(This post is part of a series on how band members can serve their worship leaders. This post from Trey is the second post in a two part post. See the first post here.)
Learning Through Failure
So it’s been over a year of playing and growing into this band and we find ourselves ready to lead worship one specific Wednesday night. It is for a particularly exciting group of men and women who are meeting every Wednesday to grow in a deeper understanding of the gospel through theology teaching. Coming to lead worship for a group like this would seem like a great opportunity and an easy one. One where you can trust the people you are ‘leading’ in worship don’t need much to get started! Justin wanted to choose a set list that would lend itself to the occasion. One song that was on the list was ‘With Everything’. You are probably familiar with it, but it is a song that builds into a giant chorus of “OH’s” toward the end of the song.
As we are sound checking we attempt to play through With Everything…Fail.
We had previously worked on our own version which consisted of a lot of major changes. It had been over a month since we played it and we could not remember all of the important parts. Needless to say, we did not play it that night. I don’t mean to place any emphasis on song choice here; I am simply highlighting another way I have learned to serve the worship leader.
Chart Your Songs Out
If I had charted out the song in a way that I could reference and remember the parts we could have followed the vision Justin had for this certain worship service. I am not good at this. It has been tough to figure out the best way to document song parts. I developed as a player who never wrote anything down. I just remembered the parts. This is ok and it will work for a while, but once you have a large number of songs to pull from and you may not visit a song for over a month (i.e. Christmas Songs) charting becomes necessary. It may be as easy as writing down the fret # you play the intro on, or recording yourself playing the part. However you see it, it is a good way to help build your band’s consistency. This has also taught me to play as consistent as possible. That means finding a ‘part’ and playing it that way every time we play the song. I know this isn’t universal, but for our band this is what Justin prefers. So I am simply learning to be better at writing charts and a more consistent player. It’s not natural for me, but its one more load I am learning to bear for the sake of being a more effective worship leader.
Posture In Worship
The last thing I want to talk about may not be an easy one. Worship is a lifestyle and not a Sunday morning service. So there’s not better or worse ‘ways’ to worship, there is just worship. We are either worshiping Jesus or something else. There is a lot to say about this, but I want to focus more specifically on posture in worship. Countenance is defined as a person’s visual or facial expression. In the context of worship it is our visual response to the words we are singing. Again I know this is somewhat ‘controversial’ and often becomes the dividing line in what you call your ‘church home’, but I have learned that it is an important topic to discuss.
“…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34
Our countenance in worship through song should be an overflow of our heart from a lifestyle of worship.
“My heart overflows with a pleasing theme.” Psalm 45:1
As worship leaders we are to be lead worshipers. Now the obvious way is through song. But it doesn’t end there. If our role was to simply stand on a stage and play some songs it would just be a concert. There is more to it. I am still trying to understand this and it hasn’t been easy for me. On top of knowing the songs, remembering changes, making transitions smooth, what else could I be doing to help lead worship?
Be a worshiper.
“You are more, You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord, You are Lord
All creation will proclaim
You are here, You are here
In Your presence I’m made whole
You are God, You are God
Of all else I’m letting go”
Point Others to Jesus
How am I responding to these words? We sing these words and play musical parts to reflect the intimacy and passion behind them. Regardless of your stance on how ‘charismatic’ is too charismatic one thing is true; the worship leader is being watched. In my opinion this is a very dangerous place to be; standing on a platform potentially drawing more attention to yourself than to the One who deserves all praise. So do we hide behind a curtain? That would be as effective as putting on a karaoke worship service. Not to say that isn’t effective, it’s just strange. So how do we help redirect the focus? We MUST be worshiping and allowing our posture to be pointing to Jesus. I asked Justin why he lifts his hands and walks to the front of the stage sometimes, “I’m trying to get worshipers to engage. Almost like a choir director leading the choir. I want people to make that connection, and sing.” So as a supporting worship leader, I can be helping this by allowing my posture to be one of reflection to these songs; lifting my hands and visually displaying my affection toward our great king. I know there is a danger in this becoming ‘fake’ and rehearsed. And I have heard it often said that “I don’t want to be fake and try to force it.” I agree, but if my posture is always one of staring at my feet during worship out of the fear of being fake; what does this say about my heart? I would argue that there are more guitarists actually worshiping their “tone” or gear than there are showing up with a serious desire to bring attention to Jesus and not our delay tone. It has been true for me and I suspect I’m not the first or the last. All that said, I understand there are necessary instruments and I’m not suggesting that it is sinful to have nice gear, I am only saying it is possible to allow these ‘tools’ to distract us from the primary objective. We, as supporting worship leaders should have more awareness of the great task we have been trusted with; pointing others to Jesus.