Friday, August 28, 2009

Worship Leadership With The Servant's Heart

Worship styles and approaches are a dime a dozen these days. Some churches feel more like concert halls. Sometimes, this is the result of the layout and design of the space where worship takes place. Sometimes, it happens in traditional church spaces because of the heart attitude of the leadership or musicians.

I serve a small, new bilingual congregation on the U.S.-Mexico Border. I come here with a servant's heart. The pastor is not perfect but neither am I. I want the music in this church to reach a professional level, but I expect several years will be required. But I am determined to work with them to gradually grow. As important as what I do musically is the attitude I take toward relationships. How I treat people and how I treat worship matter.

Part of the responsibility I have as lead worshiper is to be a good shepherd, herding them into God's house weekly and helping them feel comfortable there. It's not just about my musical style and taste or my demand for what I want. I get some of what I want, not all of it. I am there to serve their needs. I am there to meet them where they are, pour the love of God upon them through my example -- my passion, my music, etc. -- and help them grow to love worship more. In the process, they will come to know and love God more and better. The most important thing is that they can follow and join in as they are comfortable and that they feel loved and accepted there.

If I have to play guitar for a while instead of piano, I don't complain about that. I am His servant and He called me here. If you come to serve on our worship team, you must believe God has called you to us, and you must humble yourself, set aside your wants and needs and serve. I want to see a good servant's heart in you by the way you volunteer to help clean up, and working with me on the tunes. I want you to be willing to do whatever is needed to help God's people worship. Whether they can sing or play an instrument or not, they need you to help lead them, and that's why God called you there.

When I hear people express frustration that the music may not be energetic enough because of this or that or not what they like because of this or that -- to be honest, I think that comes from a self-serving place, not the heart of God. I think serving God requires us to be open to doing things however we need to do them to meet the needs of His people where He has us at any moment. It is hard to do, but it is our call. It is not about professional musicianship or sound or musical styles. It is not about worship that sounds every Sunday like it came off a CD. It is okay to want all those things and to have the goal of getting there, but coming in demanding them as the only acceptable way is not.

You may be a talented musician and a good and Godly man, but you need to search your heart about these things so that you have the right attitude before God. Whether you serve here or end up elsewhere, your heart attitude is very important. I have to check my heart every day. I'm an artist. I have an ego. I fight that demon. But most of all I am a child of God, who has been blessed to be called to serve His people, and am daily humbled by that privilege. And God rewards us when we serve Him faithfully without concern for such things.

I don't want people to walk away feeling like it was a great concert or great music set. I want the worship music so interwoven with the message the Lord is bringing that day that the music itself is almost incidental -- opportunities for God's people to echo their hearts' cry and speak back to him.It's not about my glory. It's not about people saying "Bryan makes great music." If people walk out the door saying "Wow. Bryan did great today," I have failed. What I want them to do is walk out the door saying: "Wow, I really felt the presence of the Lord here today. Wow, God's presence here was so strong today. Wow, God really touched me today."

If they say those things, then something far more important than quality music has happened. If they say those things, they have had a true encounter with the real, true, living God. And not even the most professional sounding, highest energy, best written music can ever top that. Encountering God is what it's all about and that should be our entire focus and the goal of everything we do. If we get blessed in the process that can only come from God's presence not satisfying ourselves.

For what it's worth...

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