“Alright who’s ready to worship the Lord this morning?” That’s the weekly expression we are all used to hearing from our worship leader on Sundays in the church building. The worship leader sings, they connect with the congregation, and they are the designated person that God uses before the sermon. It’s the idea we all have been taught. Not explicitly of course, because there is no doctrinal teaching in the church that has ever said the worship leader is the singer. We have just always assumed that and are taught in a subliminal way. But what if we are wrong about worship leaders? And maybe even worse, what if it stems from a place of the wrong understanding of worship? Come take a look with me.
Let me start by saying I do not blame anyone for this mishap. No congregation or pastor has the ill intent of impregnating this definition of worship to believers, but we have. Newcomers arrive and see the face that sings and are taught “that is the worship leader”. Our websites say "so and so is our worship leader”. I suggest that this is because we have a bad understanding of worship. This is not a blog on the theology of worship but having a good base to explain my perspective is prudent for this blog. Worship in its purest form is love expressed in life of relationship with God. This life entails our relationship to God as His sons and daughters in obedience and thankfulness.
We can see this by studying our supreme example of Christ. Christ in His 33 years on the earth was not recorded singing to the Lord in worship. He definitely could have sang, and probably would have been a baritone, but the case rests that Christ’s primary expression of worship was His love for His Father and doing the will of bringing people back to Him. In Romans 12:1 Paul calls this “offering our lives as a living sacrifice” and calls it “true and proper worship”. Even if we took the example of the woman with the alabaster jar, her expression of worship that many hold as an inspiration of passionate surrender to God did not include singing. Beloved, what this means is that worship leaders do not have to be the people who sing but are those who connect others to living this passionate surrender and life to God!
On a Sunday morning if we leave a singer as the only worship leader, we place the weight of leading on one person’s expression of worship. Granted our love for God should not be subject to one person but should be subject to Christ. What I mean to say is that the work of “worship leaders” is to lead a corporate surrender to the Father. How sad is it that we have excluded the musicians from being these dispensers of grace? If those who use their gifts to express worship are not deemed worship leaders we belittle them as spotlights to exalt a singer and their ability! When we realize that the worship team is made up of many worship leaders we do three things. Firstly, we demand a life of worship from everyone who participates in the honor of ministering from an altar. And secondly, we open the door of that life of worship to connect the congregation and be used by God. The Scriptures are filled with musicians being worshippers with anointing! David calmed the torment of Saul with a harp and 1 Samuel talks about musicians prophesying. Specifically it says these words:
1 Samuel 10:5-6
5 “After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, timbrels, pipes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. 6 The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.
This powerful Scripture lays the third result of worshippers receiving the honor of being worship leaders; unity. It says that we will “prophesy with them”. I pray that this unity will take place. That we may not neglect a corporate anointing for lack of understanding. Opening our eyes to the reality that all who play a part in serving the Lord are leaders of worship is key. This is applicable to those in sound engineering, camera, lights, Sunday school, and ushering. We have disconnected parts of one body when in reality we should work to be unified in our expression to our Father.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
If this is our standard of living, we all have a life of true and proper worship. Beloved, however you use your gifts on a Sunday and any day for that matter, remember that your worship leads others and adds to a corporate incense that please the Lord. God bless.