Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

What I Learned About Starting A New Worship Service (Part 4) The Importance Of The Right Leadership

Starting a new worship experience that is different from a traditional mainline church worship service requires a completely new mindset. Everything needs to be seen from a different perspective.

For that reason, getting the right leaders on board is a must. The right leadership begins with the worship leader and the music team. In the contemporary service that I inherited one year later, I discovered a gifted worship leader and music team director in charge. He had a great heart and was skilled at the keyboard. There was only one flaw; he did not really know contemporary worship music. His strong suit was classical church music. It was hard for him to take the initiative to introduce the music team to contemporary songs for worship because it was just not his area of knowledge or interest. If songs were picked out for him, he could easily sight read them, but it was a style of music that did not come naturally to him. He was not the right leader for the service.

It is hard for a traditional choir director or musician to serve as the music leader of a new contemporary worship experience. Often they are not trained in this style of music and may not prefer it at all. You could end up having someone leading worship who does not like the very music he or she is playing and leading. This will have disastrous consequences for the new service.

Another place to beware is the worship leader, or musician who wants to be the “star performer” in the “show.” Worship is about bringing honor and glory to God, not to the members of the worship team. If you have a singer who consistently has to sing louder than everyone else, or musicians who play their instruments in a way to draw attention to themselves, you have a problem.

I call this the “spotlight principle.” In worship look to see where the music team focuses the “spotlight.” It is on themselves as “performers” or it is on God, who alone deserves honor and glory? I keep in mind during worship the words of Isaiah 42:8:

“I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another…”

Worship leaders are not performers, they are servants whose job it is to bring people into the presence of God, and to bring praise, honor, and glory to the King of all creation.

Another thing I learned about leadership is to develop as many worship leaders as possible. Preparing and leading worship every week can become physically and spiritually draining for the worship leaders and the music team. In the service that I helped create we attempted to get around this challenge by having the worship team prepare a deep repertoire before the services began. The truth was, we started before we had enough songs prepared for worship. As a result, it took only a few months and we had a weary praise band on our hands. For a time I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep them all together. So in a desperate move, we divided the praise team up into two praise bands. Then, each team would rehearse weekly, but they would only have to lead worship every other week. The benefits were twofold. Not only did we have less responsibility on the shoulders of each worship team member, but in a few months we had the luxury of having two strong worship teams, and spaces for more people to use their musical gifts than before.

The one mistake that I made in this process was not instilling in the praise team the importance of developing their spiritual lives as well as their musical talents. If I were starting over I would encourage each member of the worship team to have a daily quiet time of Bible study, reflection, prayer, and personal worship. Then I would make sure that each worship team rehearsal begins with a time of devotion (Scripture, study, sharing, and prayer). I would encourage the worship team to become a small group for discipleship, as well as worship leading ministry team. I have developed a principle over the years that “poor praying leads to poor playing.” I am certain from my own pastoral leadership that “you can’t lead someone to a place that you haven’t been yourself.”

Leading a new worship experience is a fulfilling endeavor, but it takes gifted leadership, who have a heart for worship, a passion for leading worship, and a commitment to faithfuless. Getting the right people on the team is essential to have a healthy worship service that will make it over the long haul.

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One Response to “What I Learned About Starting A New Worship Service (Part 4) The Importance Of The Right Leadership”

  1. “What I Learned About Starting A New Worship Service (Part 4) The Importance Of The Right Leadership” is an article I wish I had read when I started a contemporary worship service, and when I did a series on starting one in my blog. The leadership is the key to a strong, God focused service. Thanks for your honesty. It is so helpful.


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