The American church has lost its focus in worship. Shamefully, we make worship more about ourselves than Jesus. We devote ourselves to the comfort and acoustics of our worship centers, and obsess over the satisfaction of our “customers” (first-time visitors). We competitively try to offer a better product than other churches in our area.
Worship leaders are perfectly positioned to adjust our focus. They ought to see their primary responsibility as directing our hearts and minds toward Jesus. Unfortunately, many have bad habits that exacerbate rather than eliminate our distraction.
You can restore your church’s focus in worship. If you want to be a better worship leader:
Pick Better Songs
Earlier this year I attended a conference with my students. The worship band did something that surprised and disturbed me. Throughout the entire weekend, they only played one song that mentioned Jesus by name. And it was the very last one.
To be fair, I only attended three of the four sessions they led. But if Jesus wasn’t mentioned in those three sessions, should we think He was in the fourth? Also to be fair, a song doesn’t have to explicitly mention Jesus to be a worship song. But how long can we not sing about Him before our worship isn’t about Him anymore?
There is a trend in contemporary worship to not mention Jesus in our songs. In fact, we usually sing about ourselves! Most new songs are filled with first-person pronouns – “I,” “me,” “my.” If we are singing about ourselves, whom are we worshiping? We must pick songs that are about Jesus.
We must also pick songs that make sense. Many new songs are vague and strange. They prompt emotion rather than theological reflection. Paul says, “I would rather speak five intelligible words…than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:19). I would rather worship with five words that make sense than ten thousand that don’t.
If you want to be a better worship leader, pick better songs. This is the simplest and most effective way to help us focus on Jesus.
Worship leaders love to speak on stage. They often offer a thought or say a prayer between songs. Not only does this drag out the worship service; it distracts us from the meaning of the songs.
Worship leaders – your thoughts aren’t that helpful. You tend to say things that are vague, redundant, or unscriptural. You don’t need to cover up your transitions with talking. Just move from one song to the next as quickly as possible, and let the silence hang. If you must do something, read a Scripture.
If you want to be a better worship leader, stop talking. Preachers don’t go onstage and sing; worship leaders shouldn’t go onstage and preach.
What other trends in worship distract us from Jesus? How else can worship leaders get better? Leave your thoughts with a comment below!
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