As leaders of worship we must know what we believe biblically about worship and stand firm in our convictions that are based on “true” Biblical foundations. We should not walk in ignorance, but have a clear direction and a firm understanding of our area of expertise. These Biblical foundations should feed the passion and motives of a Worship Leader to please the Most High God. Good foundations determine how strong your framework will be. Your framework will determine how strong your house will be. Your house will determine your safety when outside influences try to invade and challenge what you believe. I have spoken with many worship leaders and worship pastors who are not willing to compromise these convictions once they know the truth.
As worship leaders, every time we lead worship we are charged with facilitating God-encounters. This means we should be able to introduce, or stabilize, a relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The people that walk into our churches are looking for hope, and they want to know where God can be found. We are the “information center” that they see and hear on their journey to finding Him. This “hook-up” will require us to teach, model and sing the songs of a story that must to be told. Sometimes our songs and exhortations do not tell that story, nor do they mention the goal of our worship - Jesus. We must constantly remind ourselves that the proclamation of the gospel is what will change hearts and turn them toward the Savior.
Some worship leaders are being told not to exhort or teach from the pulpit. They are told to just sing and lead the people in song. They are even told that during rehearsals we should learn the music for our services only, and not teach the theology of Worship. There are many worship team members and leaders who have no clue as to why they do what they do. They have little or no Biblical understanding of this thing called worship that they lead from week to week. Once you have a grasp of what God wants, you cannot help but act in obedience. Once you have a true heart of worship, you can not keep silent, because it becomes a consuming fire. Many people will come to Christ through our singing and teaching to them about a worship lifestyle.
In your heart you know what God is saying, but there are those around you cannot see it yet. What are you going to do? Remain silent? NO! You must find other ways to teach or exhort about worship; the best example is living the truth. Get creative! Start by writing articles, write songs or start a study group, or perhaps introduce the Arts or Drama in your church. Take a good look at the lyrics in your line-ups and adjust them accordingly. Look at different versions of the Bible with contemporary words and exhort from them. We must creatively think of ways that the message of worship can get out. It can be done!
The sharing of the gospel is how we get saved, be it through word, song or deed. The truth must always be our foundation for everything that we do as worship leader. The capturing of the truth will set you free and will keep you free when your pastor, friends, and associates go south on you. It is easy to happen when the vision is not close at hand in the eyes of those who surround you. Unfortunately, it can and does happen. Many churches have lost the vision of the goal of worship. The church is short of good worship leaders that know their jobs and are able to lead congregations into the presence of the King effectively.
Let’s look at a few things we need to lay a good foundation for our job description as worship leaders. I pray that these truths will stick to your ribs like a good meal. I have found these gems to be a plumbline for me, and they have kept me on track. I have employed these truths in my mind, my song lists, and conversations regarding worship. I continue to build on my knowledge of them. There are four things that are paramount to our foundation. Individually, there is literally a wealth of information to be gleaned, but I will briefly overview them and I tell you how to dig deeper at the end of this article
1. Worship Celebrates our Relationship with God.
God takes the initiative to initiate a relationship with us and we celebrate this relationship in worship. God initiated a relationship with us through Jesus Christ. When we gather corporately, we are a family with a common party goal. It all about Jesus and the price He paid for each of us. Let’s party on!
2. Worship Recalls God’s Saving Deeds in our Lives
We recall the stories of God’s saving deeds in our lives. This could be done by exhortation or through songs of praise - songs to God about all the wonderful things He has done. Songs to each other about the wonderful things He has done. These songs can be contemporary or traditional in nature. Remember, Jesus is very contemporary and relevant for today. After all, He held back the water in the Red Sea. He has struck down the best of your enemies. Have you ever given a shout of grace and the walls came falling down? I’m sure you have a few giants in your trophy case that you can talk about. Remember all the good things He has done and give Him praise for it!
3. Worship Rehearses Our Covenant with God through Jesus.
We have a covenant with God just as the children of Israel did. The scripture says that it is now written on our hearts and it is a new and better one. He said that He would be our God and we would be His people called by His name. He would protect us and we would have long life. All we have to do is love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. We should encourage our congregation to worship God this way. Enrich your heart by doing a study on the blood covenant it will change your life.
4. Worship is Sacrifice
As Christians we worship, the once and for all time, complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We should participate in the Communion Table often. It should put us in remembrance of the sacrifice because this is where it all began.
Now you have four great building materials for your foundation of what Biblical worship is. Pray, study and meditate on these four truths and allow it to change your life. It will affect the way you view worship. With the knowledge you obtain, you will move closer to knowing the One whom we worship in an intimate way.
If you would like to take your study of the Biblical Foundations of Christian Worship further, consider purchasing the booklet Learning to Worship With All Your Heart, by Dr. Robert Webber. You can get more information by visiting his web site The Institute for Worship Studies