I have been really thinking and praying lately about worship. I am not part of a worship team now, even though there are openings in the church I attend. I am realizing truly how strongly I feel about worship. Back when I was the head worship leader at our church (at the young age of 17…) I did not hold the views I do now. I just kind of casually led worship because I was able and we needed someone to fill the hole. I disagree with that mindset now, and shame on me for thinking such then. My focus was on filling the ministry, not on fulfilling the ministry. I think I must have robbed the church of some blessings by doing such.
Worship is one of the foremost ministries in a church. The first thing a visitor observes of church leadership are those on the worship team, they are the front line paving the way for the pastor. What then if the worship team is not playing as Psalm 33:3 says “ Sing to Him a new song, play skillfully, and shout for joy”? Basically my question is this: is it better to just fill the hole because it needs to be filled (even if those within the ministry are not called or gifted for the ministry) or to let it sit empty until one who is called and gifted for it steps up?
The reason I ask is because it has been weighing on me lately. It seems that there are many people who think they are called to the worship ministry because it is fun and relatively easy to just pick up a microphone and sing along they do it. But…would the church allow someone who thought they were called to be a pastor to get up and preach on a Sunday? Probably not. I think that first the church would inspect that person: are they functioning as a Pastor outside of having the title itself?
That is one of the ways my dad new that Ben (the new head pastor of the church my dad used to be the pastor of) was ready to be a head pastor. All reports from people in the church he was attending were saying that he was functioning with a pastor’s heart even without the title. He was serving others readily, he was leading his family in the ways of the Lord, he was teaching Sunday school, he was involved in the church, and he was ready when someone needed a hand. He was a pastor without the title.
Shouldn’t worship leaders be the same? I think the position of a worship leader is often negated from where it should be, not in importance but in responsibility. It is a great responsibility to be in such a public ministry, leading the people in such an intimate time with their Savior. I think a person who is called to be a worship leader should function as such whether a part of a ministry or not. So how would someone know if they are called to be a worship leader? I have been praying and studying on this topic and I think I have come up with a few ideas…not saying it is inspired by the Lord or even fully correct but it comes from a desire to see the ministry functioning to its full capacity.
1.) A love for the Lord and a desire to worship Him evidenced by a daily walk that is obvious to those around you.
2.) A gift for music. “ Sing to Him a new song, play skillfully, and shout for joy” Psalm 33:3 If the Lord has not gifted you musically you can rest assured that He has not called you to the worship ministry. If you don’t have the ability to speak Spanish, I wouldn’t expect you to be in the Spanish outreach ministry; if you can’t cook I wouldn’t expect you to be in the homemade meals ministry. If you can’t play music, look for the ministry you are called too because it is not this one. I also think that the person who feels they are called should not make this assessment of musical ability; either the Pastor or the head worship leader should do it. If you are not gifted musically all you will be is a distraction from the worship, which defeats the purpose.
3.) The ability to decrease; the worship team has no room for pride. Even the most gifted of musicians may not have a place on the worship team if they cannot leave their pride at the door. The point of being a worship leader is to lead the people in such a way that you decrease and the Lord increases. Doing anything to draw attention to yourself would distract from the goal: bringing all the glory to God.
I also think that the worship leader should be practicing throughout the week just as the pastor is studying and preparing his sermon. So also should the worship leader be practicing and preparing their service. If worship is only something they think about on Sunday morning during practice, shame on them.
So, I understand that if I were a worship leader I would probably start with a small worship team. I would rather have a few people that are called to be worship leaders than twenty who are not called. 1 Corinthians 12 speaks of the body of Christ, how they are many members that make up the body and each of them is fashioned just as the Lord pleases.
“But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He please. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you” nor again the head to the feet “I have no need of you”. No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor”
There is a specific place and job for each member of the body. Not everyone can be the head, though many would probably want to be the head. Will the head have the greatest honor? No. Who knows, maybe the liver for the Lord will have the greatest honor. Something no one even sees but still a vital part of the body.
So, in closing I would say that if you are not called to the worship ministry and yet you are forcing yourself into it, you are not only robbing the congregation of a blessing but you are missing a blessing yourself. What a wonderful thing it is to function within the ministry that God has called you too and designed you for. What a horrible thing it is to function within a ministry that you are forcing yourself into, that God has not called or equipped you for. I would encourage all, not just those in the worship ministry, to pray about where you are called and function within that calling. Find where God has gifted you and use those gifts for His glory. Be a part of a body that is functioning to its full capacity, not one missing arms and feet.