Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Worship Leader Toolbox: YOUR MIND, Part I

Worship leaders know lots of 'tricks.' But few of us work on our tools. Heck, I'm willing to bet that most of us don't been know what our tools are! (I ain't talking guitars here!)

This week, we're talking about using your mind as a ministry tool.

Your mind does a lot.

Okay, it does everything.

Most worship leaders would readily agree that their minds are engaged as they play and sing and speak from the stage. But I think there's value to giving your brain some exercise before service ever starts.

I won't ask for a show of hands, but if you're like me, it's easy to plan your sets on autopilot. ("This song is in G and says "peace" and I can do this song is in G and it is very peaceful" or "Oh, we always make Glory to God Forever go into Inside Out. We'll do that again.") But dedicating some to think through your worship order can yield tremendous results for your church.

How do you do it? It's a simple system - think through each element of your service (songs, prayers, announcements, videos, etc.) and try to condense them down to one sentence. You're trying to distill each element into the core statement. What are each of these things communicating? Most of us can do this mentally, but it might not hurt to try it with a piece of paper to get started. As you look through your service, you'll probably be surprised at how many different 'messages' you're sending out.

That's not necessarily a bad thing...God has a lot to say about stuff! But running a service with numerous (and incongruous) messages ends up feeling very lazy. If song 1 competes with song 2 and the scripture reading doesn't connect at all with the video and then the pastor's sermon is a totally different take, you're people are going to feel like they've on a 45 minute roller coaster by the time they walk out of there.

The toughest element is music because today's worship music is painfully multi-layered with messages and symbols and sadly, cliche. You may think the answer is to just pull the song in question and replace it, but that's not always necessary. (Although, sometimes, should pull those terrible songs out of there.)

As you see these weird gaps in your communication, think through ways you, as the leader, might guide your people through them. Maybe there's something you can say or read that will help people to understand why this song leads into that song. I'm telling you - lots of worship problems can be solved if the worship leader has a good reason for what he or she is doing.

Not only does this get you intimately acquainted with the service, it also gives you a little more investment in making sure it works. You're not gonna' hit a home run every time, but trust me - guiding people through worship rather than standing on stage and expecting them to 'get it' is a much better way to live.

If you're not dedicating any thought-time to your setlist, try do it this week. I think your worship will be much less stressful!

Next week, we'll look at a 2nd way to use your mind....MENTAL EXPERIMENTATION!