Approaching God Through Thanksgiving

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  • 1. Approaching God through Thanksgiving, Praise and Worship 2000 Rick Stokes Scripture tells us that God is looking for two things: •· The Lost, (Luke 19:10) 10For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. and •· Those that will worship Him in Spirit and Truth (Jn 4:23,24) 23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. God made us for His pleasure (Rev 4:10,11) 10The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. And He fervently desires fellowship with us. He wants to meet with each one of us on a heart to heart level. That’s what He created us for!
  • 2. We need the very same thing as well - Without this communion, our relationship with God grows cold and lifeless. So how do we approach God Almighty? For a start, we need to be In Relationship with Him: Believing that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins, that He rose again from the dead; Repenting (i.e. turning away from) from our sins, then Receiving Him as Saviour and Lord. This, when done genuinely, guarantees that our sins are forgiven and our name gets written in the Lamb’s book of life (God’s Family Album). There is a Process - not a dead tradition - an ever fresh and living way of coming near to God. Although His grace allows times of emergency prayer, in general, He’s given us a Protocol for coming near to Him: Ps 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. Eph 5:18-20 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20Giving thanks always for all things
  • 3. unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Worshipping in Spirit: The act of worship is a spiritual thing: it takes place at a deep, heart level. It is an intimate thing that usually takes time to happen, similar to the act of intimacy experienced by a married couple. Thanksgiving and Praise, often even in adverse circumstances or bad moods, is a sacrifice that we willingly give to God our Creator. Jer 33:11 11The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the LORD of hosts: for the LORD is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. Heb 13:14 15By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. We give God praise if only for the reason that He is worthy of it, regardless of our temporary and changing feelings and surroundings. As we obediently offer up this sacrifice to the Father, He comes to inhabit the praises of His people (Ps 22:3) and His presence becomes tangible to His people, or experienced. We call this manifest
  • 4. presence of God, “The Anointing,” speaking of the anointing oil used in Scripture to symbolise the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is at this stage that it usually becomes easier to praise God. Often our resistance and unwillingness to praise begins to weaken; the evil spirits that may have been oppressing or deceiving us begin to lose their grip; even people in the meeting who are completely “shut down” or in rebellion to God often find their defenses crumbling against this wonderful sense of the love and power of God. No longer is it such a sacrifice, or effort to open our mouths in praise. Worship in Spirit usually begins when God reveals Himself to us; then heart-felt outpourings begin to be drawn from within us, to the Lord. Singing and praying in the Spirit (tongues) are especially appropriate in these times. (1 Cor 14:15 15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.) This is the source of the joy that we are commanded to have “always” (Phil 4:4) Joy isn’t something we psych ourselves into – it is the fruit of obediently offering praise to God. The joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10) and Jesus also equates the Hebrew word for strength (Psalm 8:2) with Praise (Matt 21:16)
  • 5. Praying in the Spirit is not something we just dust off on Sundays either. (Eph 6:18 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit”) I believe this is an important part of the true communion with God that He intends us to have. God loves to have fellowship with us in worship. (2 Chron 16:9) For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. This enables us to have fellowship with one another. (1 Jn 1:6,7) 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. This is where true unity is born, not the false unity of finding the lowest common denominator in a group of people. Praising and worshipping God in private is the lifeblood of our relationship with Jesus. In a corporate congregational setting, the more people who are able, practised and willing to worship in Spirit, the greater degree of anointing is generally available to the church. This is the time when God’s Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, loves to lead us into all truth, to reveal the truth of His love for us, to edify, exhort and comfort us with words of
  • 6. prophecy and prophetic songs, to manifest His healing power and deliver people from demonic powers and deception. I believe that MUSIC IS AN INTERFACE – a connecting medium to bring us into God’s presence. Online with God – e.g. the little TV screens on the bottom right of computer monitor, that tell us we are on-line, and show us that data is flowing back and forth between the two computers. In a place of being in the midst of intimate, anointed worship, there is information flowing back and forth between God’s heart and ours. That’s the process of intimacy, where we are edified, changed, transformed. This is when God’s Grace (His empowering presence) is freely available and tangible, to change us into who He wants us to be, and to equip us to get the job done. These times of intimacy with God are vital to the life of every Christian. Imagine how long a marriage would last where every morning the husband and wife would come out of their separate rooms and shake hands. Before long their relationship would grow stale and cold. The church of the Western world is full of Christians in this state.
