Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Following an amazing worship service is NOT the time to get the full measure of a worship leader.

Trust me, when we're on the mountain-top, we can rationalize anything into a positive.

No, you learn the most about a guy or girl when they've had a terrible set. The way they speak of their own skill or the team or even the congregation will quickly reveal massive insights into their mindset when it comes to the hard work of leading worship.

One of the most revealing things occurs when a worship leader is quick to fault the crowd that he or she was leading. I understand that some "rooms" are tougher than others, but often, slamming the congregation is a sure sign that a worship leader has operated with unrealistic expectations.

For some strange reason, worship leaders operate on this default. We assume that because the songs we're playing are awesome, then people are gonna' walk in and immediately throw their hands in the air...because the songs are awesome, right?

Maybe, but I don't know many churches that operate like that. When you step up to lead people and you're already expecting them to behave in a certain way, you're setting yourself up for disappointment - both for yourself and for your people


There are three simple realistic expectations that will serve you well.

  1. Some of these people aren't ready.
    I'm going to say this...and you're going to know it in your head...but do you remember this when service kicks off? There are people who walk into your sanctuary that are not ready for worship. That's not to say their lives are in shambles, but many of the people you look at during song 1 haven't given one thought to worship since they woke up, got ready, grabbed breakfast and drove to church. They are not good-to-go with you on song 1.

    Let me take a moment here to address two possible rebuttals...A) Yes, it's our responsibility to lovingly teach our people how to approach worship each week. We should invest in ways in helping them to become Biblically grounded in how the think about worship. B) Yes, there are some exceptions. Everybody's got worship junkies. They're awesome, but they are a minority in most churches.

    Understanding that some of your people aren't ready will help to understand in role in pastoring them in worship and it will also prevent you from being so dang angry and the end of a worship set.

  2. Some of this is on me.
    You're the worship leader. God's called you to stand up there and He's gifted you to do it. All of our strength comes from Him, but you cannot shirk your responsibility. The entire success of the worship service does not rest on you. But some of it does. Realize that you've got a job to do up there...don't trust that a great song arrangement or a video clip will get people where they need to go.

  3. God is really, really smart.
    God knows stuff. Lots of stuff. All the stuff. The third realistic expectation you need is this: God knows these people and He knows exactly what they need.

    This should convict us as worship often to we get on stage without any prayer or study (other than the quick 15 minute prayer time before church)? No wonder, we're stressed. You and I have to know what God says about stuff! Because we're not smart enough to figure this many people out at one time!
The songwriters and producers and directors of all this Christian media don't know your people. You do. Use good material, but have realistic expectations going in.

Because if you've got good expectations, God's likely to blow them out of the water!


Anonymous said...

Man, this is pretty dead on. I have learned and experienced a great deal this last year or so. These are my humble thougts...
Unrealistic expectations leave us empty. There is such a give and take that I have found. The congregation and the worship leader have to be on the same page. Often when the congregation comes in with the mindset, "Im ready to be blown away by the music", "I really hope they play this song", or "That worship leader was really good last week, I hope he impresses me this week", it begins the unrealistic expectations for everyone. The worship leader feels the pressure then of living up to the congregations expectations week after week. But we can hardly blame it on them. It is our job to teach that Christ is the center of it all. We worship as a body not to be entertained but to sing in a community to God who has given us unfailing hope through His Son. I pridefully rely on my own talents and abilities to "make worship good"... and Im always left empty. We need to lower the expectations of ourselves and raise the expectations of God. Prayer and humbleness works.

Those are my thoughts

Tara and Ryan said...

I mean in reality it's our responsibility to be within our disciplines to be worshiping the way God meant for us to. I can tell a BIG difference when I start the day as God planeed by reading His word and in prayer. It is HE that gives us that worship. What is hard is when we put our worship leaders in a box. We put so much pressure on you in that 30 minutes how could you ever meet mans expectations. But the amazing thing is, God lays his hand on your heart and leads you. He brings words and songs to your mouth that will bless others. Thanks Todd for leading us not only by your excellent gift but by the word of God. It is a blessing to be a part of your worship and watch God use you.