Breathable Worship: Leading Worship, 021

 I’m unashamedly Pentecostal. I’m a licensed and credentialed minister in the Assemblies of God (despite my baby face suggesting I’m going into my senior year of high school). I openly invite the Holy Spirit to point people to Jesus through me – however He chooses to do so – and I regularly practice the gifts of the Spirit in my private life and publicly, too, if He asks that of me.

Unfortunately, the Holy Spirit may well be the most misunderstood of the Trinity. I had a lot of fun researching and teaching about the Holy Spirit in a previous post here, and writing about being filled with the Holy Spirit here (interestingly enough, my second most-viewed post that is unrelated to leading worship). I urge you, especially those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Holy Spirit, His purpose, and His work, to open-mindedly look into these posts, posts which I still wholeheartedly affirm.

And there’s nothing scary about the Holy Spirit. Perhaps what many actually fear is the act of relinquishing control and stepping into the unknown.

But, what does this mean for worship pastors and leaders?

I believe every musical worship opportunity we present to our church must be planned in partnership with the Holy Spirit. Our song lists, keys, and other decisions should be bathed in prayer. What direction does the Holy Spirit want to move during your upcoming worship experience? What message does He want to communicate? Let self get out of the way!

A good rule of thumb I try to follow is to allow my worship sets to be “breathable.” That is, allow room for unscripted worship or to simply be still before the Lord. These unscripted “selah” moments may not happen every single week, but if you hold your worship set loosely and allow for some wiggle room, then you can be ready when they do happen.

Now, I want to address something here..

I suppose a common misconception is that the Holy Spirit only moves spontaneously. This is never explicitly or even implicitly implied in Scripture. A thought-provoking suggestion I have is that God never moves spontaneously, but rather, it may only seem spontaneous to us humans. I believe everything God does is in perfect accordance with His over-arching and well-thought-out plan to edify His Church and restore the world to relationship with Himself. Whatever your thoughts on this, it is undeniably clear that the Word of God teaches that God celebrates order, preparation, and understanding in congregational contexts (1 Corinthians 14:33 and 14:40, for a start).

Either way, if God wants to veer from the direction I thought our service was going – even if I’m in the middle of a song – I want to be ready. And having a breathable worship set will allow for this freedom.

One last key to having a breathable worship set is to crucify the innate desire for control. Yes, the Holy Spirit will ensure that things are done in order.. it just may not be your order. And that’s okay. More than okay. It’s what He wants, and He knows exactly what ought to happen. Time spent in prayer and personal worship, I have found, gives worship leaders the anointing to glimpse into upcoming services and sense what the Holy Spirit is eager to do. The more confident you become in leading and planning worship through the partnership of the Holy Spirit, the more you will sense His perfect direction in your preparation.

Simply view yourself as a helmsman taking orders and the Holy Spirit as the One directing the boat toward Christ.

And all will be well.

My heart,
Josh

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