  • 7. Worshipping God in Truth: Songs: It is important to sing songs that are true: scripturally sound, and bringing glory to God. Are the songs you sing focusing on people, or God? Are they exalting Jesus, or just talking about us? As a worship leader you need to be wise in choosing the right songs. More about this later. Personal Integrity: Without holiness shall no man see the Lord (Heb 12:14) Those that live a holy life will be able to see the Lord; not just in heaven at the end of your life, but will be able to recognise His hand and His ways in this life. Without a life submitted to God, keeping short accounts with Him, we aren’t any use to a Worship team, but rather a hindrance. No amount of spectacular performance can achieve what simple worship in truth can. In fact, I believe God hates outward performance, when there is known sin hidden inside. This is the heart and soul of Religion. An outward show, when the inward parts are full of uncleanness. Is 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and
  • 8. with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Amos 5:21 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. 22 Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. 23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. 24But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. God desires and requires us to worship Him in Truth. Hindrances to Worship Sometimes, unfortunately, the presence of the Lord is not experienced by congregations or individuals, for reasons like: •· a lack of praise (there are less and less songs of praise to God sung these days, and more and more songs about “me and my feelings”) or •· not giving God room to move; we often fall into the trap of slotting praise into tight timetables
  • 9. where God isn’t welcome or free to turn up. We must remember that He is God, not us, and He will turn up when He wants to, not when our formulas or time slots dictate. •· Leadership not wanting the Holy Spirit shining His spotlight around in the meeting; because of hidden sin, prejudice against the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, fear of the unknown, or resistance to change. If you find yourself in this situation, remember that the anointing oil flows downward, not upwards. It’s not your job to resurrect your dead leaders. Pray for them, yes. Summary God wants, fervently desires us to come into His presence. He desires fellowship and intimacy with us His people – He created us for this! God, however, is an awesomely powerful and Holy Being, who will not tolerate sin in His presence. He has made a way – paid the ultimate price for us to be able to come near to Him – sending Jesus His precious Son, to die for us. We have a dumping place for the sin that has beset us for so long – a divine eraser of all the sin we confess to God – the blood of Jesus Christ. Having surrendered totally our old life to Him,
  • 10. believing in our hearts that God raised Jesus up from the dead, we can confidently confess the Lord Jesus before men – unashamed of the reproach of Christ. We can boldly come into His presence – the King Of Kings! – much like the president’s children walking into a high-level meeting and hopping up onto the president’s knee. We are built to praise Him, to publicly give Him the glory He deserves, and as we do, He comes to inhabit these praises, and meets with His beloved people. Bringing Your Church to a Higher Level of Worship
  • 11. All of us want to become better worshippers and in turn lead our congregations to a higher level of worship. Here are a few thoughts gleaned from 20 years of leading worship in dozens of denominations, cultures and languages. 1. Start where the people are. Begin with songs they know and love and worship God with those songs. Gradually introduce new songs that especially lead people to worship. Make sure that you, your musicians, and your sound people are doing a good job musically with the songs. 2. Be a great role model for your worship band and congregation. People learn by watching and if you’re the leader that means they’re watching you. Make sure you’re just not leading songs but that you’re worshipping God as you sing and play. Know the music so well that you don’t have to think about it. Rehearsal time is for learning songs and worship time is for worshipping. Be sensitive and loving to the people you lead. If they sense that you love them and they feel God’s presence in the worship, they’ll be glad to follow you. 3. Ask your senior pastor to teach on worship. As people realize that singing, shouting, clapping hands, raising hands, instrumental music, bowing down and other acts of worship are in the Word, they will be more open to doing it themselves. Encourage the other ministry staff and your worship team to be great models of worship. People generally take their worship cues from their leaders. 4. Make sure your walk with the Lord is strong. Make sure your worship team’s walk with the Lord is strong. Are you spending daily time with God in prayer, reading the Word and loving people? God’s power in your worship time is directly proportional to God’s power in your daily life. Three Keys to a Great Worship Rehearsal
