By: Jeffrey Reum
Worship is communing with, praising, proclaiming, thanking, and expressing our desire for God/Jesus.
Worship Leader/ Lead worshiper: should be more than a song leader, but an example, a coach, and a teacher.
Worship is much more than getting together and singing songs. Many Christians today understand that it’s not religion but relationship, but don’t understand how to do that. While they may know, the truth is they don’t understand the point of worship. That is where the worship leader comes in. It is a worship leaders job to help people understand God’s message for them and to help them learn and express themselves to God. We do this A. by worshiping God ourselves with reckless abandon (modeling it) B. encouraging people to do the same. At my church we tell people that they are free to worship God how they see fit. This drives me crazy, what they should say is welcome to (the church) and we/I just want to encourage you to lay your concerns at Jesus feet, put any distractions aside and enter into the throne room of God to give him the praise He deserve. This statement is much better than “O, everyone looks familiar so let’s get started”. If everyone there is familiar and knows the drill then you can phrase it as a reminder. The point is the attitude not necessarily what is said, that particular phrase can be adjusted. Worship is not just singing and it’s not limited to a church service. You can be anywhere and worship God, and you can do it in a multitude of ways. The main factor is your thought process behind it. While doing this particular thing are you thinking of God and how he would want you to do it.
Let’s focus on worship in the form of prayer and communing with God. This can be done anywhere anytime. I’ll be using time alone in the car as an example; please don’t think this is the only way it works. I want you take the time to come up with something that will work for you. So, you’re driving in your car and you got a little time. You could listen to your favorite pastor or program on the radio or singing your heart out and it crosses your mind or you even make a point to spend time with God. I often find myself starting a conversation with God and not knowing where to go next and often drift in thought. One thing I would encourage you to do before anything else is to thank God for everything you can think of. (I suggest trying to do this out loud; I have had powerful experiences with this practice) Too often our time spent with God is listing things we want from him. God is so much more than a vending machine. He is the creator of the universe his sole purpose is not to serve you. In fact, it’s your job to serve Him. Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. God doesn’t mind our asking for things, He actually wants us too. He wants us to realize our dependence on Him and count on Him to meet our every need. What I’m talking about is seeking His face. Knowing God deeply like you would know your best friend. While you’re thanking God if something comes to mind go ahead and pray about that. And then pray about things as they come up. If you run out of things go back to thanking Him. Also feel free to throw in some proclamations, such as: “God you are awesome, you are majestic, you are all powerful, etc…….” Also it is good to spend some time praying in the Spirit. These have all been successful in drawing me into the presence of God. This is not a strict structure but a great way to get started. The more you commune with God the more you become like Him, and the more direction you will have. Spending more time with God will change your very core, He will give you a heart to see people’s lives change and your selfish sin nature will become less.
Spending time in the word (reading the Bible) will reveal more of God’s character to you. If you have problems understanding, just hang in there and ask God to open it up to you. The more you read His words the more you will be able to make connections and understand the Bible. This will also help you to understand more of what you need to be thankful for and proclaim to world (may be the car, or closet or whatever). I also like to spend time thinking about the things God has done it makes me excited. This is a great practice which should be a part of the thanking process. It’s also good to get some additional tools to help understand such as a concordance and commentaries.
So let’s go back the music aspect of worship, seeing how this is what we usually refer to with this word. Music is a great lubricant for worship. Worship songs are great at reminding, reinforcing, and helping us to focus on God and all He’s done. Coming to church and merely singing they songs will do very little. What you do through the week has an effect on your experience during the service. You can’t go your whole week without spending time with God and then expect to all of sudden have this great experience when you walk through the church doors. I have been in multiply worship service where I have felt nothing. The factor that seems to change what happens seems to be me, my attitude and the amount time I spend really thinking about God and what the lyrics mean. The lyrics of worships songs are wonderful. They help direct our thoughts toward God. If you’re doing worship in a manner similar to what I described above than your church service will be a continuation of what you’re already doing and somewhat enhanced be the unity aspect of corporate worship.
So, now talking the musician, what is your part in all this? Well you start out by living a life full of worship. You can’t model something you’re not doing. Second you need to understand music. Music has this ability to cut to our souls. It taps into and even has the ability to alter our emotions. Music is composed of melody, rhythm, harmony, and the variation in these and volume is what can separate an average song or performance from a great one. Worship music is the vehicle for the message. Its job is to drive the message into our hearts and minds. And our car should match the message. You wouldn’t want take a sports car off-roading or go racing in a minivan. So if the message is exciting than the music should be exciting, if it is reverent than the music should be reverent. For example: The song “I will follow” by Chris Tomlin is an exciting song to me. The idea of wanting to follow God anywhere is not something that is usually a solemn thing; this excites me and makes me want to jump out of my skin. So when I play it I try to drive the song and keep the energy up. Other songs I back off and play much less. What we do with a song isn’t about how we look but about making the message come alive. Many songs have a flow to them similar to that of the ocean. There the high and low tides and each wave have a valley and a peak. The tides are like the verse, bridge, or chorus. And the waves are the phrase. Usually the verses are something that resembles the low tide. In general they have a lower volume but can still maintain the same energy. The chorus is usually the high point of the song this is the point you really want to push so often it has the most energy. The bridge is usually a completely different level; it is often used as a sort of turbo gear but is not limited to this. I usually try to achieve this flow by changing rhythm, volume or not play at all.
This paper is not meant to be an exhaustive source of knowledge on worship, but to give you a better understanding of what it is. Worship is all about your heart. David is probably the best example of what it is to be a true worshiper. I would encourage you to read psalms on a regular basis to help you to strengthen your worship and relationship with God. I would also look into the life of Moses. He had the great privilege to talk with God face to face. My favorite examples of this are found in Exodus 33 and 34.