As a career worship pastor I have one ongoing struggle. It seems the people in our congregation are behind me in worship. The majority of our congregation are baby worshipers when it comes to their participation and understanding. They come from a variety of backgrounds and denominations, and most come from traditional churches where worship participation was rare. Many still don't see why we have to sing so long or stand for twenty to thirty minutes during worship. Personally I would worship for an hour if I could; but, I am trying to bring them along and not leave them in the dust.... so to speak.
Why is it that we are usually farther along than our people? Why won't they get with it and join in on what's going on? Part of the answer lies in our title as ministers. We are called Worship Leaders. If the people were ahead of us, we would probably be called Worship Followers, right? A large part of my calling is not only to stand up in front of our congregation each week and lead worship... but, also to teach worship to those who don't understand it. If I were to ask you how many people in your church really understand what worship is, the number would be shockingly low. I am finding out that worship is one of the most misunderstood elements in the church today. You ask people, "What is worship?" and you will hear a host of different answers. Try taking a survey in your church with that simple question and see how varied the answers will be. If you happen to get the surveys back, you will find that many don't even know what worship is. Why is that so? Why do the majority of Christians not understand this simple thing called worship? Why is it that we take the time to get ready each week, head off to church and miss the whole reason for being there?
I don't fathom why in twenty years as a Christian, I've never heard a sermon on true worship. We were often taught about, and even practiced some of the elements of worship; but, the principle was never communicated that it was part of our worship to God. Tithing is a classic example. How many of us treat our giving as an act of worship? We usually do a good job with instilling the commands underlying the practice of communion, but fail to teach the big picture of worship. We always had a ‘song leader' but never a worship leader. How is it that someone who grew up in the church could miss out on this awesome thing called worship? I had no mentor in worship. I had known no one who understood it and definitely knew of no place to practice it. I understood the song service, but never experienced the worship. Sadly, I am not alone in this area of understanding. With the explosion of worship across the country and world, there are still many who have no one to teach them...no one to mentor them as a worshiper. I wish to share a story that may help inspire you in your journey as a worship leader and teacher.