  • 12. One of the things that I’ve learnt over 18 years of church music ministry and 6 years of traveling is how to get the most our of my rehearsal time. In my last two and a half years of traveling and ministering around the world, I’ve had to work with a new worship band every second week and I’ve often had very little rehearsal time. It teaches you how to be organized. Here are three quick points to remember when preparing for a rehearsal. 1. Pick great songs One of the secrets to worship leading is picking great, anointed worship songs. Great songs are easy to play and sing, help the singers focus on God quickly, and have the special touch of God on them. Great worship songs agree with God’s Word. A great song for your worship band will be within their ability to play well. It will be a song that your congregation loves to sing and worship with. 2. Be prepared. Musicians are often notorious for not being organized. o I make sure all my charts are ready and clear. It’s important to have all the copies ready and on the respective music stands before the rehearsal starts.
  • 13. o I pick songs that can be easily learned in the time that I have to rehearse. I make sure I know the songs backwards and forwards. The most important parts of the song are the intros, form and endings. You should also know when you want the different instruments and vocals to come in on that particular song. If you have time, playing a recording of the song really helps. Musicians learn more from listening than almost any other source. o It’s also important to know the drum and bass patterns for the song. Another very important area that is overlooked is the exact tempo. I write the metronome markings down and if there is any doubt, I pull out a metronome to double check the tempo. o I also make sure I know what is happening in all the vocal parts. My charts have all the vocal parts written down so I can easily help any singer learn their part easily. 3. Lead the rehearsal with energy Good leadership is the key to a great rehearsal and worship time. If you are prayed up, prepared
  • 14. and full of enthusiasm and energy, you will have a good rehearsal. I always try to start my rehearsals on time, keep them moving quickly, have fun, find ways to encourage the band and try to communicate what needs to be done in the clearest possible way. Rehearsals are mainly about learning the music, but if God comes down in my rehearsal time, I won’t hesitate to spend time worshipping. It’s the presence of God that makes the biggest difference in our worship. If we just sing songs without God’s presence, it’s really just noise. God makes the difference. Ten Ways to Improve Your Worship Team
  • 15. 1. Model worship Real worship is contagious. As you follow after God and really worship Him, you are teaching your worship team to worship. Your actions speak much louder than your words. When people realize that you are passionate about God and passionate about worshipping Him, it will motivate them to seek that passion for their own lives. Jesus taught by example. He preached, cast out demons and healed the sick. What did his disciples do? They preached, cast out demons and healed the sick. If Jesus had just talked about it and not done it, they never would have learned. They learned by following His example. You life, especially your relationship with God and your passion for worshipping Him will speak volumes. By all means teach about worship, but more importantly live it out. When people see you worshipping and praising God with your whole heart, it will spark a hunger in them. 2. Model musical excellence in your worship Good musicians have a way of helping other musicians come up to their level. It doesn't happen overnight, sometimes it takes months and years. If you continually model excellence with humility, it will inspire you musicians to a higher level. 3. Encourage your musicians to take lessons on their instruments.
