is to do harm to us. Therefore, following Him is the greatest requirement as a worship leader. With that said, don’t be afraid to sing a chorus or verse several times or embrace the silence of the moment. Never be in a hurry to go to the next song. There are different waves of worship. Just as you must know how to start and flow with a song, you must also be sensitive to understanding when a song needs to end. Continuing a song when the flow of worship is moving into another direction or because you like it detracts from the effectiveness of that particular song. If you like the song, sing it in the car, but know when enough is enough in the worship service.
I know it may sound impossible, but you can be pre pared and sensitive to the Holy Spirit at the same time. It is like chewing gum and riding a bike. One does not hinder the function of the other; these two functions of a worship leader are not mutually exclusive to each other. Preparation requires that you focus your attention on the Holy Spirit in a set way as you prepare to come before the people. However, His assistance to you changes when you are on the platform in front of people. That is why you and I cannot afford to put God in a box. He may do something completely different from your original plans. If He asks you to sing one song for the entire service, you must be open to doing that.
Keep in mind that it is permissible to change the mood of a service as needed and directed by the Holy Spirit. For instance, you may have the women sing one chorus or the men sing a chorus acappella. Change is good, but don’t get so ‘lost in the Spirit’ that you don’t have a clue about what is going on around you. You have to be ‘found in the flow’ of what is happening around you because you will need to keep an eye on the pastor for specific instructions. He or she will know when something is appropriate and inappropriate.
The bottom line is to tune in to the leading of Holy Spirit because He is the One who can convey to you the heart of worship from the Father. The goal is to be available to Him, and He will make sure He leads you. With a wonderful worship experience comes a complete dependency on the Spirit of God.
‘My sons do not be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him, and that you should minister to Him, and burn incense.’
(2 Chronicles 29:11 NKJV,)
Excerpted from: ‘From Performance To Praise’ ‘Moving Music Ministry to the Next Level’ By Joe Page
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.’