Quick backstory. Worship is worth-ship. It is about ascribing worth. It is a the proclaiming the worth of something. It is the way in which our lives show what matters most. So when congregations gather to worship through song, what we are doing is using lyric, melody, and instrumentation to ascribe worth to God.
I am sitting in my master’s class on Deuteronomy and have been struck by a thought for worship leaders that I cannot get off my head. So here I am trying to not get caught by the professor (sorry Dr. Stallman), but I have to write this out. Dr. Stallman just made a great comment saying “Corporate worship is about enabling a response to take place.
As we focus on revelation we allow space a for response.”
In reflection of that I think about all of the times I have been frustrated as a worship leader because the congregation would not respond. I am not there because I want people to hear me sing. I am there because I want people to engage, so it is frustrating when that does not seem to be happening. I know (from experience) that worship leaders get messed up, frustrated, and exhausted when we work hard to get a response.
The question is not how do we get people to respond in song, but what have we given them to respond to?
My job as a worship leader is to give everyone Someone worth responding to. I am guilty of working hard to make or being content when I see people sing loud, life their hands, feel something, or think something. But my job is not to get a certain response but to enable a response. Since my job is to create space for a response, I really have to step back and see if I am doing a good job of showing them the God worth responding to.
As I look at the Bible and consider every encounter that someone has with God, I cannot escape the fact that every person who got around God either worshiped Him or walked away to worship something else. Every person either chose to love, obey, fear, serve, and trust God or to distanced themselves from Him, but they all made a choice. Whether it be angels around the throne, demons oppressing a person, a deliverer like Moses, a prophet like Isaiah, a woman living with a man who isn’t her husband, a priest named Nicodemus coming to Jesus in the night, a ruler giving Jesus over to death, a thief next to God the cross, or a zealot working to kill Christians- every person who ever met God always acknowledged Him and responded
As we use songs as our means to worship, let us choose wisely. Let us utilize songs that clearly reveal God. As God is revealed, people will respond, and we must be comfortable letting people respond however they want to. Some people who met Jesus immediately committed themselves to following Him, some, like Nicodemus, took time to consider His claims, and some, like the rich young ruler, walked away. Each response- revering Him, rethinking Him, and retreating from Him- is worship, even though not every response is worship to God.
Here’s the summary:
- Corporate worship is about enabling a response to take place
- As we focus on His revelation we allow space for a response
- If you want to see more response spend more time revealing
- Choose your songs pastorally and prayerfully