  • 16. I've seen whole groups improve dramatically as they all decided to take lessons and improve. Find out who are the best teachers in your area and take lessons. It’s always great to have a Christian teacher but if none are available find the best teacher, whoever they are. Great music principles can be learned from most teachers. 4. Constantly put great new worship songs in front of them. A fresh flow of great music will inspire your musicians. Nothing will sap their motivation faster than just playing the same old stuff over and over. There is so much great music available. The leader just needs to do his or her homework and listen to the great worship recordings that are available. 5. Give them tapes and CD's of the music you want them to learn in advance. One of the main ways musicians learn is by copying other musicians. Most musicians learn easier from listening than by reading music. 6. Give your musicians well prepared charts. I never go to rehearsals without full charts for the songs that I'm going to do. This can be as basic as just having the words typed out with the chords marked over them in appropriate places, to having proper melody and harmony lines written out in proper musical form. In 1993 I decided to write full vocal,
  • 17. rhythm and brass charts out for my worship band and it made a huge difference. The players reading ability increased dramatically and the overall sound improved many times over. Since then I have written over 500 charts of which 350+ are available online at www.praisecharts.com. What started as charts just for my band is now blessing thousands of churches around the world. 7. Have great rehearsals. There is no substitute for good rehearsal time. Expect full participation in rehearsals and demand excellence. I try and treat my players like professionals. Professionals are expected to show up on time and be ready to play at the appointed time. Don’t waste your musician’s time. Their time is just as valuable as yours. It goes back to the Golden Rule, treat others as you want to be treated. I don’t want to feel like an evening of mine has been wasted because someone didn’t do the proper preparation. If the musicians see that the rehearsals are energized and valuable they will make time in their lives to attend. Keep your rehearsals well paced. Always have more music ready than what you have time to rehearse. If you feel things dragging, shift to something different. 8. Work on getting a great vocal sound.
  • 18. Investing time into your vocalists will pay off with rich rewards. As they are trained to sing with excellence, they will be more equipped to lead with confidence and sing from their hearts. Here is a quick list of things to consider. When you work with the vocalist make sure they are doing the following things correctly. • Singing in tune • Holding the notes the same length • Singing the proper rhythm • Breathing in the same place • Memorizing the music • Enunciating the words correctly • Singing the right harmonies and melody • Listening and adjusting to blend properly • Not rushing the tempo or dragging • Using proper microphone technique • Smiling and using good body language on the platform • Remind the singers to worship as they sing 9. Develop a great rhythm section. Getting a great rhythm sound from part-time musicians can be challenging. Here are a number of areas to work on.
  • 19. • Make sure all the instruments are tuned properly: • Make sure everyone listens to each other: • All players need to develop a good sense of time. • Decide which instrument will be the lead sound on that particular song. • Use metronomes to count off the songs. • Each player should know how to read a basic rhythm chart. • A rhythm section needs to develop a wide range of understanding for different musical styles. • Rhythm sections also need to learn to play by ear. . 10. Teach on worship Our job as leaders is to make disciples. As musicians we want to not only train people to be good musicians but also great disciples of Jesus. Learning to be a worshipper is a life long calling. Teach your musicians about worshippers and worship in the Bible. Encourage them to read books on worship. Bring them to conferences where there are great worshippers and worship leaders. Show them videos and DVD’s of great worshipping churches. Most of all, teach them to fall in love with Jesus every day. True worship grows from our love relationship with the King of King and the Lord of Lords Ten Ways to Improve Your Worship Leading
  • 20. 1. Study under a great worship leader: This is the best way to learn and it can take on many forms. Jesus used this method to teach His disciples. If you have a good mentor in your church, watch them and learn from them. In this situation you can watch them in a weekly worship setting. Tell them that you are interested in learning, study what they do. Study what makes them successful and learn from their strengths and weaknesses. If you’re not blessed with a good mentor in your local church, search out a mentor. This can take many forms. You can go to worship conferences and watch the leaders and attend their classes. You can go to local worship events and watch leaders. You can attend other churches as the opportunity arises and note what each church does well (and not so well). You can also buy videos of worship leaders and note their different styles and ways of leading. 2. Make worship a daily part of your life Anything that you do daily, you improve on. Spending time with God on a daily basis is a basic prerequisite for being a worship leader. This should include daily time in the Bible. I would suggest that you read a Psalm and a Proverb every day and I use a daily reading plan that takes me through the whole Bible each year.
