My first job as a teenager was in a church as a worship leader, and after nearly 10 years of working in and out of different ministries in the area of worship, this topic has become a huge part of who I am.
Though I am not currently working at a church in this capacity, I am I teaching almost all of the arts to a group of young teenagers at a Christian school. I will be the first to chime in about how the art form alone is not worship, but about how worship is a lifestule. There are plenty of arts challenged people in the world who are excellent worshipers because of where there heart lies, but there is also great value in using the arts as a vehicle to worship because there is something wildly freeing about them.
Songs can lift the spirit and allow people to say what they did not even realize that they needed to say. There are healing properties in music and when paired with dancing, really picking up your feet and allowing all sorts of bondage to fall off of you, there is such liberty. When you lift up your voice in a shout of adoration for your Lord and creator, there again is freedom. When you see a dramatic expression of some spiritual truth, we always rejoice when God overcomes evil.
The arts are such a beautiful way to worship the Lord, and have been used for thousands of years as a means of worship and as a means of teaching new believers how to worship.
To a new believer, the whole worship experience is probably painfully awkward. People singing to the top of their lungs, raising their hands, possibly waving flags, or dancing around in their pew.
To me as a worship leader, it is so important to be constantly teaching about worship not just simply leading.
The worship leader is responsible for preparing the atmosphere, for setting the stage for the word of God that will come through the pastor. They are also responsible for directing attention toward God and leading other believers to a state of worship. It is not a concert or a light show.
While leading worship, I feel it is important to explain why we do things. For example, why do we raise our hands? We raise our hands as a sign to bless the Lord and to receive blessings from Him (Luke 24:50, Psalm 134), to stand in agreement with other believers whether it is during prayer or during worship (Nehemiah 8:6), to confess our sins and cry out for help (Lamentations 3:41,42, Psalm 28:2), and as a sign of surrender by lifting up ourselves as a sacrifice (Psalm 141:3).
Another thing that is ardently important is using scripture while leading worship. You do not need a long sermon, but a time that causes people to reflect on the truth. Our words will quickly fade from others minds, but God’s word is eternal.
One thing that is my constant reminder is that a worship leader cannot lead worship if they are not actively worshiping both on and off stage. A worship leader needs to set the example. That is the best tool any teacher can utilize, practicing what you teach.
It is important to know that you can worship God in silence, in a crowded subway, or from your desk at work. There is no perfect formula, no certain ritual that must be observed. Worship is freeing and it is free for all who come to the table.
May our words always be pleasing to His heart, may our actions give Him glory, and may we always keep learning more and more about His beauty and grace.