Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Present: Worship Lessons

It's so easy to plug along week after week in ministry and lose sight of why we do this in the first place. I have to continually remind myself (or be reminded by God) why I really do what I do.

I'm reading a book called "The Cross and Christian Ministry - Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians" by D. A. Carson. The premise of the book is whether or not the Cross is truly the center of your ministry. I'm only a 3rd of the way through the book and God has "reminded" me of areas of worship that can, little by little, head off course. Here's a few examples from the book (I'm paraphrasing)-

"We have become so performance oriented that it's hard to see how compromised we are. Here's an example: In many churches, prayers now function as the time to change the set in the sanctuary. The people bow their heads and when they look up a minute later, the singers are all in place or the drama group is ready to perform. It's all so smooth - it's also profane. We are in prayer addressing the King of heaven. In reality, some of us are doing that (addressing the King of heaven) while others are tip-toeing around the stage - still others are wondering what happy configuration will confront them when they open their eyes. Has the smoothness of the performance become more important to us than the fear of the Lord? Has polish displaced substance?"

OK, I'll be the first to admit it...I've used prayer as a transition.

A little further on he writes: "As long as people are impressed by your powerful personality and impressive gifts, there is very little room for you to impress them with a crucified Savior."

OK, I'll admit this too - I sometimes worry about how "well" I'm doing when I'm leading worship.

Wow. I need to be reminded of these things continually. I DO worry about smooth transitions in a worship service and sometimes forget the important things. I also have to continually be aware of my human need to "perform" and keep my purpose as a worship leader in check - an on-going battle with my human nature.

I love it when God reminds of things and keeps me in check - I need it and I'll be the first to admit that I've got a long way to go. How about you? I'd love to hear your thoughts...


  1. Sounds like a very good book. And I speak as someone who has never seen YOU on the platform. Perfection is a natural goal for a performer, but I bet the congregation recognizes a so-so song that is SPIRIT-filled.
    God bless your efforts, John!

  2. As someone who has struggled with this very topic, I totally understand the struggle you face. As a musician or performer, it is natural to want the "performance" to be perfect. You wouldn't be as good as you are if that didn't come into play. Be then there is taking this thought a step further; would my not singing or playing a song perfectly be displeasing to God as though he would ever have a problem with our imperfections in this sense. As a worship leader or musician in the church, you want to draw people to God and that also is a thought in the mix as well. Although I don't sing or play in church nearly as much as I used to, I remember the little voices in the background making me think everything had to be perfect for the church instead of at times hearing the "better" angels in the background saying "It is pleasing to God". You do a wonderful job John and I do think God is pleased with the wonderful work. You and your team are crucial element in bring people to God. You definately were for my family.

  3. The marriage of Authenticity and excellence will always be studied.