  • 21. I once worked with Billy Graham and he said that no matter how busy he got he always read at least one Psalm and Proverb everyday. Reading a psalm each day will give you insight into what the biblical worship leaders have gone through. You’ll notice that they have their good days and bad days. You’ll notice their passion and trust in God. You’ll notice that they also have victories and defeats like most people. The Proverbs will give you insight into human behaviour. One of the most crucial areas of leading worship is relating to people. You can’t be a leader without people. Proverbs gives great wisdom into relationships, finances, work ethics and a host of very important areas that all leaders must deal with. Reading the whole Bible every year will give you an overview of what God is saying to man. I’ve read the Bible through every year for the last 20 plus years and I learn something new every time. God’s Word has a way of being relevant for the situation that you’re going through right now. Another important part of spending time with God is a prayer life. Prayer is better if you spend more time listening than talking. The well known pastor Dr. Cho of Korea, who pastors a church of a million people, said that the key to his prayer life was ‘I pray and I obey’. The key to prayer is finding out what God wants you to do and doing it. That comes through reading His Word and listening to the His Holy Spirit daily for direction.
  • 22. A prayer list and journal can also be a great asset to a life of prayer. Keep a record of things that you are praying about and note when God answered them. I keep a list of areas that I’m praying about and note each time God answers my prayers. Keeping track of answered prayer helps your faith to grow. As you spend time with God daily, you will know Him better and love Him more and your passion for worshipping Him will increase. The best worship leaders worship much more privately then they do publicly. Your public ministry should only be the tip of the iceberg. 3. Learn the great worship songs God is birthing great songs around the world. There has never been a better time to learn worship songs. We now have access to great songs and recordings from around the world. There are great songs from Canada, Australia, England, South Africa, America and many other parts of the world. We have hymnbooks full of songs from our spiritual heritage and songbooks full of the new songs that God has been birthing this century. Learn the old songs and the new songs. Find the songs that God’s Spirit is resting on. Find the songs that are blessing the nations. I personally try to buy every new songbook and worship CD that comes out. I have a Maranatha Collection, a Vineyard Collection, a Hosanna Integrity
  • 23. Collection, a Hillsongs Collection, a Worship Together Collection, a Praisechart Collection, a hymnbook collection and various other songbooks. I use songs out of them all. There is no one organization that has the corner on God’s songs. Each publisher has a slightly different slant and style. It’s great to be able to incorporate all of that into the local church. A good place to find out the most popular worship songs is to look at the lists that Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) has compiled. They track the songs that are sung in most English speaking countries. Their lists, from over 160,000 churches, will give you a good indication of what the Body of Christ is singing around the world. Their lists tends to favour the songs that have been around for a while but it is still a good place to start. If you have access to the internet go to www.ccli.com and check out their website. Another good resource is Praisecharts.com. There are over 350 charts of the most popular worship songs of our time. Take time to memorize these songs. I’ve memorized hundreds of hymns, choruses and new worship songs and it is amazing to see how they enrich your life and worship. One of the keys to leading a great worship service is to pick great worship songs. A great worship song will almost lead itself. All you have to do is sing along and
  • 24. worship. Different songs have different purposes. Don’t pick a song just because it sounds great on a recording. Find songs that cause people to set their hearts on God. 4. Understand the progression of worship Psalms 100:4 says I will ‘I will enter His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. God likes it when we come before Him with singing. One of the most common ways to begin a worship service is with songs of thanksgiving. These songs are often songs that are sung about God as opposed to songs that sing directly to God. They are often (but not exclusively) faster songs that are more praise orientated. It often takes time for the general congregation to get warmed up in a worship service and starting with thankful upbeat songs is often the best way to start a service. Worship leaders shouldn’t get in the habit of using formulas to program the service. Starting with more upbeat songs is just a general observation. A worship leader should always listen to what God wants for them to do in that particular moment and situation. People often come to services with their minds on anything but God. A leaders responsibility is to help everyone focus on why they really came to church in the first place: that is to meet God. Having a progression in the worship service can help people to set aside other distractions and focus on God.
