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Sat Nov 30, 2013
by Andrew Weiseth
Leading worship—with zeal
Why do worship leaders exist?
The title “Worship Leader” doesn’t exist in Scripture. In fact, most of what we think a worship leader is today has been shaped culturally over the course of the last 50–60 years. While Scripture doesn’t explicitly describe a worship leader, it also doesn’t prohibit the role. We’ve been given a lot of freedom to explore what it means to lead God’s people with the gift of music.
Worship leaders are a lot like John the Baptizer: our job is to point people to the glory of Jesus. This idea has shaped our church enough that it made its way into the Mars Hill Church Worship Ministry’s purpose statement: “We exist to move hearts for the glory of the triune God.” Now that’s a challenge. In reality, we as leaders don’t do the “moving” part of this—that’s the Holy Spirit’s work—yet Scripture still calls us to lead and God uses us in this process.
So how do we lead?
Worship Jesus through leading well
Leadership can be the difference between a room full of observers and an engaging time of worship. You could hit all the chords and sing all the notes perfectly, and still not lead people well in worship. We need to prepare with our priorities in order and “worshiping Jesus by leading well” should be at the top.
Romans 12:8 tells us that leadership is to be done zealously.The sad part is that we rarely act as though this were the case. A good question to ask yourself is, when you prepare, what have you made most important? Your guitar pedals? Your drummer nailing the breakdown on the bridge? Your hair product? Whether the things involved in your preparation are essential or trivial, nothing is more important than preparing your heart.
Leading yourself with zeal
The gospel is not boring. If you are bored, entitled, complacent, or fearing man above God, then you are at war with zealous leadership. Cultivate zeal by meditating on truth, but not just that, allow it to affect you. This isn’t a mind game. The gospel is the power of God. So spend time in Scripture, and reflect on the truth in the songs you will be singing, prayerfully considering what the Holy Spirit is prompting you to be moved by. What stands out?
Leading your team with zeal
This is when you let God’s work in you overflow into your team. What is the Holy Spirit directing your congregation to respond to? Your team needs to understand that this response begins with them.
Remember that everyone on your team is facing battles as you are. Preparation will always win if you don’t fight for zeal and passion—you have to lead them in the same way that you led yourself: with the power of God found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Challenge the same idols and distractions in them that you have identified in yourself, and use this as an opportunity to lead by your example of repentance.
Leading the church with zeal
If you’ve led yourself and your team, this one is easy. If you haven’t, you aren’t a worship leader, you’re an actor. At this point, it’s really a matter of worshiping before the congregation. It’s contagious.
But your people also come with their own sets of distractions. They’ve fought through traffic, parking, checking their kids in, and simply getting out of the house on Sunday morning. They are going to need to be reminded often why they’re there, and your job is to bring them on the journey of what the Holy Spirit is leading you all to respond to together.
Worship leaders move hearts for the glory of Jesus by being the zealous example of what it looks like to respond to what he has done.
If you are bold enough to lead, the church will follow.