Worshipeatrics

We were created for worship.

Recently, I read a post on my friend’s Facebook timeline. It was from some guy I didn’t know but who had a pertinent question to regular churchgoers. Are they getting distracted by how worship is being led nowadays?

He listed some of the distractions, some of which you could be familiar with. For instance uniforms or dressing (he calls it cutting-edge fashion), insane chord progression or aerobic workouts. He also noted phrases like turn to your neighbor and give them a high five, tell them something, open up your mouth and speak, somebody shout (or scream), stand up, kneel, etc. The list could be endless.

His concern was that these have become distractions to congregants, resulting in them not spending good time with their Creator in church.

My initial reaction was to go all defensive. You know why. I am a worship leader. However, the more I reflected on the matter, the more I realized that this guy may be on to something.

Worship or theatrics?

Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Psalms 150:1‭-‬6

I come from a Pentecostal background. Pentecostals don’t shy away from singing, dancing, clapping, shouting and using musical instruments. In my first church, we didn’t have modern instruments. All we had were hand-held drums that resounded as the church broke out in song in my mother tongue. It was free singing, and dancing, and no one needed to encourage anyone to worship. For the people knew why and Who they worshiped.

Looking back, and looking at the life of leading worship, we have come a long way. Years back, there were only a few select individuals who would lead worship. It was a sacred calling. The church leadership knew its volunteers and their walk. It was very important to place the onus and privilege to lead in the hands of trusted people.

You couldn’t lead songs if you were new to the team. You had to go through probation, sometimes up to six months, before you could join a worship team. You had to demonstrate that you were grounded in your walk and in the Word of God. For you were a minister as well, of sung worship.

Let me admit. I have failed many times in my service to God through this ministry. There are times I have felt that the congregants need to be urged more because they don’t seem to want to sing or praise God. Why do they come to church? Are they not interested in this part of the service? If people weren’t singing as you’d expect, we would stop the music and encourage them to sing with joy and vigor. Then we would take it from the top. I did that once and received a tongue lashing feedback from a congregant. I haven’t done it since.

Other times, I have found myself loving how I sound at the expense of the worshipers’ connection with their Maker. And there are the famous ad libs that have caused many to shy away from leading worship because it’s assumed that great singers should ad lib. In my younger life, I admit that there are times I served to get attention. People got to know me. You were considered special, famous and cool just because you stood on the pulpit.

Let me talk for the newer crop of worship leaders. They need mentorship, including from many of us still leading. There is need to go back to the basics and experience God. We need to learn what worship means and how to do it in a way that focuses on God and honors Him.

To the church leadership, I ask that you get concerned about who is leading your flock in worship. Are you keen to know them, to know what they do, whether they are struggling in life? Are they truly born again? Are you only concerned with ensuring the music is so great that it ends up being a performance, with no impact in people’s lives?

Do you understand why the enemy attacks many worship leaders and why some of them are caught up in sin? How do you walk with them? Do you treat your worship teams with respect or only seek to overwork them because your standards need to be met? Let your doctrine be God-centered and this will have a great effect to the worship ministry.

To the worship leaders, it is time to do a self evaluation and ask if we are doing what we are called to do. Yes we are gifted, but it’s not about the gift but the Giver of the gift. Equip yourself. Allow yourself to be mentored. And spend time in God’s presence. This is a must. For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

There are times we perform because we are empty inside. We only lend our voice. Don’t emulate the way of the world in your leading. Understand the congregation. Don’t be disconnected. It is not about you. It’s about God. Understand the words of the songs you’re singing. This goes for instrumentalists as well. Internalize them. We’ve been accused of relying on the screens to the point that if they were to go off, it would be clear that we didn’t know the words.

Live in unity with the rest of the worship team. Remember, we each have a place in God’s kingdom. There’s no need to outshine each other. Humble yourselves and remember you’ll be held accountable for your use of that gift. Ask yourself, does this gift draw people to God or to yourself? And learn to never be a stumbling block.

To the family of  worshipers, kindly pray for your worship teams. Remember to commit them to God as they serve. For the enemy can attack them in various forms.

Lastly, I would like to ask for forgiveness on behalf of my fellow worship leaders. If you have been offended by the current worship leading styles, please forgive us. Correct us with love. Bear with us. Some of us are too young in ministry while others are still learning the ropes of leading. Kindly avoid talking behind our backs without letting us know what we should do better or stop doing. Find someone in the church’s leadership to raise your concerns with.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19.14

Photo credits: MugOshot

 

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Big Daive says:

    Well spoken, Kigumz. May we decrease to a greater degree that He may increase. This cuts across all fields of ministry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kigumz says:

      Thank you for reading Big Daive. I agree…it’s for all ministries.

      Like

    2. Wambui says:

      Well said Kigumz. May we as worshippers remember to uphold you in prayer as you minister. May God bless your service and cause you to be fruitful.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Larry Liza says:

    Worship leaders my feel like empty vessels yet really feel His flock with blessings avbounding. I also recently shared how more and more are not internalising they lyrics and depending on the lyrics screen… and see them in power blackouts!
    I pray that all may serve as directly, as if not serving man but God… no show off, no class, just superioirty complex… JUST JESUS!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kigumz says:

      Thank you Larry. May we always put our focus on God!

      Like

  3. Munyori says:

    Humility is accepting that there is still a lot to learn. This articles does just that, Worship and Church leaders should continue to foster safe environments for connecting with God that encourages many to love Him.

    Thank you Ems

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kigumz says:

      Thank you Munyori.

      Like

  4. Liz M says:

    Borrowed from desiringGod.org ……..

    What a tremendous need there is for prayerful, wise, mature, experienced, Bible-saturated, theologically deep leaders of worship. Being able to play a guitar or a piano and carry a tune is not enough to fit a person for one of the most important pastoral roles in the church. I think after the pastor who preaches regularly, the designer and leader of worship services is the most spiritually and theologically influential person in the church — for better or for worse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kigumz says:

      Thanks Liz. That’s profound.

      Like

  5. Michelle Akute says:

    The responsibility on worship leaders is a huge one. To always spend time with God that it may always be about Him and not about the gift. That we may always be Spirit led and not physically, mentally or emotionally inspired. This may not always be the case as like you say sometimes we are empty because we didn’t spend time with God or didn’t listen to Him instead of the voices in our head or we were so hard pressed and drowning in the cares of this world. Many times we allow ourselves to lift those crowns whether of success or failure and allow life to brand and give us titles, good or bad. We become empty inside, rending our garments not our hearts and this is where I like what you say Kigumz. That as much as we should not take lightly our responsibility the responsibility towards worship leaders should be given the same measure if not higher. I always have the image of Moses being assisted to lift up his hands whenever he got tired that the Amalekite army would be defeated, Exodus 17:12. We need the rally of armies those footsorldiers who will listen, guide and more so pray. May God help me to be part of this army

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kigumz says:

      Wow Michelle!! This is profound.

      Like

  6. Dietrich Ndegwa says:

    Amazingly put cuz. The very fact that you raise this questions as a worship leader means that all hope is not lost. It is critically important for our church leaders to be self aware. The pharisees were not self aware and missed out on the coming of Jesus. So deep were they immersed into tradition, that they totally disregarded what was in front of them. Sometimes the church has put tradition over worship but GOD has responded through self awareness!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kigumz says:

      Thank you Dietrich!

      Like

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