  • 25. The progression of songs often goes from general upbeat songs that talk about God and give thanks to Him to songs that talk directly to God. When we sing songs that talk directly to God we are beginning the progression toward worshipping Him. The term ‘Praise and Worship’ indicates that general trend of going from praise about God to worship to God. 5. Understand the importance of worship in the Bible The largest book in the Bible is a songbook (the Psalms). There are songs sprinkled throughout the Bible. Some of the greatest men of God were songwriters. Moses, David and Solomon are among the most prolific. God is looking for people to worship him. In John 4:23-24, Jesus said ‘But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as those to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." God loves worshippers. King David was called a ‘man after God’s own heart’. He was also one of the chief songwriters of the Bible and a man who loved to worship God. In spite of his failures, his desire was to be close to God and worship was one of the best ways for him to express that. 6. Learn a musical instrument
  • 26. Playing a musical instrument is of great help in worship. Most great worship leaders play an instrument. It is not a prerequisite but it is of great help. The two main instruments for a leader are the guitar and the keyboard. Piano generally takes longer to be proficient at, so I suggest that people who take up an instrument later in life should take up the guitar. Obviously the earlier in life that you start playing an instrument the better chance you have at being proficient at it. If you’re just starting to learn an instrument, I suggest that you find yourself a good teacher. A Christian teacher is preferable but not always available. In any case, find someone who will teach you not only the basics of the instrument and reading music, but someone who will help you to read chord progressions and help you to accompany yourself as you sing and worship. Another great way to learn is just to copy the worship CD’s that you listen to. Take it song by song, chord by chord and learn to listen what the keyboard or guitar player is playing. This is often the most effective way of learning once you get past the basic stage of learning an instrument. Copying the players on CD’s will teach you better rhythm and help you learn a variety of styles. It will also help you learn relevant material, the material that you want to use in your worship services. 7. Learn to sing to the best of your ability.
  • 27. Singing is a big part of leading. You don’t have to be an awesome singer to lead but the more acceptable your tone, pitch and vibrato is, the less distracting it is to the congregation. The opposite can also be true, great singers sometimes don’t make good worship leaders. They are often too busy vocalizing to facilitate the average singer in the congregations worship. Just as taking lessons is an important part of learning to play an instrument, it’s also important to take vocal lessons. Most teachers tend to be more classically trained. They can teach you a lot about breathing, projection, tone and enunciation. You don’t necessarily want to copy some of the operatic tendencies that they may have since modern worship tends to be more gospel, pop and rock orientated. Listening to recordings of yourself can be a good way to learn. It is often discouraging at first since most people don’t like the sound of their own voice. But, as you get over that you will hopefully learn to pick out pitch problems and other weak areas in your singing. Having a teacher critique you is also a great way to improve. Another great way of learning to sing is to simply copy the tone and articulation of your favourite worship leader on the many CD’s that are available. Copying other musicians and singers is one of the chief ways musicians learn. On a side note: it’s best to learn from
  • 28. a number of different leaders so you just don’t become a clone of one style and sound. Leaders should generally just sing the melody. The leaders voice is usually highest in the vocal mix and if you sing harmonies it will often throw off weaker singers in your congregation. It is ok to throw in an ad lib occasionally but don’t let it become a distraction. Learning to ad lib in the various musical forms is an art form, use good taste and discretion and listen to tapes of yourself frequently. 8. Learn a variety of different styles of songs Variety is the spice of life. A congregation appreciates variety. The tastes of most congregations represent a huge spectrum of music. Pop, rock, rhythm and blues, country, folk, Irish, classical, ballade, Jewish, gospel and alternative are among the many styles that are used in worship services. Putting the right style with the right song can bring the song to life. Learning new styles can be fun and invigorating. Don’t get stuck in a rut. Music is constantly changing and we should grow and change with it. God is not limited to a style. Classical styled worship music is not more spiritual then pop styled worship music. It’s the lyrics and heart of the musicians that define the spiritual depth of a song. One of the faults of the church in the past has been the slowness to change. Churches generally like to stay with the safe and familiar. It’s been my
  • 29. observation that the most successful churches are the ones that stay relevant to the people and the culture that they minister in. That includes staying current and relevant in music. That doesn’t mean that you have to become trendy. I believe that the message of the Gospel is unchanging but the ways that we communicate it are constantly changing and growing. I make it a habit to listen to the songs that the youth are listening to. I don’t always initially like the style but I try to see it from a teenager’s perspective. If the lyrics are projecting biblical Christianity then I try and look past my personal tastes in music. If we want to be relevant worship leaders we have to grow with the new music and styles that God is using in the younger generations. 9. Learn to communicate in front of your congregation Effective communication comes in many forms. The way we speak, act and dress, all communicate volumes to our congregations. Learning to speak in public is hard for many people. Polls indicate that speaking in public is many peoples greatest fear. Worship leaders are not required to speak volumes but the right word at the right time is very effective. Worship leaders most always remember that they aren’t the preacher. Some of the most effective worship leaders speak very little.
