Leading Worship Without the Microphone: A Message to Worship Teams (Leading Worship, 016)

Happy Thursday, dear friends. In light of Memorial Day here in the States this past Monday, I want to send special honor to all the families who lost a loved one that served in the military. I am exceedingly grateful for the sacrifice of so many brave and selfless souls who took a stand for the freedoms we are able to experience here in America.

Well, it has been a smidge less wet and rainy here in Seattle the last week or so. Is summer actually almost upon us?? Hope you are enjoying the sunshine as much as I am!

I want to add another installment to one of my favorite topics… leading worship.

A worship leader is someone who – you guessed it – leads worship. This person is responsible for preparing and facilitating a time of musical worship. Many relegate a worship leader to simply the individual who sings lead vocal on most of the songs, but I personally believe and teach that all members of the worship team (and choir, if applicable) are worship leaders in their own right.

Are you in front of people? Are people looking at you? Then you are a leader, my friend! You are working with the rest of your worship team to lead your church in worship. It doesn’t matter if you are the drummer, one of three guitarists, the lead vocalist, a choir member, playing synth… you are part of a collective of worship leaders. And I pray that we all – vocalists, guitarists, keyboardists, drummers, choir members, and every other musician on the team – take very seriously the calling God has given us to facilitate times of musical worship.

Maybe this is news to you, or maybe this is simply a reminder for you. But now that you know you are a worship leader, it is your responsibility to be a good one!!

Not every person on the worship team has access to a microphone every Sunday, or the ability to verbally encourage their congregation’s worship of Christ. So I’d like to focus on three aspects of effective worship leading (there are many, many more, to be sure) that are applicable for every member of the worship team… from the lead vocalist to the back-up vocalist, from the drummer to the guitarist, from the choir director to the choir member…

  • What is your face communicating?

Believe it or not, you can help people connect with God by your facial expressions. A blank stare, eyes squeezed tightly shut, or a gaze locked on the lyrics or chord sheet communicates to your church that you’re uncomfortable, bored, unprepared, or all three. Worship leaders, if you are indeed worshiping Christ, let it show on your face. Smile a natural and sincere smile. Make pleasant and comfortable eye contact with your church. Have expressive eyes and an expressive face. It goes a long way.

Think about this… if a deaf person were in your congregation, would she know that you are worshiping Christ just from watching you? Worship is not merely music – there are more things to consider besides the caliber of your sound.

  • What is your body communicating?

Are you listlessly strumming your guitar, or standing uncomfortably rigid while holding a mic with both hands? This communicates lack of passion, or the desire to be somewhere else! And if we are about leading people, not just songs, then we must consider how uncomfortable this may make our church feel to look at us. Instead, as worship leaders, let’s set a godly example for our church to follow. A quick flip through the Psalms suggests all sorts of physical activity to demonstrate worship to God, including lifting of hands, kneeling, singing (even if you don’t have a microphone at your mouth), dancing… Again, would a deaf congregation member feel encouraged to worship Christ just from watching your body language?

Friends, I also want to gently remind all of us that our body language (and facial expressions) on the platform must be genuine. God sees straight to our hearts, and He rejects our “worship” when it is reduced to mere performance, with our hearts disengaged. Don’t let this stop you from physically participating in worship of the Lord, though (because we ought to physically participate in worship!) – but let it serve as a reminder to make sure that your heart and physical expressions are in the same place.

  • What is your attitude communicating?

As we know, worship of God is always a heart issue. To have all the motions down pat and all the proper facial expressions in place mean nothing at all if our attitudes are not in the right place. If a keyboardist is rude and snippety offstage, people will most certainly be deterred from worshiping God when that same keyboardist is onstage. Ask yourself, what is your attitude communicating? Are your words and actions (on- and offstage) sincere and holy? People can be softened and drawn to the Lord based on your gentle, kind, and loving demeanor. And while you are on the platform, assess your attitude. Do you mean the words you are singing and playing? What is the condition of your heart? Are you worshiping the Lord in spirit and truth?

Worship leaders… with whatever instrument you are leading – voice, guitar, keyboard, drums, other – lead worship with all your heart. Be fully invested in taking people into God’s presence, through your facial expressions, body language, and attitude. The worship of our great God is worth it.

If you have questions, or other ideas on how every member of your worship team can take part in leading worship, leave a comment below or send me an email. I always love to hear from you guys! I’m sure other readers would love to hear your input as well.

Peace to you and yours!
Josh

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