In my last post I wrote about how we are looking to bring a more contemporary style of worship leadership to my church without taking away anything of what we do now. As part of that, I’ve been asked to get this whole thing rolling, and I plan to share some of that process on this site. As always, feel free to comment and add to the conversation.
Laying the Foundations
Over the last 18 months I have spent a significant amount of time looking at God’s word hoping to discovering His heart for worship, reading numerous blogs and books by some very gifted and wise people (recommend Bob Kauflin’s Worship Matters and blog), and listening to lots of music. Some things have really stuck, which have impacted my approach with the Brass Band as much as it will form my approach with the Worship Band:
Lyrics Are Really Important
I’m musical, and for so many years the words of songs have held little over me. But what we are singing in worship is the most important thing. Music can impact the emotions and engage the spirit, but ultimately the praises and worship we offer is about what we sing far more than the melody we sing it to. With this I have become far more aware of the theology of many of our songs and hymns we use and the messages they portray. The impact of how I lead the Brass Band in accompanying worship means I am far more aware of the content of what is being offered, and the Band is more effective in accompanying that message.
Corporate Worship is a Journey
The more aware I am the more I feel the journey of the worship service. This has the negative impact of feeling the pain as we suddenly change gears in worship without leaving room for people to come with us. Leading worship is an artform of balancing the needs of where people are and gradually nudging them to where we are going, being sensitive to the Holy Spirit in all of it. Transitions in worship need to be executed skilfully to prevent the distraction of interrupting the journey people are on.
Sometimes We Need to Leave Space
With that, it can be necessary to allow silence in our worship services. At times people need to process. In recognising the need to flow through worship we can easily be caught up in the idea that you are not allowed to stop. Silence can be very powerful, particularly in today’s noise-filled world. Giving people that space can also mean coming to the end of a song and allowing people to take it in. Hanging onto some musical overspill and praying or sharing appropriate scripture can help people digest the truths they have been singing.
The Holy Spirit should turn up – that must be our expectation. However, His turning up isn’t down to us perfecting the art of leading worship. It is, however, important that we don’t get in His way. We can easily plough on through the plan for the service without taking in the needs of either the Holy Spirit or the congregation. When the need arises to dwell in prayer for longer, or allow a longer time for response we should wholeheartedly embrace the fact that the Spirit is at work. Moving people on before they are ready is a distraction which will often prevent them from engaging whole-heartedly in communion with God.
The more prepared you are, the more you are equipped to respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit and therefore facilitate the Church in effective worship. Without preparation and knowledge of what is next, how things can be added to / taken away during worship, we are powerless to respond effectively.