I pray you all had a beautiful Easter. We did here in Seattle… Jesus is alive!
One thing that was drilled into me through my communications and theatre classes in my schooling was that “art tells a story.” An artist is simply a storyteller. Many artists struggle to find a story to tell, and undoubtedly some stories are worth telling more than others, but all art tells a story. We artists and creatives must hone our craft and skills to be able to communicate a story with authenticity, sometimes with subtlety, sometimes with overtness, and always with excellence.
For those of us who are disciples of Christ and artists in the local church, the story we are responsible for communicating is clear: the life, death, and resurrection of our Savior. The result of all we do should enlarge people’s view of Jesus Christ.
This includes worship pastors and worship leaders! We are artists by nature – even if some of you don’t feel especially artistic! And whether you realize it or not, you are telling a story from the platform every single week. Maybe the story you are inadvertently telling is how fantastic of a musician you are, or maybe it’s the story of how your stage design is so amazing. Or maybe, and hopefully, you are communicating Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).
So, for worship leaders… how do we become master storytellers of Christ? How do we effectively communicate the message of His life, death, and resurrection?
First, we ourselves must understand the importance of His story and why it is superior to any other message we could communicate from the platform. Expose people to Jesus! Week after week, bring people to Jesus! His story, His covering over our sins, His love, His authority never gets old, outdated, or boring! People have taught about and sung about the very same Jesus and His incredible work all over the world for thousands of years past and, if He prolongs His second coming, for thousands of years to come, and with ever-increasing passion! Jesus alone has the authority – and compassion – to bridge people from their debilitating slavery in sin to restored union with the Father! There’s no other message under the sun that holds the same importance as this. And I earnestly believe that every theological doctrine and spiritual principle in Scripture either points to, or springs from, the finished work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is always the center.
Second, we must be intentional storytellers. There are some worship leaders who string together a few songs because they’re conveniently in the same key. This usually doesn’t make for a coherent presentation of Christ, even though it may sound musically tight. Rather, we must be intentional about crafting a worship set that communicates the finished work of Christ.
It is rare, but there are some who shy away from presenting to their churches songs that explicitly, or even poetically, discuss the shed blood of Jesus and how it satisfied the wrath of God against sin. Friends, to neglect the cross of Christ and His sacrifice is to leave out a crucial element of His story. Don’t get shy about this, because “for us who are being saved, [the cross] is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
What are some ways to be intentional about telling His story? As a rule of thumb, I try to include at least one song per worship set that focuses us on the finished work of Christ, and arrange the other songs as a means to emphasize this. Other ways to tell His story include reading a passage of Scripture that points to the atonement of Christ or verbally exhorting your church to devote the next song as a “thank you” for what Christ has done.
Third, we must be excellent storytellers. We have the most meaningful story ever to share… so how are we presenting it? God forbid that we use the talents and resources He has entrusted to us and present some sort of sloppy offering.
Be creative! Can you employ a video, a dance, a painting, a foreign language song with interpretation, the stage design, a few instruments different from your usual band, your team’s wardrobe, or a special prop to help tell the story?
Be fully committed to rehearsals! Practice makes progress.
Remember, the story stays the same, but our presentation of the story must be continually developed and re-developed to ensure that it is as strong and excellent as it can possibly be.
Let us be quality stewards over the talents, team, and time He has given us. With the Holy Spirit empowering us, we have no excuse not to excellently share the best story in the world.
Well, artists… worship pastors and worship leaders and other creatives that serve in the local church… we’ve been given the charge. Let’s tell His story.. again and again, with even more passion each time. His story changes lives and melts hearts, awakens people to forgiveness and healing, and sets people free from the law of sin and death.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! Always and ever!