  • 30. One of the most effective ways to speak is to quote the Bible. People will more readily accept direction and change in worship if they are shown it in the Word of God. This should never be done in a hard or condescending manner. Teaching and encouraging God’s people in worship should always be done with love and respect. Proverbs 25:15 says ‘a gentle tongue breaks a bone.’ People will be much more open to direction and change if it is done gently. Learn to overcome such problems as stuttering or talking too fast. Learn to speak clearly and succinctly. Learn good grammar and don’t get in the habit of using to many clichés. Saying ‘Amen’ and ‘Hallelujah’ every second word usually shows insecurity on the part of the speaker. Humility in a worship leader is of paramount importance. You can’t fake humility, or at least not for very long. Your body language will speak volumes to the congregation. If they see a worship leader and team who are totally yielded to and passionate about God, they will be more open to that leadership. Leading with a humble spirit but with authority is an important balance in effective leadership. People can usually tell when you’re just ‘going through the motions’ and when your passionate about God. The style of clothing that you wear is also relevant to the message that you are sending your congregation. There is no one style that is the right style. When I lead at youth retreats, I lead in jeans and t-shirts.
  • 31. Sometimes I lead with a sports jacket, sometimes not. The key is to be relevant to the congregation that you are leading. I’ve lead in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt on the beaches of Waikiki and worn a three-piece suit at major events. Being sensitive to the situation and congregation is the key. Don’t let your clothes be a distraction for your ministry. The topic of your clothes should be the least discussed topic at the Sunday dinner tables of your congregation. 10. Learn to work well with your pastor A church will only rise to the level of its pastor. If your Pastor is a worshipper, the church will soon follow. Developing a good working relationship and understanding between the worship leader and the pastor is of paramount importance. If they don’t share the same vision, the vision won’t get accomplished. They will always be pulling in different directions. I have found it to be helpful to meet at least once a week with the Pastor to review the last Sunday’s services and to plan for the next week and weeks to come. It is also good to meet occasionally in informal situations (coffee, breakfast, sports activities, etc.) to continue to develop a good relationship. The Senior Pastor and the worship leader usually are the most visible in public ministry. Their ability to compliment each other can be a powerful asset. If they don’t work together well then the opposite is true.
  • 32. There are a number of ways that a Pastor can facilitate worship in a church. One of them is by regularly teaching on it. The Bible is full of great passages on worship and if the Pastor is not comfortable teaching on the subject there are a number of good books on the subject from which to gather resource material. Another important way for a Pastor to facilitate worship is to model it. If the Pastor is a wholehearted worshipper, the congregation will take their cue from him. If the Pastor is not comfortable with being a model for worship then it would be good for him to sit on the front pew rather than on the platform. Worship leading is a great privilege and challenge. It is great to be able to point people to God through worship. Learn to grow in your singing, playing and leading. Learn to hear God as you lead. Be passionate in your love relationship with God and the people in your worship team and congregation.